Now, I know that some of you are scoffing at the title of this post. Don’t attempt to deny it. I can hear you laughing and read the mockery in your eyes.
“There’s no such thing as carnivorous horses!” you say. And the scholarly and the elite, the professors and the scientists, will certainly back you up.
Not too long ago, I might have stood in your ranks.
Mockers repent and scoffers forsake your evil ways, lest you discover the hard way the dangerous truth about carnivorous horses…
I lead a lot of trail rides during the summer at camp and most of them are pretty similar – horses plodding along in a line, stopping every now and then while one of the wranglers helps a camper who’s lost their reins, or encourages a horse that doesn’t want to move.
But there was one trail ride this summer that definitely stood out.
It was at the end of the summer, during our Angel Tree week. (For those of you not familiar with Angel Tree Camping, it’s where children whose parents are incarcerated are sponsored to come to camp for a week – it’s similar to Angel Tree Christmas, only it’s summer time and camping, not Christmas presents.)
During Angel Tree, the campers participate in activities by cabin, and this day, it was the littlest girls’ turn to ride horses. Now, our Angel Tree campers come from the city. And most have never even seen a horse before, much less had the chance to ride one. So, most are just a little bit nervous.
We had just finished the hassle of getting little girls into jeans, helmeted, and up on their horses, and I was walking around adjusting stirrups, when one little girl called me over, “Excuse me, miss!”
“Miss, these horses don’t eat people, do they?”
I thought she was just joking, but being the sweet, caring person that I am, I reassured her, “Oh, only naughty people.”
Her eyes bulged and her mouth dropped open. “What!!! Get me off of here!”
I realized then that she was quite serious, so I hastened to really reassure her. “Don’t worry! We wouldn’t put you on a horse that would eat you. You have nothing to worry about.”
(Of course, we wouldn’t put campers on carnivorous horses! We leave all of those in the pasture!)
She smiled with relief. “Oh, good. Because that horse was looking at me and licking its lips, so I got worried!”
I thought the issue resolved, but, evidently, she had not completely conquered her fears of carnivorous horses and the problem resurfaced while were lining them all up preparatory to heading out on the trail. Her horse was right behind me in line and I turned around to give some final tidbit of instruction and noticed that she was crying.
I offered to let her ride my horse with me and she perked up right away, but when I pulled her up, she decided she wanted to sit in the saddle with me, rather than behind. So, we both squished in the saddle for the trail ride and had loads of fun, even if we were a bit cramped.
In the end, I think she learned to get over her fear of big scary animals and I learned that the subject of carnivorous horses is no jesting matter. :)
Now, once again, I know what you’re thinking. “Just because a little girl admitted to an unhealthy fear of the monsters, does not mean such foul creatures actually exist!”
And it seems a logical objection, until one considers the fact that references to such beasts are verified by historical research. Believe it or not, the carnivorous branch of the equine species was not unknown in the Ancient world.
The four most famous carnivorous horses were known as the Mares of Diomedes and belonged to the evil giant Diomedes who raised them as man eaters and fed them a steady diet, until he was slain by Hercules.
While conducting extensive research on the Mares of Diomedes, I discovered a little parchment scroll, hidden away in the basement of an ancient bookshop in Greece. (Amazing what you can find in those old bookshops!) Thankfully, I am an excellent Greek scholar and so I was able to translate the following:
The Heroes’ Guide to Surviving Encounters with the Foul Monster known as The Man-Eating Horse:
Never hunt this beast alone. Parties of at least three are advisable. It is best to have funeral arrangements prepared before setting out, in the event that you are incapable of returning home.
If you are foolish enough to seek the beast out, there are four possible methods by which you might survive (though you may find yourself short a digit or two)
1. If you have a pegasus (or comparable flying machine), then the aerial assault is for you. The man-eating horse may be deadly on the ground, but they are somewhat lacking in the wings department, providing you the upper hand.
2. If you are hunting on foot, bring a slow companion with you. When the monster charges, run faster than your companion! The monster will be distracted by the slower runner, allowing you to escape.
3. Amass large quantities of long range weapons – bows and arrows, nerf guns, air soft guns, cannons, grenade launchers! Set up position a safe distance away and FIRE!!!
4. Take 3 steps out the door, turn around, and race back in. Lock it. Bolt it. And triple bar it. And vow never again to attempt such a foolhardy, dangerous deed. (This is by far the surest way to ensure your survival!)
Fascinating, isn’t it? The rest of the manuscript delved deeper, tracking the bloodlines of the four mares throughout history. It was said that Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, was a descendant of the mares of Diomedes.
And everyone thought Alexander was the one who turned the tide in battle thanks to his brilliant strategies and ingenious war machines, when in fact, the enemy got one look at his “carnivorous horse” and fled!
Rumors of such carnivorous tendencies in horses still live on today. This may be why some equines show a propensity toward biting humans without apparent cause. These equines may very well be long-lost descendants of the Mares of Diomedes.
Mockers and scoffers aside, I trust that all of you will employ due caution when dealing with equines of the carnivorous variety.
~ Signed, (tongue in cheek)