Journal 9 Session 13
Please respond to the following TWO items:
1. Tell me about a learning experience that you found very meaningful.
2. What made it meaningful to you?
Be sure to address BOTH parts of the journal for full credit:)
One learning experience dealing with cultural differences I found to be profoundly meaningful was tightly wrapped around the death of one of my favorite horses. She was a superior show horse, but if she’d been a person, we would have called her a "ditsy blond" if we were labeling her personality. She was highly excitable. A horse will respond instinctively to what it sees as danger by running away if it can, the faster the better. In the wild, this is a survival mechanism.
One fall day, the herd was grazing near the neighbor’s fence. They were behind a single strand of electric wire in one section, but a regular fence in others.
People had been hunting all over the area all day. Gunshots could be heard sporatically from all around the farm. The neighbors were out to get their quota of pheasants, which were thick on my farm as no hunting was allowed. The birds on opening day of the season chose the fence line between the two farms as their best cover, not knowing they were safe on my side of the fence. Facing their property, the men fired down the fence row repeatedly as the bevy took wing.
Flashy Belladonna was so startled by the noise up close that she began to run in blind terror. All the herd bolted, but everyone else circled back to see what was happening. One horse hit the electric wire, which harmlessly snapped. But Donna hit the solid part of the fence, which flipped her over, breaking her neck and killing her instantly.
Less than a week before this, my boyfriend at that time was upset that I did not sell Donna when someone wanted to buy her. He was from a farm background in Poland, and an animal was in no way considered as a family member, so we were constantly dealing with cultural shock, as my horses are my children. I calmed him down that night by explaining that the amount offered for her would come back to me many times over with the foals that she would produce. She was carrying one that should be worth what was offered for her. She was an investment, with a better rate of return than money in the bank.
When he came over the night she died, he found me in tears. He went out into the field and helped the farmer get her into the bucket of the tractor and assisted with the burial, then returned to the house.
"You don’t cry for horses. You cry for people. Where is this good investment now?" he asked before he left.
I was devastated because I needed understanding, not what I saw as an attack.
Later on, when I took his cultural background into consideration, I could put a better face on his words, but they haunt me to this day.
His family had 10 children. He was born right after the end of WW II in Europe, but the bow in his legs attests to the fact that life was still so hard there that even a farmer’s child was not guaranteed of proper nutrition. When your family sees PEOPLE starving, PEOPLE being killed wholesale for the sake of their religion, crying for a horse seems over-indulgent.
Do I still do it? Of course. They are, after all, still my children. But I have acquired a broader view of their overall importance in the scheme of things. I hear his words and feel silly.