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Chestnuts (on legs)... explaining them to a creationist???

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  • Chestnuts (on legs)... explaining them to a creationist???

    As an instructor who has many up-down kiddies and a few adult beginners on the lesson schedule, inevitably parents or adult newbies will eventually ask me what "those things on the horse's legs are." I used to go through the whole spiel of how they are remnants of toes from when the horse was a five-toed critter. I would explain how the modern day horse is essentially walking on his middle toe, and I would tell them about the two splint bones, the ergot at the back of the fetlock, and the chestnut, thus accounting for all five toes.

    But after having one parent flat out say "You actually believe that?" and laugh at me I have altered my answer a bit. I now preface my spiel by saying "If you believe in evolution then blah blah blah blah blah... If not, then I don't know why they are there, but every horse has them."

    I don't have a particularly strong opinion on the subject of evolution but I certainly never thought I would get into a debate about it at the barn, and I am now wondering if I should just shrug and say I have no idea why they are there.

    And to steal Jsalem's wording from an earlier thread because I am feeling unoriginal at the moment, COTH'ers Discuss...

  • #2
    I believe in creation and I know why the chestnuts are there.

    They are natural dog treats! As soon as I peel or cut one off, my one dog goes nuts.

    A happy day for him is when I trim Mac, the Belgian. His chestnuts and ergots are so huge they actually split and grow into 3 pieces...
    Barbara www.customstockties.com
    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten


    • Original Poster

      Isn't that the truth? Our barn dogs have a radar for when chestnuts are being picked off. Nellie the corgi is the worst. She will lurk under the horse's feet until a "yummy" hits the ground.


      • #4
        Why would a creationist parent even ask that question, when they already know the answer?

        I wouldn't hedge. Answer it directly and then if someone challenges you, invite them to research and report back on a better answer.

        I'd like a creationist to explain the hock joint to me. Is it because God believes in full employment for veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies?
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          Well IMO evolution isn't something that requires belief. The facts are there, and facts do not require faith...they have been proven true. So it's not a matter of "believing" in evolution; that woman is just wrong and foolish.

          I probably would have told her that yes, I did believe it, and would she care to provide me with scientific proof for some other way that chestnuts got there. That would shut her up...


          • #6
            I can sympathize. I spent a lot of time around Pentecostals earlier this year, and while they were on the whole lovely people, it was impossible to have a conversation about science with them. You literally could not do it. They would just circle their illogical arguments over and over.

            You won't win. The parent was way out of line to laugh at you, but you are never going to change his or her mind. A dignified, "Yes, I do believe that," would suffice.


            • #7
              Most creationists are "factual literal" translator of the Bible - they simply cannot see how the Bible can be interpreted differently. If they dare to deviate from what they've been brought up on, they fear dire consequences. So, no matter what we say to them, no matter how much evidences we present to them, they will not change their mind. We can only change one mind at a time. :/

              The best answer I can give them is what evidences I have in front of me. I'd add that dolphins were once DOGS!!!!!! I get a big kick out of that!
              Will get a dream horse!
              More riding, swimming, and rowing, less posting


              • #8
                Funny story about that!

                My barn used to do little Girl Scout clinics for the girls to get some sort of badge. We'd have 3 sections, a little riding (being lead around the ring) section, a grooming.horse care section, and a lecture section. I often lead the lecture section and always went through the same spiel talking about conformation and I always talked about the evolution of the horse and where chestnuts came from.

                Once day I was doing my usual talk and one of the girls told me that they didn't believe in evolution and they started arging with me. It turned out that this group of girl scouts were all from some born-again christian school where they taught creationism.

                No one told me that. I would have left that section out... I was pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing... And the thing is, you can't argue against that. Empirical evidence means nothing to them...
                Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.


                • #9
                  If the creationists believe that they were put there by some supernatural power then they should be able to tell you why.

                  Creationists make me insane.
                  "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett


                  • #10
                    Tell them God put them there to test the faith of creationists....much like why we have Duckbill Platypusses.

                    (or re the DP- God was stoned and thought, "Hey...This will really mess with their minds...I'll make something that looks like a Beaver, has a bill like a duck,and is a mammal that lays eggs. That will really mess with those people that believe in evolution..Hey Moses!!!Check this out!!!"


                    • #11
                      Well, THIS "creationist" has concluded that anybody that thinks a chestnut is the remanant of an old toe is an idiot. (Evolution may have some believable points, but THIS is NOT one of 'em!)

                      Think about it. Dogs like them 'cuz they STINK. Think about a newborn foal -- what distinctive odor is right under his momma's nose as she's licking him off -- HIS CHESTNUTS! What distinctive odor is right at his nose level when he's bumbling around trying to get his legs untangled -- HER CHESTNUTS!!! There could be no more perfect system for momma and baby to form a formidable bond in those precious few minutes before the foal is up and running and accidental separation of the mother/offspring could occur, with disasterous results if there wasn't a good way for them to instantly identify each other. Sight isn't good enough. Sound isn't either. But smell -- smell is infallible.

                      Quit trying to claim toe status for something that was obviously never a toe -- no animal ever had a toe above the knee (wrist) joint. The ergot was never a toe, either. Nothing but some birds has a toe sticking out backwards from the foot. Even from an evolutionary standpoint, these thingamajigs as "scent glands" makes a lot more sense than them being prehistoric toes. Also, no creationist can dispute this, and it will make perfect sense to them as well.

                      FWIW, deer have scent glands in more or less the same spots. Nobody ever claimed THOSE were toes in prehistoric times...


                      • #12

                        ...not even touching this one.

                        chugga-chugga-chugga, choo-chooooo!


                        • #13
                          I would keep explaining chestnuts the way you always have. Contrary to the behavior of a certain subset of the faithful, being a devout Christian does not require one to inflict snarky religious comments on random people one encounters during the course of one's daily activities. This parent was rude.


                          • #14
                            Nevermind. Forget I posted. I'm hopping off this train right now.
                            Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                            Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.


                            • #15
                              AAAAAALLLLLLLLLL AAAAABOOOOAAARD!!
                              Big Idea Eventing


                              • #16
                                See? You can't argue with a creationist, because if one person wants (heaven - pun intended - forbid!) EVIDENCE and the other person would rather just make something up whole cloth, the two are never going to be able to find common ground.

                                Personally, I would give the evolution explanation, and if someone questions it say, "If you didn't want the answer, you shouldn't have asked" - and then refuse to discuss the subject any further.
                                Proud member of the EDRF


                                • #17
                                  Would someone please pass me the popcorn?
                                  Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                                  • #18
                                    I just want to know what the hell an "ergot" is. I've had horses for years and never heard that term. (I know what chesnuts are, though!) It must be called something else down here, LOL.
                                    "If you can't walk with the big horses, stay in the stall!"


                                    • #19
                                      You know that little nub on the back of their pasterns...It grows...you can trim them...That's the ergot.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Duramax View Post
                                        But after having one parent flat out say "You actually believe that?" and laugh at me I have altered my answer a bit.

                                        That was extremely rude. Nobody was asking her opinion. And you should not alter your answer, diluting its roots in facts just to keep a few creationists more comfortable.

                                        Next time she starts on that, shift the topic to human evolution. Ask her why human fetuses have a clearly discernable tail up until about day 40 when the appendage is reabsorbed. If humans aren't related to ANY animal, why the tail? That ought to confuse her a moment.

                                        Originally posted by greysandbays
                                        Well, THIS "creationist" has concluded that anybody that thinks a chestnut is the remanant of an old toe is an idiot. (Evolution may have some believable points, but THIS is NOT one of 'em!)
                                        Originally posted by greysandbays

                                        Quit trying to claim toe status for something that was obviously never a toe -- no animal ever had a toe above the knee (wrist) joint. The ergot was never a toe, either.
                                        Mark me off as an idiot then.

                                        Look more carefully at horse anatomy. Do you really know where the "wrist" analogy is in the front leg? It's not the pastern joint.

                                        Here is a good diagram of horse anatomy including similarities to human limbs:

                                        We also have fossil records that over time show the toes vanishing. Here's one diagram that shows the changes over time:

                                        Nothing but some birds has a toe sticking out backwards from the foot.

                                        The location/angle of the ergot isn't much different than the dewclaw on a pig. Neither are actual functioning toes pointing back and perpindicular to the ground (like your bird analogy).

                                        How do you explain dewclaws if they're not the leftover bit of a toe?
                                        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare