George “Burt” Martin
The Always Stylish Horse
and the Hats They Wear
There is an old Irish legend about how horses are smarter than people. Old Jack McFaul first told his story in a Dublin pub about 1715, just a few months after the death of Queen Ann of England. Ann’s reign lasted just a few months more than twelve years (1702 to 1714), but her influence in the world of horse racing has endured, for it was she who in 1711 founded the Royal Racetrack at Ascot, Berkshire, England. On that memorable night Jack had his ear pulled by the “loser” of a risky bet on one of Queen Ann’s favorite mounts. The wager was a twenty-to-one bet on a stallion named Garrett.
The “Loser’s Tale” brought back memories from Jack’s own life. You should know that Jack was a chronic gambler. He would bet on anything. His addiction was so bad he once bet on a race with one horse. When race time came, the gate opened, all seemed well and the jockey gently nudged the gelding away. With a flourish, the two-year old ran well, but not especially fast. Around the first turn and into the backstretch the jockey appeared to be in command, then at the final turn the jockey sat-up. The horse reacted with a sudden stop that sent the jockey “flying.” Seeing its rider sailing over its head, the horse jumped the fence and ran away. Needless to say, Old Jack’s tale ended something like this: … no horse ever lost his fortune betting on a man!
The horse in Jack’s story was a perfect example of one with what we now know as horse sense – the practical knowledge and good judgment learned from the experience of living an ordinary life. That horse knew instinctively that there would be no winner unless there had been competition. Which brings us to a point of bewilderment over what is really in the minds of animals who endure and tolerate the shenanigans of the humans who “own” them.
Dog shows, cat shows, marine animal theme parks, drive-thru animal safaris, and horse races are all good examples. The continued existence of this kind of entertainment is based solely on the principal of “live and let live.”
Look at the examples in this fabulous set of postcards that show horses in their ultimate state of acceptance and tolerance. Let’s face the fact that no horse with any self-respect would wear a hat, but when their owner puts a hat on their horse’s head and pulls its ear through slits in the brim, what can be said, except as the caption on card number three, where the thoughts of Slo-Sue read: I’m not to blame, it’s the fashion. What should be thought is, When does the horse sense kick in?
Hence, if we imagine the date on the calendar is 1923, not 2023 and the women we know are wearing plumed cloches with silk ribbons, around the crown, would that be reason to dress their horses in similar attire? No horse sense here! Especially if the Grand Gray Dame from the stable is of the mind that wardrobe makes her job easier.
The first card has Old Dobbin in a narrow-brimmed Bucket Hat with a black deo-bow. She hopes the world will thinks her hat becoming, but No horse sense offered here either.
Sweet Sue sporting a sunbonnet. She has some horse sense, since she expects to get ahead with a plan to … run away with a man.
Dandy Doris has donned a flat-top Toque that makes her wonder if it is A Western hide and Eastern dressing.
The Old Grey Mare on card four wearing a woman’s bucket hat. She thinks that Things are shaping themselves my way.
The humor here is subtle, yet edgy. They will make you smile, but remember it takes lots of horse sense – that quality acquired from long life – to see where the lines are drawn.