I grew up on a ranch, and I know animals aren’t people, but there was something about this whole episode that bothered me a lot. It just seems wrong to strike something in the face until it falls down, and then strike it again. I don’t know what was going on there, since I didn’t see the triggering event, but I don’t think the man had been assaulted by the horse or anything, since his clothes were clean and his hat was still perched perfectly on his head. I think he was just dissatisfied with the animal’s performance or something. The horse never fought back… she just tried to rear back to get away, and tumbled over in the process, so it certainly didn’t seem like it was a defensive encounter on the man’s part.
As I continued my run, I kept an eye on the pavilion, and saw him lead the horse away, evidently done for the afternoon. Several things about the episode stuck with me: he wasn’t alone– his companion quietly rode to the other end of the arena, as if he didn’t want to witness the awkward event and was politely ignoring it. I also noticed he wasn’t saying anything as he whipped the horse– not that swearing loudly at it would’ve improved the circumstance, but it made him seem more malicious and cruel by disposition, as opposed to being seized by the heat of his temper.
The horse seemed fine, at least physically, but the person I was really worried about was the man’s girlfriend or wife… or his kids. Maybe I just saw a very small window of an unflattering episode in which a mischievous horse tried to bite an otherwise gentle man while he had his back to it, and came away with the totally wrong impression. But I don’t think so.