by Tyler Cowen
on November 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Much like a human athlete who must be a citizen of a country for a required period of time before representing that country in the Olympics, a similar rule applies to horses.
The link is here, hat tip to Michelle Dawson.
p.s. I believe horse nationalism is silly.
It is silly.
But isn’t it equally silly for humans? Most of us only have a nationality due to chance, because our parents gave birth to us in a certain country.
And this is what we could call the “lottery of life”: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/lottery-of-life/
Nice. Wonder how the anti-immigration boys respond to those?
Chesterton’s fence. How’s that internationalism treating you, anyhow?
Children are a continuation of what their parents are, not random winners in a lottery. For a child to inherit from a parent is no more unjust than for an older version of a person to inherit from a younger version – both are altered versions of the person which have accumulated new information and lost other information through natural processes. Children are more altered versions than old versions, or versions which have suffered amnesia or brain damage to significantly alter their personality, but they are still altered versions.
Allowing less intelligent or talented children to inherit from more intelligent and talented parents is no more unjust than allowing saving so less talented old people can inherit from their more talented younger versions or allowing brain damaged persons to inherit from their previous version.
The modern Western dogma on the separation of persons is not particularly philosophically defensible. This “individual” that people speak of is a construct.
I would love to see countries compete for citizens.
Horse nationalism is still a step up from horse regionalism. (Moreover, horses are dumb and smelly.)
So are humans.
The actual quote shows how reasonable it in fact is: “A horse can only represent a country at the Olympics if he has been owned by his country or a citizen of his country for the requisite amount of time”.
The amount of time may or may not be silly but having a rule like that is not. We’re not talking about running with national shoes but about one of sport competitors! If the Olympics is about having a subject representing his country then this is a just and logical outcome. Had the Olympics been about having individuals competing individually (which is not) this *would* be silly.
PS: Defining this as horse nationalism is silly.
Aren’t they all Anglo-Arabians?
“I believe horse nationalism is silly.” Nay, lad.
It’s an implicit subsidy to poorer countries (or countries without official government support for sports). A top race horse can sell for millions of dollars and so the best race-horses tend to wind up in the hands of American CEOs or Arab oil sheiks who invest in horses for fun and profit.
Olympic horses aren’t race horses. The compete in other events (dressage, eventing, etc.). While these horses are still crazy expensive, I bet far fewer of them are owned by CEO’s and Oil Sheiks.
Olympic horses are an order of magnitude cheaper than race horses, but they are still pretty pricey (i.e., six to seven figures, instead of seven to eight).
Agreed. Just at American Quarterhorse sales, I’ve watched yearling stud colts (unbroke, unproven, and totally raw potential) go for 100k plus. Proven stallions over a million in private purchases. Those horses are on par with dressage ones in terms of athleticism and breeding, but used for western disciplines. Eventing horses are also pretty dang pricey.
It is particularly silly when you realize that there is no rule of origination of the other equipment used in the Olympics. Boats, skis, bobsleds, rifles, bows, vault poles, running shoes, etc. are used by all teams from whatever country makes the best.
It would be hard for the rider to establish a team with any new horse in 9 months. The article never explains how this could get any easier even if we revoked the horse-nationalism clauses.
I might be misunderstanding what you’re saying…but Olympic caliber trainers could ride an Olympic caliber show-horse for a week (or less) and compete at that level with it.
@ Bill Clark
The horse is the actual athlete. Its performance is judged, not the rider’s. So a horse is in no-way comparable to the equipment mentioned.
The above comments have convinced me that this is quite reasonable. To summarize:
1) The Olympics are nationalistic by design.
2) Individuals do not have nationalism “by chance” (as if we existed as disembodied and souls prior to birth, and the the growth of our bodies and athletic abilities was independent of our surroundings)
3) Likewise, the qualities of a horse (particularly, it’s athletic abilities) are not the result of chance birth. They are the result of breeding and training, both of which depend on a community. This community may be more global than it used to be, but it is hardly homogenous.
4) Horses are not commodities. We cannot produce 1000 nearly identical horses that allow each human competitor to have identical “equipment”. Maybe in 50 years, horses will be commodities (cloning and all that), but not traditionally, and not today.
There is probably some rule of horse citizenship that maximizes investment in training the horses.
Alfredo DiStefano was born in Argentina. He played for the national team. Then he played for Real Madrid and became a spaniard citizen. La saeta rubia, the blond arrow, as he was known played for the spanish team.
Brasil , to avoid the same fate declared Pele a national treasure.
Then FIFA make a rule that once you play for the national team of a country , you can not play for another team. The rule was later relaxed , and playing for the sub21 or up to the friendly matches dont make the player elegibility for another team. The rule was relaxed after FIBA did the same to allow Ollayuwon with the Dream Team II. NBA players did not want to play along the Detroit Piston player that kissed Magic to show he was not afraid of Aids. And thretened with not going to Atlanta. FIBA wanted the best, so they changed the rule.Ollayuwon took the spot in the team
Why there is such rule? In football to stop countries from buying a champion. In other sports, to punish Eastern Bloc defector forbidding them to compete with their country of choice. For sure , there is no more eastern bloc but still sport federations dont want a country to buy the championship.
p.s. I believe horse nationalism is silly.
Which are the flavors of non-silly nationalism? All nationalism seems pretty inane.
Obviously no one here understands the animal economy in equestrian sports.
The german speaking countries have a lock on the best bloodlines and the best trainers.
They sell their rejects to americans, and slaughter the rest.
The americans sell their rejects to canadians, and slaughter the rest.
So without ‘horse nationalism’ americans and canadians would never win anything, because they’d be priced out of the market.
A horse that can win a competition costs half in germany what it does in the states.
And, as a rule of thumb, a good horse starts somewhere around 50-70K, and gets as high as 250K on up.
They cost about 600-1500 per month to feed and house. About 2K+ a year in insurance. And from 300-2000 a month to train.
They compete from about 8-12 years old successfully and the best can last to 15 years or more.
I thought my Ferrari was expensive until I got into Hanoverians.
The US convinced the FEI to add reining to the World Equestrian Games. This will likely transition into the Olympics at some point (the FEI is to horses like FIFA is to soccer). The sport uses stock horses that we have a huge advantage in breeding. We also invented the event, and thus have the top-trainers and best horses, (bar a few in Canada). That team consistently brings home the gold at the WEG. Germans can raise great eventing and dressage horses, I’ll agree. But don’t discount American breeders of stock horses.
Which is ironic for me to mention because I currently am involved in horse nationalism!
I didn’t follow the logic, sorry. Without horse nationalism wouldn’t Americans be better off since they can buy good horses? How does the status quo benefit yankees if the best horses lie elsewhere?
The cost and likelihood of an american getting a good horse (in certain disciplines) is disproportionately more expensive and unlikely than it is for a german for example.
So to support the American sport – which is the purpose of the whole ecology: to make it economically viable for participants — they effectively subsidize the local teams so that it’s slightly more of a skill based exercise. Otherwise the wealthy would just go to germany, buy the best horse from around the world and drive the local ecosystem into relative weakness. So the ‘price’ isn’t the issue here. Consumers are not served by the best price but by the ecosystem. (Lesson to be learned?)
Same for sports teams. Same problem. In small local groups ‘spirit, effort and discipline’ matter a great deal. But if we take the extremes, and whittle it down to the very best people (or horses), the best individuals are simply biomechanically superior and no amount of will, effort, training or discipline will allow others to compete against them. (This is what limits the number of possible baseball teams for example.)
Secretariat’s heart was absurdly large. Our favorite cyclist has an absurd ability to consume oxygen. These are simple examples. Horses are mentally the equivalent of todlers, and making them concentrate on something other than eating grass or biting each other for hierarchical position is so difficult it’s amazing we were able to domesticate them at all.
Economics as a craft as a tool for analyzing the formal and informal institutions that allow us to maintain a cooperative polity is useful, but an economy and a polity and those institutions are inseparable. We should not apply our methodology unwisely outside of it’s useful domain. Humans desire ‘nationalism’ because of signaling, informal political utility, and epistemic necessity. (yes, epistemic necessity.) Humans are tribal because status signals have higher value intra-group than inter-group. Money and consumption simply serve to enhance signals. So we shouldn’t get too wrapped up in our libertarianism when it comes to sports. It’s not economics. Sports are an extension of politics and religion.
The west is unique because we chose to model our economics and our politics and our warfare as a game. This is genius even if it’s driven by the desire for an aristocratic minority to preserve sovereignty against the bureaucratic and totalitarian east. But epistemologically, technically and as a means of cooperation it’s both entirely counter intuitive and wonderfully advantageous.
Might have gotten a bit heavy there. Sorry. 🙂 We were talking about horses and nationalism. 🙂
So is there an active market in trans-border horse smuggling? How do people deal with provenance issues? A good, trained German horse that I can pass off as Canadian born can be a big Olympic asset?
The best horses–in the field I am referring to–are in America. Thus why Americans have tried (and succeeded) to get the WEG to adopt the discipline.
Do they actually wait until 8 to compete with the Hanoverians?
A ton of disciplines throw big money at 3 year futurity events.
I’m just sketching with broad generalizations to make a point quickly. As for eight year olds, it takes a pretty good horse that length of time to learn the suite of skills and to be physically strong enough to perform consistent actions that are counter to it’s natural posture at grand prix. Running fast is a matter of having heart lung capacity as well as interest in it. Younger horses have less to master if all they’re doing is racing.
Right, but there are highly controlled events (similar to dressage) that puts a ton of money into three year old events. I think they are starting to move away from this; however, because of the intense pressure that trainers have to put on horses to get them ready from their 2 year old years to 3.
Check out Shawn Flarida at the NRHA futurity. The horse he’s on in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIzT59LrPkk is a three year old. He won around 250k for this ride, and has since been booked full (to the tune of 100 mares per year at 10k) for the past ten years. That’s why I was curious about dressage horses specifically, my family has been raising reining horses for 30-40 years.
Top thoroughbreds, since the owners can control the market, often make 500,000+ per breeding. But even for the horses mentioned above, good stallions can make 30-40 Million + in its life time. The off-spring would likely earn 44-50 million.
The cool thing about stock-horses, at least for me, is the practical use and history. I know a ton of trainers who use these horses to herd cattle, separate them for market, etc. on their own ranches. Its still crazy to me how many horses are used in manual labor!
Is part of why Horse Nationalism is insane because it fundamentally = Slave Nationalism?
Slave nationalism of whatever stripe seems fundamentally ridiculous. How can a slave be part of a nation?
A horse can’t be a slave because it cannot conceive of nor make use of property, nor can it exchange that property in trade.
If you mean metaphorically, then that’s one thing. But if something can’t conceive of property you can’t cooperate with it. If you can’t cooperate with it you can’t enslave it. Technically speaking. 🙂 A well worn path in political philosophy here…. Time to move on. 🙂
What if a horse marries a horse of another nationality, does that mean it can get a green-card.
Are there horses that sneak over the border from mexico to have their babies, so they can become citizens?
I’d say we should give them the vote, but they’d only vote “neigh”…
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