More than half-a-century has passed since my most memorable disappointment, which involved horses. At the age of fifteen I had fallen in love, at first sight, and decided — spontaneously but irrevocably — that I must pursue her. But she, who did not at first seem to prefer another boy to me, did, apparently, prefer horses. I could pretend to like them, but not to the same degree. Consider: as a child of seven, I had had the experience of being thrown by a horse, into some nasty thorn-bushes. This horse was not opposed in principle to taking a rider, I was assured; only to carrying me. Though my goodwill continued, I became permanently sceptical of horses.

My disappointment was when another young man, with excessive charm, unnecessarily handsome, dangerously smart, fibrously athletic, and from a wealthy family, invited the uncommonly beautiful Sylvia to a dance. He was also, for his age, an accomplished equestrian. The tragedy of this affected me deeply.

I have gradually overcome my acquired prejudice against the equidae, however.

The question of whether horses, too, have emotions, has been subject to debate since the time of Albertus Magnus, at least. He believed they had none. Most girls, I think, would disagree with him; among the boys, only the “scientific” types would be strongly opposed to anthropomorphizing. Christians might be mildly opposed; but tend to agree that even fish can suffer. (It is the ability to articulate suffering that they lack.)

The sage of Cologne — the great Albert — did not ride on horses, ever. As many of the Dominicans of his generation, he disapproved of the blazing hotshots on their saddles, and though he travelled afar, he made a point of doing so on foot. This wasn’t to spare the horses’ feelings. He just wasn’t a hotshot.

In my own view (“settled science”), the cowboys who ride should endure our displeasure, when they stray beyond the ranch.

The philosophical man is peripatetic. He proceeds at the natural walking pace for animals of his kind. When transported faster, he will likely expire.