Gasoline Horses

Published July 19, 2018

By Joe Mavretic

by Joe Mavretic, Former House Speaker and NC SPIN panelist, July 18, 2018.

North Carolina’s live horse population is over 300,000. Live horses are a significant agricultural industry. The infrastructure supporting live horses includes: buyers and sellers; the land on which horses roam; their barns and stables; tack; large animal veterinarians; land devoted to grain and hay; farriers; trailers/trucks and equipment; medicines; and the energy required to move all operations. The North Carolina Horse Council estimates that the live horse industry adds about $1.9 billion dollarseach year to our economy.

North Carolina has about three and one half million of another kind of horse that we treat like our live horses. We have: set aside the land on which they roam; dedicated structures in which they dwell; trained specialists to keep them well; organized a global network for food; provided jobs for folks who treat minor problems; and created dozens of service providers. Our gasoline horses are called automobiles or “cars”.

My grandfather had live horses. One hundred years later, I have an automobile that I live with the same way as my grandfather lived with his live animals. He named every one of his horses and they came when he called. My wife names our cars and they get ready at the push of a button. I keep my car in a room* that is part of my home. Grandfather had a stable.

I feed my car gasoline once or twice a week, Ny grandfather fed his horse grain once a day. Grandfather rode his horse to “town” - so do I. His horse doctor was called a “vet”, my car doctor is called a “mechanic”. He bought his horse tack at a general store, I buy mine at an “auto parts” store. My grandfather bought horses from a “horse trader” that he didn’t trust and I buy cars from dealers that I don’t trust....and we both trusted used horse/car dealers even less.

My car is made by a huge company that specializes in creating new, different and expensive ones each year. My grandfather got his horses from breeders who turned out new and expensive ones at about the same pace.There are several types of cars and trucks for different tasks like pulling, hauling, and going fast. My grandfather had work, hauling, and riding horses that had carts, wagons, and buggies to match. Both cars and wagons have parking brakes.

My grandfather had saddles with a wide band that went around his riding horse’s belly. My car has a belt that goes around my belly when I’m riding. My car’s exhaust smells bad even after it passes through a catalytic converter-same as my grandfather’s horses’ without a converter. When a horse has a "Twisted Gut" that malady is often fatal without surgery by a qualified veterinarian; when a car’s "Electronic Gut" becomes twisted, the car won’t go unless it is treated by a qualified mechanic.

We’ve come a long way! My car has cameras that see all around, my grandfather had to turn his head. My grandfather had solid color horses and a few that had two colors. My car color choices are the same as his solid color or two-toned. My car sleeps standing up and so did my grandfather’s horses—most of the time.

Horses have four feet-cars have four tires; but, if my car blows a tire, I don’t shoot it! NASCAR junkies go to huge ovals like the Charlotte Motor Speedway to watch really fast, and colorfully painted, gasoline horses go round and round; live horse junkies go to the Tryon International Equestrian Center at Mill Spring, NC, for thirteen days this September to watch the FEI World Equestrian Games where horses go round and round.

I make more dollars than my grandfather did, but as a percentage of disposable income, my gasoline horse costs me about the same as a live horse did him. However, in North Carolina, we only pay property taxes on gasoline horses-live horses are exempted.

If you are interested in live horses, please visit one of the four major horse complexes in North Carolina (Asheville/Lumberton/Raleigh/Williamston). If you are interested in gasoline horses, watch the ads on your local television channels.

-Happy Trails-

* I like to think of our garage as a modern stable for my gasoline horse. Someone defined a garage as,” A place where you store a lot of $25.00 items while your $25,000.00 car sits out in the rain."