Justice for Romeo
Read Dennis Haskell's introduction to Justice for Romeo.
Horses have been intrinsic to much of human history. Their connection to human activities has always been dualistic but have also been constantly beset with ironies. Equine connections to human activities have always been dualistic: horses are linked with both deities and domestic drudgery; lauded as symbols of freedom and subservience; relied upon a vital means of transportation and agricultural labour, or considered a luxurious indulgence. In Europe from the sixteenth century onwards, artistic and literary representations of horses started a tendency towards the anthropomorphic, moving away from dead-eyed mechanical portraits. In the eighteenth century, romanticised portrayals of horses began a steady rise to primacy. Today, horses maintain a liminal position enjoyed by few animals: they are not quite pets, but not quite livestock. They are still working animals, but also easily replaced by machines or human athletes. Scientific knowledge of how to best raise, train and manage horses is flourishing, yet long cultures of anecdotes and training theories, grounded in highly subjective and often questionably founded interpretations of equine behaviour, reign supreme in many circles.
Who is Romeo? He was not my horse. In life he was a symptom of all that is wrong with industrial-scale equine production. He fell victim to human interests in as many ways as it was possible to fall. Well-meaning ignorance is as dangerous as malice. Amongst horse people, this is also often called love.