For the 50 years I have known her, my wife has always had horses. In recent years she has always had two because they are herd animals and, she wants to be sure her horse has a friend close by.

For the 50 years I have known her, my wife has always had horses.  In recent years she has always had two because they are herd animals and, she wants to be sure her horse has a friend close by.  
How smart horses are though is an open question.  Many years ago we hired a man to cross-fence our pasture.  My wife wanted to use barbless wire, so I asked him if he thought that would be sufficient.  “Why sure,” he said “there ain’t any animal any dumber than a horse.”  
I had reason to question that conclusion some years later while observing her horses Nick and Dan.  Dan, younger, more agile, and lower in the pecking order, would run up whenever the dinner bell rang and start eating from Nick’s food dish.  When Nick slowly sauntered up, Dan moved over and polished off his own food.  How smart I thought - he gets all his food and half of Nick’s as well.  
After Nick died, we borrowed a horse to keep Dan company, and Dan became top horse.  Curiously though, the same feeding pattern emerged.  Cheyenne raced up to the food first, started eating Dan’s, and then moved over to her own when he would show up with his ears back, which in horse language means “back-off.”  I thought, “Doesn’t Dan realize he is being shortchanged on food the same way he shortchanged Nick?”
After some reflection, I realized I had misinterpreted things.  It wasn’t about food - it was about status.  The junior horse challenges the senior horse just to see if the old man will defend himself, and if he does, the junior horse retreats back to his lower position.
Recently the President has flummoxed the Republican Congressional leadership by reaching out to Democrats in order to cut deals on the debt ceiling and DACA.  What is going on?  Has he abandoned his political principles?  Of course not.  (Personally I doubt he has any principles to abandon).  It’s not about principles, it’s about status and winning.  Donald Trump came to power by promising to get things done, and after 8 months has accomplished nothing of consequence.
I think Republicans make a mistake in concluding that the last election indicated the electorate had embraced their conservative philosophy.  I think rather that the electorate had dis-embraced gridlock. Donald Trump claimed to be the man who could fix things, although he has never proposed any specifics beyond “trust me.”  In an interview shortly after the election, a union leader, who had supported Trump, was asked what would happen if Trump failed to deliver on his promises.  He shrugged and said, “then he’ll be a one term president.”
This must be Mr. Trump’s biggest nightmare.  He fancies himself a deal maker, and he promised his constituents he could make things happen. What if, as seems more and more likely, he finishes his term with no substantial legislative accomplishments?  His blue collar supporters may return to the Democratic party, and his neo-Nazi supporters may crawl back under the rocks from whence they came.  
He has to do something - anything.  He embraced the Republican medical “repeal and replace” plan even though it accomplished none of the things he had promised (cheaper & better), but that has gone down in flames.  Tax reform and infrastructure plans are still hanging fire.  He needs a win.
For Donald Trump, it’s not about political principle, or campaign promises, or loyalty to party.  As with horses in a herd, it’s about winning. Its about status in the eyes of his constituents.

James Rhoades writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.