An Equine Christmas Story: “We Were There”

An excerpt from R.T. Fitch’s book ~ Straight from the Horse’s Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss and Hope

“Today is the last ‘Feel Good Sunday’ before Christmas 2014; a magical day indeed, and for me the day bears great significance as I am home and will remain here over the holidays as it has been several years since we have experienced such a luxury.  With that said, I have resumed my duties of making dinner for the boys in the barn and feel the warmth that their souls and spirits bring to our lives.  Being that I am still suffering jet lag I have not sat and contemplated their essence but still they have managed to brush a few cobwebs away from my aging brain.  And today, we share with you a story that I wrote some years ago after spending a special evening in our former barn with the same souls, with some sadly departed, that bring us joy today.  You can take this tale with a grain of salt or you may kindly grant me a little bit of literary license but none the less, our equine companions have a story to tell if only we will slow down and shut up long enough to listen.  Enjoy this day my most special and valued friends.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.


Pele, Bart and Harley ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Pele, Bart and Harley ~ photo by Terry Fitch

It was like any other evening feeding of the horses, yet it was not; or not quite, as something was different.  The air was crisp and cool as Christmas was only a week away in South Louisiana, but the feeling had little to do with temperature or barometric pressure.  There was an electric buzz in the air; the feeling of white noise just outside the audible range of the human ear.  There was something tangible and moving in the barn that night.

I did not pick up on it at first.  Terry, my wife, was off having an early Christmas with her family in Florida, which means that the barn chores and the feeding of all our four-legged children rests upon me when I return home from my office in the evening.  And, at this time of year, it is already dark.  It’s a matter of rushing home, putting the vehicle up for the night, greeting and playing with Kenny, the white German Shepherd who is so excited to see you that he bounces three feet high, dashing into the house to turn on lights, checking messages, changing clothes, feeding the cat; then back outside to dribble the bouncing dog; and into the barn to cook dinner for the equine boys.   Oops, I missed that while in the house I might fix an industrial strength Wrangler Iced Tea to take out to the barn with me, not a requirement, but a nice reward for all the running around.

I scurried into the tack room, flipped on all of the lights and turned up the radio as Christmas music was the order of the day.  As I carefully measured varied degrees of hoof supplement and rice bran with their normal pelletized feed, the thought crossed my mind that my parents, especially my mother, never had the opportunity to see our equine kids nor experience this very special side to our otherwise very busy lives.  I paused from humming along with the radio and reflected on what a tremendous loss that was.  I resumed mixing and humming with a small pang of sadness in my heart.

I went from stall to stall filling up the appropriate feed bins with the proper amount of food.  Each time I exited a stall and went back to the tack room I asked Kenny how he was doing; he sat so attentively out in the driveway.  This simply inquiry would start the bouncing, again.  I’ll never figure out how a 100 lb dog could bounce so high and he made me laugh.  I was just about finished with the mix of the last meal when the traditional and expected three measured knocks came to the back door.  Terry and I have learned to keep the back “horse” door closed until ready to let the horses in as it is such a pleasure to hear those three distinct and perfectly timed and executed knocks.

We know who it is and he does such a good job at it.  It’s Ethan.  He is the King of Knocking, the Guardian of the Food Gate, and the funniest of them all at feeding time. ,

I hollered back through the closed doors that I was hurrying and would be right with him.  With that, I dumped the last bucket of feed in Apache’s stall, walked to the back, and carefully cracked the sliding doors.  Who was standing with his head pressed to the middle of the doors, Ethan, as always.

“Are you ready?” I asked and a part of me picked up on a gentle nod and smile.

The doors were slid open, the breezy gate was swung out and, as they do every night, they came in the barn in perfect order to eat the dinner that I had labored over in preparation for them.

First came Ethan, then Harley followed by Apache and bringing up the rear is the biggest, the youngest and the most fearful, Bart.  He feels more comfortable when they are all tucked away in their stalls with their doors closed so that no one can stick their head out and attempt to bite him as he walks down the aisle.  He actually stops and looks into each one of their stalls and you can almost hear him say, “Ha, Ha, you can’t get me now”.  Hopefully, one day, he will grow up.

Immediately the barn was full of the sound of relaxed munching and filled with the sweet odor of horses and feed.  I looked back at Kenny who only bounced two feet instead of three feet off the pavement hoping that I might sit down and enjoy this moment.  I went into the tack room to pull out a chair and sit in the center aisle of the barn to commune with the horses. My Brazilian hammock, however, caught my eye.

“Ah ha” I cried and snatched up the hammock with one hand while I grabbed the “tea” in the other.  This could be good!

Two quick slips of “S” hooks into the installed tie rings on to opposing stalls and I had the hammock swinging across the center aisle in a heartbeat.  Kenny lay down, as I eased into the hammock, because he knew that this could be awhile.  I sat down with my back propped up and began to swing while singing along with the Christmas music from the radio.

It did not take long to realize that my singing was not appreciated.  Bart began to pound on the stall wall with his right front hoof and Apache quit eating to urinate, on the clean shavings in the stall, in protest of my singing.  I actually was not too offended by Bart’s signal to quit but for Apache to pee in his stall was pushing the envelope a little too far.  I felt rather hurt so I just shut up, set my drink down on the aisle floor and listened to the sounds of the horses mixed with the sound of Christmas.

The music stirred emotions from seasons long past:  seasons of happiness, hope, disappointment and most recently, pain.  But I am the Captain of my ship and I had no intention to sail into dark and murky waters this night.  I simply wanted to let go and feel the companionship of my friends around me.  That’s when I heard the buzz.

At first I thought that the radio was slipping off from its frequency but the music was still there, clearly playing.  The buzz was overriding the music; the “white noise” was multidimensional and not strictly coming from the tack room.  I did not make a serious attempt to think about it as the sounds and smells were like candy to my senses and the buzz was only the canvas that the painting of the moment was applied to.  I relaxed.

I closed my eyes and continued to rock back and forth.  There was a feeling of warmth in the barn, while all of those equine souls were inside eating and enjoying.  The buzz, on the other hand, continued to grow.  In the beginning it really was not something that I was paying much attention to but now I attempted to tune into where it was coming from and what it was.  I continued to rock.  I could still hear the horses and the music but now the buzz was growing in volume.  As I continued to mentally identify its source, it was becoming ever more evident that the sound, itself, was coming from within.  It was coming from inside of my head and not related to anything outside of myself.  I was aware that I was humming “Away in the Manger”, along with the radio but it was becoming evident that the white noise was music also.  In that music there were whispers, words, phrases and thoughts being conveyed.  Without knowing it I gave in to the music from within and opened up to the whispers and words.  There were many voices with varied depths and pitches although different they all blended together in song and, it was soul stirring.  I listened and listened and listened until I finally made out the words that were being sung to me.  It came as abruptly and as clearly to me as if a sonic boom had just resonated throughout the barn.  In thousands of voices, from deep within my soul, the words being sung in perfect harmony were “We were there!”

I stopped rocking and the singing stopped; there was total silence.  My eyes popped open and I was looking straight up.  Once they focused I could see two small sparrows in the barn’s rafters looking straight down at me.  They were looking directly at me with calm assuredness.  The radio was silent, only my breathing could be heard.  I sat up and looked at the stalls; all of the horses were looking directly at me, calmly, with their heads bowed.  I then gazed out across the moonlit pasture and could see the little donkey and her herd of cows staring directly into the lighted barn.  Not one of them was moving.  I quickly swung around and looked out the other door for Kenny; he was laying calmly with his head between his paws and his big brown eyes starring right at me.

I went to stand and in the silence the words came again, “We were there!”  I froze.

“We were there that night”, the collective voices continued.

“Wait, what, who?” I started to ask.

“Just listen and absorb.  Do not ask, we will tell.” the voice said.  “We were there in the stable, that night.  All of us in one shape or form.  We were there long before human shepherds and nobles came to see.  We were there to see him take his first breath.  We were there.”

“It is important, at this time, for you to know that we were the selected witnesses, the guardians and the companions of the Son of the Light.  You need to understand that we are closer to the source of goodness and purity than all mankind.  You need to know that your fight for our lives is a just and noble one.  All of you humans who guard and protect us walk in a very special light.  You have now been there too; now you know and now you must continue the fight”, the voice ended.

“Wait!  What do you mean I was there too?” I called.  I stood up and turned around because I did not know who I was talking to.  I looked at the horses, the dog, the birds, the donkey, and the cattle.  ”What do you mean?”

Reality had yet to come to me as I stared into the horses’ eyes.

Again, the voice returned, “You were there, too.  When you opened your eyes, just a few moments ago, what did you see first?” it asked.

I stammered for a second and came up with, “The birds; the birds in the barn’s rafters.”

The voice asked, “What did you see next?”

“Well, I saw the horses looking at me from their stalls, the donkey, the cows and Kenny the bouncing dog, all looking at me.”

“Yes”, the voice said, “And what were the first impressions in the life of the Gifted One when he first opened up his eyes in that stable long, long, long ago”?

“I would imagine that when he first opened his eyes, lying in a manager, he saw the rafters in the barn ceiling with the birds looking down…” I stopped talking so quickly that I almost bit my tongue.  There was a warm sensation washing over me and it was more than just the tie-in and realization of what had just occurred.

I could not speak and was about to sit back down when the voice added;

“Yes, you see now.  You have been there too.  We all have been there yet, few humans can remember.  This is our gift to you.  Carry the light and chase the darkness; we love all of you for what you do.”

Hearing those words, there was something else, I could not then nor can I now describe it.  Perhaps a sigh, perhaps it was a catch as if emotion had welled up but there was something there, not spoken, that touched me more than the words.

In a dreamlike state of numbness I began the process of releasing the horses from their stalls to their pasture; this is done in the exact reverse of the entry process.  I moved like a robot as the power of the words and the moment were still within me.  I opened up Ethan’s stall and he walked out and stood in the middle of the back door as he often does.

Harley was next.  I stood at his stall door and allowed my hand to move down his furry side as he calmly walked by me and out past Ethan.

Apache usually flattens his ears when he sees Ethan in the doorway and chases him out; but not tonight.  When I opened up his stall he calmly walked past us both without any notice.

Finally, Bart was freed to return to the beloved round bale and as he exited I asked him to stop and I gave him a hug.  He gently kissed my bald spot and headed out past Ethan.

I then turned my attention to Ethan; I stood next to him in the doorway and gazed out upon what he was viewing.  The donkey and cows had gone back to grazing in the moonlight and the neighbor’s horses were tucked away in their barn with their heads hanging out.  Our three were all drinking from the trough, together, and the sky was fantastic with the moon and stars.  It was picture postcard perfect.

As he stood next to me I put my hand on Ethan’s withers.  He turned to me and put his left nostril right against my heart which placed his left eye at the same level with mine.  I said, “Merry Christmas, my friend.”  He blinked, turned and then stepped out into the night.  As I watched that big Appaloosa butt dwindle from the light of the barn he stopped and turned.  Regardless of what anyone says, he had the biggest smile on his face that any horse could have.

I lowered my head, pulled my glasses off to wipe the tears off the lenses, closed the back door, walked past the still full glass of tea sitting on the floor under the hammock, turned off the lights, walked out of the barn and stood over Kenny who had still not budged.

“Want to go inside, boy?”, I asked.

He bounced five feet high this time and we happily dribbled each other up the driveway to the house like we were two ten year old kids headed for a game of basketball.

The moon cast shadows of us dancing on our way as the horses continued to hum in the pasture,

“We were there”.

Ginger Kathrens on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., Nov. 5th)

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5, 2014

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen Live (Here!)

Call in # 917-388-4520

This is a 2 hour show. Please call in with questions during the 2nd hour of the show.

The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.

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Our guest is GINGER KATHRENS, the Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, who has been described as “the Jane Goodall of wild horses.”  Ginger will discuss saving all the Mustangs and wild burros in the West, and give us an update on Cloud and his family.

Ginger Kathrens is an Emmy Award-winning producer, cinematographer, writer and editor as well as an award-winning author.  Her documentary film-making trips have taken her to Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America and all over the U.S.

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 Kathrens filmed and produced the acclaimed Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns for WNET’s Nature series on PBS, and Cloud: Challenge of The Stallions.  Five years in the making, it is Kathrens’ next chapter in the life of the charismatic wild stallion she has documented since his birth in May of 1995.  Her documentation of Cloud represents the only continuing chronicle of a wild animal from birth in our hemisphere.

Kathrens was the co-producer and cinematographer of the two-hour Discovery Channel special, Spirits of the Rainforest, which won two Emmy Awards including one for Best Documentary.  Additional projects for Discovery included The Ultimate Guide: Horses and The Ultimate Guide: Dogs.  Kathrens also wrote, edited, and produced over two dozen segments of the Wild America series for PBS, and has filmed for National Geographic, Animal Planet and the BBC.

This radio show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, Vice-President & Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

Co-hosting this week will be R.T. Fitch, President and Co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

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Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s Debbie Coffey and R.T. Fitch on Wild Horse & Burro Radio, TONIGHT

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 17th, 2014

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Listen Live (Here!)

Call in # 917-388-4520

This will be a short 1 hour show, you can call in with questions towards the end of the programming.

The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.

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photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Join us Wednesday evening for an update on our wild horses and burro’s.  Presented as an educational outreach by Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
Our guests tonight will be Wild Horse Freedom Federation Board members RT Fitch (Pres.), Carol Walker (Dir. Of Field Documentation) and Marjorie Farabee (Dir. Of Wild Burro Affairs) talking about the BLM roundups of wild horses in Wyoming, the endangered donkeys in Bonaire and the International Equine Conference.

This radio show is co-hosted by Debbie Coffey, Vice-President & Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation.


To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

LISTEN TO ARCHIVED RADIO SHOWS:

11/6/13 – John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance discussing the latest in horse slaughter issues. Click HERE.

11/13/13 – Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Mgr. of Todd Mission Ranch (home of TMR Rescue) and founder of Wild Burro Protection League and Carl Mrozak, videographer (Eagle Eye Media). Click HERE.

11/20/13 – Simone Netherlands, founder of respect 4 horses, director & producer of the documentary “America’s Wild Horses.” Click HERE.

11/27/13 – R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, talk about the Salt Wells & Adobe Town roundups. Click HERE.

12/4/13 – Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist, on Board of the Cloud Foundation, author of “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” (http://thewildhorseconspiracy.org/) and Robert Bauer, Wildlife Biologist, debunk the BLM’s “junk” science about wild horses and burros. Click HERE.

12/11/13 – Ginger Kathrens, the Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. Click HERE.

1/15/14 – Victoria McCullough, equestrian and CEO of Chesapeake Petroleum and John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance, on stopping horse slaughter from being reinstated in the U.S. Click HERE.

1/29/14 – R.T. Fitch, John Holland and many others honor the life of wild horse advocate Garnet Pasquale, who dedicated her life to save the wild horses & burros, especially near her home in Nevada, with the Spring Mountain Alliance. Garnet’s dear friend, wild horse advocate and wildlife photographer Arlene Gawne, talks about Garnet, wild horses and the Spring Mountain Alliance. Click HERE.

2/5 - Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and filmmaker James Kleinart (theamericanwildhorse.com). Click HERE.

2/26/14 – Barbara Clark, founder of Dreamcatcher Wild Horse & Burro Sanctuary in northern California talks about the sanctuary and natural behavior of wild horses and burros. Click HERE.

4/1/14 - Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation, on endangered (thought to be extinct) Bonaire (Dutch Antilles) donkeys. Carl Mrozak, videographer (Eagle Eye Media), and advocates Rona Aguilar, and her father, Al Catalfumo. Click HERE.

4/11/14 – Ginger Kathrens, the Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. Click HERE.

5/28/14 – R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, along with Ginger Kathrens, on his trip to the Pryors with Ginger to find Cloud. Click HERE.

7/15/14 – Karen Sussman, President of International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB), in South Dakota. Click HERE.

7/23/14 – Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, on the dire situation for wild horses in Wyoming. Click HERE.

7/30/14 – Milanne Rehor (Arkwild, Inc.) trying save the last Abaco Spanish Colonial wild mare (named “Nunki”) and her offspring in the Bahamas. Click HERE.

8/6/14 – Palomino Armstrong, founder of CHILLY PEPPER – MIRACLE MUSTANG, that specializes in caring for CRITICALLY ILL, NEO-NATAL, SICK AND/OR INJURED FOALS.  Listen HERE.

8/13/14 – Susan Wagner, President and co-founder of Equine Advocates, on investigations and the miserable lives of PMU mares (continually impregnated and turned into 4-legged drug machines to produce Premarin, PremPro and Premphase).  Click HERE.

8/20/14 – Vicki Tobin, Vice President of Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and Daryl Smoliak, Board member of EWA.  Click HERE.

8/27/14 – Karen McCalpin, the Exec. Dir. of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Click HERE.

Part Two: Ginger, Quinn and a Cloud with a Silver Lining

by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“For me, I was in heaven and the Queen of the Wild Ones was sitting right beside me…”

GingeratWork“Feel Good Sunday” brings me full circle and back around to where we were last week when I wrote Part One of my week in the Pryor Mountains of Wyoming/Montana with Ginger Kathrens on our quest to find Cloud, dead or alive…and I need to stress that, it was not a happy-go-lucky excursion into LaLa Land to observe the ‘Yellowstone’ of wild horses, it was a trip of trepidation that, luckily, turned out for the best.

Again, the real story teller will be Ginger and due to the untimely passing of the stallion Shane of the Cloud Foundation’s Freedom Family her attention has been rightfully deviated.You can readaGinger’s tribute to Shane by clicking (HERE).

Cliff note version:

GingerWorking_1On our first day we searched for Cloud from where he was last seen on the desert floor all the way up to, almost, the crest of the mountains where we DID locate him and his family, late in the day, calmly grazing in a small valley. I CANNOT tell you how relieved we were…and for me, it was pretty much a dream come true and I will tell you why.

As Ginger and I sat and observed it occurred to me that I had really, truly, never seen our native wild horses in their pure natural state. I had only witnessed them being driven into traps by money crazed BLM helicopter contractors and had only experienced the trauma, stress and total depression of watching our Federal government intentionally destroy and ruin the freedom and family of these most magnificent icons of our country’s freedom and independence. I was stunned.

Gingerand Quinn_1Here we sat, on day one, calmly watching the interaction between not only Cloud’s family but the dozens of other wild horses that call the Pryors their home. For me, I was in heaven and the Queen of the Wild Ones was sitting right beside me, in the sunshine, in shirt sleeves with Quinn the Magic Irish Terrier. Life just does not get any better than that.

The topography and geological beauty of the mountains is breathtaking. Terry and I travel around the world to document and view horses in exotic environments. Outer Mongolia, Tibet and this year Tanzania on the African continent but I experienced more than one moment wondering why we travel so far when there is so much magnificence right in our own backyard…something that we may need to consider.

MeandQuinn_1Ginger, my new doggie buddy Quinn, and I ate lunch among the horses as the week progressed. Ginger kindly made us custom sandwiches and always found a band of horses for us to break bread with and I returned the favor by making dinner, by purchasing it at the only restaurant in Lovell, Wyoming in the evening. I think that Ginger got the short end of the stick.

I would like to share with you some parting moments as Ginger and I left Cloud and his family on the last day of our expedition in another installation, but in the meantime I am going to stop right here and simply state that I have seen the bright light, I have been to the mountain top and my soul is secure in knowing that we, meaning YOU and I, are on the right path and doing the right thing in attempting to secure the future safety and well-being of these beautiful and magnificent American wild horses and burros. It is our destiny to secure theirs.

Keep the faith, my friends.

R.T.

Part One: Friendship, Family and a Wild Horse Named Cloud

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A Week in the Pryor Mountains with Ginger Kathrens and Cloud: A Wild Horse Dream Come True

Cloud and FamilyIt is “Feel Good Sunday” and I ‘Feel’ like sharing several intimate and special wild horse moments with you supportive and loyal reader.

As most of you regular visitors are aware, I spent several days up atop the Pryor Mountains with Ginger Kathrens, in Wyoming/Montana, just 3 short weeks ago.

I am not going to beleaguer you with the details and the intimate encounters that both Ginger and I experienced, at this point, as she is in the process of wordsmithing an article that will be far beyond what I could do with my limited skills.

Instead; I would like to give you a boots-on-the-ground view from about 35,000 feet as to what the planning of the experience meant to a layman such as myself…as I am still attempting to catch my breath. (more details to follow)

First off, this was NOT a planned mission of photo taking or documentation.

In fact; it was not even on my calendar until Ginger left a bone chilling message on my cell phone as I was enroute to the U.S. from China.

Ginger detailed the fact that the good folks at the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center had witnessed a horrendous battle between Cloud and another band stallion, Doc (I know that is not his BLM name but I am hanging with it out of respect for TCF) and that afterwards Cloud could not be found and his mares were with his attacker.

Obviously this alarmed the folks at the Cloud Foundation and to further raise the volume on their concern…Cloud was not to be seen thereafter.

Ginger called and gave me the facts, we had to go and look for Cloud.

It’s been a long time since I was as depressed as I was to travel to meet Ginger and search for Cloud…being a veteran of both Vietnam and the Gulf War I do not remember being as “down’ as I felt knowing that I would have to search for the remains of the one and only wild horse that has given a face and a voice to the plight of wild equines of North America…I could not let Ginger endure this alone. So I readily agreed to join her.

It was a bad several days prior to departure, Terry was deeply concerned about my attitude, but the night before I boarded that 787 Dreamliner to Denver Ginger called and said,

“I don’t know how this will affect your plans or way forward but Cloud was sighted today, injured, but alive.”

My only words, and Ginger will verify, were; “Let’s go lay our eyes on Cloud!”

And so the journey began, one that was initially an expedition of doom and depression only to metamorphose into one of elation and the celebration of new life.

There will be more to follow as I am humbled to have been able to spend days on end with the world’s leading authority on wild horse behavior, alone, amongst the horses that we all know and love thanks to her tenacity and dedication.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation fully endorses and is in total alignment with the efforts of the Cloud Foundation (along with EWA, Front Range Equine Rescue, Equine Advocates, Respect 4 Horses and HfH to name just a few legitimate organizations that are attempting to better the plight of our American equine be they domestic or wild) and we will continue to work together to further enhance and ensure the future well-being and safety of one of our most precious natural, national resources; the wild equines of the United States of American.

Keep the Faith…more to come.

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R.T. Fitch trip to Pryors with Ginger Kathrens: Wild Horse & Burro Radio tonight!

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Times for this Wednesday night (May 28) show are:

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen Live (Here!)

Call in # 917-388-4520

This is a 2 hour show, and you can call in with questions during 2nd hour of the show.

The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.

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R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation will be our guest, and will be talking about his trip to the Pryor Mountains last week to search for Cloud and his family with Ginger, and other wild horse & burro issues. Ginger Kathrens, Director of The Cloud Foundation will be calling in from the Pryor Mountains at some point during the show. (Ginger will also be our guest on another show after she returns from the Pryors.)

rtandthreestooges300dpi R.T. Fitch and friends

Ginger and Cloud Ginger & Cloud (photo by R.T. Fitch)

This radio show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, Vice-President & Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation .

_______________________________________________________________________________

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

LISTEN TO ARCHIVED RADIO SHOWS:

11/6/13 – John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance discussing the latest in horse slaughter issues. Click HERE.

11/13/13 – Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and founder of Wild Burro Protection League (under Todd Mission Rescue) and Carl Mrozak, videographer (Eagle Eye Media), with work appearing on CBS, PBS, the Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel and other networks. This show focused on wild burros. Click HERE.

11/20/13 – Simone Netherlands, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, founder of respect 4 horses Organization, and director & producer of the documentary “America’s Wild Horses.” To see the trailer for the documentary, click HERE. To listen to this radio show, click HERE.

11/27/13 – R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and author of the much acclaimed book “Straight from the Horse’s Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss and Hope.R.T. also runs the blog “Straight from the Horse’s Heart,” which posts current news and information and gives a comprehensive education to the public on issues in connection with wild horses & burros and public lands issues. Also, Ginger Kathrens, founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, joined in on the show to talk about the Salt Wells & Adobe Town roundups. Click HERE.

12/4/13 – Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cloud Foundation. Craig is the author of the book “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” and has a website http://thewildhorseconspiracy.org/. Also, Robert Bauer, Wildlife Biologist. Craig and Bob debunk the Bureau of Land Management’s “junk” science about wild horses and burros. Click HERE.

12/11/13 – Ginger Kathrens, the Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, who has been described as “the Jane Goodall of wild horses.” Ginger Kathrens is an Emmy Award-winning producer, cinematographer, writer and editor as well as an award-winning author. Her documentary filmmaking trips have taken her to Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America and all over the U.S. Click HERE.

1/15/14 – Victoria McCullough, international equestrian and CEO of Chesapeake Petroleum and John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance, give details on the key support from Vice President Biden and congressional leaders, and the defunding language in the omnibus bill, which stopped horse slaughter from being reinstated in the U.S. Click HERE.

1/29/14 – R.T. Fitch, John Holland and I hosted this show to honor and celebrate the life of wild horse advocate Garnet Pasquale, who dedicated her life to save the wild horses & burros, especially the wild horses near her home in Las Vegas, Nevada through her work with the Spring Mountain Alliance. Garnet’s dear friend, wild horse advocate and wildlife photographer Arlene Gawne,gives a vivid account of these wild horses and the work of the Spring Mountain Alliance. Click HERE.

2/26/14 – Barbara Clark, founder of Dreamcatcher Wild Horse & Burro Sanctuary in northern California talks about the sanctuary and natural behavior of wild horses and burros. Click HERE.

4/1/14 - Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Manager of Todd Mission Ranch (home of TMR Rescue, Inc.) and President of the Wild Burro Protection League, who recently went to Bonaire (Dutch Antilles) to investigate the donkeys that turned out to be a thought to be extinct, rare globally endangered species. Marjorie was joined on this show by Carl Mrozak, videographer (Eagle Eye Media), with work appearing on CBS, PBS, the Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel and other networks, and Rona Aguilar, member of the team formed by her father, Al Catalfumo, to investigate the plight of the donkeys in Bonaire. Click HERE.

Field Report/Video: Cloud the Stallion has a New Son

Update by R.T. Fitch ~ author/president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Cloud walking much better today

Cloud proving that he is well by adding his 2 cents worth to the “Stud Pile”

Please excuse the brevity and total disregard to any journalistic skills but Ginger Kathrens, of the Cloud Foundation, and myself have been up on the mountain for two days in row and it is beginning to tell on my stamina BUT; I am elated to say that we were privileged to spend the entire beautiful day with Cloud, his family and dozens of of other wild horses who names Ginger knows at the drop of the hat while I can’t even remember my own the bulk of the time.

I won’t be very formal and will leave the final report up to my much more knowledgeable, and sometimes more resilient, partner Ginger but for layman’s speak there are two important developments to note, today;

One is that both of us are in total alignment with the observation that Cloud is walking much better today and improved markedly as the day went on…the inserted video will highlight this.

Cloud and new babySecondly, late in the afternoon while Ginger and I were planted for hours watching Encore, prisoner of the band stallions, we heard some distant noise so I opted to investigate and hike to the source.  Well it turned out to be Cloud defending his two mares and foal from Jack the bachelor stallion who was trying to steal them.  I knew that Ginger would want to film this but part one of the fight was over before I could even say, ” What the …heck?”.  But Jack was stupid enough to come back out of the woods for a second attempt and Cloud kicked the living you-know-what out of him with his hind legs WHICH I was watching closely due to his recent injury.  He did great with no hesitation and trotted back to his band in a victory trot without any hitch in his gitty-up.  Looking good in my book.

So in a nutshell, Cloud is good and getting better, his new son is cute enough for me to use the word cute in public (which is not real macho but totally describes him) and tomorrow we are continuing our spring documentation of the magical and wonderful wild horses of the Pryor Mountain Range.

The Cloud Foundation and Wild Horse Freedom Federation are working in tandem for the betterment of the wild horses and burros.

Keep the faith, folks…the Force of the Horse® is with us.

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BLM Bypasses Ginger Kathrens, R.T. Fitch and other (real) wild horse advocates once again

By Debbie Coffey, Vice President and Director of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation.    Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

In reading the BLM Press Release below, a few things stand out, besides the fact that we don’t see the names of Ginger Kathrens or R.T. Fitch on this list of people who were just appointed to the BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

While Ginger Kathrens (Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation) has spent many years studying actual wild horse behavior on the range, BLM’s new appointee Dr. Sue M. McDonnell maintains a semi-feral herd of ponies specifically for the study of their physiology and behavior under semi-natural conditions.”  McDonnell’s books are published by The Blood Horse and Eclipse (Blood Horse Publications) Blood Horse Publications is owned by the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association, which promotes thoroughbred racing and breeding.

According to the BLM Press Release below, Dr. Robert E. Cope moved to Idaho and was “elected as a Lemhi County Commissioner in 2001 and currently serves in that position.”   Dr. Cope has been “active in the National Association of Counties” and served as the vice chair of its Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee for nine years.

This is kind of interesting, because the Nevada Association of Counties recently filed a lawsuit against the BLM to remove wild horses, and to euthanize all wild horses in holding.  The White Pine County Commissioners (Nevada) voted to donate $5,000 to support this lawsuit, and Elko County Commissioners (Nevada) voted to donate $10,000 to support this lawsuit.  BOTH of these counties are members of the NATIONAL Association of Counties.  Meanwhile, Iron County Commissioners in Utah are threatening to illegally roundup wild horses.  It seems we’re seeing a pattern with counties.

In documents received in a Freedom of Information Act request, even Edwin Roberson, BLM’s current Assistant Director of Resources and Planning, noted that county interests could be seen as representing livestock interests.  Robertson noted “Wild Horse and Burro Advocacy Groups may see a county elected official position on the Board as an attempt to make the Board membership weighted towards livestock interests, which is already represented.  Many of the Wild Horse and Burro advocacy groups have already accused the Board of this.  Livestock interests in the many western states and groups like the Public Lands Council will likely be in favor of a county official position on the Board.”

Roberson also noted “The Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Western Counties Alliance (WCA) have requested that a county elected official position be added to the Board.  Director Abbey responded to NACO in the attached letter, dated September 27, 2010, explaining that any change in membership categories will require a change in the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s Charter and encouraged NACO to nominate individuals that qualified for the present existing positions.”

And then, referring to WH & B Advisory Board member Callie Hendrickson, Roberson noted “Presently one of the public interest representatives now on the Board is closely aligned with county representation in Colorado as the Executive Director of Colorado Association of Conservation Districts.”

Finally, in the press release below, it states “In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.”

In other words, in only one year, the BLM sold off over 4 1/2 billion dollars of public lands and public resources, so if you hear anyone bring up the money BLM spends on holding facilities for wild horses at this National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board, direct their attention to the money BLM rakes in on our natural resources.

SOURCE:  blm.gov

Bureau of Land Management Contact: Tom Gorey For immediate release: Friday, April 11, 2014 (202-912-7420)

BLM Announces Three Selections for National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

The Bureau of Land Management announced today that the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture have made selections for the three open positions on its nine-member National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Dr. Sue M. McDonnell of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has been appointed for the category of wild horse and burro research; Fred T. Woehl, Jr., of Harrison, Arkansas, has been appointed for the category of public interest (with special knowledge of equine behavior); and Dr. Robert E. Cope, DVM, of Salmon, Idaho, has been appointed for the category of natural resources management. Each individual will serve a three-year term on the Advisory Board. Dr. McDonnell is Clinical Associate and Adjunct Professor of Reproduction and Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Also, as a certified applied animal behaviorist, she consults privately on equine behavior and welfare. Dr. McDonnell, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, co-edited the current leading academic book on horse behavior, titled “The Domestic Horse: The Evolution, Development and Management of its Behaviour,” published by Cambridge University Press. Mr. Woehl has been involved in the horse community for more than 40 years as a trainer, natural horsemanship clinician, and educator. He is actively involved with the Equine Science Department at the University of Arkansas and taught Equine Science at North Arkansas College. He has served as a volunteer for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program for 10 years, conducting demonstrations of wild horse versatility and assisting with adoptions. Mr. Woehl worked as a senior agricultural adviser for the U.S. State Department from October 2008 to November 2009 in Iraq, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of agricultural programs and policy for the Ninewa Province. Dr. Cope, who earned his DVM at Kansas State University, has practiced veterinary medicine since 1975. After relocating to Idaho, he was elected Lemhi County Commissioner in 2001 and still serves in that position. Dr. Cope has been active in the National Association of Counties (NACo), serving as chair or vice chair of NACo’s Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee for nine years. As a veterinarian for nearly 40 years, Dr. Cope has focused on large animals, particularly range livestock. The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board advises the BLM, an agency of the Interior Department, and the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, on the management and protection of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands and national forests administered by those agencies, as mandated by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Members of the board, who represent various categories of interests, must have a demonstrated ability to analyze information, evaluate programs, identify problems, work collaboratively, and develop corrective actions. Information about the board can be found at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/Advisory_Board.html The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under its mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

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Wild Horses Expected to Explode from near 20,000 to 69,000 in only One Year

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Magic of Federally Perpetrated Propaganda and Blatant Lies

BLM mouthpiece predicts that sex crazed wild horses to triple in number within 12 months

BLM mouthpiece predicts that sex crazed wild horses to triple in number within 12 months

There was a time, not long ago, when the Department of Interior’s (DoI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would slip in a few false numbers and bad mathematical equations when publicly discussing the last remaining wild horses and burros on western public lands.  But now the federal propaganda machine has turned up the volume and enlisted the help of their bed-fellows, cattlemen, to such an extent that anyone with an education beyond that of the third grade can tell that they are out and out lying.

For the last several years the enemies of America’s national icons have loosely stated that there are between 30,000 to 40,000 wild equines roaming upon their rightful land on 10 western states.  (These numbers have never been verified but all leading indicators point to more like 20,000ish are still free.)  And the number held unnaturally imprisoned has always hovered around 50,000 give or take a couple of thou.  All of this bad math has remained constant while the renegade agency has consistently ripped an average of 12,000 wild ones a year from their federally protected homes.  “Duhhhhh, do the math, boys!”

AND if left on their own the wild ones will double in herd size every four years; WHAT?

You do know that they are stoking the fires behind the scenes to actually kill our wild horses, on sight, and sell the prisoners of their concentration camps to slaughter, don’t you?  That is why they have hand picked an advisory board that is made up of 50%+ openly pro-slaughter mouth pieces with the bulk of the remaining members being pro-cattle and hunting special interest representatives.

We, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, exposed in a FOIAed internal BLM document that high ranking BLM officials have and currently are discussing killing wild horses on the range; well now they have their special interest buddies doing the same in public media.

One Thomas Mitchell wrote an editorial in the Ely Daily news that the wild, or in his uneducated opinion (feral), horse population is going to explode, overnight, to 69,000 (where the heck did that number come from) and that killing them is a viable option.  In what galaxy does that make sense?

He referenced our exposed document, without naming us of course, and included that the AP had said paperwork, yes…from us, but then rambles on about the deadly sage grouse and all of the damage herds of crazed wild equines will wreck upon his much coveted and loved Nevada.  Give me a break.

The only common ground that we share with this BLM puppet is that contraception can be a viable option of on range management IF and only IF it is done correctly and used only where needed…on viable herds, not the decimated majority of herds that the BLM has run into ruin by attacking them with helicopters at about every opportunity or when the mood so moves them.

Let’s get this right, folks; you know that the BLM is lying when their lips are moving.  Not only do they fudge the numbers but also it has been verified by the National Academy of Sciences that was hired BY the BLM to look at their broken Wild Horse and Burro program.  Did they, the BLM, pay heed to what the NAS said in their report and get their act together, hell no.  They just plod on under the direction of their semi-covert buddies and plot to wipe our wild equines off from the face of the planet.

Public beware; there is a Wild Horse and Burro apocalypse coming and it is closer than you may imagine.  The BLM has been creating a false emergency of loading up all of their short and long term holding facilities so that they can look to their big brother government and shrug their shoulders and say, “Day gots ta go!”, and the killing shall begin.

We need to ensure that our natural, four legged resource is protected for years to come and to do that we must expose the BLM for being the corrupt and mismanaged that the agency really is.

The evidence is there, in black and white, all we need to do is spread the news and shine the light…it really is just that easy.

The BLM cannot be left to their own corrupt devices and be allowed to manage our wild equines into extinction.  That cannot happen, it must not happen and we, meaning you and me (us), are the only hope that the horses have for salvation.

Let us not let them down!!!

Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Ely News

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For the Love of a Dog, Companion and Friend

An original story by R.T. Fitch

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I am going to do something different, today.  Instead of sharing something that someone else has written I have penned, for you, a few thoughts and feelings that crossed across my heart this very morning.  A true blog is supposed to be an online journal of the creators thoughts and plans but we use this as a sounding board for the causes and issues that engulf our American Equines both wild and domestic.  But today I wax a little emotional with an eye turned inward, not a bad thing to do to revitalize one’s heart and soul.  So today I share this moment in time and hope that the love and the glow reaches out through the words to touch your heart and brings you great joy.  Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

I woke up rather differently this morning.  Only three days into attempting to pull myself backwards in time from living 13 hours ahead of U.S. Central time; the night had been sporadic and unsettled enough without my wife’s phone pinging an audible text message signal at 0523 hrs.

“Who would be texting her at this hour?”, my jet lagged brain attempted to deduce when it chimed again, followed by a ping.

I tried as I may to keep my eyes closed and my mind turned off when it happened yet a third time and when I heard the following ping I realized that the last tone was and had been coming from my phone recharging in the kitchen.

“Who would be texting both of us at this time of day?” I thought as I stood up from the bed and scooped up my clothing, flashlight and Big Max from their every ready state next to our bed.  (Yes, being a former volunteer fire fighter has taught me to be ready in an instant, even when you are asleep.)

I scrambled to the kitchen while pulling on pants, shirt and socks only to realize that I could not read the messages on the phone without my glasses, getting old is such a bitch.

Once I had the Coke bottle bottoms latched onto my face I could read that the messages had come from one of the barn’s internal surveillance cameras as movement within our closed up barn had activated it and there were no horses inside…this peaked my interest.

So I strapped Big Max onto my right hip, not for protection from critters but the two-legged kind, and put the torch in my left pocket while heading for the garage door only to almost trip over our geriatric German Shepherd, Suzie, sprawled out in front of the back door.  She struggled to stand when she spied me out of her last working eye; I could tell by her expression that she wanted to go out.  So I helped her up, as she has trouble standing, and opened the back door for her to go out.  I closed the door behind her and turned away as it pains me to watch her struggle to negotiate the three low steps that take her down to the patio, she is tough though.

I exited the house through the garages and opened up half the barn door with torch in hand.  Quickly flipping on the light switches I was greeted to a great big nothing, no one or no thing was there.

I entered and listened for any sort of sound and nothing came bouncing back to my ears.  Methodically I opened up each stall door and peered inside with the LED torch ablaze, nothing.  I looked up into the haylofts and walked over to the ladder, “A raccoon could be up there I thought”, so I pocketed the torch and headed up.

Once up I could clearly see the second hayloft and it was clear, I could look down into all of the stalls and nothing stirring.  Likewise I surveyed the storage area over the tack room and the bales of hay in the loft itself and not a creature was stirring, not even a rat.

Hmmm, something must have triggered the camera but it was obviously not inside anymore so I carried my search outside to the parameter of the barn.  Nothing to the north, east or south but down in the western pasture the eyes of the grazing horses and deer reflected back to me as did two rabbits nibbling grass in the backyard.

False alarm, so I retraced my steps down the barn’s drive, across the driveway and into the garages and back into the house where I knew a hot cup of tea would help clear away the cobwebs of jet lag, as it always did.

But once wide awake with a steaming hot cup of hand carried Chinese Ginseng tea in hand I noted yet another alert coming across my phone, a weather warning.  It seemed that a narrow band of thunderstorms was bearing down on us from the northwest so instead of making a detour into my home office to work on a morning installation for the blog I headed back out the garage door to sit and watch the natural fireworks in the darkness of the early morning.  It would be refreshing and rejuvenating.

So I sat under the west garage’s porch as I sipped my tea and listened to the distant rumble of the storm; suddenly my chair nudged from behind.  It was Suzie, she had finally made her way around from the back and was coming to the garages to see if any of her people were about, and they were…I was there.

I looked down at her and scratched her graying chin, she closed her eyes and instead of gracefully lying down next to me she did the only thing she can now do to recline, she fell with a thud.  Riddled with arthritis she cannot bend like she used to so she just falls and each time she does it I become a little shaken.  But she does not cry, whimper or complain; it just is.

I have talked with Terry about releasing her, about allowing her to transcend her aging and crippled body but Terry claims that she has not asked nor is she ready.  We must be patient and help her whenever we can; she deserves that much respect.

But I see her fail more each time I am away and then return, so much so that I said my heartfelt goodbyes before I left last month as I was certain that she would not be here upon my return, she proved me wrong.

As the breeze began to freshen and the petals from the Bradford Pear tree blossoms fell on us like snow I looked into her one seeing eye and listened, I tried to shut my mind off so I could hear her and to my dismay I found that my brain would not stop talking and continued to yapp away about her condition.

I looked away as the first drops of the storm began to fall and noted that both of us were a little too close to the edge of the roof line to be fully protected from the rain.  I stood up to move my chair back and Suzie took that as a cue to move, too.  She sat up on her front two legs and paused, I saw her hesitate and then she looked right into my heart and said, “Help me”.

I did; I hugged my arms around her and gently slid her back to my chair so that she would not have to go through the effort of trying to stand up, move and then fall down again.  I just placed her next to me and we both watched the rain.

As the rain fell I softly laid my left hand on her head and gently rubbed her ancient brow as my heart felt yet another hole beginning to form as a piece of me was beginning to dissolve.  It hurt, the knowing of impending loss yet there was a glow under my hand as I softly rubbed her ears as she looked out upon the storm.

I listened over the thunder, wind and rain and I could hear a faint sound of warmth, a feeling of love and a musical note that came not to my heart but instead to my soul.  I listened without my ears and I could hear Suzie humming, not loudly but contently and with great love.

I looked down at her as she looked up to me and I swear that she smiled as I heard her say, “Not today, but soon.  I love you.”

It was not a raindrop but a tear from me that landed between her paws and with her tongue outstretched she gently licked it up and kissed my hand.

We smiled and then turned to the storm.

“Not today,” I sighed.

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