BLM Sets Hearing on Wild Horse Mismanagement

Story by the Idaho Mountain Express

The BLM is inviting the public to submit comments as part of a statewide hearing regarding motor vehicle and helicopter use in wild horse management operations on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 1-2 p.m. at its Challis Field Office.

The public hearing is being held to obtain information, views and suggestions about the BLM’s use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in managing wild horses in Idaho during the coming year (February 2018 to January 2019).

The Challis Field office is at 721 E. Main Ave., Suite 8 in Challis.

 Anyone unable to attend the hearing to submit comments can submit written statements to BLM_ID_WHB_MotorizedHearing@blm.gov. Comments should include address, phone number and e-mail.

Feel Good Sunday: Mini and Pony Video Compilation

“Hold your horses, er, ponies; what else to bring a smile to your face but interesting video clips of the “lil” ones at play.  It’s a day of rest but why not expend a chuckle or two over these bodacious little guys having one heck of a good time.  Take a breather and relax a bit my fellow advocates.  You deserve the day off.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.


BLM Set to Stampede and Remove 1,500 Wild Horses from their Rightful Range

Unedited propaganda as published in BLM Press Release

2018 Triple B Complex Wild Horse Gather

The gather will tenatively begin on January 23.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Purpose of Gather:

The purpose of the operation is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, and to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM strives to be a good neighbor in the communities we serve, ensuring public safety is not at risk due to the overpopulation of wild horses and providing opportunities for economic growth with space for traditional uses.

Details of Gather:

The BLM plans to gather 1,500 wild horses and remove approximately 1,000 excess horses.  The BLM will release approximately 250 mares that will have been treated with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22 to slow the population growth rate of the animals remaining on public lands.  PZP-22 is a temporary fertility-control vaccine that can prevent pregnancy in wild horses for 1-2 years.  In addition, approximately 250 gathered stallions will be selected and returned back to the range.

Public Observation:

Members of the public are welcome to view the daily gather operations, provided that doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers, or disrupt gather operations.  The BLM will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands.  The BLM anticipates that viewing opportunities will begin on January 23, 2018, weather and logistics permitting.  Those wanting to view gather operations must notify Public Affairs Specialist, Greg Deimel at (775) 388-7078 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times

Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food.  The BLM recommends footwear and clothing suitable for harsh field conditions and a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle.  Public restrooms will not be available onsite.

Background: 

The Triple B Complex is located in both the BLM Ely and Elko Districts and consists of the Triple B HMA (Ely), Maverick Medicine HMA (Elko), Antelope Valley HMA west of Hwy 93 (Elko), and Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory (Elko).  The gather may also take place in areas outside of those HMAs where wild horses have moved in search of food and water and are creating a public safety hazard by traveling regularly across Jiggs Road.

The current population estimate for the Triple B Complex is approximately 3,842 wild horses.  The cumulative Appropriate Management Level for all the Herd Management Areas within the targeted gather area is 472 – 884 wild horses.  AML is the level at which wild horse populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them and other mandated uses of those lands, including protecting ecological processes and habitat for wildlife and livestock.

The decision record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy can be accessed at the national NEPA register. For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 1-866-468-7826 or email wildhorse@blm.gov.

https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/nevada/2018-Triple-B-Complex-wild-horse-gather

Animal rights group presses Army on wild horse roundups

by By JANET MCCONNAUGHEY as published in Stars and Stripes

Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in western Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses…

Horses graze in front of an armored Humvee at Fort Polk, La., on Sept. 20, 2014. Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses. Court papers filed on Jan. 8, 2018, say Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November and may be trying to eliminate the herds before a judge can decide whether the roundups are legal. WILLIAM GORE/U.S. ARMY

Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November, and some captured horses are treated poorly and many may be slaughtered, the Pegasus Equine Guardian Association said in court papers backing up its request for a preliminary injunction.

People and groups that might adopt the horses, “are being arbitrarily rejected and removed from the potential adopter list, increasing the likelihood that ‘kill buyers’ will be able to acquire the horses,” the association wrote.

Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email that the department cannot comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay scheduled a hearing Jan. 30 in Lake Charles.

The association sued the Army and Fort Polk’s commanding officer in December 2016 over plans to get rid of about 700 “trespass horses” the Army considers a safety risk in training areas.

Most of the horses are on about 48,000 acres (19,400 hectares) in the Kisatchie National Forest — part of 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares) of forest land that the base uses for training, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Caldwell has said.

The Army has lists of tax-exempt rescue groups and people interested in taking the horses. Its plan calls for notifying them after roundups of up to 30 horses. Any rescue group unable to take every horse from one roundup is struck from the list. Individuals who can’t pick up the number of horses they commit to within five days also are removed.

The horses have been there for decades, possibly more than a century. Some people speculate that the herds are descended from Army cavalry horses. Monday’s court filing, however, asserts the horses have roamed the area at least since the early 1800s. Fort Polk was founded in 1941.

Some look like descendants of horses acquired by Choctaw Indians from Spanish colonists, according to a letter from Jeannette Beranger, senior programs manager of The Livestock Conservancy, filed in the court record.

Some horses from isolated areas should get a closer look, which might prompt DNA tests to see if they are “Choctaw horses” or similar strains, wrote Phillip Sponenberg, a professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, in another document filed Monday. He said such horses would be valuable for conservation.

In a another court document, Jeff Dorson, head of the Humane Society of Louisiana, said he received complaints this month from tipsters who aren’t Pegasus officers about inhumane treatment of the horses.

Pegasus has received other allegations that “current contractors or subcontractors are not treating the horses humanely, failing to provide adequate and non-moldy hay and sufficient clean food and water, using inhumane round-up techniques, or engaging in practices that will favor moving the horses to kill buyers over animal welfare organizations or humane adopters,” the organization said.

One contractor or subcontractor, Jacob Thompson, “has been in legal trouble with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, State of Texas, and State of Oklahoma for abuse, theft or other violations involving livestock,” according to Pegasus’ filing.

Thompson was fined $3,150 on Friday for violating five Louisiana regulations including selling livestock without a permit, Veronica Mosgrove, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said in an email. She said his only state-licensed business is Thompson Horse Lot. The lot’s Facebook page states that it’s in Pitkin, which is near Fort Polk.

A call to the number on Thompson Horse Lot’s Facebook page was answered by a man who said, “We’re not interested in no press.” The man said he was not Jacob Thompson and hung up when asked his name.

https://www.stripes.com/news/army/animal-rights-group-presses-army-on-wild-horse-roundups-1.505920

Feel Good Sunday: The Inexplicably Strange History Of Mr. Ed The Horse

story by as published on Ranker.com under Unbelievable Animals

“Today we escape into our past and date ourselves by remembering a well known animal actor that we all loved and adored…Mr. Ed was my first exposure to horses, even though he was only 2 dimensional.  But none the less; today I see a lot of  “Talking Horses” when I casually stroll through our pastures and love to hear what each and every one of them have to say. (the secret is to listen)  May their love speak to our hearts and uplift our spirits.” ~ R.T.


In the 1960s, the story of a man and his talking horse captivated the globe. The show was Mister Ed, and it followed the hijinks of a talking horse named Mr. Ed and his keeper Wilbur Post. The show became an instant classic, and the character of Ed has popped up everywhere from rap music and comedy sketches to children’s shows.

Behind the character of Mr. Ed was a real horse. His name was Bamboo Harvester and he was already famous when he stepped onto the Hollywood scene. TV’s most famous horse was born and bred a star. Lighthearted and humorous at times, stubborn and imperious on occasion, the real Mr. Ed was a true trail blazer.

Like most celebrities, his death was untimely and shrouded in mystery. And in the wake of his passing we learned that while he could indeed be imitated, he was one of the greatest horse stars of all time.

This epic equestrian celebrity’s story began in sunny California. He was born in 1949 to two purebred horses, and was eventually owned by Lester “Les” Hilton. His family came from a long line of purebred horses meant for show, and his father Harvester was one of the prized horses of the San Fernando Valley.

Bamboo Harvester was a beautiful and energetic horse that caught the eye of many. He also won awards and accolades as a show horse. While his most notable footprint – or should we say hoof print – in Hollywood was his performance as Mr. Ed, his California neighbors remember fondly for both his spirit and his spunk.

The pilot episode of Mister Ed featured a different horse entirely.  In fact, the pilot was recorded with an entirely different cast altogether. This episode, titled “The Wonderful World of Wilbur Pope” never saw any screen time. If it had, this legendary series would have played out to a totally different tune.

After the Chestnut gelding initially cast as Mr. Ed had a bit of a breakdown, Bamboo Harvester stepped in for the second pilot, which featured the rest of the classic cast and became the first official episode to air on national television. It’s hard not to help but wonder if his life would have been different (and maybe longer) had he not been bestowed with that lead part.

Even though in real life Mr. Ed was a non-talking horse, he had a lot to say. Having grown up in the limelight, his attitude matched that of his human counterparts. Subsequently, he was a bit of a diva. Bamboo Harvester was known to call it quits in the middle of a scene. He decided when the shoot was over by simply storming off stage and refusing to return. He also had celebrity demands. They weren’t quite as specific as bowls full of only blue M&M’s, or an entirely vegan dressing room, although the latter would have been appropriate in this case. So what did he demand? Sweet tea by the gallon and 20 pounds of hay every day…(CONTINUED)

Feel Good Sunday Video: Horse Dancing the Old Year Out and the New Year In

“Today we put ‘Stupid’ and ‘Lunacy’ on the back burner while we celebrate the upcoming New Year.  Our FGS installation is just such a celebration, a N.O. Police horse dancing in the street, loving life and enjoying the moment.

Dance with your ponies today, even if it is only a mental picture, dance with their spirit and set yours free.

With all of us working together, 2018 will be like no other.  The horses and donkeys will finally catch their break.

Happy New Year my friends, and the very best of wishes to you and yours.  Be safe.” ~ R.T.


Horse Eating, Fringe Cult Leader Bumped from National News Show

“In my most humble opinion” by R.T. Fitch

Maybe Fox News Listened to the Voices of 80% of Americans

Vegan Poster Boy – Dave
‘Doink” Duquette. Infamous horse hating proponent for murdering and eating equine friends and family.

Longtime proponent of murdering (processing) companion and wild equines (horses and burros) for perverse human consumption, Dave “Doink” Duquette was abruptly removed from the broadcast schedule of Fox News Tucker Carlson show on Friday, December 29th.  A very sad moment for his horse hating lemmings but a moment of comic relief for the rest of the self-actualized human beings that inhabit this planet.

It appears that the mass objection to the appearance of this monosyllabic moron by normal, mainstream Americans may have been a force in Fox reconsidering the highlighting of a subject that is against the law in the United States and makes the skin crawl of even the hardiest soul.

Or…it might be that Tucker himself was on vacation and that he, personally, wants to chew on this horse hater and expose him for what he really is.

Either way, it has rekindled the compassionate soul of those who strive to build a better world for humans and equines alike.

“Mmmmm, this would be a nice cut”

I strongly recommend that motivated equine advocates continue to politely contact Tucker Carlson and Fox News and thank them for not allowing this dark lord of horse blood to spread his gore and untruths across the cable news wire.  In reality, it was actually an act of kindness to Doink himself as he does not have the sense to realize that the intent of the interview/debate was to make him look like the raving idiot that he is.  Unless he has received a crash course on verbal communication and removal of expletives from his vocabulary he would have crashed and burned within the first 10 seconds of the debate. (expletives = cussing, Dave)

Let’s hope that ole Doink crawls back into his hole with the rest of the weirdos that moan about trying to start an illegal business of killing and eating family and friends.  Disgusting, to say the least.

We are a strong voice, a just voice as we represent over 80% of Americans and ALL of the voiceless horse nation…the horse haters are simply a small and perverse, fringe group of emotional cripples.  May God have mercy on their twisted souls.

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.

Video: The True Spirit of Christmas Knows No Walls

“Over the years I have attempted not to broadcast when and where I was as I worked a career which centered on international travel.  Our book was born while I worked in Cabinda, Angola and even the book contains a story, a true one, written while I was in Nigeria.  Two years ago, this Christmas, I was in a rural mountain town in Sichuan Province, China called Nanba. 

It is somewhat heart-tugging being away for the holidays but over the years I gradually learned to make the best of where I was.  In 2015 my buddy, a few of my Chinese friends and a lone Phillappino with a saxophone launched a plan to mezmorize the children of the town.  Santa (me) would walk among the streets of Nanba on Christmas and pass out reflective bracelets, for safety, and little hair do-dads to the town’s children.  Most of the children had never seen a tall white haired and bearded westerner before let alone Santa Clause, so we set forth to walk among them as the slideshow documents.

Now before you say what does this have to do with equines I would like to point out the Terry and I have never had two legged children but have always had a house/ranch/farm full of the four legged type.  So certain nuances and perks of having mini-duplicates of ourselves have escaped us but two years ago today, I had the eye opening experience of looking into the eyes of these beautiful children and seeing the same innocence and curiosity that I view mirrored back to me in the eyes of our equine charges.  It has forever moved me and two years later still warms my soul and gives me hope that human, perhaps, are born with innocent dignity and a positive, loving spirit.  Perhaps if we can learn how to prevent the world from strangling and corrupting all that is good in us, we may have a chance to survive and, likewise, our fellow passengers on this Space Ship Earth.

Capture the purity of this day and keep the faith, my friends, I believe that out there, somewhere, there is goodness…this video points to that very hope.

Merry Christmas.” ~ R.T.


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”.