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Pros And Cons Of The Horseless Carriage

With all the fuss in October about the rapidly approaching Melbourne Cup, it seems appropriate to muse on the merits of the horse versus the horseless carriage… commonly known as a car.  Some people, especially romantic, back-to-nature and environmentally friendly types long for a return to horse-drawn transport.  Other folk are happy to have left horses behind in favour for machines.  So how do the two compare?

Advantages of cars:

  1. They can go faster and for longer, and can carry more people and luggage while doing it.  Admittedly, this is the main advantage of a car and is why they have taken over.
  2. They don’t poop.
  3. They can be left in the garage for a week if you need to and won’t feel neglected.
  4. They are waterproof and you don’t get wet when travelling on rainy days.
  5. They have stereos, air conditioning, heaters and even DVD players.  They also have seatbelts.
  6. They don’t require as much space to keep.
  7. They won’t run around the paddock refusing to be caught when you’re in a hurry to get away.
  8. They don’t kick or bite.  Nor do they have other vices such as bucking, rearing or wind-sucking (to amuse themselves, bored horses in stables bite the side of the stable door and inhale, filling themselves up with gas.  They then burp, making the saddle dangerously loose once in action).  Nor do they decide they don’t like being behind another car, or take a violent dislike to the car behind them, lashing out if the one behind gets too close… actually, a few drivers might consider this point an advantage of horses.
  9. They don’t get startled by a piece of paper flapping on the side of the road, causing them to suddenly bolt out of control.

Advantages of horses:

  1. Their waste products are biodegradable – few things beat horse poop as a general garden fertiliser.  The same goes for those that have given up the ghost: a dead horse can be recycled into glue, fertiliser and dog food; dead cars have fewer uses.  If you’re not squeamish, you can eat horse meat – they do in France.
  2. They reproduce themselves (however, stallions are more prone to kicking, biting, rearing, etc.; most male horses are gelded to settle them down).  It is also possible to get a “crossover” version without years of design work – to get something that combines speed and agility with pulling power, introduce a Clydesdale mare in season to an Arab or thoroughbred stallion and let nature take its course.
  3. They use sustainably produced biofuels on an exclusive basis and none runs on fossil fuels.  They do produce greenhouse gases as exhaust from both ends, but neither of these is as toxic as the fumes from cars.  Horse breath smells quite nice (horse farts are another story).
  4. They are alive, so they can and do respond to you.  They really do listen to your problems, whinny to you in greeting and can sense your moods.  Cars have seldom, if ever, been used as therapy for disturbed children.
  5. A horse can beat any car for off-roading ability, parking sensors and voice activated controls.  A horse can jump obstacles such as hedges or ditches that would leave even a Jeep stranded, and a horse can swim.  And I’ll never forget one ride in a governess cart at one of those settler’s museum places:  at the end of the journey, the driver simply said “Annie, park,” and the horse neatly stepped into place at the right distance from the kerb and the right distance between two other carts before stopping.  Horses are also capable of detecting potential hazards – possibly excessively so (see point 7 above, which is why blinkers, as seen on trotters and pacers, were invented) and won’t enter an intersection when there’s something coming – a horse’s sense of hearing is better than yours.
  6. If you drive drunk or nod off while driving a horse, all will (usually) be well.  A horse will take you home automatically while you sleep – or sleep if off.
  7. Most horses are disinclined to roll when going around a steep corner, can detect a hazard and stop before you do, and don’t usually skid when brought to a standstill.  Steering a horse is (usually) much easier than the smoothest power steering.
  8. You can’t lose the keys for getting a horse started.  Nor can you lock the keys inside a horse, run out of gas unexpectedly or pick up speeding tickets.

Both horses and cars are expensive to purchase, need to be fed and groomed, require frequent shoeing, get ill and die.  Both horses and cars tended to cause fatal accidents at high speeds, although cars are able to kill more people at once, whereas a horse bolting out of control or ridden too hard (boy racers are not a new phenomenon) killed one or two people at most.  Both got sold by dodgy dealers as well as reliable ones, and they say that used car salespeople learnt their tricks off horse-dealers.  Both come in different shapes, colours and sizes, depending on whether you want something for fun (ponies and hatchbacks), racing (thoroughbreds and sports cars), family use (your typical Aussie farm horse and your typical Aussie sedan/wagon) or serious pulling (draught horses and diesel-powered commercial vehicles).

Private Fleet, however, does not sell horses.