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.