Alfonso Del Percio
The Big Idea
Perhaps an analogy might bring home the big idea of this research paper. In the world of Western Pleasure Horse Competition, the competitor is penalised if the horse swishes its tail. Although now illegal, it was a common practice among competitors to eliminate this possibility by “nerving” the horse’s tail. Nerving was essentially deadening the tail by cutting the nerves in the tail. This prevented the horse losing points for the rider in the show.
Now this abuse caused at least two problems for the horse. First, an individual one. When pastured the horse is unable to shoo flies away. The tail just hangs as the annoying fly’s swarm.
Second, there is a social consequence. Being a herd animal, horses tend to graze together in a pasture. When the flies are really biting, they pretty much line up side-by-side. Let’s say they are on a north/south line. One horse will face north; its neighbour will face south. In this manner, the north-facing horse will swish its tail to help keep flies off the face...
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