IN THE EYES OF A WILD HORSE
(Then and now)
As I galloped across the Plains with my mane and tail flying in the wind, I was recounting my early years when my mother and father watched over me. My first day on this grand earth began with the sun shining brightly under a sky so blue and the sweet smell of my mother’s breath as she warmed me with her tongue.
I was encouraged to use my wobbly legs to stand and find nourishment. My mother helped me as she gently pushed me to her flank until I could find her milk. In a few hours, I realized what strength I had and I began to dart back and forth learning how to race on all fours while my mother nervously followed me. Soon it became a game as I stretched my legs knowing that my mother was just a nose behind me. She never got angry and had such patience with me. My father was patient too and seemed to always stand on guard protecting our family which was made up of my mother’s friends. In those early days, my parents taught me much about respect and yet they allowed me to be free. We never had to worry about predators as my family and other families that roamed with us stayed close together and worked together as one unit if danger ever lurked nearby. Such freedom was as sweet as the smell of wild roses that grew along the banks, the taste of luscious green grass that erupted from the earth everywhere, and the fresh air that enveloped the beautiful landscape.
Tall grass that towered over me as a youngster was taken for granted. We often met other four leggeds, some very shaggy and fierce looking. My mother explained that they were buffalo and were quite powerful animals but would not hurt me. We shared the tall grass with them and many others. Grass was plentiful, the water was pure, and the air was always fresh. We would often follow the other creatures and would move south to warmer climates as the snow came and refreshed the Plains. By the time we came back in the summer, the grass was green and just as tall as we had left it.
Then one day my family encountered a very strange animal that had horns and made a funny bellowing sound. All of a sudden, there were thousands upon thousands of them on our Plains. The grass that I used to hide in was becoming shorter and shorter and even worse yet, there were animals that stood on two legs unlike any of us. My mother cautioned me that some of those animals were nice but not all of them. I was fascinated that they could balance on only two legs.
My parents were very wise. I learned so much from them. They taught me how to share but it was becoming increasingly difficult to share the land with these foreign creatures and their two-legged guardians. They roamed the lands as if they owned them. My mother always instructed me that we do not own the land, the water, or the air.
As I became older and joined the ranks of all of my friends, I was racing across the Plains where I had always raced before.
I was leading when all of a sudden I hit an obstacle which no one had seen. The pain in my chest was excruciating as the sharp barbs tore my flesh open. What was this with barbs that stopped us flat? It was strung all the way across the field as a blockade. It was this year that my parents said it would be hard to leave certain areas with these barriers all over. This was the end of our migration to warmer climates.
Life was getting harder now and the grass was disappearing as these bellowing animals ate everything down to just a nub. The few trees we had along the waterways were chopped down and square blocks were going up with smoke coming out. My mother said the two-leggeds lived inside of them.
Soon we were being hunted by these two legged creatures, just like our friends the buffalo. The landscape was changing quickly and now it wasn’t safe for anyone except those that bawl.
Yes, those days when I was younger, were nothing but a fond memory now. My parents departed to the spirit world. I call upon my mother and father at times when I see these drastic changes happening to the earth. I can hear their voices encouraging me. They are telling me to stay strong. Do what is right. We never graze the grass to nubs and we are always moving never staying in one spot for more than fifteen minutes unless we are napping in the sunshine. Our ancestors evolved here on this land my mother said. We are survivors and we honed our skills, and over time shared our lives with some of these two-leggeds.
My parents and I are now together. We have passed our knowledge onto many younger generations. As we watch the earth from this lofty place where thousands upon thousands of us reside, we see the land has deteriorated greatly since our hooves once raced across the terrain. The water is no longer safe to drink. The grass is all nubs and half the land has no grass but is plowed. On those lands without grass, we see that normal seeds are not planted anymore. The forests are dying. The air is full of dust and poison. Extinction of life forms happens daily. We are so very saddened to see such destruction of our land in just 150 years.
We want you to know that we are protecting the lands upon which we once roamed. We also watch over those of you who stand on two legs who are helping to protect the earth and all that resides within. We will not fail you as we are powerful here. We are telling you on this special “Day of the Earth,” to stay strong. You must take a stand and we are calling you to action. These are the four things we request from you: to be compassionate to all, to respect every living creature and plant on earth, to be responsible for your actions, and to be accountable for your deeds both good and bad. If you follow these tenets, then we will help you and the earth upon which you now walk. We will not fail you.
We are watching over you.
Written by Karen Sussman based on her knowledge of wild horses and the rich Native Culture amongst which she resides.