Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 5-16-11
Lee’s Institute of Equine Studies (LIES) has concluded the initial phase of an exhaustive report in which we compared the efficiency of tractors and ATV’s versus horses. In view of the rising cost of fuel, a least-cost analysis was performed to determine which mode of conveyance was more efficient and cost effective. Although it is much too early in our research to make a definitive statement as to which mode of transportation is optimal, we will have conclusive answers when we add up and compare the total dollars in contributions and grant money we receive in unmarked bills from the AQHA, John Deere and Polaris. In the meantime, here are the preliminary results from LIES research based on our love for horses and a disdain for anything mechanical.
• Fuel Costs: Even though the prices for grain and hay have risen drastically it is still cheaper to refuel a horse than it is to fill up a tractor. And besides, who would you rather be enriching, corn farmers in Ottumwa, Iowa, or oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia; Timothy hay growers in Ellensburg, Wash., or Mideast terrorists?
• Initial Cost: In comparing horses to tractors LIES found that motorized work implements can cost from 20 to 50 times more than horses, however, the tractor can be compared favorably when broken down on a horsepower basis. And tractors are broken down a lot, as you are already aware. ATV’s on the other hand are currently priced about the same as a good cowhorse, although there are other considerations to consider when buying an all terrain vehicle. (See the section of this report titled “Safety”.)
• Environmental Considerations: Take your pick … tractors and ATV’s allegedly produce climate-altering pollutants, whereas horses produce a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly. (Just ask a horseshoer.) Tractors and ATV’s also produce emissions that are highly flammable whereas we’ve never been drunk enough to see if a horse’s emissions will catch on fire. That will be determined in phase two of our research.
• Performance: In wind tunnel tests we found that big tractors have all the aerodynamics of Al Gore, whereas, we were unable to coax any of the horses into the wind tunnel. In cow-cutting experiments we found the horse was able to make much sharper turns and draft horses compacted the soil much less than their motorized competitors. We also concluded that horses will seldom get the operator into a spot he or she cannot get out of whereas that is not necessarily true with a tractor or an ATV. All three of our test subjects proved to be hard to start in the morning.
• Maintenance: LIES found that there was a clear advantage to the horse in this category because veterinarians work much cheaper than diesel mechanics. And you hardly ever have to lube a Percheron. Horseshoes are also much cheaper than tires. On the other hand, you usually don’t have to catch, saddle or harness a tractor.
• Disposal: Interestingly, we found the usable life for tractors and horses is about the same. Although the federal government has now made it just as hard to get rid of a horse as it is to dispose of old batteries and worn out tires.
• Safety: Preliminary data indicate that there are far more ways to kill yourself on a tractor or ATV than there are on a horse. We found that an ATV will buck you off just as quick as a rank horse, although Deeres don’t usually bite, they have been known to kick. Quarter Horses and Clydesdales don’t catch fire, rollover or explode. (Okay, so maybe they do once in awhile.)
Depending on funding sources, the second phase of our study will look at the feasibility of adding seat belts, air bags and rollover cages to horses.
IMPORTANT: To complete phase two of our test we need a new crop of crash test dummies, so please apply. Survivors will be paid generously.
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