Patrician the Magician – a new ‘Just So’ story

The Animal Care College – caring for people caring for animals

Patricia Sutton, who has been involved with dogs and horses all her life and currently a member of the Kennel Club General Committee and its Training Board, occasionally gives day long illustrated seminars to demonstrate movement using horses and dogs at her livery stables near Farnham in Surrey,  It is an amazing day and providing many fascinating insights into into movement and the reasons for the many different conformations found in dogs, horses and other mammals.  I felt that such a unique perspective deserved a unique report.  So here it is

How the animals moved from one place to another without falling over

with apologies to admirers of Rudyard Kipling.

With a burning of rubber, a roaring of exhausts (and exhaustion from journeying through the valleys and the mountains and the moors and verdant fields of grasses), many of the famous and the eminent, the distinguished and the prominent (and even important), gathered, Oh Best Beloved, at the dwelling of the educator ‘srordinary – breeder and exhibitor, Patrician the Magician: she of the ‘long as your arm’ pedigree of canine and equine expertise.  And, Best Beloved, munchies were arranged and the ‘sfisticated chilled soups, the biscuits and the cakes and super sandwiches and thick rolly rolls hit the spots and refreshed the company through the long hot learning day.

So the famous and the eminent, the distinguished and the prominent (and even important) sat quiet and still and safely assembled on the sunny summer day, deep in the hills of the County of Surrey and beneath Patrician’s posh porch pavilion (with banks of flowers) overlooking the srordinary field of sandy gold grass where the performance was to be performed.  They were to witness a new way of thinking and seeing and were seeking guidance and insight into how animals move from one place to another without falling over. Of course, my dear friends, you and I already know they put pad or paw or claw or hoof or foot one in front of the other, but, Oh Best Beloved, Patrician knows there is much more to it than that. And she was going to map the complexity of the Labyrinth and disclose the deep secrets of not falling over.

Suddenly, Patrician became visible, with her ‘long as your arm’ pedigree of  knowledge, experience and expertise, which you will be pleased to know Oh Best Beloved, was trailed lightly and comfortably and not poshly at all.  And she greeted the famous and the eminent, the distinguished and the prominent (and even important) with a warm inviting, smile belying the seriousness of the subject and the secrets she was about to reveal.

In the comfortable tents of the great chiefs far away in the City on the banks of the Thames, they know only how the long time offspring of our wild dogs move from one place to another.  Their knowledge is cribbed, cabin’d and confin’d to the canine elbow and the stifle, the canine hock and the pastern, the canine withers and croup and excludes all other mammals, whether they be the Elephant or the Rhinoceros, the Leopard or the Lion, the Giraffe or the Gnu – or even the Elephant’s Child or the Cat in the Hat, Dearly Beloved).  But these assembled famous and eminent, distinguished and prominent (and even important) people knew that the Magician Patrician thought outside the domestic box and understood the jungle where the Lusitano, the Hackney, the Arabian and the Draft and the Falabella dwelt and also knew, Dearly Beloved, that horses had much to teach those with open, enquiring minds.

Horses are biggerer than dogs and this is a goodly thing if you want to see how they move from one place to another without falling over.  When a horse moves you can see, Oh Best Beloved, the way the frame and the bones of the skeleton and the muscles and the skin work with and, sometimes, even against one with another.  One shod front hoof is put in front of the other shod front hoof and the back hoof moves in time to keep its balance and its equilibrium to maintain its stability and steadiness.  And so it stays steady and does not fall over.  Even a large, smooth dog is much smaller than a horse (‘cept it be a little miniature horse ‘o course) so with the poor eyesight of the elderly (most of the famous and the eminent, the distinguished and the prominent (and even important) are elderly) it is much easier to see how the working mechanics and complicated levers and machinery of the bones and the skeleton and the muscles work in the bigerer animal straight out of the jungle.  And the Magician could point to the bones (which are levers) and the muscles (which contract and pull) moving the bones and demonstrate and show and present how one works with another so the beast does not fall over when it moves.

But there was some smallerer animals too – to show small is beautiful and can be balanced too. But beware, like the jungle animals, it is not necessarily so, Dearly Beloved!  Their bones and their muscles are the same but when some bones are shorter and fit together at different angles, their shape and their balance and their stability change – as does the way they stop themselves falling over.  The Magician, pretending she knew little about the leonine Leonbergers, the spirited St Bernards and fearsome Rottweilers (but not really ‘fearsome’, children, they are really pussy cats underneath) showed the dissimilarity and divergence and the differentiation and delineations in the breeds and it transformed the vision of the famous and the eminent, the distinguished and the prominent (and even important): everything she had been elucidating became as crystal clear as the fresh springs at the source of the Nile, which, as I know you all know, is in the purest depths of the darkest African jungle.

And then some Beautiful Beagles and Fancy Foxhounds paraded for the assembled company – which Patrician the Magician, knew a great deal about – and I mean an enormous amount, Oh Dearly Beloved, as she is greatly admired throughout the many important and eminent communities she leads – near and far from the hunts of Sandhurst to the comfortable tents of the great chiefs far away in the City on the banks of the Thames.  And the Beautiful Beagles and Fancy Foxhounds walked and they trotted and they ambled and they strode, they sauntered and they single suspended and they double suspended – and galloped too.  And as they did so, Patrician the Magician pointed to their moving parts with a stroke and a pat here and an explanation, a clarification, a rationalisation and an illumination there, until all manner of hidden secrets about moving from one place to another without falling over were revealed.

As one would expect of a Magician, Dearly Beloved, it was an exquisitely  magical day.  And should Partician the Magician deign to reveal her secrets in the future, My Dears, you should bear the exhaustion and journey through the valleys and the mountains and the moors and the verdant fields to the deepest depths of Surrey to sit at her feet in her posh porch pavilion overlooking the ‘srodinary field of sandy gold grass, to learn all there is to learn about animals moving from one place to another without falling over.

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