Feel Good Sunday: Benny the Therapy Donkey visits UT Law School

as published on The Statesman.com

“Leave it to the women of Wild Horse Freedom Federation to lead the way and shout volumes for the voiceless wild horses and burros.  Be it Debbie Coffey and her massive research and legal eagle stuff, Carol Walker out in the field documenting the beauty that is our wild equines, Terry Fitch behind the scenes keeping the books straight and donors informed to this week with our Director of Legal Affairs Dawn Reveley (also a law professor at the University of Texas) and our Director of Wild Burro Affairs, Marjorie Farabee…making news and ensuring that people, in this case law students, are getting the message.  Thanks to all of you for who you are and for what you do.  I am so privileged to call you my friends.” ~ R.T.


Click on Image to view video

Brazil Debates Fate of Millions of Idled Donkeys

APODI, Brazil—The dependable donkey once did it all here in northeast Brazil, from hauling in the harvest to carrying children to remote schoolhouses. Now so many of these ubiquitous beasts of burden populate this vast swath of rural Brazil that they have become a problem—and for some, an opportunity.

Modernity and the skyrocketing sale of motorcycles have demoted the burro from its long-held status. Once cherished here for their hardy load-carrying, donkeys are increasingly seen as a nuisance as they saunter into traffic or munch greenery in people’s yards.

“Today, a donkey is born and nobody wants it,” lamented Eribaldo Nobre, 53, whose family used donkeys to lug fresh water home when he was a child. “Progress made this animal worthless.”

Enter China, where soaring demand for protein has put donkey meat on the menu. But Chinese consumers hanker after more than just the meat. They also have a growing craving for ejiao, a gelatinous substance made from boiled donkey hides, which is said to boost health, reverse aging and serve as an aphrodisiac.

Brazil, with 1 million donkeys and world-class slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, is now looking to cash in. The plans to do so have touched off an emotional struggle between those who see donkeys as animals to exploit, even to consume, and those who want to protect what they see as a steadfast emblem of Brazilian rural life.

The front line of that fight lies here in the northeast, where 90% of Brazil’s donkeys can be found meandering among small farming communities.

“Donkeys are a symbol of Brazil’s northeast,” said Geuza Leitão, president of an animal-rights group in Ceará state north of here and author of “Your Excellency, The Donkey,” a book eulogizing the humble burro. “We want them to leave the donkey alone.”

A slaughterhouse focusing on donkey-derived exports to China is being built here just outside of Apodi, a town of 36,000 where donkeys often impede the very cars and motorcycles that made them obsolete. It will be the second donkey abattoir designed with the Chinese market in mind, after a facility in Bahia started small-scale donkey slaughtering last year in a pilot program that Brazilian and Chinese officials hope will soon expand.

“We want to open the door to this market as soon as possible,” said Luis Rangel, an official at Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry who oversees safety standards and has been working with Chinese officials to further exports. “We’re looking for new agricultural products, because we’re already champions in the traditional ones,” he added, referring to Brazil’s huge cattle industry.

Brazil hasn’t yet issued the sanitary licenses necessary to enable regular shipments of donkey products to China, nor has China approved the import of products from the two donkey slaughterhouses. But both sides are so confident that shipments of donkey products to China will begin later this year that they are already hatching joint plans to go beyond the current feral or semi-feral population and genetically improve donkeys, which have long gestation periods and don’t lend themselves to large-scale production like cattle.

The Chinese government and Dong-E-E-Jiao Co., one of the country´s largest ejiao producers, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In some parts of the world, China’s appetite for donkey meat and hides is viewed with revulsion. Several African countries that had been big providers of donkeys have recently prohibited donkey sales. According to a report by the Donkey Sanctuary, a British animal-rights group, those animals were often stolen before their skins were shipped to China.

The demand for ejiao has caused China’s own donkey population, once the world’s largest, to fall by nearly half to 6 million animals since 1990. More than 1.8 million donkey skins are traded annually, according to the Donkey Sanctuary, which estimates a market for some 10 million hides a year.

Some here see northeastern Brazil filling the void, but there is ample resistance to the notion in a place where people have a special place in their hearts for the burro. Singers have dedicated ballads to them in this region, where donkeys, not dogs, are considered man’s best friend.

José Sena de Lima, who is 96, still keeps three donkeys on the ranch where he lives near Apodi. When the family house was built in the 1930s, he said, his father had the help of two donkeys and a mule.

“If you didn’t own a donkey, you would often have to carry stuff on your own back,” said Mr. de Lima, who still talks about the animals with gratitude.

Adailton Torres Filho, 53, remembered how his baby sister, suffering from a nutritional deficiency, got stronger when their parents fed her donkey milk.

But there are also cautionary tales about the out-of-control population. Geneclayton de Gois Almeida, 40, a veterinarian, said his father was killed 20 years ago when his car hit a donkey lying on the road after having been hit by another vehicle. “In the northeast, we all know someone who was involved in a car accident somehow related to a donkey,” he said.

 Those hoping to save the animals from the slaughterhouse are seeking ways to make them worth more alive than dead.Adroaldo Zanella, a professor at the University of São Paulo veterinary and animal-science shool, is working with a student researching the viability of milking donkeys, with an eye taking advantage of the liquid’s high nutritional content and pleasant flavor to help infants with special nutritional needs and children who have trouble digesting cow’s milk.

“Donkey milk is very close to human milk in terms of nutritional value,” Mr. Zanella said, adding that it sells in Europe for 15 to 20 times more than cow’s milk. Given that donkeys can be had for free here, Mr. Zanella said, a startup farm to produce donkey milk could work in Brazil, too.

In Ceará state, where the road department spends nearly $1 million a year to collect burros and other animals wandering on roadsides, road superintendent Igor Vasconcelos Ponte said he was considering creating a visitation center for veterinary students and others interested in researching the animals on the ranch near Santa Quintéria where they are kept.

The ranch could even become a tourist attraction, he said, having noticed how Brazilians from other parts of the country like to pose for pictures when they see the donkeys here.

“It’s as if they were in Australia and found a kangaroo,” Mr. Ponte said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-debates-fate-of-millions-of-idled-donkeys-1523098801

Update: A Special Pray for Easter to my Friends

by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Re-post from 2016

“Fellow equine advocates, I received this note, below, from Marjorie yesterday and wanted to share it as it is so very timely in so many ways.  But being that it was personal I sought out Marjorie’s approval and just received said thumbs up, today.  With all of the evil that stalks not only our wild equines but we Americans, even our faiths, worldwide this message is just as potent today as it was yesterday.  Thank you Marjorie and bless you for “keeping the faith”. ~ R.T.


palm-sundayToday of all days, I am struck by the hypocrisy of people who want the wild burros gone from their rightful lands. On this day, Christ’s resurrection, I am reminded of the humbleness of the donkey, and his designation in the Bible as the animal that represents peace. On this day, I think of the Bible stories that tell of the many roles played by the humble, peaceful donkey in Christ’s life and times. Throughout the Bible and also other religious texts, the donkey plays a major role. In the desert there could be no greater partner than the donkey who can survive four days without water and acted as a water diviner when allowed to follow their instincts. The donkeys carried goods and people great distances while needing little to survive. Even now, scientists are tracking donkey fossils to determine the spread of human civilization around the globe for they were always the chosen beast of burden carrying goods afar in trade.

Yes, we owe much to the donkey. Yet, the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly. On the day Jesus was born a small donkey stood vigilant over the cradle of Jesus, and Balaam was warned by a donkey given speech to not betray the Jews. Then, on Palm Sunday the donkey rode into Jerusalem with Jesus aboard in a semblance of peace and servitude. Yet, now, everyday we read of violent acts committed against this kind animal. Jesus and God loved the donkey, yet today the wild donkeys are violently treated by hunters and game managers who call them pests and vermin. These same people would most likely identify themselves as Christian without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions toward their own religion as they ask to remove donkeys by whatever means possible. They ask to issue hunting permits, and issue roundup orders. They ask to send these sublime animals given as a gift to all of us, to slaughter. It hurts my heart.

On this day of resurrection my hope is that the donkey will rise again as a creature who is appreciated and understood in the way that he is by God. I pray that the humble donkey will at last find his way to represent to the world what is good in all of us. At long last, my hope is for a resurrection of the altruistic side of humankind and hope that the greedy can find it in their hearts to provide a small parcel of the planet where the sweet donkeys can be safe with their families, wild and unharassed by violence. I think that on this day of resurrection, Jesus looks down on his kingdom and weeps for the donkey he so loves being harmed by humans he gave his life to save. There is a real sadness to his tears for all of us. ~ Marjorie Farabee

Marjorie Farabee

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Director of Wild Burro Affairs
Equine Manager Todd Mission Ranch
9977 County Road 302 
Plantersville, TX 77363

Feel Good Sunday: Video ~ Why We Live With Horses

“Warning: Ensure that you do NOT have a mouthful of liquid, or food, when you watch the antics of these equine comedians.  I am certain that anyone who is, or was,  a guardian of a horse or donkey will find several comical behaviors here that you have personally experienced with your four legged children.  Smile, giggle and enjoy your day.  May God Bless all of you who give those who cannot speak a voice.  You are very, very spacial, indeed.” ~ R.T.


‘It’s just boiled donkey skin’: Chinese health officials rubbish ‘inhumane’ product

by as published on Horse & Hound

A popular product made from the skins of donkeys has been deemed “not worth buying” by Chinese health officials.

Demand for ejiao, derived from donkey hides, has led to the slaughter of millions of donkeys in recent years.

However, China’s national health and family planning commission recently told consumers the remedy was ,“not worth buying” and despite its many health claims is “just boiled donkey skin.”

On Sunday (18 February), the commission posted on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, that ejiao, is “..not a good source of protein” and that its health claims were at best overstated.

The news was welcomed by international welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Donkey Sanctuary has been campaigning for a halt to the global trade in donkey skins, which utilises around four million donkey skins every year.

It is estimated that as many as 2.2 million skins are imported to China from Africa, South America and parts of Asia every year. Over the past two years, an escalating demand for skins to make the product has also resulted in poaching and theft of donkeys from individuals and communities that depend on them, with national donkey populations being halved in some countries.

“Many social media users in China shared the commission’s original posts […] but within a few hours the Weibo feeds for all of the commission’s tweets had gone offline and remains offline now,” said a spokesman for The Donkey Sanctuary.

Alex Mayers is the head of programmes at the charity and has been working at ground-level with partners around the globe to expose the donkey skin trade to protect donkeys and the communities that rely on them.

“A huge number of medical claims are made for ejiao, and despite its high price, it’s an extremely sought-after and popular product,” he said.

“This advice from the commission has resulted in a lot of discussion on social media in China, both about the claims and benefits of the product and also about it having seemingly been deleted.

“Whether there are any benefits from taking ejiao or not, our primary concern remains that the trade in skins is both inhumane and unsustainable. However if a product is not worth buying then it can’t be worth the price of destroying someone’s livelihood, and the trade is responsible for that every single time a donkey is stolen and slaughtered which itself is every single day.”

Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/chinas-national-health-and-family-planning-commission-ejiao-donkey-skin-not-worth-buying-the-donkey-sanctuary-644825#Iofpq33vlqJXVeF1.99

A Respectful Feel Good Sunday ~ For Horse Lovers Who Loved Tom Petty: A Remembrance

By Susan Wagner – President of Equine Advocates

“Now I’m free
Free fallin’
Yeah, I’m free
Free fallin’…”

It was just yesterday when the world learned the results of the autopsy on music legend Tom Petty who passed away last year at the age of 66.

Rolling Stone reported, “After months of speculation, a medical examiner has ruled that Tom Petty died of an accidental overdose, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner…Petty had been prescribed the drugs to treat emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip, his family said in a statement accompanying the results. Petty’s coronary artery disease had been a persistent problem throughout his final tour…”

There are some artists whose music speaks to people in a way that is so profound and special that it puts them in a class by themselves. Tom Petty was one of those artists.

He had millions of fans worldwide, but for us at Equine Advocates, it was his acknowledgement of our organization and our work to end horse slaughter that was a real high point for me. In October of 2016, he and his wife, Dana, signed a petition we originated that called for the end of horse slaughter. Petty was the first celebrity among many to sign on and posted news about the petition on the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers official website so that his fans became aware of the issue and could sign the petition as well.

Who could have imagined that a exactly a year later Tom Petty would no longer be with us? I have been a fan of his since the 1980’s and the song of his that has extra special meaning for me is “I Won’t Back Down.” I feel that in every fight we take on in life, one has to have determination…and it is such a universal song that people from all walks of life can relate to it.

Tom Petty is sorely missed but he lives on forever in his music. SW

Breaking News: Infamous Horse Eater to Debate on Fox’s Tucker Carlson, TONIGHT

A Scary News Alert: in the most indignant opinion of R.T. Fitch

Update: POS was a no show but claims he was bumped until next week.  Let’s hope the producers realized him to be as dumb as a box of rocks and nixed his misguided moment of infamy.  https://rtfitchauthor.com/2017/12/30/horse-eating-fringe-cult-leader-bumped-from-national-news-show/#comment-205482

According to the poorly written press release, below, it appears that long time, washed-up alleged horse trainer and professed horse eater  Dave “Doink” Duquette has crawled out from underneath his slimy little rock to spew lies and deceit about how wonderful murdering and eating companion animals can be.


PROTECT THE HARVEST’S DAVE DUQUETTE TO GUEST
ON TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT SHOW
 
Hot equine debate – Friday night – Dec.29, at 8:00pm ET on Fox News
 
Brownsburg, IN. Dec. 28, 2017): Protect The Harvest’s equine expert Dave Duquette will
guest on the Tucker Carlson Tonight Show on Friday night, December 29, at 8:00pm ET. Dave
and Tucker will be talking about why Protect The Harvest (PTH), supports bringing back horse
processing in the United States.
 
Duquette explains on the show that horse processing is an essential part of many nations diets
and used to have a rich history in the United States. The return to horse processing in the US
would mean much higher welfare for horses.
 
Founded by Lucas Oil owner Forrest Lucas, PTH is a 501c3 non-profit formed in 2014 that
seeks to actively inform and communicate with the general public about issues regarding

agriculture, hunting, fishing, and animal ownership.


‘Merry Flippin Christmas to you too Doink.  Bet your mamma is proud of you…Lord knows your hometown is not.’

Dave “Doink” Duquette, alleged horse trainer and known horse eater ~ photo not taken by R.T. Fitch

Yup, according to the release and it has not been verified, Doink will be on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Show at 8 PM Eastern time, tonight, Dec. 29th.  Anyone with half a brain knows that Tucker is pretty handy at publicly making losers look as stupid as they really aspire to be so this may be Doink’s big chance to go on National TV so that his wife and children may never be able to show their faces in Walmart, again.

Doink has been working in the background ever since his equine blood engorged tick of a sidekick, Sue Wallis choked on her own lies several years ago and croaked; Karma made away with her bigot of a husband, too.  I guess there is some sort of mercy in the world that allows the likes of Doink to continue to walk among the living, perhaps it is pity for his young family that might, or might not, look to him for fiscal support.  Moral support and direction from this grade A wiener was lost long ago.

Left – “Doink” Duqquette – DUMB  Right – “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis – DEAD

So advocates, we only have  a few hours but let’s politely tweet, email and Facebook the facts to Mr. Tucker Carlson and give him a bit more fuel for a potential ass-chewing tonight.

You can tweet Tucker at: https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson

Contact on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/TuckerCarlsonTonight/?ref=br_rs

and: https://www.facebook.com/tuckercarlsonFOX/

 

We don’t need the likes of Duquette soiling a season meant to bring cheer and hope…enough is enough.

The Traditional 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

“Over the past, now almost 10, years we have dug into our bag of heartfelt stories and brought this particular tale out to share every Christmas.  The feelings penned here never grow old, for me, and perhaps are a little clearer, today, as I am home for the holiday for the first time in years. 

After a long absence from the farm  I returned to a very long “Honey-Do” list, yesterday.  First and foremost was fence repair and as I tapped and sawed my way across the multiple pastures I was never without a warm puff of equine breath in my ear, a gentle tug at the longer hair at the nape of my neck and a little boarder collie leaning against my legs, just to reassure herself that I was really home.

Yup, I can personally attest to the fact that a world without four legged beings is a very lonely world indeed.  God has truly blessed us with friends and companions who know no jealousy, hate or greed and in return they enjoy a smile, a loving hand and a simple wink of acknowledgement.  I truly love our critters, each and every one.  Celebrate with me, this day, those who helped bring, and keep, light into our world. 

Merry Christmas to you too, my two legged friends…our four legged companions need your voice.  Be safe.” ~ R.T. 

(Fire-up your imagination and cut loose reality before you move on; it will make for a more spectacular ride)


We Were There

Pele, Bart and our departed 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”.

Videos: Celebrated Comedic Equine Welfare Christmas Videos Reloaded

John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance and covert owner of Howling Ridge Film and Fertilizer Co., has been entertaining us with equine holiday videos over the years.  But once again this year we are going to be forced to sit back and enjoy the works of years gone by as John, like many others, has been up to his eyeballs in important issues and is making great strides forward for the horses and the donkeys in the real fight on the all too real battlefield; that fight has held precedence over the production of yet another annual Christmas video, as well it should.  Keep up the good works, John and EWA, we are all on the same page and fully support your efforts.  Have a very Merry and Jolly Christmas!” ~ R.T.

Appalachian Christmas Tail (2006)

Christmas Spirit (2006)

A Christmas Legend (2007)

It’s a Wonderful Life (2008)

How the Grinch Stole Equus (2009)

The Christmas List (2010)

All John’s videos can be viewed at the EWA Video Page

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Celebrates National Day of the Horse

Open Letter from Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In 2004, Congress designated December 13th as National Day of the Horse and today, December 13th 2017, the Board of Directors of Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) celebrate by encouraging fellow Americans to take special note of the contribution of horses and burros to the history, development and character of the United States of America.  Our wild horses and burros are living monuments to this evolution and so eloquently embody the spirit of the freedom that we United States citizens all hold so dear.

There have been recent mitochondrial studies of the ancient horse called Equus lambei, which once populated North America and allegedly died out more than 11,000 years ago, indicating that it is genetically equivalent to what we know as the modern, wild and domesticated horses of today.  Archeological discovery of fossils validate this hypothesis, which indicates that E. caballus is a native species and its evolutionary origin is North America.

“With the current tangle of politics and jumbled federal legislation we have never been as fearful for the future fate of our wild equines as we are today,” says R.T. Fitch co-founder and president of WHFF, “we need every American to make it crystal clear to their federal representatives that our native wild horses and burros need to stay in the wild, free and unfettered, making both humane and good business sense.”

We ask you to join us in both celebrating and protecting the God given right to freedom, also approved by the U.S. Congress, for wild horses and burros to remain free with their families on their rightful range for generations to come.

Support Wild Horse Freedom Federation as we put people between wild equines and extinction.