Thumbelina, World's Smallest Living Horse


As a lifelong devotee of the terrier-sized eohippus and other Pleistocene fauna, I am thrilled at the fifth birthday of Thumbelina, a miniature horse saddled with dwarfism, a condition that dropped her adult height from 34 inches to just 15 and 1/2. Her breeders didn't expect the foal to survive, but she has done so with a will. Now Guinness has officially recognized her status as world's smallest horse and her family is scheduling appearances to raise money for children's charities. The plucky little thing is now a cossetted family pet that sleeps with the dogs and bosses the other animals around.

In our own home, all the animals defer with some evident tenderness to "It's", our cherished guinea pig with the crippled feet from being kept in too small a cage before we rescued her. She's our Tiny Tim; we named her "It's" after the Michael Palin character who introduces each episode of Monty Python after emerging in tatters from some unspeakable dungeon. When she takes her constitutional, the cats and the rabbits all let her coo and groom them as if they know she can't walk very well. I certainly understand the little horse's family and their tender attachment for the tiny creature who must wear prosthetic supports on her feet. This is why Walt Whitman said that animals do not moan about their condition.

The vulnerability of the best parts of this world brings tears, reminding me of the Tibetan admonition that if you want to be a Shambala warrior, and truly open your heart to the world as a boddhisatva would, the world will swell and break your heart. Those who profess hard-heartedness do so out of fear; the broken heart of the world, the child in Sudan squeezing a finger, the tortured soul in prison, the hopeful dog wagging its tail on its way to the death chamber, all these would call the cynics away from their bemused sarcasm and demand some kind of action.

3 comments:

Stewart Sternberg said...

I remember reading Jurassic Park. I think it was Jurassic Park. There is a scene where the biologist is displaying manipulating genes and dna and the product of one experiment is a minature elephant. The byproduct of this tampering and disruption of nature: the elephant is quite insane.

Stewart Sternberg said...

By the way, I have been talking to a few other friends and we have been discussing the possibility of approaching the Twilight Tales about organizing a Michigan group. Any ideas on this? Any suggestion?

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

There's a miniature elephant in Heinlein's "Jerry Was a Man" as well, but not insane. If it was a genuine throwback to earlier lines-- a shoveltusker, maybe-- or a true dwarf like Thumbelina--it's mind ought to be unaffected, no more than in human dwarfism. (Long work day today-- sorry for the torrtured syntax.)
There IS a problem involving body ratios and proportions that Hollywood monster makers often forget-- blowing a rat or an insect up to monstrous size would require a change in the legs and feet, for instance. Drawing a blank on the proper term for this-- morphic something? Don't know what shrinking a big animal does; I've been told that English bulldogs are actually inbred dwarves, causing all kinds of congenital problems.
Twilight Tales at the Red Lion works in part because of the concentration of an audience/participant base in Chicago. We have enough pros, semi-pros and beginning sci-fi/horror/crime writers in Michigan, but I worry that we're too spread out, with no central location. I'm always happy to drive an hour to eat a Cottage Burger in Grand Rapids, and of course there are possible venues here in Kalamazoo (Water Street coffee on Oakland has a back room), but for reasons that remain obscure to me-- the weather?-- Michigan has never fostered artistic communities like you find in Chicago or New York. Around these parts, you have small cliques built around one or two charismatic personalities, not welcoming to outsiders and newcomers, or time-wasting masturbation circles of slam-poets and wannabes who disdain craft but glorify self-expression as an end unto itself... The MFA writing program at Western is rarefied and exclusive; my application there was rejected with a phone call from a supercilious professor at 10 PM that left me feeling subhuman and suicidal. In short, there are reasons why I drive two 1/2 hours to find a writers' group I can love that will love me back. I'm willing to listen, though, if we could find a way to avoid these traps.