Click (HERE) for Part I
A Whisper to the Soul
(Sept. 2009) We had been waiting for quite some time. The BLM guards told us that the helicopter was bringing in another family band of Pryor Mt. wild horses but the clock continued to tick. High up atop the observation bluff we equine advocates sat down and crouched behind a feeble jute fence, as ordered, in an alleged effort to “hide” ourselves from any approaching wild horses that would be some 200 yards away.
We were a small group but a potent one to say the very least, Ginger Kathrens, Ann Evans, Makendra Silverman, Ben Sussman, Pam and Tom Nickoles, Carol Walker, Elyse Gardner, Sandy Elmore, Terry and I were present with others who I may have forgotten to name. We sat, we waited and we prayed as the guard with the radio said that the helicopter pilot reported that he “had” Cloud and his family. All of us shared a collective shiver and drop in spirits, Cloud was running for his life.
At first we could hear the sound of the helicopter and after several moments we could see its blades just above a hill about 2 miles away. It appeared that it would try to progress towards the mouth of the valley and then it would retreat back out of sight and try again, back and forth. Someone whispered, “Give em hell, Cloud, give em hell.”
Sandy was on my left with a camera in one hand, Terry was on my right with a camera in her free hand as I had both of my hands in their spares and we squeezed hard and held on for dear life while we prayed.
“Run Cloud, Run” I screamed inside my head, “Don’t let them do this, don’t let them win, run free Cloud, run”. And that’s when we saw them. Cresting the distant hill like a darting and weaving black snake with a white head came Cloud’s band. A wiggling and darting line of horses first going to the right and then to the left in a ordered single file line they came down the hill and onto the valley floor. As we all inhaled a rouge gust of wind burst upon our faces and ripped my hat from my head, it shocked us, it moved us, the feeling of a great spirit rushing through and beyond us riveted us to the ground that we sat upon and no one uttered a sound. We only watched until someone remembered to breath.
Across the valley floor Cloud ran up the hills to his left only to be chased down into the valley by the marauding helicopter so Cloud would run, with family following, up the hills on the right only to be met again by the inhumane chopper. Back and forth, back and forth went the exhausting game of tag with the band inching ever closer with each pass across the valley.
“Make them work for it, Cloud.” I heard Ginger whisper.
Slowly the giant horse snake worked its way ever closer to the chute of the trap with the funnel of jute fencing that would force the horses into the awaiting jail cell. Foot by foot they came closer, closer and then close enough for Cattoor to release his “Judas” horse so that it would run into the trap with the wild horses right behind. Cloud never flinched; he never looked at the traitor to the horses; he simply slowed to walk, looked and realized what was ahead and quickly came to a full stop as his family gathered around him.
We were frozen by his intelligence and transfixed by the moment as Cloud slowly turned and faced the helicopter with a contemptuous stare; it seemed as if the wild horse and the mechanical bird of prey were locked in that deadly glare for hours but I am sure it was only seconds until Cloud slowly turned and walked into the awaiting jail cell with his family close behind. His speed on his terms, he made his way into the confining pen.
The gate slammed shut, the chopper flew away, the blood had been squeezed out of both of my hands, someone sniffed back a tear and Terry leaned into my right ear with tension and pain behind her strained whisper,
“This cannot go on, this has to stop.” She hissed, “We have to do something.”
Our souls were touched, our hearts were broken and the direction of our lives’ work was forever changed.
Tomorrow Part III: “Why are They Killing All the Wild Horses?”