The Force of the Horse

Equine Fireworks

by R.T. Fitch – Excerpt from R.T.’s book “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

There is a lot going on in the world of equines, these days, but I am holding myself true to my promise that we will take the day off, on Sundays, and recharge our batteries…the challenges will be there tomorrow.  So today, in keeping with a 4th of July tradition, I will trot out a story that I wrote exactly 7 years ago tomorrow, the 4th of July.  Some of you may have already read it, particularly those who have read our book, but many may have not so for you kind folks we install a little holiday tale for you inner-entertainment.  But remember, it’s all about the heart, not just ours but the hearts of the horses.  To you my friends, enjoy the magic. ~ R.T.

Last night, July 3rd 2005, I entered Terry’s office to shut down the computer prior to heading for bed.  Everyone else was tucked away and I was just doing the last minute security sweep when my eyes caught the bright glare of a fireworks rocket heading for the stars in the northern sky.  When it reached it’s predestined point of suicide, it erupted into a brilliant display of red and blue stars cascading downward across the acres of millet that separate us from a distant subdivision.  I walked closer to the window when, suddenly, the noise of the explosion reached our farm.  BOOM!  As the sound trailed off, another took its place -the thunder of hooves.  The horses were freaked.

I ran out the back door and looked over our compound’s rear fence.  I could just make out, by the glow of the barn’s back security light, a multi-colored, many legged mass working up and down the back fence.  The boys were NOT happy.

I called them, jumped the fence, and began to whistle the comforting dinner whistle.  Although they slowed, they would not come any closer as I was several feet nearer to the terrifying sight and noise.  Continuing to walk towards the moving mass of fur, feet, and ears, I knew that there were a few bulging eyes in that mess.  The darkness, however, covered the evidence.

As I neared, Apache, the tough little Brazilero, peeled off from the herd and planted himself in the middle of the pasture staring at the source of the commotion.  I let him be as he was making his statement that he was tough, cool, and the big man on the farm.  Standing at only 14.3 hands, he suffers from chronic short man syndrome.  Again, I whistled, as I planted myself next to the back fence.  I was particularly careful that in the dark I not touch the electrified rope that keeps the boys away from that single strand of my neighbors barbed cow wire.  I only had on sandals and touching that now would result in all five hairs on my head sticking straight up.  That would surely terrify Terry when I finally made it to the bedroom.

Apache stood his ground and, in the dim light, I could both see and feel two Thoroughbreds, one Appaloosa and a little Mustang mix headed right towards me in full gallop.  It was a pretty sight, but rather disconcerting as I failed to bring out any protection – not even a lead.  I hollered “WHOA” and walked towards them.  They split up and in an instant I was surrounded by heavy breathing and horse noses tapping me on the shoulder and the back of the head.  Harley steamed up my glasses as he wanted to verify my identity.

As the horses milled about me, I listened and watched as their individual personalities materialized both to my eyes and to my ears.  Ethan instantly became brave with me standing beside him.  He planted himself firmly on the ground looking in the direction of the fireworks with his ears pointed forward – a virtual pillar of strength.  Should I move, however, he would too and not allow the gap between us to be any greater than just a few feet.  Of course, that was not due to fear, but rather comradeship.

Then there was Harley, slowly circling and finally standing behind myself and Ethan.  Although he wants all to believe that he is the toughest and the greatest, he will gladly give over the title of Pasture King to anyone who will take it in a time of crisis.

Big nervous Bart continued to pace the fence line with the little Mustang baby carefully tucked between him and the fence.  Little Pele kept peeking over Bart’s back to see what I was going to do to make the fiery noisy monsters go away.

I calmly leaned over, reached to the earth and jerked up a handful of grass as if I was grazing.  I kept this process up as I drifted further and further away from the back fence.  The notion that I was calm enough to graze pulled all of the horses to me, with the exception of Apache.  He was firm in his stance.  As the horses calmly came around me, I heard the whispers and the soft gentle sounds of expression that I have learned to love.  They come so rarely, but when they do, it is so special.  I listened and did not cloud their words with my inquiries.

“What are those things?” panted little Pele. “I have never, ever, seen anything like that.  Do they eat horses?”

“We don’t think so.” answered Harley, “But we are safe now that Grey Mane is out here.”

“We were safe long before he ever showed up,” countered Ethan.  “The fact that he is here shows that they are a special thing and he is only here to help us learn from them.”

Bart replied, “Man, you’re smart.  I thought that someone was shooting at us and that we were all doomed.”

Having enough of the chit-chat, Apache slowly turned his head and snorted, “You are ALL a bunch of sissies!”  Then he laughed.

I laughed too and, when I did, they all turned to look at me; then at each other; and then at me again.  It was truly a “Kodak Moment”.  Those horses looked at each other, and then looked at me.  You could clearly hear them say, “Does he hear us?”  The look of shock and surprise was priceless.

Ethan moved away from the others and pressed his nose against my chest.  “Yes he does.  I forget this as it does not happen often, but I was the one that taught him to listen.”

Without giving away my secret, I stroked Ethan’s forehead, looked directly into his left eye and smiled.  He put his left nostril into my right ear and exhaled, “And I hear you, too”, he said.

We then turned towards the north, standing behind Apache, and watched the fireworks: Ethan to my right; Harley to my left; Bart with his head over my right shoulder; and little Pele goosing me in the left kidney,

“Can I come in with you tonight dad?  Please?  Can I come in, huh, can I?”

I turned and petted his head, smiled and turned back to the display.

Five horses and one human watched in awe.  None of us can tell you when it was all over; the night melted away and I do not know how or when I found my bed.

Happy 4th of July to You and Your Family – 2 legged or 4

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20 replies »

  1. Awesome night you shared with your family of equines, an experience to be treasured……….for all the years to come !!!!! i have to say Im Jealous, but found piece knowing the horses are safe with you,each moment with them is a treasure more valuable then gold………………..


  2. What a beautiful story, so eloquently written ~ I felt I was right there with you and your “kids”. Tears streaming down my face, that not only melted my heart but also taught me a priceless lesson. Coming from Texas, so many horses are killed each year from stampeding through fences & over one another due to the fireworks. I now will head out and try your method, flip flops and all … and yes, I always seem to gravitate toward the mud puddles & electric fences in my haste. You’d think one would know better by now – I do own steel toed boots for a reason, lol.

    ps – if you have any pointers for calming a sweet pup who’s absolutely terrified of fireworks, hunting season & now tornadoes, I’d love some input. We coddle her, but she’s an inconsolable wreck.


  3. Great story RT. As wonderful as Independence Day is for us, it is equally terrifying for many of our 4-leggeds. Take care of them and keep them safe.


  4. RT, don’t horses say the darndiest things!! You are truly blessed with a gift. Sometimes they come up with the strangest things…One 4th our horses stood lined up watching the fireworks from the back of our barn. I was amazed that as long as we stood calmly and oohhed and ahhed..They too looked in amazement.

    Happy 4th of July!!!!



  5. What a beautiful, beautiful story R.T. What a stroke of genius to pretend to be grazing and therefore instill calm. The trust they have in their humans is truly a gift and a blessing; only wish there were more like you R.T. Happy and safe Fourth to everyone.


  6. Heres to our freedom as a nation and Heres to the Horse Nation may they find freedom very soon! I keep thinking of the stallion Freedom who fought so hard for his … I pray he still is Free !
    I too have been the old grey mare to my herd in a time of fright .If there was ever a question as to just what horses are made of it all gets answered during times like that!! It was a very magical experience!


  7. Love this RT! Hi elleroo! Everyone enjoy to morrow and remember what we are fighting for goes beyond the wild ones and ourselves!! Happy 4th to all!


  8. Let the fireworks remind us all–horses and humans–that freedom is worth fighting for– and that the fight for freedom continues– a fight for liberty and justice for all. Horses included. Great story RT–Happy 4th.


  9. RT, this is one of my top favorite stories. The part where Harley steams up your glasses still makes me laugh and laugh. Happy 4th everyone!


  10. R.T. Thanks for this great story. I guess this shows that even different species can join together for strength and enjoyment.. Let’s hope that we all can enjoy next year with freedom for all, humans, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, and all that God created that are suppose to live together, help each other, and love each other. Let’s hope that next year will see the end of all the hellish happenings to our beatiful wild horses, domesticated horses, that each wild horse can be returned to their ranges with their families together again, that domesticated horses will never ride in trailers across our borders but be kept in a rescue until new loving homes can be found for them.

    I was out at the sanctuary on Saturday where I help and have a grey Arabian rescued from a trip to the auction. With the day being hotter than blazes and so much we wanted to accomplish but it was so hot, even to groom a horse, I left at dark and as I drove past my horse’s corral, I stopped, opened the door, called his name and he came over. I stroked the side of his head, said I was sorry we didn’t get to groom today, but that we will when I return. I gave him a hug, a kiss on the nose, and he grunted as he does all the time, and then he nuzzled my hand. I hugged him again and told him to be a good boy and drove off. People who don’t have horses don’t have any idea what they are missing. Let’s hope that more people will learn of the needs of all of these beautiful animals and help us achieve our goals in the coming year. Then, God willing, we will all rejoice for our beautiful horses.


  11. You’re words paint a magical picture. I was able to be there as the night’s events unveiled. Thank you for this. It was nice to have this experience for the Fourth of July.


  12. R.T., you can tell this story every 4th of July. I don’t ever grow tired of hearing it.
    Have any of you ever heard of a horse getting caught in an inner tube swing? I have. You should always have a pocket knife on you… never know when you’ll happen across a horse caught in an inner tube swing.


  13. I love the way you write, R.T. Thanks for sharing this, so much. When Ethan touched your heart it was amazing. And it’s amazing the way they communicate with us. I wish the people who are most harmful to them could hear what they are saying…


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