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Disabuse me of this . . .

 (“Riding him until he sweats?”)                                           

Presumably there is a line. Societal norms change over time and the line is redrawn in a different place. Is Justice Potter Stewart correct? Who gets to decide? Do we get to decide for ourselves or is there an entity which should decide for us?

Help me decide.
Spanking your child? Abuse?
Scolding your child loudly? What about with harsh and unkind words?
Allowing a pre-adolescent child to ride public transportation unchaperoned?
Leaving your 11-year-old to mind your six-year-old while you run to the store to pick up a prescription. Abuse? What if it’s to buy a six pack? Or to stop at the tavern and drink your brew there?
What if it’s knowing your neighbor is living out any of those scenarios while you remain silent?
Is having a pet an abuse? Keeping it on a chain? Keeping it on the leash when you go out for a walk?
Is keeping a horse an abuse? What if he lives in a stall and has no turn out? What about clipping him so he has to wear a blanket? Or not putting the blanket on him after you’ve clipped him?
Is trimming the whiskers on his muzzle an abuse? Or the hair inside his ears?
What about riding him? How about bareback with only a halter and lead rope but galloping until his sides heave?
What about riding him until he sweats?
Riding him in a dropped noseband?
Lunging him in a bitting rig?
Riding him without any of those appliances or contrivances but allowing him to be high headed, hollow, and stiff in his back?
Is it less abusive if you are a helpless beginner trying to learn than if you have spent a lot of money for a fancy horse on which to be helpless?
Is it more abusive if you are seen to be doing it at a show than if you are equally incompetent but in your own backyard?
And finally, what about structuring every minute of your child’s time so that he or she is never alone, always engaged in a supervised activity whether competitive or educational?
And if you are a dressage judge, what are your responsibilities?
TO BE CONTINUED…

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