The Force of the Horse at Christmas

An Equine Christmas Tale to Cleanse the Mind and Buoy the Spirit

Being a creature of habit, I usually take my shower in the morning so that I can greet the world squeaky clean and ready for action, but last night I could not bring myself to crawl between the sheets without first rinsing off the feeling that I was covered with the oozing slime and dirt that comes from getting too close to the likes of “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis and her new bloody henchman, Bob Abbey.  Even the thought of them, today, turns my stomach but none the less I stepped into a steaming shower under a high-pressure shower head and tried to wash the mental filth off from me prior to going to bed.  And as I uselessly scrubbed at my body in an effort to clean my mind the words from a recent email came to me and within a matter of moments, the evil was purged.

I would like to share that brief email and the story it contained with you.  As of late we have attempted to keep Sundays free for rebuilding and refreshing our souls in preparation for another week of battle with the things that live under rocks and hide in the darkness.  So we shall do the same today in mind of the spirit of the season and for what it truly is that we are celebrating.  Please find below the email sent to me on the 21st of November by SFTHH member and charter member of the HfH Advisory Council, Ms. Lisa LeBlanc.

Thank you, Lisa

R.T.

My Friend,

Photo by Nick Roberts

I don’t know how true this story may be; I only know how true it could be. As the Holidays approach, we should be filling our hearts with the appreciation, warmth & kindness of our fellow humans. Instead, we find ourselves fighting bitter battles for those who cannot fight for themselves against such a monstrous enemy.

But as the Holidays approach and as we fight the Fight, please, remember to be thankful for the human Alpha Mares and Stallions Fate has kindly brought together, bonded in friendships old and new.

Lisa


A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-
Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents
with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up
and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which
topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become
a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the
countryside… The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood
here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their
lives, and called them away to a different life..

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken
their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was
getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings
and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses
were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old
folks. Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no
longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her.
You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves.
How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and
work? Why do you keep her anyway?”

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed
at the barn floor and replied, “Yes, I could use a pair of new boots.
His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near
with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied
softly,

“We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife
a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole
through the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it
had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks.. How is it
that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that
filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed
the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None
saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry
flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and
despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced
to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring
now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the
ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling
for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at
their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins
were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief,
huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose
from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen
as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his
wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old
hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he
whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve
of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old
pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look
down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and
pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy
hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and
withered hand. The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies
in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest
of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill
the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the
incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up
in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it
was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a
crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere
mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as
the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed
and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward.
There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over
and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows
glistening in the night light. Bedded down about the “Old One” close
to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her
muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great
dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping
cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed
about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry
flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips
and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years
crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved
calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay
among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those
she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years,
tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as
she offered her gift—

Because of love.

Only Because of love…

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… and
again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

Willy Eagle

30 comments on “The Force of the Horse at Christmas

  1. I have read this many times and each time, it brings tears to my eyes. We keep our old ones only for the love they give. Merry Christmas RT and everyone.

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  2. Thanks. I needed that.

    Part 1 of 5 parts of wild horse story on CNN today 3:00 pm EST. This part I think focuses on the Walker Lake herd that was saved from round up. Not sure where in the CNN broadcast story will be, so just recording the entire hour.

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  3. from Elyse Gardner:
    Straight from producer Kim Segal, here is updated information on the CNN series on our wild horses and burros.

    From Kim Segal: December 5, 2010
    Subject: Re: CNN Wild Horse story: Airing in California when?

    Our Walker Herd story will air Sunday 6pm ET So that would be 3p your time on CNN.
    The series we are doing on the mustangs and the round-ups will not air until the week of Jan 3rd.

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    • Sorry I missed todays. Hope we can see the rest of it in January here in Texas.

      And I love this old story. Have seen it many times and each time it is like new. Extra hugs to all our Old Ones.

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  4. Whether THIS is a true story or not, it speaks to the hearts of all of us who are blessed to be the guardians of horses. I have similar conversations with my children; having not been gifted with my passion for horses, they are dumbfounded by the time, energy and money devoted to my horses; the older I get, the harder they try to convince me to sell them off and “take it easy.” As if my horses are merely possessions, to be gotten rid of when the going gets difficult. As if I could sell what keeps me whole.
    Thanks RT and all who truly understand the gifts that our horses bring to us.

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    • I’m only 52 with all the achs & pains of the ranching life & right now healing from a blown leg muscel. I have 5 horses, a 13 yr.old dorment stud, His son( gilding) & 3 mares.
      My 20 yr.old lady, Sassy is lame in a knee but can still be riden with great care. My Grandkids love her though they only see her once a yr. I’ve owned Sassy for 15 yrs. of her life. She will die here with me come hell or high water.
      Sassy’s 13 yr.old daughter also has the same bum knee but she’s not going any where either & though my 1/2 Belgion mare is a pain, I refuse to let her go also.
      My almost 4 yr. old colt belongs to my 6 yr. old Granddughter but lives with us. what better way to keep him here since owner lives in WY. with no where to keep him.
      My husband always says we need to down size in horses but I can’t bear to let any of them go. Like some of you, these horses keep me alive. ( Am Bi Polor) My husband understands this also.
      Then there is the dire love of all my horses. As the old man said in his story.
      This story tore me up reading it. I more than felt their pain but then the ending of finding all alive made me cry even harder. Thank You For Sharing it.

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  5. People who do not have a bond with animals don’t seem to understand that the work and responsibilities are such a small part of what we get in return. Would these kids love their parents any less when they get “old?” What does age have to do with love?

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  6. As great as the excitement and gaiety of youth is there is nothing that compares with the strength and the wisdom of the Old Ones, be they animal or human.

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  7. My old gelding is 35. He’s been 35 for the last several years. His vision is failing, his hearing is not acute, he sometimes gets “lost” and can’t find the gateway to the barnyard. We all learned a lot from him when he was younger. We rode and drove him — he tallied up 3000 miles in the NEHTA record book. He’s here forever– it’s our turn to bring him home at night. He is a gift…… well-loved.

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  8. No B.S. and I am not attempting to wax sappy but this sort of dialogue truly warms my heart. In fact, it’s just these sort of feelings that moved us to compile a collection of our personal equine stories and publish them in our book…the namesake of this blog.

    It is sincerely all about love. Perhaps that is why we fight so hard and will never go away…however, we occasionally need to ground ourselves and take a deep breath for the sake of sanity.

    Each Sunday, until the holidays, I will endeavor to add a story of Equine Yuletide love for your enjoyment.

    Keep the faith, my friends.

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  9. Same here. Teary eyed but thankful for my horse companions. They have helped me stay sane through ups and downs in my life. I think I would have perished without them. They keep me going and I love them. I rescued them and in turn they rescued me. I will be forever grateful to them. I love them and I truly believe they do love me. Not a doubt in my mind.

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  10. Love is something that goes beyond time and space. So if your love for “your horse” is a horse in your own backyard or one running free on the open range or a memory from your past or a horse you hope to save … it is all the same in the “big picture” of life and love.

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  11. “But as the Holidays approach and as we fight the Fight, please, remember to be thankful for the human Alpha Mares and Stallions Fate has kindly brought together, bonded in friendships old and new.”

    Beautifully said, Lisa. Thank you.

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  12. Wonderful story. Still makes me cry every time I read it. Thanks for bringing it here, Lisa. And thanks, RT, for the welcome breaks to recharge the batteries.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

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  13. This is a beautiful story that I read tonight for the first time. This will be the first Christmas that I won’t have with a beautiful Arabian that I hoped to adopt from a sanctuary when I retired. I drove one and three quarters hours to groom, bathe, and walk him at the sanctuary. After one and one half years I loved him and he understood everything I said to him. How did I know that? Buy the response he gave me after I said it. I drove there every Saturday and I felt my blood pressure lower each day as I drove away, hoping one day that drive would be together. Unfortunately, one Saturday in May that was the last day I was to give him kisses and talk to him, as he died that night or early the next morning. THere hasn’t been a day that I haven’t cried since then. I know he is with me but it is not the same. I have adopted an Arabian that was headed to auction that is the same color, a little smaller, but I can’t get over the Arabian love of my life. Part of me is missing. Anyone who doesn’t have one of these animals in their life is missing so much. THey are so smart and want what we want, a family to love, whether it has two or four legs. Everytime I go out to another santuary where I have my adopted Arabian, the TB across the way neighs at me and I have to go over and kiss him also. He may be one of my next adoptions. Both of these horses are blind in one eye, but that doesn’t change their sweetness and their wanting to be part of a family. May this be the last Christmas that our wild horses and burros are caged in corrals and that the new year will bring a stop to all the roundups. And, hopefully, we will see a law passed that stops all U.S. horses taken over our borders to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered. What a wonderful next Christmas our four legged friends would have. It’s too bad that so many of them did not live to see it, but I have to have hope that it’s on its way to happening. R.T. thanks for all your work in making this come true. Let’s all pray that we see it next year.

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  14. Okay, like the rest of you, I can’t get through this story (and it’s not the first time I’ve read it!) without tearing up. I lost the love of my life 2 years ago in October when a horse I’d raised from 5 months old died suddenly at the age of 8 yrs. I had told him he was to outlive me, but it wasn’t to be. He was my best friend – and I miss him more than I can say. Have been part of a group fighting for the wild ones over the last year and have had moments of sheer frustration at the lack of progress as horses continue dying – but each morning I get up and do what needs to be done to help them. And it’s definitely for love. I also share this quote from Marc Beckoff’s book, ANIMAL MANIFESTO wherever I can:

    Science is catching up with what many lay observers already know from living with animals ever day. This growing understanding can help us see and relate to animals as fellow subjective beings rather than as objects. I like what Australian Bradley Trevor Grieve writes in his book Priceless: The Vanishing Beauty of a Fragile Planet:

    “For endangered species we are both their greatest enemy and their only hope. These wonderful creatures will not argue their case. They will not put up a fight. They will not beg for reprieve. They will not say good-bye. They will not cry out. They will just vanish. And after they are gone, there will be silence. And there will be stillness. And there will empty places. And nothing you can say will change this. Nothing you can do will bring them back. With so many lives hanging in the balance, the paths we choose today will decide the fate of the world. So it’s up to us. It’s up to you and me to decide who lives and who dies.”

    Blessed Be to all of you who do so much and never falter! Thank you, R. T.

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  15. Oh, thank you SO MUCH for posting this heartwarming HAPPY story! I have never heard this one till just right now, and I feel so happy and good inside! Reading this story was just what I needed, RT. I have been so depressed lately. For over a year now, I still call the white house daily, and the senators and congress people…I send almost everything on the roundups to the media, hoping maybe SOMEday somebody’ll take notce. And now more than ever, horseslaughter is really being pushed, and sometimes I think I just can’t take it anymore. Oh, but of course I will! I will never EVER give up for my wild horses and burros. I truly love them with all my heart. I’m always telling my two beloved companions the plight of their wild cousins, and the crap thats going on in the horse arena now, and ya know, I think they know what I’m saying. And I’m not trying to be funny, I’m serious. That, too, is love. Anyway, I’m feeling all rejuvinated now, even tho its 1:30 am and I have to be up by 5. Again, thank you for this. I want to wish you and Terri and, everyone a Merry Christmas and a better new year. God is pouring His blessings on us, and our animals too. He did, afterall, breathe His very own breath of life into their nostrils, the same as he did for us.

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    • Have no fear, Sussie, your equine companions know exactly what you are saying even before it leaves your lips. In fact, they have been whispering to you for a very long time…it’s just a matter of listening.

      Keep the faith, we are in this for the long haul as like you, I am not going to tell our horses that I have failed their brothers…we fight on.

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  16. Thank You for that !!! We all needed that !!!!!! It is a great way to start the week again here with all of you !!!!!!!! The Most powerful weapon is to believe !!!! there is a better way !!!!

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  17. But even better yet is to Unite and find it !!!!! then implement it………….. God Bless the precious people here and our Wild Mustangs…………..

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  18. This is always a great heart felt story. I have read it before with the horses but as goats in the place as the horses. The old goat saved the whole herd. Love, true love never fails…

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  19. What a beautiful, heartwarming story!! It gave me goosebumps as I read it! 🙂 Happy Holiday’s to all, including all the horses!!

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