I have two friends of whom I am very fond, Bella and Madeline. Both are uniquely beautiful: Bella, a dark, sleek brunette, and
Madeline, a beautiful redhead, have a lot in common. Both are professional athletes. Both are big, strapping girls with large, dark eyes. Bella is a bit older than Madeline, but both are equally fit, sculpted and perfect-of-face.
My two friends are very dear to me, as they’re not afraid to express their emotions openly, to wear their hearts on their proverbial sleeves. They love deeply, give their opinons loudly and put their entire beings into their jobs.
Bella is better known as Bella Attrice; Madeline is Catty Madeline, and both are, of course, Thoroughbreds.
These two may very well know each other, but one thing I know for sure is that they share a life motto: “Stick Your Neck Out”…
Many Thoroughbreds, like our two girlfriends, are tres affectionate. They often show this affection by sticking out their long, muscular necks, turning their heads absolutely sideways–and zeroing in for a kiss. Or using that long, perfect neck as a vice: tossing their heads over your shoulder, they draw you in for a hug, and hold you there.
How can you not kiss and hug a big, doe-eyed, long-eyelashed horse who’s willing to come to you? Who’s not afraid to approach you and actually ask for affection. In the human way of thinking, this takes guts: how many humans never consider showing their desire to be hugged or kissed, because the fear of rejection or worse overwhelms them?
But horses are different. They accept humans right where they meet them. They throw caution to the wind, and come at you in this most childlike of ways: “See how cute I am? You do want to kiss me, right? Or at least give me a peppermint!”
I’m sure that hey also do it because they know that it’s so darned cute, humans cannot resist this offer of joyous affection. They definitely have the upper hoof in this exchange: they know that if they stick out their necks, the human target will respond appropriately.
How well-trained are we?
Well, these two Thoroughbreds also know that the sticking-your-neck-out thing will achieve another goal: races are won by horses who stick out their necks, because this is not only the horse’s natural gait–but the head bob is essential to the smooth locomotion of the horse’s body as s/he flies around the track. As Dr. Robert W. Cook, Ph.D. FRCVS explains in his paper, “A Note on the Head Bob in the Galloping Horse at Liberty…” in the most amazing and intricate way, divinely designed, horses’ heads bob when they run. This head bob isn’t a nervous tic or some accidental event: it’s part of the design of the horse. The head and neck go forward, the back-end is pulled up. The language in Dr. Cook’s paper is entirely too complicated for this forum–Hey, we’re just recording musings about Horse Sense here–but suffice it to say, unless a horse sticks her head out–she won’t go anywhere.
Bella Attrice knows this. Catty Madeline knows this. Intuitively and by design
of biomechanical engineering, Thoroughbreds stick out their necks for various reasons.
The first is emotional, and practical: it’s the best way to get some lovin’. Whether we lavish affection on them because we’re shocked by their assertiveness or because we simply must kiss the velvety nose that’s thrust at us–their fiendish scheme works. The formula, Stick Neck Out = Get a Kiss, Hug, or Peppermint is a sure thing.
The second reason is scientific: when a Thoroughbred races, her neck sticks out and bobs the head, because the horse’s mechanics dictate that it happen thus. The formula, pared down, is: Head/Neck Sticks Out = Butt is Raised, Speed is Accomplished. (That’s an extremely simplified version of a multi-page biomechanical/physics equation.)
Races are run, and could not be won by a horse whose neck/head bob doesn’t go out according to design. Sticking out the neck–literally and figuratively–is the only way to be in the race. (There’s a reason why Thoroughbreds’ necks are the longest, in proportion to their bodies, of all horse breeds. And why they’re the second-fastest animal on Earth.)
And so once again, we mere humans learn a vital lesson about Life from our equine mentors: if you don’t stick out your neck, take a chance, thrust yourself into the game–you don’t stand a chance of winning.
There’s a lot to be said for living safely; of not stepping on the sidewalk cracks; for always coloring within the lines.
But greatness never manifest itself from a cautious heart. The world’s most accomplished people–artists, captains of industry, inventors or dreamers–would not have achieved all they did if they stayed on the safe side of the street. Secretariat wasn’t content to win the Belmont by a nose. He stuck his neck out, and freight-trained to 31 lenghts ahead of the rest of the pack.
Stick out your neck. Try something new. Express your love. Invent something that’s never been seen before. Say “Yes!” more often, and banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary.
But if you stay in the gate, and never extend those proverbial neck muscles outside your safety zone–you’ll never know the heady sensation of feeling the breeze on your face as you lead the pack toward Home.
Follow the example of Bella Attrice and Catty Madeline. Stick out your neck, and see what happens. Life may plant a big kiss on you, and you may cross the finish line first.