A horse is a horse, of course, of course?

By and

Horses are an amazing lot. They can do a great many things, for which so much of humankind is grateful. They wow us with their tremendous strength and speed on the racetrack. They can even inspire us, la “National Velvet.” They can give us romantic carriage rides through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City (all while pooping at-will in the middle of the road and completely clogging up the damned traffic for all of us who car-drivers). They can gallop and take us great distances on their backs as the breeze of the great outdoors whips through our long, flowing hair. And, according to my Bulk e-mail folder, horses can even perform the most unsavory of acts.

But one thing horses cannot do-at least as far as I have been told-is speak English.

No. I just double-checked Wikipedia, and horses definitely do not engage in any acceptable forms of verbal human communication. Magnificent beasts? Yes. Masters of the English language? No.

And they certainly can’t handle a keyboard and mouse?but I’ll get to that later.

Which brings me to the matter of stupid people and their insistence on phony sentimentality, which has wielded its ugly, nonsensical head in the form of a horse named Barbaro.

In a split second, he went from Triple Crown threat to the Jason Kendall of horses, collapsing early on in the Preakness with a shattered right-hind leg. We were all sad to see it happen-especially all those compulsive gamblers who had just dropped thousands on Barbaro to take the crown. Surely those gamblers cried hardest of all.

But it was an ugly, unfortunate sight- no question about it. And with his chances at survival still somewhat up in the air, we can all only hope that his injury can be fully repaired.

But this is getting ridiculous.

No, strike that-it’s gone past the point of ridiculous and entered the territory of sad. Not for the horse, but for all the people who have spent their time and money writing the horse letters, sending him cards and drawing huge inspirational posters. You know who you are. Here is a report from The Sun Herald from last Wednesday:

“We Love You, Barbaro.” “Believe in Miracles.” “Beat the Odds.” Some signs were adorned with pictures of the horse. Others were signed by families who filed out of their cars to add a token of support. Kids drew pictures of the horse, one with a crayon-colored red heart.

I’m sure it was an adorable sight. According to that same article, a message board has been posted on the Internet where-yes, you guessed it-fans of Barbaro can post messages urging him to, I don’t know, “win one for the gipper” or some such foolishness. “Hang in there.” “Break a leg.”

OK, bad example.

I can just see Barbaro now, reading the paper, sipping his morning coffee in his red satin robe. He flips through to the sports pages (horses always go for the sports pages first) and sees the overwhelming support from his suddenly adoring fan base. He sees those signs, those families who have flocked to his bedside, and he has a renewed sense of determination and faith.

After wiping the tears that have welled up in the corners of his eyes, he goes into his study, logs on to the Internet and goes surfing on a few message boards, and the bombardment of sympathy and love continues. It’s almost too much for his walnut-sized brain to handle.

Just to see those words-“We love you, Barbaro”-gives him that extra kick in his step that he needs to overcome this tragic turn of events.

So now then?say I’m a horse-racing fan, and say I was left broken-hearted by the potentially life-threatening injury Barbaro suffered. What can I do to help? I don’t know-I’m sure I could think of something. But one thing that most definitely won’t help the cause is writing some sort of “inspirational” sign and sending flowers.

It’s a horse, people. He can’t read. He does not know what the hell you are saying. And he most certainly does not understand the emotional significance of a bouquet of flowers. You should have saved your money. When you tell him you pray that he gets better, he has no idea what you’re talking about.

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t matter. It’s a pet peeve. But is it too much to ask for a little bit of sense?

Stop it. Stop this foolishness right now.