Equine Fireworks

By R.T. Fitch ~ Excerpt from “Straight from the Horses Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss and Hope

Today we celebrate our nation’s independence and each year I drag out a story from our first book which chronicles a few intimate moments shared in our pasture with our equine children on a distant 4th of July night.  I was going to give it a rest this year but public demand has dictated that “Equine Fireworks” return to you, this day…and rest assured, I firmly intend to have a few quiet moments with these same characters THIS 4th of July, also.

Best to all and remember to keep the faith, we will get there!” ~ R.T.


546021756Last night, July 4th 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.

fireworks

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

Equine Fireworks

By R.T. Fitch ~ Excerpt from “Straight from the Horses Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss and Hope

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

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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Equine Fireworks

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

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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We were There: An Equine Christmas Story

by R.T. Fitch, and excerpt from the book “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

My lovely bride, Terry, and I would like to give our special readers an equally special Christmas present.  We are so involved with the ins and outs of a corrupt government agency that every now and then we need to wash our minds out and it is our hope that this story will do just that for you.  May the season touch you and open your heart in ways that you have never imagined.  The earth and and all of the creatures that inhabit her have so much to give and share with us, it’s just a matter of closing our mouths, silenceing our minds and opening our hearts.  During this very special season, may the Force of the Horse speak to you!

Merry Christmas from our herd to yours; Terry, R.T. and all our 4 legged children

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 martini to take out to the barn with me, not a requirement, but a nice reward for all of the running around.

Tonight the wind was not blowing out of the north so I opened up the big sliding barn doors that look down our drive so that Kenny could look inside.  He cannot venture in as the invisible fence has always kept the big dogs out of the barn for both their safety and ours.

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.  Then I questioned whether or not it was a loss for her or a loss for me; my ego subsided, my heart took over, and I realized that it was a loss for me that I would have to ponder and bear but would not allow it to rule my life.  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.  He allows no one to come near the back door and when the door is open he hangs over the breezy gate to ensure that he will be the first one in.  Back at our old ranch our barn was made of wood and the back door had one small knothole in it about knee high.  I could be preparing their dinner, with the door closed, and have the eeriest feeling that I was being watched.  I would then turn to look at that door and see a mottled Appaloosa eye staring back at me through that knothole.  That was more unnerving than entertaining as it looked so bizarre and creepy.  Here he has managed to carefully slide the two doors apart so that there is just a crack and then he will press his eye against the crack to watch you.  Again, I love him dearly but when not expecting it such actions can unsettle or startle you.

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 martini 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 multi-dimensional 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 where 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 cows.  ”What do you mean?”

Reality had yet to smack me upside the head 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 doorwayand 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 full martini glass sitting on the floor under the hammock, turned off the lights, walked out of the barn and stood over Kennywho 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”.

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Mariana Tosca, Viggo Mortensen and Kevin Nealon join the unified call for an immediate moratorium on wild horse and burro round-ups

Without a single dissenting vote, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by Congress guaranteeing these animals protection from “capture, branding, harassment and death.” – Mariana Tosca

Viggo Mortensen - famous for roles in Lord of the Rings, Hidalgo and Appaloosa

CHICAGO, (EWA) – Acclaimed Actors Mariana Tosca, Christmas in the Clouds, Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings, Appaloosa and Hidalgo and Kevin Nealon, Weeds have added their voice to a growing 150 organizations and dignitaries from America, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa asking President Obama and Secretary Salazar to halt the round-ups of America’s wild horses and burros.

The assault on America’s wild horses and burros must be halted until range studies can be performed and a solid plan is established for the management of these magnificent animals that represent our American heritage.

Actor and Social Activist, Mariana Tosca, joined the unified call with the following statement issued to John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance.

“With virtually no oversight, the BLM’s maneuvers are methodically cleansing the land of these animals who have become an inconvenience and impediment to the goals of the ranching, gas and oil industries.

Mariana Tosca - Actress and equine welfare advocate

It is the action of arrogance and the lowest instincts of man to place greed above the rights of others and to shape policy to fit private agendas. Millions of head of cattle are grazing on public ranges – public ranges that were designated for these wild horses and burros on land that belongs to American taxpayers, not to private entities.

These horses are connected to this land; their ancestors roamed unfettered on it over a million years ago. They represent the basic principal that our nation was founded on: FREEDOM. These animals are the physical embodiment of all that we as people and as a nation aspire to… liberty and self-determination. And at some level that resonates with each and every one of us. With every BLM round up that is allowed to happen, our heritage is under siege.”

Viggo Mortensen adds, “Thanks to all who have contacted their government representatives on behalf of mustangs, those unique animals that are living symbols of the nation’s heritage and character. Your efforts have paid off, prompting Congress to strengthen the protections afforded to wild horses and burros in the United States of America [with the passage of HR 1018].

Mariana Tosca continues, “We have to stop eroding the law that ensures their protection, simply to cater to and placate private entities. America faces a very real risk that the wild horse will go the way of the buffalo, wiped out by a zealous hunt to make room for commercial interests.

Kevin Nealon - Star of Weeds

Since the BLM is a government agency, with perceived mismanagement and conflict of interest issues, the public has a right to call for an independent audit of the horses in BLM managed short and long term holding facilities, as well as an independent count of the horses remaining on the ranges. The management of our remaining wild horses should be moved to another agency.”

A lawsuit was filed by IDA (In Defense of Animals) on November 23 aimed at halting the removal of over 2,700 horses in the Nevada Calico Complex which is scheduled to start on December 1.

Additional information on the unified call for a moratorium is available on the Equine Welfare Alliance and The Cloud Foundation websites.


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