A tiny news piece came across my desk the same day a photograph of a horse was given to me. They made me think of the television show, Mr. Ed.
The show about a talking horse aired from 1961 to 1966. It was financed by comedian George Burns at a cost of 70,000 dollars — a lot of money back then. Wilbur Post, Mr. Ed’s owner, was played by Alan Young; Mrs. Post was played by Connie Hines. Mr. Ed was played by Bamboo Harvester, a crossbred gelding of American Saddlebred, Arabian, and grade stock. Apparently — going by comments made from those who worked with him — Bamboo was one smart horse. Of course his voice was a man’s, Allan Lane — a western film actor.
Mr. Ed often made use of sayings involving his own species. "Hold your horses," "Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth," "Straight from the horse’s mouth," and "Putting the cart before the horse" are just a few.
It was his knack for listening to Wilbur’s troubles that often gave Mr. Ed the edge on how to solve situations that otherwise might have been Wilbur’s downfall. And that is where a little news piece was of special interest.
In a Mahoning County, Ohio newspaper of 1917, horses were shown to be good listeners. It reported: “The horse is really one of the best listeners in the world. He is always on alert for sounds which concern or interest him. When he looks at anything he turns his ears towards it to observe the better whether any sound comes from it. If a horse is particularly interested in your driving of him he always turns his ears backward toward you, but if he has no concern on that subject or if he sees anything ahead that interests him he keeps his ears pricked forward. A horse hears the whinny of another horse at a greater distance than the average man can hear it.”
Besides being good at listening, it is said horses have a memory on par with an elephant’s. And they stay awake for a whopping average of 21 hours a day. Truly an amazing creature.
Do you know what horsepower is really about? It is the amount of power it would take to pull a 150-pound weight out of a hole 22 feet deep. Oh, and to do it in one minute. That translates to a 1,700-pound horse equaling 1-1/3 horsepower.
To keep up their strength, horses eat grass, hay, and oats. For treats, they are as individual in tastes as humans. Some go for the healthy stuff like carrots, apples, bananas, and hay cubes. But if given an opportunity to try different items, well, horses have been known to love peppermints, cookies, oranges, sugar cubes, different sugary cereals, cat food, hot dogs, and an occasional beer or Coke.
While none of Ohio’s horses talk, they do make inroads into our hearts. Here are a few of our favorite snapshots. The next time you encounter a horse, watch his ears; he’s listening to you, he’s watching you, he’s wondering if you might have a bite of something sweet for him. If you do, he’ll remember you forever.