If Only We Would Listen
It’s Sunday, and I could not leave you fellow advocates and friends of the horses with the ugly images of the likes of Jason Meduna, Sue Wallis, Dave Duquette and the BLM dancing in your minds; that in it’s own right is a cruel and unnecessary act. So for today, I give you a story that appears in our Book in an effort to wash your minds and souls free of the dirt, blood and corruption while replenishing and refreshing your spirit. You may take it at it’s face value, but for those of you who have plunged into the depths of the equine spirit, you know of what I write. Keep the faith and may the Force of the Horse® be with you, my friends. ~ R.T.
The wind was blowing out of the north and it was almost 11:00 p.m. on a night in mid-November in Texas. It was bone chilling cold.
It was Friday night, November 12, 2004, the night before our rescue’s annual Horse Festival fundraiser at the Brenham County Fairgrounds. We were trying to put the finishing touches on all that needed to be accomplished before the gates opened up at 9:00 a.m. the following morning.
We had completed our member Appreciation Dinner, which consisted of delivered Domino’s pizza and Coke. Once finished, the majority of the members had filtered off to warm motel/hotel rooms to prepare for the day to follow. Only a few die-hards remained, and the only reason that I was still there was because Terry was one of those die-hards. Anything hard or strong in me had died an hour or so earlier, and I was dragging…badly.
Terry and I had pulled two of our equine charges with us, all the way from Louisiana, so that they could participate in the event. Apache was to be ridden (that’s a story in its own right) in the Parade of Breeds. We brought along our foster horse, Maleeva, the cute little Arabian mare that has lived with us for ten months, so that she could have a new foster home in Texas, where her odds of being adopted and finding her forever home were much greater. So, we had company for the ride and equine children to take care of while in Brenham.
It appeared that the evil, slave-driving wives were about to wind down. So, I informed Terry that I was going down to the horse barn to check on the horses. We had experienced an earlier problem when Apache and Maleeva were not stalled near each other. The quiet, laid-back Apache was very distraught and wanted to be near “his” little Maleeva. Therefore, we had moved them into back-to-back stalls so that they would be together during the weekend. I walked down the hill and into the barn where there were stalls for over 100 horses—only about 30–40 were over-nighting before the big day. During the course of the afternoon, there had been a great deal of commotion and excitement in the barn. As I neared in the quiet of the night, I could tell that everyone had settled in for sleeping time and there were no pressing issues.
I calmly walked into the barn that was housing all those equine souls and knew within three steps that I was about to live one of those “life experiences.” I immediately slowed down my pace so that I could savor the event. The smell of the hay, horse poop, feed, and the gentle breathing of the horses blended into a heady concoction of pure relaxation and contentment. I slowly strolled down one aisle, headed towards Maleeva, and passed the calm and relaxed horses that were gently falling asleep. I was the only human amongst them, yet they felt confident enough with my presence not to look, flinch, or open an eye. I smiled as I was accepted and trusted to be one of them. I knew this was going to be special.
I reached little Maleeva’s stall only to find that she was lying down, dog style, gently dozing, and looking just as cute and peaceful as she could. Pressed up against the back bars of her stall, on the other side, was Apache, standing, watching her as if he were on guard with his eyes half-lidded. He was struggling to stay awake and never bothered to lift his head to look at me. He was staring at Maleeva. This was all rather odd, as he would not give her the time of day back home. He had been rude and very pushy with her. One of the reasons we had brought her here was so that she could perhaps find a foster home that was not full of spoiled, pushy geldings.
So, I stood for a few moments and soaked in the feeling. I watched Apache breathe. I watched him blink as he looked at Maleeva. And, I could see that there was a cute, little smile on her equine lips. I watched; I stopped thinking; and then I listened as the whispers pierced my soul.
It was not the wind playing games in the rafters; it was not the fatigue that ate at my bones. It was nearby whispers that I heard—words that I could just make out. As I stared at Apache, the mumbling cleared and I could begin to hear him whisper in a most passionate tone:
“I love you,” he said. “You are the world to me, and I am sorry. I did not show you how much you meant to me while back home. The future is always uncertain, but I am so sorry. I will never leave you or take you for granted again. I will guard you and protect you from the others. I am sorry. You are my life. I love you so.” Then he sighed. She smiled and sighed, too. Even female horses like to hear words of endearment. I smiled, also, as the little mare looked so content, so peaceful, and so happy to hear and feel such things. Inside I began to struggle with my feelings knowing that they would no longer be together. They were about to be separated and there would be no tomorrows for them as a pair.
As I began to slip back into human mode, the horse whispers caught me again and pulled me back to the place of peace. However, it was not Apache who whispered. It was the gelding next to Maleeva. He was whispering his story. He wanted to speak of his past and he wished for a better life in the future. As I stepped in front of his stall, he began to tell me his story. As he spoke, I read the sign on his door that gave a human’s perspective of what he was and where he had been. They did not quite match up as the human story left out the details of abuse and neglect. So, I listened and I smiled. I wished him well and moved on to the mare beside him. She was whispering her tale of woe to a mare behind her and together they compared notes. Both of them were glad to be where they were. They were confident that they were loved. I moved on, out of range of their private conversation.
Stall-by-stall, one-by-one, I listened to each and every one and read their stories, all of them, not one could be missed. There was joy, fear, hate, love, anger, confusion, and depression; but, above all else, there was hope. The feeling of hope was so thick in that cold barn that night that you could have cut it with a knife. The feeling was so real that it stuck to everything like molasses and slowed my pace even further. I drank it in and could feel it purge my soul of any uncertainties or conflicts. There was hope. If my arms were big enough to reach around and collectively give all of those whispering horses a hug at one time, I would have done it. Instead, one-by-one, I listened and reassured them. We were all one for a moment in time. We had the same vision. We had the same smile. And, we had the same heart.
It is hope that brings us home.
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Categories: The Force of the Horse