In search of ponies: Horses offer good fuel mileage

If you really think about it, even with the blowing dirt, tumbleweeds and drive time to bigger cities, eastern New Mexico and the surrounding region have some pretty good advantages.

Particularly in light of predictions gas prices could increase to a point where many people would have no choice but to park it — naysayer prophecies of $5 to $6 a gallon by summer tied to tensions with Iran are top news lately — this area just might be the place to be.

Now of course, one might wonder how that could possibly translate to a positive for the area. After all, communities in the region tend to sprawl a bit more than their condensed urban counterparts, creating distances that aren’t always conducive to foot traffic and not a good thing when gas prices double.

But we have something other regions don’t always have in great numbers, a creature that in other places is generally unattainable to those who fall short of affluent.

You might have guessed where this was going… Yep, we have horses, and lots of them.

Think about it.

Gas prices aside, if 2012 theories proved true and suddenly some event wiped out all technology, people in other regions would struggle trying to learn how to function with defunct nifty, gee-whiz electronic cars.

Or, finding their GPS units relegated to paperweights, they may face the shocking reality that they don’t know their way around town.

But a solar flare doesn’t fritz a horse and, as luck would have it, horses still come with an on-board GPS — granted it’s usually tuned to the barn — but it functions nonetheless.

With people around who still remember the pioneering days on the High Plains, land as far as the eye can see and an ingrained horsing culture, things tend to be a little different in this area. In fact it’s rare to travel more than a couple miles without seeing a member of the equine persuasion, and, what’s more, they’re still being employed for practical purposes.

I’d even hazard a wager that there are still some hitching posts around, even if they are in storage and need a little dusting.

Not counting maintenance and vet bills, using the average annual mileage a person generally puts on their car, if gas hit $4 a gallon, a person getting semi-decent mileage would spend about $3,000 on fuel. By comparison, fueling a horse, even with the astronomical hay prices of late, would cost below half that.

Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a presidential candidate campaigning on a platform of providing a pony for every American if he is elected. Among other things, he has proposed we use the methane gas from their waste as an alternative energy.

OK, admittedly he is probably not the poster child for four-legged transportation considering he also wears a boot as a hat, glitter-bombed a fellow candidate during a forum and promises to enact a mandatory tooth brushing law.

However, funny-hat-glitter-bombing aside, maybe there are other reasons to keep driving.

Coexisting with methane gas producers as we already do, most of us are probably hard pressed to see how 300 million ponies, and their methane, are going to improve quality of life in America.

And despite the saying, it actually does take a while to drive the wheels off a car, where as it took 120 riders with 400 horses to pull off the Pony Express in its short, 18 month existence.

Furthermore, economically speaking, a car parked with a full tank still has a full tank a week later, where as the horse will use and need its fuel even if we don’t.

But the point is, when you have the best of both the old, and the new worlds, if we were forced to give up the conveniences we think we rely on, an area like this could probably pull it off better than most.

Not that I’m advocating a vote for a pony, mind you.