Straight from the Wild Horse’s Mouth – A Letter to Santa

Submitted by “Ace“, the Twin Peaks Wild Stallion and personal friend of Grandma Greg’s

“I often warmly think about the ‘good old days’ when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free…”

“It’s not only ‘Feel Good Sunday” but for Christmas this will be ‘Feel Good Week’ where we will share original equine related Christmas stories every day until the 25th  for you to ponder, enjoy and hopefully allow you to wash your mind out and gain a breath of fresh air; we all need an extended recharge.

Today’s story was sent to me last year by one of the last stallions of Twin Peaks, “Ace”, now safe and out of the BLM’s grasp.  On first read it made my eyes leak and a year later it has not only maintained it’s poignant message but it is even, perhaps, more timely at the close of 2013.  I thank Ace for his input as I believe this is one of the best things he has ever written, except for the note to the other day reminding me to share it.  Thanks buddy and the best to all this holiday season!” ~ R.T.

holly

"Ace" ~ photo by Cate Scott

Dear Santa-

I am an old wild stallion.  I am told that I am one of the last Twin Peaks stallions.  I have had a wonderful life as Mother Nature planned for me from the very day I was born.  I lived the first 22 years free and wild and learned from my sire, dam, siblings and family band what was good for me to eat and where to find the fresh water springs that are hidden in the hills.  I romped and played with the young colts and fillies in my extended family.  Under the watchful protection of our family members, we young horses frolicked in the snow and creeks and rested in the shade of the old Juniper trees in the heat of the summer. Life was very good.  I later grew to be a healthy, robust and compassionate herd stallion with beautiful loyal mares and amusing, vigorous offspring.  Although I now have a good “retirement” life in a sanctuary with other displaced animals, my life in the wild was perfect for a wild one like me!

I know you are very busy Santa, but today I am asking you to help all creatures that have not been as lucky as me.  I have heard that there are fewer and fewer wild horses and burros that are allowed to live wild and free on their rightful range.   I do not understand this but I do know it is wrong.  What I am asking from you is for you to watch over and protect all animals and help them to be able to live their lives as Mother Nature intended for them.  Do not allow them to be chased, harassed, trapped, caged, starved, abused and slaughtered.

Although I live for today, I often warmly think about the “good old days” when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free.  Where are my wild friends that I knew those many years?  Where are my mares and foals today?  Why was our family torn from each other and our peaceful and natural world destroyed?  I have over-heard humans say that our life in the wild was traded for money.  Santa, what is money?  Could it possibly be more important than our wild hearts, lives, families and land?

Santa, I will continue to dream of my days gone by but I am asking you today to watch over all creatures’ great and small and to teach all human beings to think with their hearts and to reason with their souls.

Thank you, Santa.

– “ACE”

Related Articles

The Advocate, the Guard and the Force of the Horse® at Christmas — (www.rtfitch.com)

“A Serious Crime”: State Officials Investigate Wild Horse Killings

Source: By Ed Pearce of KOLO.com

“Probably the greatest photo op was when he took his band and he ran alongside the train for a full mile at the same pace as the train…”

Click Image to View Video Report

Click Image to View Video Report

LYON COUNTY, CA – Some called him “Railroad Man” or “Flash.”

The crews and passengers on the V&T Railroad who saw the paint stallion leading his band near American Flat almost every trip called him “Damien.”

By whatever name he had many fans. In fact he starred in many tourists’ memories and videos of their trip to the Comstock.

“It was the highlight of their trip to Nevada,” says the railroad’s Vice President Thomas Gray.

“Probably the greatest photo op was when he took his band and he ran alongside the train for a full mile at the same pace as the train. It was wonderful.”

Today, the big stallion is a rotting carcass, not far from a Mound House neighborhood, shot and killed a couple of weeks ago.

Then yesterday another wild stallion, a bay called “Noman was found on a nearby hillside.

“He had been shot with arrows,” says Bob Conrad of the Department of Agriculture, “and he was near death when we arrived on scene. We had to euthanize him

Both incidents are now under investigation.

Time was, killing a wild horse would get you the legal equivalent of a slap on the hand.

No more.

It’s now a felony. The penalty is up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Conrad hopes the killers will be caught and he’s asking the public for help. The Ag Department is offering through Secret Witness, a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrest and prosecution.

The longtime crime fighting organization takes calls 24/7, paying cash rewards while keeping tipsters anonymous. Their number is (775) 322-4900.

Sharing in the blame with whoever is responsible for these killings may be some people living nearby who see them every day.

The horses are a common sight in Mound House and other rural neighborhoods. They come here because some people feed them and in time they have no fear of people.

That makes them a vulnerable, easy target for whoever is responsible for killings like these latest..

Feeding them, one local advocate told us, “Isn’t kindness. It’s a death sentence.”

It’s also against the law.

Corolla Wild Horse Recovers after Rescue from Ocean

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot

It was the first rescue of a horse by Corolla Ocean Rescue

A Corolla wild horse stallion walks along the ocean on May 2, 2013, just before getting into a fight with another stallion. (Courtesy of Betty Lane)

COROLLA, N.C. – A blind and aging stallion is recovering after a rip current swept him seaward and lifeguards carried out the coastal community’s first wild-horse rescue.

On May 2, two stallions battled for supremacy over a harem of mares, a common occurrence among the wild horses on the Currituck Outer Banks. Already blind in one eye, the older stallion injured his other eye during the fight, said Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

He ran into the ocean and was caught in a riptide that carried him away from the beach and more than a mile down the shore.

The stallion reached a sandbar where he was able to stand. Directed over the phone by herd manager Wesley Stallings, lifeguards used rescue buoys to push the horse from behind and gradually guide him to land, McCalpin said.

It was the first rescue of a horse by Corolla Ocean Rescue, Chief Sylvia Wolff said.

The stallion’s better eye has healed some, but he remains nearly blind, she said. After the rescue, he was named Amadeo, meaning “blessed by God.” But he will not return to the wild herd, she said.

“He’s going to be our responsibility for the rest of his life,” she said. “He can’t go back.”…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to Comment

Straight from the Wild Horse’s Mouth: A Letter to Santa

Submitted by “Ace“, the Twin Peaks Wild Stallion and personal friend of Grandma Greg’s

“I often warmly think about the ‘good old days’ when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free…”

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I awoke, today, to find a letter from a captured, yet now safe, Twin Peaks Wild Stallion in my inbox.  I share that letter to Santa with you and can only wonder if it makes your eyes leak as it did mine.  Be safe.” ~ R.T.

holly

"Ace" ~ photo by Cate Scott

“Ace” ~ photo by Cate Scott

Dear Santa-

I am an old wild stallion.  I am told that I am one of the last Twin Peaks stallions.  I have had a wonderful life as Mother Nature planned for me from the very day I was born.  I lived the first 22 years free and wild and learned from my sire, dam, siblings and family band what was good for me to eat and where to find the fresh water springs that are hidden in the hills.  I romped and played with the young colts and fillies in my extended family.  Under the watchful protection of our family members, we young horses frolicked in the snow and creeks and rested in the shade of the old Juniper trees in the heat of the summer. Life was very good.  I later grew to be a healthy, robust and compassionate herd stallion with beautiful loyal mares and amusing, vigorous offspring.  Although I now have a good “retirement” life in a sanctuary with other displaced animals, my life in the wild was perfect for a wild one like me!

I know you are very busy Santa, but today I am asking you to help all creatures that have not been as lucky as me.  I have heard that there are fewer and fewer wild horses and burros that are allowed to live wild and free on their rightful range.   I do not understand this but I do know it is wrong.  What I am asking from you is for you to watch over and protect all animals and help them to be able to live their lives as Mother Nature intended for them.  Do not allow them to be chased, harassed, trapped, caged, starved, abused and slaughtered.

Although I live for today, I often warmly think about the “good old days” when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free.  Where are my wild friends that I knew those many years?  Where are my mares and foals today?  Why was our family torn from each other and our peaceful and natural world destroyed?  I have over-heard humans say that our life in the wild was traded for money.  Santa, what is money?  Could it possibly be more important than our wild hearts, lives, families and land?

Santa, I will continue to dream of my days gone by but I am asking you today to watch over all creatures’ great and small and to teach all human beings to think with their hearts and to reason with their souls.

Thank you, Santa.

– “ACE”

Video: Celebrating with Cloud on his 16th Birthday

Story by Ginger Kathrens ~ Volunteer Director of the Cloud Foundation

We were able to find Cloud this past Sunday on his 16th birthday!

May 29th was a blustery day on the Pryor Mountains as we bounced up Tillett Ridge Road in a gale force wind blowing out of the north. Icy rain fell in intermittent sheets—the polar opposite of the weather on the day of Cloud’s birth.

Sixteen years ago the sun was shining. It was warm. Light clouds floated overhead. I set up my camera and was filming a brash, young stallion who was flirting with his father’s newly acquired filly when I spotted a flash of white moving through the trees and panned the camera.  A pale colt tottered out of the forest beside his palomino mother. The rest of his family followed—Smokey and Mahogany, his sisters; Diamond, his yearling brother; and the other mares, Isabella the pale buckskin, and Grumpy Grulla. Pulling up the rear was Cloud’s stunning father, the unforgettable Raven. The foal struggled to keep up with his mother on their trek uphill to snow drifts under the canopy of Douglas firs.

Sixteen years later, here I was again, bumping up the road and emerging onto the ridges of Tillett. We spotted Cloud and his family nestled in on the south side of a cluster of firs—sheltered from the cold wind and rain. By the time we set up the camera, Cloud had raced out of the trees and disappeared over a hill. When we began filming, I could just see the top of his head bobbing up and down and I could hear the screams of the stallions. Then Cloud trotted into a clearing with a trio of bachelors, including Jasper, the nearly two-year old son of Flint. He is the little grullo you see with the big mark on his face. The other two are Galaxy, the black, and Gringo, the bay—both five-year olds.

After giving them a playful warning, Cloud drove his family far away. You can see little Breeze, his dark daughter, born last July who joins her mother, Aztec, and the rest of the family.  The three-year old dun filly is Ingrid—the newest addition to the Cloud band. Velvet is not with Cloud but with Bolder. I think that Velvet may have become irritated with the new addition to Cloud’s stable family and left. I hope she might reconsider and come back home when they reunite on the mountaintop in a few weeks. Time will tell.

Considering how terribly cold and snowy winter was, and how incredibly wet and blustery spring has been, I think the horses all look wonderful, including Cloud. We wished him a big “Happy Birthday” from all of you.

Happy Trails!
Ginger

BLM Calls Abrupt Halt to Deadly Winter Wild Horse Roundup

Combined Press Release from the ASPCA and the HfH Advisory Council

Selective roundup removes 1,400 horses from Antelope Complex,  only 31 horses returned

 

Single Stampeded Pregnant Mare follows “Judas” horse into trap on last day of BLM Helicopter Stampede ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

Wells, NV – On Friday, Feb. 25 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abruptly canceled the controversial wild horse roundup in Northern Nevada known as the Antelope Complex, while the following day the agency released twenty chemically sterilized mares and two studs back onto their federally protected public lands, nine had been released earlier in the roundup.

Equine journalist and Director of Habitat for Horses Advisory Council R.T. Fitch, who has been present at the roundup the past week with his wife and noted equine photographer, Terry Fitch, stated:

“Although we are elated for the remaining horses that will not be subjected to the horrors of the stampede and forever ripped from their rightful homes, we remain devastated by the unnecessary cruelty the captured 1,400 horses suffered at the hands of the BLM’s contractor.”

“Watching near full term pregnant mares being chased over hills and across rocks by an inexperienced helicopter pilot gives an entirely different meaning to animal cruelty”, he added.

The early conclusion of the roundup leaves the BLM nearly 600 horses short of the projected number they had planned to remove.

Speculation as to why the BLM abruptly concluded the roundup was verified during the release when BLM officials stated that the helicopter was bringing in far too many pregnant mares and the risk of injury or death had suddenly escalated.  On site observers stated that their careful documentation of the event was, in part, the reason for the early shutdown.

“It’s quite troubling that more than 1,000 horses had to be callously and unnecessarily removed from the Antelope Complex before the BLM decided to heed our appeal,” said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Anti-Cruelty.

Bershadker added, “We hope the BLM’s recent decision to reevaluate their failing practices will allow the agency to focus their vast resources on ensuring the National Academy of Sciences has the access and assistance it needs to provide a careful study of the wild horses, resulting in a more humane, sustainable management program.”

Of the 1,400 horses removed from the Antelope Complex, the BLM has only released a total of 31 horses  back to the range. The agency has confirmed nine fatalities.

“I am stunned that while the roundup was still under way hundreds of private cattle were being introduced to the very same range that only hours before our proud national icons once grazed”, stated Terry Fitch photographer for Horseback Magazine. “We couldn’t even leave the herd management area  due to the huge bovine mowing machine that blocked the road and covered the range.”

Earlier this year, several animal welfare, horse advocacy, and environmental protections groups joined forces to urge the BLM to postpone the Antelope Complex roundup and pursue a plan to construct holding facilities for the horses on private lands adjacent to their home range.

“Although we want this entire inhumane and barbaric process to stop”, added R.T. Fitch, “We will take every little victory for the horses we can get.  Today we celebrate the token release, tomorrow we will continue to fight for reform of this tragically broken and inhumane system.”

A Nation full of Anger, a Corral Full of Wild Horses and the BLM Hits the Replay Button

(In my Humble Opinion) by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council

Just Another Day at a BLM Wild Horse Stampede

Yesterday, out on the range, roamed a dust covered and weary car full of anger and frustration.

Pregnant Mare, Foal, lathered in freezing temps just run for fun by BLM contractor helicopter ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Perhaps it was because its occupants had just climbed to the top of a ridge to watch a green and dangerous contract helicopter pilot chase a band of four wild horses across a mountain top and into a treacherous canyon only to release them.  The release was good, but in that four was a very pregnant mare and a foal.  Couldn’t the BLM contract pilot have figured out that was animal cruelty in Nevada about 8 miles earlier?

Maybe the cold and tired advocates were on edge because they watched a band of six wild horses chased up and down a dangerous canyon only to be captured WITH pregnant mares included.

It’s a good bet that the automobile was full of tension because after the long climb to their perch they had to leave after only an hour so that they could drive about the Nevada range in search of a cell signal so they could hear the very “latest” press statement from the very man causing all of this anguish and pain on the range, BLM director Bob Abbey.

Perhaps running into a herd of several hundred cattle on the road, on the same range the horses had just been removed, ticked off the wild horse advocates who had just been told there was no grazing on this HMA.  The hairy roadblock further delayed the attempt at locating a signal and the verbal engagement with the welfare rancher did not improve spirits, either.

Maybe sitting in a freezing car, pens poised, iPad recording while two speaker phones played the same old prattle from the same old bureaucrat really set the stage for stoked up feelings.  The thought of “do you really think we are THAT stupid?” slithered through the car like a poisonous snake.

It would be a fair guess that build up of hope for change for the wild horses of America was dashed as the car sped back to a motel where the occupants could call, write and work on documentation.

The final blow, at the end of the day, was the buy-in from local Nevada news stations that stated “fundamental” change was coming to the management of our national icons further cementing the fact that main stream media has not been taking notes over the past several years and that Abbey simply hit the “replay” button one more time.

Maybe today the anger and frustration will be released by the knowledge that the ground swell of opposition is growing.  Perhaps the heat fueled by the large number of informed Americans planning to attend the protest in Phoenix will buoy the 4 advocates, today.

Maybe just knowing that you all are out there will make the snow falling feel like a spring shower and warm their souls.

Maybe, just maybe that very same snow storm will ground the cruel chopper, just maybe…with a prayer, so that a few more sparse wild horse families can live their day as God intended, free and on the range.

Maybe.

This One Stallion

Original Story by SFTHH Investigative Reporter Lisa LeBlanc

A tall, charcoal maned gray stallion living in Twin Peaks has, through no intentional actions on his part, accrued a small fan base.

Twin Peak's "BraveHeart" ~ Photo by Lezlie Sterling

He is stunning, though years of defending his family and his territory have left his black skin visibly scarred, a common testament to a fiercely protective nature. First observed during a ‘mixer’, a Wild Equine version of speed dating, he pawed the ground, trotting, snorting, kicking up dust in a frank display of masculinity. Middle age and hard living has begun to moderately effect his body, leaving him angular, in contrast to the inherent roundness of a younger, untested stallion. Still, he exudes a powerful appeal in his direct gaze and commanding stance, an assurance that he is more than capable of taking care of what is his. And in his small realm, he is undisputed Lord over all he surveys. In Wild Horse society, little credence is given to perceived perfection; he wooed and won many mares. His mares chose him for his competence as protector and provider, for his experience on the range and likely, for the hardiness & vigor sure to be handed down to his offspring.

They lived in an area near Skedaddle/Shinn Ranch. Through changes made by unseen hands, they came to occupy a fenced allotment. In that mysterious manner of horses, he had, over time, become a familiar sight, respected, anticipated, even loved by those humans who had come to recognize him. Dubbed BraveHeart by an admirer (not to be confused with Silver King’s Braveheart), he and his family, their environment and resources, were observed and studied, season to season, by a researcher writing a thesis toward her Masters degree. Her hope is her studies will result in a more equitable division of resources for Wild Horses and management that will involve the application of scientific principals to Horse Management Areas rather than outdated policies and management practices. She became a familiar face at field offices and the holding facility, a logical progression in authoring a well-written thesis.

But more subtly, the researcher was developing a heart-felt attachment to BraveHeart.

The announcement of the Final Environmental Assessment for Twin Peaks came as a disappointment but not a surprise, particularly in a year where roundups could be characterized best as a firestorm. As BraveHeart’s admirers came to terms with the inability to halt the roundup through Public comments submitted against the Environmental Assessment or through legal means, the researcher decided to observe a portion of the roundup, perhaps as a final chapter to her research. During observation of the roundup, she carried with her a folder containing her thesis notes – and a picture of BraveHeart, which she freely shared with anyone interested. As if Fate had worked some serendipitous tragedy, the researcher watched as BraveHeat and his family were among the ‘removed’ during the first days of the roundup. He was seen near the mouth of the trap, calling his mares and children to him; in the ensuing panic, half his family disappeared into the trap. Rather than leave them unguarded to the Unknown, BraveHeart followed after. Later, the researcher watched him in a holding pen with his Alpha mare, trying to stem the fear and aggression by diversion.

Because he had become an integral part of her research, she couldn’t allow BraveHeart to fade off into uncertainty. She decided later, when the roundups had concluded, to proceed with his acquisition, to keep him in Northern California where he had been born and provide him with some semblance of a life close to all he had ever known. A plan was laid, a home acquired and so began the initial process.

The first major disappointment occurred when it was announced the Twin Peaks stallions had been gelded, though that did not negate the fact – he was still valued, still wanted. Early November began a series of e-mails and phone calls, expressing interest and for information on application for acquisition under Sale Authority. Photographs were sent, phone messages left unreturned, assurances blithely made by BLM staff. An outbreak of strangles was running through the facility; It would probably best to wait until it was under control. Perhaps in January? Snow, the holidays, more assurances, now fallen flat.

Dissatisfied with the inaction and lack of verifiable information, a desperate five hour drive in early January to the holding facility to ascertain BraveHeart’s whereabouts, costly in terms of time and fuel. The researcher looked over as many as a thousand horses in the general population and in special pens for those slated for ‘sanctuary’, to no avail. Finally, an accidental conversation with a friendly employee revealed – BraveHeart, shipped out with countless others, to the anonymity of the Midwest’s Long Term Pastures – at the beginning of December. Given the vastness of Long Term Pastures, the likelihood he’ll be found or returned is remote. Whether by accident, oversight, contempt or simply an unwillingness to go beyond the status quo, This One Stallion, so important to a few, may be lost in the system forever.

Given the heightened pace of removals and the large numbers, it’s probable this loss is not an isolated incident. BraveHeart, in the scientific context, should not have been considered ‘excess’; as a captive, he has not been offered for adoption once, let alone the requisite three times, nor is he of an age or appearance that would label him ‘unadoptable’. It may well be, for the majority of those captured from Twin Peaks, there will be no ‘adoption event’; it was simply more expedient to send them off, to disappear them into the black hole of the Midwest Pastures than to allow the interested Public an opportunity to acquire horses touted as ” highly sought after for their size, conformation, dispositions & unique colors “.

Who will be held accountable for BraveHeart? While This One Stallion alone may have meant nothing to those who held the reins, for those who knew him – prepared him sanctuary near the home he had always known, to share his history and secure his future, to atone in small measure for the vicarious actions of others by providing This One Stallion a second life of purpose and peace – he is and will remain important to them.

Perhaps, when future issues of the Wild Horse and Burro Program arise – when facts and figures are gathered, drafted into important documents and given voice, again blaming Wild Equines for their indiscretion and the Public for non-involvement, it might be prudent to remember – who failed This One Stallion and those who fought for him and lost.

The Drive-By

Original story by R.T. Fitch ~ an excerpt from “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

It’s Sunday and as I have promised in the past, and often failed to follow through with, we will take a break from the battles of protecting our equine cousins and refresh our souls a bit.

It’s been a rough week for the horses, again.  More nonsense out of the horse eating Wallis camp, bad news from the BLM regarding the future of our wild ones and the horror of over 1,000 neglected animals out in a Montana “Sanctuary”.  But the later bodes some good news as dozens of volunteers and several volunteer organizations are making progress in saving those animals from a horrible and painful fate.  And in honor of all those who give of themselves for those who cannot speak in their own behalf we dedicate our story, today.

This is why we do what we do…from the perspective of the neglected and abused…this is the fuel that drives us, keeps up awake at night and motivates us to uplift each other so that the mission can continue.  This is just one generic example/story that I penned many years ago through the eyes of those who suffer.  This is why we are here!” ~ R.T.

The Drive-By; Through Their Eyes to Our Hearts

Once upon a time, on a small one-acre paddock in rural central Texas, there resided several horses; unfortunately, not in the best of conditions. It was a mean enclosure, boarded with barbed wire and natural cut poles whose bark had been eaten off long ago by the horses held captive within.

There was no grass left; there were only rocks, litter, junk, and dung. In the southwest corner was the old rusting shell of a 1971 Super Beetle, a proud car in its day, but now diminished to a rust red hulk with broken shards for windows that looked like the ragged teeth of a dinosaur long dead. Nearby, several faded and broken plastic tubs littered the area: some overturned, others shattered. These vessels once held life-giving water and feed; their present condition indicated that such memories were in a distant past.

In the southeast corner, stretched out like a toppled skeleton of a giant alien, was a ruined windmill. It had come crashing down during a thunderstorm quite some time ago. Its broken vanes lay very close to the barbed wire fence. Only a few more feet and the prisoners within the enclosure could have escaped; but that was not their fate. The windmill lay ruined, no longer able to provide the captive horses with the water that they so desperately needed.

Near the northwest corner stood an emaciated gelding, shivering from pain; he made no sound, but simply rocked from front to back. It was obvious that he was in severe agony. Besides the protruding bones, there was a gunshot wound to his left rear hip where dried bloodstains ran down his back leg. Black flies still swarmed around the dried up wound and maggots could be seen moving within. The stench was unbearable. He stared off towards the horizon, his pained mind seeing vistas not visible to the naked eye. His breathing was labored, dry, and raspy. His eyes were glazed and sunken from starvation. He hoped for the pain to stop, he hoped for release, he hoped for freedom.

The eastern portion of the mean paddock was frontage on a secondary gravel road, not often traveled. When people drove by, no one stopped to help or even bothered to slow down. As a rule, beer bottles or cans were thrown at the horses with gunshots being fired from time to time: one even found a home, in the left hip of the starving gelding.

In the middle of the death cell laid a gasping mare; above her stood a grotesquely thin stallion and another mare in just as bad of shape. Their breed and color where indistinguishable due to their lack of form and soiled, patchy, coats. Their heads were lowered as they looked intently at the ailing mare.

“What did I do?” whispered the mare, “What did I do? I loved them; loved them all who came into my life.” She paused to cough painfully, “What did I do to deserve this?” She sighed and the sound of her breath rattled from deep down in her throat. She wheezed and coughed again. “I loved my people so…” The two other horses could see that she mouthed the word “much” as another rattle escaped from her. But this one lasted longer and when it stopped, there was not another. Her eyes no longer blinked.

The mare and the stallion lowered their heads to nudge her, but there was no movement. Slowly, they backed away with their heads still low and their eyes half closed. They stopped some distance away and looked at each other, sighed and then looked over at the wounded gelding shivering in the corner. The stallion shook his head; he was about to speak when they heard a sound behind them on the frontage road.

Slowly and carefully the two starving horses turned to find that a vehicle had stopped on the road and someone was peering out of the driver’s window at them. They did not see many people and had not seen anyone stop for a long time, so they gave the vehicle their full attention. It was a small pick-up truck. Inside they could see a female human staring at them. A little light went on in both of their heads, and they were drawn to come closer.

As they slowly and painfully shuffled towards the fence, the woman fiddled around the inside of the truck, popped open the door, and jumped out with a camera in her right hand. She left the truck door open and began to snap pictures of the horses. The horses saw the camera; they were not afraid; and for a fleeting moment, they hoped that the camera was something to eat. So, when they reached the fence, they hung their heads over and beseeched the woman to come closer.

The woman carefully walked across the road’s shoulder, picked her way through the trash in the ditch, and came up to the fence line. She stood several feet away from the horses and continued to take pictures; she had been so busy taking pictures that the horses had yet to see her face.

Finally, the mechanical clicking stopped and the woman lowered the camera revealing a tear-smeared face and downturn lips with very small sobs escaping from her mouth. She stood there for a moment while the tears streamed and looked disbelievingly at the horses. The stallion cocked his head as he looked at her, and a gentle little laugh escaped the smile that popped up on her face. She slowly walked up to both of them and lovingly stroked their heads. They attempted to see if she had food but none was to be found—only words.

The woman whispered, “Hold on babies, I will get help. Don’t give in. Fight. I will get help.” And, with that, she bolted across the ditch, up the shoulder, and jumped into her truck. She rolled down the window and hollered, “I’ll be back. Hang in there; I’ll be back!” And, before the words could fade, the truck leaped forward in a cloud of dust, spewing loose gravel in all directions. Soon, all that was left was a settling cloud of dust drifting across the enclosure.

The stallion turned to look over the mare in the direction the truck had disappeared; he laid his chin on her withers and sighed when he heard yet another sound: the crunch of gravel, behind them, and a dull hollow thud.

They turned to see that the gelding had gone down; he had fallen on his right side with his head hung up on the bottom strand of the barbed wire fence. With what little strength they had left, they turned and moved as fast as they could towards the gasping gelding. As they drew nearer, they could hear his moans and the mantra that they had all become accustomed to; they could hear him articulate, “What did I do; what did I do; I loved them and gave them my all!”

The stallion stopped; the mare attempted to do so, also, and almost stumbled. They stood a short distance from the gelding, listening to his song of lament. The stallion slowly turned his head to look down the road at the now long-departed truck. The mare followed his gaze.

“I hope she hurries,” he coughed; “I hope that she does not forget.” The mare nodded.

They both stood there, shaking and rocking, and………they waited.

The Force of the Horse at Christmas

An Equine Christmas Tale to Cleanse the Mind and Buoy the Spirit

Being a creature of habit, I usually take my shower in the morning so that I can greet the world squeaky clean and ready for action, but last night I could not bring myself to crawl between the sheets without first rinsing off the feeling that I was covered with the oozing slime and dirt that comes from getting too close to the likes of “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis and her new bloody henchman, Bob Abbey.  Even the thought of them, today, turns my stomach but none the less I stepped into a steaming shower under a high-pressure shower head and tried to wash the mental filth off from me prior to going to bed.  And as I uselessly scrubbed at my body in an effort to clean my mind the words from a recent email came to me and within a matter of moments, the evil was purged.

I would like to share that brief email and the story it contained with you.  As of late we have attempted to keep Sundays free for rebuilding and refreshing our souls in preparation for another week of battle with the things that live under rocks and hide in the darkness.  So we shall do the same today in mind of the spirit of the season and for what it truly is that we are celebrating.  Please find below the email sent to me on the 21st of November by SFTHH member and charter member of the HfH Advisory Council, Ms. Lisa LeBlanc.

Thank you, Lisa

R.T.

My Friend,

Photo by Nick Roberts

I don’t know how true this story may be; I only know how true it could be. As the Holidays approach, we should be filling our hearts with the appreciation, warmth & kindness of our fellow humans. Instead, we find ourselves fighting bitter battles for those who cannot fight for themselves against such a monstrous enemy.

But as the Holidays approach and as we fight the Fight, please, remember to be thankful for the human Alpha Mares and Stallions Fate has kindly brought together, bonded in friendships old and new.

Lisa


A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-
Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents
with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up
and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which
topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become
a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the
countryside… The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood
here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their
lives, and called them away to a different life..

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken
their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was
getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings
and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses
were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old
folks. Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no
longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her.
You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves.
How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and
work? Why do you keep her anyway?”

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed
at the barn floor and replied, “Yes, I could use a pair of new boots.
His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near
with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied
softly,

“We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife
a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole
through the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it
had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks.. How is it
that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that
filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed
the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None
saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry
flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and
despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced
to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring
now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the
ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling
for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at
their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins
were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief,
huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose
from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen
as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his
wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old
hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he
whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve
of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old
pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look
down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and
pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy
hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and
withered hand. The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies
in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest
of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill
the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the
incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up
in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it
was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a
crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere
mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as
the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed
and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward.
There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over
and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows
glistening in the night light. Bedded down about the “Old One” close
to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her
muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great
dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping
cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed
about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry
flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips
and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years
crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved
calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay
among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those
she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years,
tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as
she offered her gift—

Because of love.

Only Because of love…

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… and
again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

Willy Eagle