“The Love of Animals” by Ron Hevener

January 31, 2008

“The Love of Animals” by Ron Hevener


Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to know lots of interesting animals. Horses, Dogs, Cats, Wildlife . . .
If they liked people, I had a knack of getting to know them pretty well. When I started my career as an artist, animals were a natural subject for me to explore, and, growing up in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County farm country, animals — and people who love them — were all around me.

It would be great if we could grow up with a crystal ball and see what life holds for us. It would be fun if we had a friend who could tell us the future. That being said, as I look back on it, even an animal lover like me would shake his head in amusement and dismay if anybody told him there would be not one or two, but many special animals in his life — and he would hear stories of many more from other people who raise, care for and are inspired by animals, too. It’s enough to make us believe that animals and people have a lot more going on than scientists and scholars ever thought . . . or would like to admit.

I like passion and I like creativity. I certainly like to feel my emotions (good or bad) and I like to explore every natural sense with which we’re born (or which we are able to develop). Watching animals, touching them, playing with them, feeding them, listening to them, looking into their eyes, I feel . . . truly feel . . . that their hearts are “in tune” with the rest of themselves. And that’s healthy!

Animals don’t speak a language of words, but, for those who observe and listen, they do very well showing us what they mean. Why would scholars and scientists want us to believe animals aren’t intelligent? I don’t know the answer to that. I do know there are different kinds of intelligence and I know from experience that a “paper degree” we pay for and frame to hang on a wall isn’t the measure of them. It is a measure of our ability to gather and organize information, yes, I would agree with that, and it’s also a measure of our ability to pay for the privilege of getting a diploma in the first place. But, isn’t gathering information and knowing how to apply it the basis of intelligence for even the smallest living cell?

The debate over intelligence seems to be more important to those trying to prove they’ve got it, rather than from those who are secure in themselves. Animals don’t doubt who they are, why they’re here, or where they are going, like we do. Animals just “are” . . . they’re born mastering the principle of “Be here now” that students of yoga and psychology are struggling to figure out.

When it comes to emotion, animals are honest. When they mate, it’s with all the passion and fire in them. When they mourn, it’s with the sadness of all the heavens and all the earth. When they fear or fight, they give it their all. Animals don’t complicate their lives with politically correct terminology that confuses or denies honest, powerful drives and feelings. They don’t pretend or deceive.

It is often said that we resemble the animals to which we are attracted. Most of us have seen pictures of people and their pets, showing remarkable resemblances of expression, or hair color, or shape. Even though I get around to many public events like horse shows, dog shows, pet expos and things of that nature, I don’t often see much evidence of that. What I do see, however (and I see it often) is a similarity of personality, or spirit, between animals and the people who love them. Every species of animal, and every specialized breed within it, can be described by certain traits or characteristics. If you study the breed standards, you’ll find that different breeds are known for their nobility, or their tenacity, or for their herding, retrieving, or their hunting instincts for example. People who love them are quite often the same. If this is true, then does “something familiar about” the animal attract people who already possess this quality in themselves — or is the characteristic acquired by taking such an animal into their lives?

Many readers know that I raise Collies and the kennel was founded in the early 1940’s. No, I’m not a hundred years old. I inherited the kennel from a wonderful friend who took me under her wing and taught me about animal partnerry. One of the things she insisted upon was that I join as many dog organizations and associations as possible. As I was filling out an application for the Collie Club in our region of Pennsylvania, there was a question: “Why Collies?” I remember my answer very well: “Because they are always happy. They have a positive outlook on life.” It’s pretty tough to be down in the dumps when you’ve got a dog wanting to romp and play with you.

Should we take a tip from the animals we love? Maybe that’s not a bad idea.

If we aspire to better ourselves, to become true of heart and true to our deepest emotions, animals are the most genuine and unaffected examples for us to follow. Few people can show us the way to our own hearts because so few of us are permitted to discover our real selves in today’s society. We live in a social system designed to get us through school and into the tax-paying work force for dead-end jobs as soon as possible. Increasingly (and in spite of the principles of freedom pioneered by Baby Boomers), we don’t live in a system that generally encourages freedom of thought and expression any more. In the past twenty years or so, creative leaders and innovators have been lost to us from bizarre and sinister diseases that no one ever thought possible or disgraced and trampled in the media. As they fall — like trees being cut down in a forest — their places are filled by others less brilliant. The result is mediocrity in literature, the arts, music and movies . . . in laws, politics, and education.

When leaders are lost, their secrets and inner light are taken with them. Never again do we hear their voices or bask in their example of life being lived to the fullest. What remains is our search for something greater . . . a nameless yearning for something emotionally and intellectually real . . . A need for something to keep our emotions rolling, our souls laughing and our hearts alive. Something that we matter to — anywhere, anyone — in a world becoming more and more difficult for reasonable people to understand.

What remains unchanged — for those who let them speak — is the love of animals.

        Ron Hevener

Picollo meets the neighbor!

January 23, 2008

Picollo finally got to meet, nose to nose, Roxy.

Roxy is one of two Great Danes living next to us and sooooo friendly. She got up close and personal (and down to his height) as you’ll note from the picture.

Our neighbors are volunteers with the Northern Virginia Great Dane rescue. They have an awesome website at: http://nova-magdrl.org/ so check it out!

HorseGirl goes to the dogs!

January 18, 2008

Dogs to the lay person but we’re talking HOUNDS! What a great day this past Saturday! I think the last time I had this much fun watching horses was at the Gold Cup in The Plains and how ironic the comparison! It was a last minute shoot as Joint Master of the Hunt for Old Dominion Hounds phoned me back on Friday night telling me of a hunt the next morning that was a fundraiser to stop the expansion of the power lines out past Foxhall Farm in Flint Hill. I quickly rearranged my schedule, couldn’t find a last minute Directory of Photography so opted to play all the roles myself and “wing it” and it came out beautifully.

ALL my misconceptions about fox hunting and fox hunters were completely dispelled! I have NEVER in my life met a more welcoming, down to earth group of people as in this field! By the end of the day three different people offered me horses to take out if I wanted to try it at some point in the future and MAN!.. do I? Are you kidding the hilltopping experience alone looks like an adrenaline rush and so amazingly fun and the range of ages was incredible! From one year olds on lead lines to who knows how old jumping past the little kids and everywhere in between. When emailing a dear friend and mentor about this she replied that “They are the salt of the earth” and how true!

Needless to say, I am so excited for this next episode “Introduction to Fox Hunting” to launch as well as shoot the series we’re planning. I must say it’s a big thanks to my interview with Robert Banner at The Chronicle of the Horse because our conversation and his passion for fox hunting and point-to-point really lit a fire under me to pursue this intro episode! This oh too cute picture of me shooting video of Gus and field member was titled “Proof that we survived” by this wonderful camera person I met. Karen Myers (along with some kind other folks) sent me some great images captured (as that is all that was captured being the fox got away!) that day. You can see Karen’s fabulous photo journal at http://www.karenlmyers.org/huntingdiary!

The Chronicle of the Horse Episode

January 15, 2008

I had a GREAT time and a big education talking with Robert Banner, publisher of The Chronicle of the Horse! It was a huge honor to receive an interview from Robert and all too exciting to learn about fox hunting! I’m excited to discover more about this amazing sport that I’m thinking teaches you real riding abilities! I hope you enjoy the episode and to watch a better quality version of it, check it out at http://horsegirltv.com/episode17.php

Happy New Year Joewell!

January 2, 2008

Happy New Year HorseGirlTV too! I received the sweetest email from Joewell! Yes, Joewell, the horse, this past Christmas Eve Day and I have to be honest, it bought more than one tear to my eye. I’m sooooo happy to see that Joewell (or Jo as I’ve come to know him) is happy with his new family down in SoCal. Jo is part of the Barrows family now and what an amazing family it seems like. As you can tell from the picture, there is no lack of doating on the old boy and from what I hear Joewell will ride out his Grand Prix years with this family and then retire with them! I don’t think he could have gone to a better new place and I’m happy things worked out as they have.

Joewell’s email to me received on Christmas Eve Day…
Hi Mom,
I love my new home, but they make me wear this silly hat! It’s alot warmer here, about 70 degrees every day. I’ve made lots of new friends. My favorites are a black lab named Daisy and a 5 month old colt named Cosmo. Elliot is pretty heavy, but I’m struggling through it. I’m going to get him to lose lots of weight. I’m going to be very happy here. I hope you and Ex are fine. I miss you. Merry Christmas.

Getting to be back in Oregon for the holidays was great! As a Texan by birth I have a love for the state and it’s proud people but I’ve always felt like I was going home every time I have returned to Oregon since I first moved out west years ago.

We are back home in Virginia now and I’m pretty excited to be interviewing the publisher of The Chronicle of the Horse tomorrow! I’ve heard Middleburg is lovely and the COTH is “THE” sport horse publication stateside so it’s an honor!