The Advocate, the Guard and the Force of the Horse® at Christmas

Cross-posted from Straight from the Horse’s Heart, Dec. 15, 2013

story by R.T. Fitch ~ author, president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A Christmas Story for the Wild Ones

Reprint from December 11, 2010:

He checked the time again.  Not an easy maneuver as he had to take his right glove off, shove the left cuff of his parka up, peel back the wrist band of his left glove and then hit the backlight button on his Casio $19.99 special.  Only bought the stupid thing because of the digital thermometer feature it offered and now he wished it didn’t have it as it chilled his insides just looking at the numbers, 33 degrees inside the protection of his parka.

The shivering cold almost kept him from observing the time, 2148 hrs; he thought that was what it said eons ago.  If it weren’t for the seconds blinking and counting down he would have sworn that the watch had frozen and no longer worked.  He tapped the crystal just for good measure and recoiled a bit as the tip of his index finger reverberated with pain from the simple move.  Almost frost bitten he readjusted his left sleeve and hurriedly put his right glove back on.

‘Rotten cold’ he thought.  Brought back memories of sleeping in ditches in Afghanistan in the dead of winter, thoughts he could have lived without.  Read more>>

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WILD HORSES: PRYOR MOUNTAIN HERD A NATIONAL TREASURE

Posted from the Great Falls Tribune, Dec. 14, 2013  Written by Laura Bailey

Cloud's band

Cloud’s band

On a rugged patch of red-painted desert along the Montana-Wyoming border lives a band of wild horses that have been a part of the open range there since the state was an unsettled territory. With Spanish bloodlines that many believe trace back to the conquistadors, the sturdy mustangs have stayed on the land with the help of a loyal following of preservationists who work with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials to ensure the small horse herd remains healthy and genetically viable.

This spring, 15 foals were born on the range, bringing the herd’s numbers up to about 160. The horses occupy about 39,000 acres in the Pryor Mountains, running the cliffs and bluffs above the Bighorn Canyon. Most of their range is BLM and U.S. National Park Service Property. It is part of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, and U.S. Forest Service property and some historic private land holdings are also part of the range. It was set aside for the horses in 1968, just prior to the establishment of the Wild Horse and Burro Act in 1971, which protects wild horses and burros on public lands.

The wild horses of the Pryor Mountains are Montana’s only wild horse herd, and they are remarkably accessible. Almost any time of year, they can be seen browsing the hills around the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area, which is a popular destination for hikers and boaters. Read more >>

 

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June Trip to the Pryors

Dawn of a beautiful day

Dawn of a beautiful day

In June we joined our friends Linda and Vic Hanick for a week-long camping trip to the Pryors, a life-changing excursion.  Since our return, I’ve been busy working on campaigns for The Cloud Foundation, so I’m long overdue in posting some pictures and thoughts.  As I looked through my pictures today, memories flooded me – a mini return to that wonderful trip.

Our second morning on the mountain we  soft footfalls and munching woke us up.  We crept our of our tent to find Cloud and his band grazing in our campsite.

Cloud's Band in our campsite.

Cloud’s Band in our campsite.

The peacefulness of the scene overwhelmed us.  Cloud, followed by Feldspar, little Encore just born in May, Ingrid, Aztec and Mato Ska, a yearling.   Cloud wandered close and checked out the car while the rest of the band grazed nearby.  They weren’t interested in us but even so we crept silently, in awe of their majesty.

Cloud and His Band wake us up

Cloud and His Band wake us up

The Pryor Mountains cast a magical spell on those who come with open hearts and peaceful minds.  You’re awakened to your deep earth connections – the connections that tie you to all living things, and to the heartbeat of Mother Earth, Herself.  It isn’t just the horses running wild and free, it is the horses in their natural setting, the birds and trees, the coyotes howling at night, the lupine covered hillsides that seem to overlook Earth from another dimension.

Just before dawn we spot encore

Just before dawn we spot encore

Encore grazed, hiding among the trees, confident of her place in the world. She’s a sturdy little filly, who will hopefully take after not only her father, but also her grandmother Phoenix who is still gorgeous at the age of 22. We hope she will grow up free on the range where she was born and never experience the horror of being rounded up by helicopter.  Thanks to the work of people like Ginger Kathrens, the Pryor BLM will shortly issue an Environmental Analysis calling for no roundups.  By successfully treating mares with the fertility drug Native PZP, the number of foals born has decreased.

Feldspar nursing Encore - great mom

Feldspar nursing Encore – great mom

While we watch, Encore goes to her mom, Feldspar for a breakfast drink to wash down the grass she’s been grazing on.

Will Encore some day nurse her own foals and become a matriarch of this mountain? Not unless we are able to bring change to the way our wild horses are managed. Every voice is needed in this urgent plea to keep our wild ones safe and free.

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You CAN Make a difference in the World by your action!

Please help Ban the Slaughter of Horses in the United States by supporting the SAFE Act.  

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi

The following link will take you to an HSUS website where you can endorse a letter to your congressmen asking them to support this legislation which will not only ban the barbaric industry of Horse Slaughter but will stop the transport of thousand of beautiful, healthy horses to Mexico for Slaughter.

 

Protect Our Nation’s Horses and Food Safety Reputation https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5933&s_src=sh_facebook_tyA5933#.UUCr91v_xTs.facebook

Horse slaughter is inhumane.  Horses, flight animals, cannot be slaughtered in an industrial setting in a humane way.  Horse slaughter is NOT euthanasia.  It is one of the most insidious and barbaric cruelties inflicted on animals by humans.  The entire process of slaughter is inhumane from the transport to the final dreadful end.  When bolts are shot into a horses head it doesn’t result in immediate death but rather a dreadful lingering death.  Some horses are still alive when they are hung by one leg and  butchering begins.

2.  Horse slaughter is not good for the economy as illustrated by 30 years of documented evidence.  Not only is it not good for the economy, it contributes to violent crime, it decreases property values, and it causes massive pollution of the environment and of the community in which it is located.  Horse slaughter draws violent people – and the impact on the personalities of people working in horse slaughter has been documented:

Horse slaughter plants do create jobs but not the kind of jobs that any one would want.  They pay minimum wage and warp the minds of people required to do this hideous task.

Horse Slaughter is a filthy and inhumane business.  It does not contribute in any positive way to our economy or our nation.  Just read what Mayor Paula Bacon wrote about horse slaughter in Texas:

Five million dollars in federal funding was spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants: Dallas Crown, Beltex in Fort Worth and Cavel in DeKalb, Illinois,” claims Bacon. “When Dallas Crown’s tax records came to light in the city’s legal struggle, we found they’d paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12 million. They liked to say they were good corporate citizens. But it is my belief they were more like corporate thugs.

 (Texas Mayor Paula Bacon Kicks Some Horse Slaughter Tail http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2012/01/10/texas-mayor-paula-bacon-kicks-some-tail/

3,  Horse slaughter is not the answer to horse over population either in our state or in the country.  Most horses sold for slaughter are healthy and usable.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed a study done by Dr. Temple Grandin, which found that 92.3% of slaughter bound horses are perfectly healthy.  Instead of slaughter being a solution for “unwanted” horses, it creates a secondary market that enables irresponsible breeding.The problems of overpopulation are created by those who breed irresponsibly, take lucrative tax breaks and then dispose of those who don’t make it on the show circuit or the racetrack  in the slaughter pipeline.

Horse Slaughter is NOT Euthanasia it is the opposite.  Old and sick horses can be humanely euthanized as any revered animal deserves.  Most horses shipped to Mexico for slaughter are young healthy horses.

4.  Horses, contrary to some beliefs are not livestock.  This nation, this state, indeed civilization itself has been built with the sweat and blood of these wonderful creatures.  Horses know when they are going to slaughter, they smell the blood of their families and they rely on instinct to try and escape death, even as human beings would do. Horses are sentient beings, they respect and take care of their families, and much to the chagrin of many – they can live entirely without us.  Horses in the wild do fine on their own.  However, what other creature can be plucked from the wild and made a companion, a help mate, a family member and a pet all at the same time.  There are none.

In 1971 congress unanimously passed the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act to protect wild horses and although it’s purpose has been severely eroded by greed over the years the intent was clear.  All our horses should be protected under law.

Horse Slaughter issues are varied and complicated. For the past few weeks I have done nothing but research and write about these issues and in the days to come I hope to address several of these in this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wild Horses: The Price We Pay to Rob their Freedom

The issue of wild horses and burros is not simple, but one thing is very clear; if the American public does not intervene we will lose the wild horses forever.  Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.

In 2013 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues its morally, fiscally and environmentally irresponsible management of America’s wild horses population.  Over 3200 horses in ten western states are roundup targets, although there is space for fewer than 2000 remaining in long term holding.  The annual cost to taxpayers – $75 million and growing.

Short term holding - BLM Rock Springs

Short term holding – BLM Rock Springs

The BLM claims it removes horses to protect the herds from overpopulation and prevent competition with private livestock grazing, deer and elk populations.  But the rate of wild horse roundups will soon destroy our western herds.  Over the last four years, the BLM has rounded up and removed over 37,000 wild horses from their home ranges.  In 1971,  339 herds of wild horses roamed our federal lands; today, fewer than 179 herds remain, only 44 of which are genetically viable. (According to leading equine geneticist, E. Gus Cothran, 150 to 200 adult horses are required for genetic viability.)

In New Mexico alone, over 75 percent of the state’s Congressionally designated wild horse and burro habitat has been eliminated.  Only three Wild Horse Territories (WHT) still exist in New Mexico: Jicarilla WHT in northwestern New Mexico where the BLM would still like to round up 277-332 horses and leave only 73, Jarita Mesa WHT just north of El Rito where only 60 horses remain after 97 were removed in 2012, and Socorro where only 46 horses remain after 56 were removed in 2012.

BLM cites preservation of rangeland for 240,000 – 480,000 head of private livestock grazing as the primary reason for reducing the numbers of horses on federal lands.

According to a 2005 GAO Report the American taxpayer is losing $123 million dollars each year – ($144 million administrative costs less $21 million collected in grazing fees) in subsidized grazing on federal land, which they predict to  increase  at a rate of 15-18% per year. This does not include costs incurred by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Environmental Protection Agency in mitigating for grazing damage.  Economists estimate that federal public lands grazing on BLM and Forest Service lands may cost as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually.

Many of the grazing permit holders are large agribusiness corporations, not small family ranchers.  According to one report, the top 10% of grazing permit holders control 65% of all livestock on federal land. Some of these lease holders are John Simplot, Hilton Family Trust, Anheuser-Busch – in other words subsidies are going into the pockets of large corporations and millionaires, not small family ranchers.  Only 15% of western ranchers graze livestock on federal lands and only 2% of the beef produced in this country is from federally land grazed livestock.

Another disturbing cost of federal grazing is the millions of dollars dedicated to killing predators to protect livestock on federal land.  Wildlife Services killed 71,196 predators in 16 western states in 2007 alone.  These predators are nature’s way of keeping populations in balance.

By comparison,  the 53 million acres of federal land allocated for Wild Horse Territories (WHT)  under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act has been cut down to less than 31.6 million acres in ten western states. More than 50,000 wild horses languish in wild horse holding facilities while BLM estimates 36,000 wild horses and burros remain free; although many equine authorities claim that fewer than 20,000 wild horses remain free.

But even on WHT, wild horses remain the scapegoat.  Cattle and other wildlife are given the highest priority.  BLM continues to remove horses so that cattle will have more to eat.

Public outcry has brought about some reform in Wild Horse and Burro. In November 2012 the Farmington office of the BLM received 5500 comments in response to its Preliminary Environmental Assessment on it’s proposed roundup of 277-332 horses at Jicarilla WHT.  In 2012 over 20,000 letters were presented to Secretary of Interior Salazar and President Obama, demanding that roundups be stopped.  But the roundups continue, inhumane, unnecessary, and costly, both financially and environmentally.

Help stop cruel, expensive and unnecessary roundups of wild horses.  Call President Obama, Senators and Representatives.  Demand that the roundups be stopped.  There are sustainable alternatives available. 

 

 

 

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No Justice for Wild Horses

Chased by helicopters long distances, separated from families, segregated by sex, by age, forced into trailers and transported long distances.  A steel gate crashes.  Freedom lost.  A number branded on the neck – another on the hip of older horses – horses with no hope of any future except incarceration.

As I walked through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) short-term holding facility in Rock Springs,Wyoming and listened to the guide proudly describe  procedures for handling captured horses I broke out in a sweat despite the cold biting wind that blew that day.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I felt transported to the Nazi concentration camps my family visited in Europe when I was just a child.

BLM Short Term Holding Facility, Rock Springs, WY. by Paula King

The guide described how horses are individually forced down a narrow steel chute for “processing.”   The air vibrated with lingering terrorized energy of all the horses forced through the now empty, cold steel chutes; their destination a narrow box where, restrained, they’re branded, then given shots and other procedures.  I closed my eyes and screams of horses shattered my ears, though the chutes were not in use that day.

Few people realize the strong family ties in bands of horses.  A stallion must prove himself and fight for his mares, who choose whether or not to breed with him.  The stallion watches over and protects his band, but the lead mare makes decisions that impact the band’s safety as well.  Foals are protected by all the band members, their cherished off spring. But the BLM roundups destroy all family units.

After being terrorized and stampeded, driven into captivity by a low flying helicopter, the horses are further antagonized by being separated from their families.  Stallions, competitive by nature are put into small holding pens.  Fights break out; injuries occur.  Young foals are run long distances over rough terrain until hooves separate from leg bones – or until they collapse in exhaustion. Pregnant mares miscarry, their new foals die.

Wild Stallion struggles for his freedom, photo by Craig Downer

This is the Bureau of Land Management’s solution  to what they call over-population.  Systematically they complete ruthless roundups wiping out entire herds in some areas, reducing most other herds to levels that are no longer genetically viable.

The  unanimously passed Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195) states  That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west… It is the policy of Congress that wild-free roaming hoses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death

Free No More, Paula Todd King

As I look through the steel bars of their prisons I see beautiful horses who deserve a life of freedom, who deserve to run free with their families on lands granted to them by law.  I think of my own words: Your only crime is freedom, your only fault is love, your only blemish beauty, this land built with your sweet blood.  My heart breaks and I wonder what has happened to justice.

Please, Let me grow up FREE

Wild Horses should be free. photo by Paula King

 

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Wild Horses in Mesa Verde National Park – Opportunity for Change

Wild Horses have wandered the trails of Mesa Verde National Park for over 100 years according to some folks in the area. Some claim the horses have strayed from the adjoining Ute Mountain tribal lands although the tribe claims no ownership.  Wild horses like most wildlife do not recognize ownership boundaries.   Now, Mesa Verde National Park has decided to develop a Management Plan to control the horse population within park.

Mesa Verde Horses, by Phil Morich

In a scoping letter asking for public comment, the park states, “There are currently between 100-150 trespass horses (trespass and feral are terms used when horse ownership is unknown)  in and on the border of the park.  Park staff has documented severe impacts to archaeological sites, native vegetation, and soils.  Trespass livestock has also been documented out-competing native wildlife for water sources and damaging park facilities.  There have also been dangerous confrontations reported between trespass livestock and park staff and visitors.”

I am curious as to why, all of a sudden the Park Service feels a need to manage these horses who have been around so long.  Could it be politically driven? Do they want the horses removed before Secretary of Interior Salazar steps down, and they might (hopefully) have to deal with a more environmentally friendly Secretary of Interior?

I wonder why there has not been an attempt to better protect valuable, historical archaeological sites not only from horses but also from cattle, elk, deer, bears and the most destructive species of all, the human? Mesa Verde hosted 572,000 visitors in 2011. I why the park service has not taken steps to secure their boundaries to safeguard  archaeological treasures.

As to the threat of horses confronting visitors and staff, according to Paul Morey, Wildlife Biologist at Mesa Verde,  ”the majority of the horses in the park are already in areas that are not populated by visitors or staff.”  Therefore the threat to humans should be minimal.  The park is also home to  bears, bobcats, coyotes and  rattlesnakes who are not being considered for removal.

In an interview with the Farmington Daily Times, a park employee was quoted as saying,  “an employee was driving in the park when she rounded a curve and hit a horse totaling the vehicle.”  I asked park staff about the incident and was told, “The speed limit in the park reflects the driving condition on the winding road of the park. There are wildlife and speed limit signs in the park. Our law enforcement strictly enforce the speed limits. However, undetected speeding above the limit…. will occasionally result in vehicle-wildlife collisions.”  I can only ascertain that the driver, not the horse, was at fault.

When it comes to wild horses, federal and state agencies seem to agree that horses

Band of horses, Mesa Verde National Park, by Phil Morich

need to be managed, controlled, and removed,  while other wildlife roams freely.  Wild horses become the scapegoat for all wrongs, despite the fact that they are a native species,  despite the fact that they do contribute in a positive way to the natural ecosystem.  Unless we stop destroying our nation’s wild horses they are likely to become extinct.

After reviewing the National Park’s  ”Scoping Letter,”  I conclude that mitigating circumstances attributed to the horses can easily be corrected by improving the national park’s boundary fence and properly protecting all sensitive archaeological sites from wildlife and human damage which should have been done long ago in such a historically rich area.  Horses could be lured to less populated areas of the park by installing water tanks where horses are found.  Wild horse populations can be controlled by bait trapping and administering PZP a widely used equine birth control.  In an area of 52,000 there should be adequate room for all the wildlife, including wild horses.

Horses are supposed to be protected under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WFRHB) .  Unfortunately, as Paul Morey, Wildlife Biologist at Mesa Verde National Park informed me, the WFRHB “covers horses on BLM and USFS land.  The park service does not fall under the act.”  Perhaps its time for that to change.
The wild horses at Mesa Verde National Park offer the park service the opportunity to take positive, proactive measures that will ultimately lead to a self sustaining herd  and a positive standard that encourages, promotes and protects wild horses, an example that other agencies might learn from.  The park would benefit from the wild horses,  a positive ecotourism resource.

It should be clear that managing horses in their natural setting far outweighs the alternatives. Current BLM and USFS practices have left fewer than 18,000 wild horses on federal lands,  while over 50,000 languish in BLM long and short term feed lots, costing American taxpayers over $75 Million annually.

Change comes hard, especially for governmental agencies entrenched in outdated,
unscientific practices funded by special interest groups such as welfare ranchers, mining, oil and gas.  Hopefully the park service can be more creative than its sister agencies, the BLM and USFS,  and take positive, environmentally sound steps to rectify the situation at Mesa Verde.

I would hope that citizens would respond to Mesa Verde National Park’s scoping letter and suggest improvement of fencing, protection of archaeological sites and to let the horses run free.

Help keep these horses at Mesa Verde National Park Free,
Photo by Phil Morich

To read the scoping letter and make comments please go to:

 

 

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Happy Holidays from New Mexico

2012 has been a year of transition for Ron and I – an emergence from the chrysalis of our South Carolina existence, a metamorphosis as we spread our wings and migrated westward to our new home in Taos.    

We’d thought about moving for a long time, then in June we decided to visit Taos and look for a potential home.  Thinking it would take months to sell our SC house we put it on the market.  When something is supposed to happen, doors open, a wise person once said.  Our house sold in two days.  We moved to our new home here in August. Legend says that when you move to Taos the mountain either accepts or rejects you.  I feel we’ve been accepted.  I feel we’ve been embraced.

Ron is active in Taos Artist’s Organization and has his first exhibit at the People’s Bank.  The landscape as well as the art community here has been very inspiring.  He’s now working on several more pieces for future exhibits and hopefully we’ll get a website up and running this year. 

We’ve spent several days exploring wild horse herds on both public and private lands.  Freedom – the spirit of the wild horse.  There is nothing quite as inspiring as watching a band of horses in the wild. I’ve been writing and doing research about wild horses and had my first article published in The Taos News.  If you are interested you can find it at:  http://www.taosnews.com/opinion/article_3564c2cc-3b30-11e2-8f84-0019bb2963f4.html .  My goal is to help educate the public of the crisis facing wild horses on our public lands.

Our time here has been full, hiking nearby trails, exploring this enchanted land, learning about the diverse culture.  We’ve made new friends,  renewed friendships with old Great Harvest friends in Albuquerque, Estes Park and Boulder, and continue to cherish our old enduring relationships with family and friends all over the place.  We’ve come to learn that we can stay in touch with loved ones wherever they are when we have a heart connection.

We’re finding our first holiday season here exciting.   Already we’ve enjoyed community activities of the lighting of the tree on Taos Plaza, lighting of Ledoux, and this coming weekend it will be Bonfires on Bent Street.  Christmas Eve we’ll be at Taos Pueblo taking in a different way of celebrating Christmas, with bonfires and Native American dancing.      

We’re grateful for the year past, look forward to the year ahead and hold in our hearts, a hope for peace on earth. We are reminded of Chief Seattle’s famous words:  “Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together, all things connected.”

Have a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous new year.           

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Happy Thanksgiving to All

Take time today and every day to think of all you have to be grateful.  Find surprise by living in the present moment.  Find joy in every breath you take.  We have all we need – we can hold it in the palm of our hadn.

Last night at Open Heart Sangha we read and discussed this piece.  There is much for which to be grateful.

A Pledge for Grateful Living                                                                                                              by Bro. David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B

* In thanksgiving for life I pledge to overcome the illusion of ENTITLEMENT by reminding myself that everything is a gift, and, thus, to live GRATEFULLY.
* In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome my GREED, that confuses wants with needs, by trusting that enough for all our needs is given to us, and to share GENEROUSLY what I so generously receive.
* In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome APATHY by waking up to the opportunities that a given moment offers me and so to respond CREATIVELY to every situation.
* In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome VIOLENCE by observing that fighting violence by violence leads to more violence and death, and, thus, to foster life by acting NON-VIOLENTLY.
* In thanksgiving to life, I pledge to overcome FEAR which is the root of all violence and by looking at whatever I fear as an opportunity and, thus, COURAGEOUSLY to lay the foundation for a peaceful future.

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Charting a New Course

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as a blossom, goes on as fruit.
“I Will Not Die an Unlived Life,” by Dawna Markova.

A snowy mist shrouds the surrounding mountains – the first taste of winter here in our new home in Taos. Usually we enjoy the panoramic views of mountain ranges, clear sky and bright sunshine, but we welcome the needed precipitation of an early winter snow despite the plummeting temperatures. I watch the mountains wondering if tomorrow they’ll emerge, snow white against an azure sky. This land of enchantment is so full of magic and mystery.

Taos Sunset

It’s still hard to believe that less than six months ago I sat at my desk in Summerville, SC hammering out rage and anger in, “Thundering Hoofbeats.” I remember, not long after that, sitting at the kitchen table, talking about our yearning to pick up and move, Taos being the only destination we considered. We laid out plans for a house hunting trip in early July, a trip to look around and get the feel of the land where we thought we wanted to live. Life is too short to wait; do it now, we thought.

In the spirit of adventure we  put our Summerville house on the market before our planned trip, expecting it to take months to sell. But the universe smiled on us.
When you offer up your dreams and do your best to make them come true, doors sometime open. Our house sold in two days..

A few weeks later, on my 64th birthday, we were moving into our new home in Ranchos de Taos. When I looked back at my blog to my birthday, August 18, 2011 I had to laugh at the synchronicity of events.  It was that day that I wrote “My Metamorphosis.” I spoke of emerging from my chrysalis and spreading my wings.  Perhaps my spirit knew, what I did not yet realize, that I was ready to spread my wings in order to embrace a new adventure – a new life.

In the past few months my writing has faltered. We’ve spent long days landscaping, sanding, staining, cleaning and making our  house into our new home. We’ve spent time exploring the many diverse activities now open to us here in Taos, hiking the nearby trails, getting acquainted in the community. But with the first taste of winter I find myself turning inward, to explore this new path within my secret garden.

I have plunged more deeply into my passion – preserving the wild mustangs. I’ve spent my time researching the history, trying to understand what is going on now, contemplating the role that I can play. I’ve come face to face with horses running free and wild on Wild Horse Mesa just north of here in Colorado, a heart opening and life changing experience.  I’ve deepened my friendship with Linda Hanick, an old Great Harvest friend turned horse advocate, my teacher and mentor who motivates me with her enthusiasm. I’ve made friends with the inspiring, Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of  The Cloud Foundation, the Jane Goodall of Wild Horses.

Horses running free – Wild Horse Mesa

As I pursue this passion I’m unsure of what lies ahead. Can I in some way use my writing as a tool to raise awareness? Can I use my passion to motivate others to call out for change? Can I contribute in a meaningful way to this movement of advocates who are trying to preserve and protect horses and burros in the wild, without drowning in anger and frustration at the inhumanity of our government’s actions? Can I channel my rebellious spirit into that of a “Warrior Bodhisattva,” taking the vow to go forward without fear? Can I awaken to my fundamental goodness, to the clear mindedness, to a depth of caring that holds nothing back? Do I have the courage to pursue a path from which I dare not turn back?

We never know what lies ahead, what is coming around the bend unseen, like the mountains as they look today,  shrouded in a mysterious mist. I anticipate their emergence, snow covered sentinels, white against the azure sky.

First Snow in Taos

The sun peeks through the clouds, the white mountain goddess smiles, and the path ahead, illuminated now, is clear to see.

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