"Mind-Reading" Mare Baffles Scientists
[Editor's Note: The beginning of this article is missing.]
is strictly honest. He believed that the eerie behavior of the mare might be due to mental influence purely. He will make additional investigations.
Dr. Maclachlan asserted promptly that he considered the mare super-normal, and thought there might be some subconscious connection between the mind of the human being and the mind of the animal.
Dr. Gayle laughed and shook his head when asked what he thought of the mare's achievements.
"I am perfectly willing to admit that I have no idea how she arrives at the correct answers to our questions," he said. "There is no conscious trickery here, I am convinced. But I am not converted to the mind-reading theory. What's the solution of the puzzle? I don't know!"
Dr. Gayle, too, will make another study of the animal.
Was Raised on Bottle.
Where is this mare? Is there a secret about it? Of course not. She is the property of Mrs. C. D. Fonda who lives at Stop 10, Petersburg turnpike. Mrs. Fonda was the trainer. She raised the animal on a bottle.
"Lady" has never been with other horses. So far as she knows--unless she indulges independently in telepathy--she is a chicken or man or antelope.
This writer is no scientist. Nor is he convinced that the mare can read minds. But he is utterly perplexed. He spent two hours with the mare. He came away convinced that if there was a trick in the uncanny behavior of the animal, the mantle of Houdini had fallen on competent shoulders.
He learned that several Richmonders of a scientific turn of mind had been to see the mare. So he interviewed a few of them. They left him more confused than ever.
The experiments are particularly timely just now. Studies of what is called "telepathy" have been made for many years, though the name was not given the subject until 1882. Many scientists are said to believe in thought transference. Their theories, according to one of Richmond's leading neurologists, have just been disputed by one of the most famous students of the subject in the world. The controversy is beginning to grow heated.
Moreover, it is generally admitted that just now materialism is grappling many educated and uneducated minds. The world is full of skeptics. One of the most enlightened reasoners in eastern Virginia recently told this writer that if he could be convinced that the human mind could project itself away from the protoplasm of the body, he would be ready to believe anything.
By Way of Contrast
And here is a mare, 3-years-old, black, with four white feet and three white stockings, the granddaughter of a thoroughbred race horse, which stands indolently in a barnyard and spells the maiden name of Dr. Machlachlan's wife when none in the audience save Dr. and Mrs. Machlachlan knows it!
It is just an ordinary looking mare. One would never select her as particularly intelligent, though Mrs. Fonda might take issue with that assertion. Mrs. Fonda had trained some Shetland ponies to do some simple tricks. She loved horses. She says "Lady was a very young colt."
"I want that colt," she told her husband. "I believe I can educate her. I believe that mare has sense."
So Mr. Fonda, who is employed at the Tredegar Iron Works, bought the colt. Mrs. Fonda fed her milk from a bottle. She played with "Lady" as one plays with a child. She bought some sets of blocks, and spent hours building block houses and spelling out words in front of the colt.
One day some children were playing with the mare. It was a game of hide the thimble. They learned, to their amazement, that it was impossible to hide anything from the mare where she could get at it.
Did she read their minds? She did something. Whatever her power was, Mrs. Fonda began to develop it and today Mrs. Fonda will tell the visitor that the mare actually thinks. The scientists are not willing to go that far. Nor is this writer.
Mrs. Fonda has been living several years in Chesterfield county. Before that she resided in Utica, N. Y., and spent some time in France in school, she said. Except for her amusement with the Shetlands and "Lady" she has had no experience with animals, she declared.
Some of the "Tricks"
This writer saw these "tricks":
A spectator took a coin from his pocket. None saw the face of it but he. What was the date on it? The mare nosed over the blocks, "1-9-1-4." Correct.
"Who in the group has on a pink dress?" the mare was asked.
"As I live!" exclaimed the woman in pink as the mare thrust her head emphatically in the visitor's direction.
A spectator picked up the clock and turned the dial to ten minutes past six. Nobody saw the figures but he, and he thrust the clock face against his body.
"What time is it by this clock?" the mare was asked.
"Six-one-naught," replied Lady.
Mrs. Fonda stands near the mare, but holds no halter. There is no physical contact. Anyhow, Mrs. Fonda does not know the answers.
"What is the sum of eight and seven?" asks a spectator.
And the mare answers lackadaisically: "Fifteen."
A visitor holds a pocket knife in his hand. He inquires: "What have I here?" And the mare spells out "K-n-i-f-e."
"What is the name of this boy at my side?" is the question. And the mare replies: "Leroy."
When she noses among the blocks, spelling out the answers, she appears to be going to sleep. Her eyelids droop heavily, and her head is sagging indolently. Only when the experiments are over does she resume her character as a tense, nervous offspring of a race horse.
The scientists wrote down "Dokta" as the correct spelling of "Doctor." They asked the mare to spell the word. She replied: "Dokta." They agreed to ask her to spell a long word familiar only to doctors. How would Mrs. Fonda spell it? She had no idea, but attempted the feat where the mare could not hear. Wrong. The mare proceeded to spell it right.
Dr. Johnson talked very fully about his experiments.
"In my opinion, the horse knows the answers by the movements of the questioners or by the inflection of their voices; or she is affected by a purely mental influence," he asserted. "And we must remember that when the questioner stands where she cannot see him, she replies accurately. What are we to conclude.?"
Student of Phenomena.
Dr. Maclachlan has been studying psychic phenomena for ten years.
"Now, I am no spiritist, mind you," he suggested, "I am merely interested from a scientific point of view. It seems to me that the mare has super-normal powers. It appears that there may be a subconscious connection between the mind of man and the mind of an animal."
In short, it may be that thought actually can be transferred not only from human mind to human mind without other means than pure mental activity, but also from human mind to animal mind.
Dr. Gayle reminded this writer that some years ago there were several animals in Germany, called the Elberfeldt horses, which could accomplish feats of --apparently--mind reading. They were all killed in the war. "Lady" is believed to be the only mare of her kind in the world.
"Clever Hans" was a German horse which performed uncanny feats. So was "Princess Trixie," who was a feature at the Jamestown exposition. Some Richmond observers contend that "Lady" is a greater marvel than either of the others.
Horses long have been reputed to be the smartest of animals, with dogs and elephants as close contenders. They are supposed to have originated in the East, and are first heard of in Egypt. They were not native to the hemisphere, it is understood, for the Indians, seeing a man on horseback, thought the two to be one animal--a sort of centaur.
One Richmonder who has given some thought to the phenomena stated today that "Lady" was the heroine of her kind. In the day when horses have lost caste, due to the popularity of the automobile, a mare performs such feats as to make scientists wrinkle their brows in despair.
"Imagine a flivver telling you the square root of 81!" he exclaimed whimsically.