Dear Mustang Friends, by which I mean friends of mustangs and friends of each other and friends of me—
This morning I awoke to a few seconds of peace before the horror hit, the memory and knowledge of yesterday. I expect many of you had the same experience. It’s what happens the day after a horrific event has occurred, and though I do not compare this to those mornings-after when you remember too soon that a loved one has died, or awake in a shelter because of a house burned or bombed, the reality of this morning hurts. Deeply.
Like the morning after the election, the world shattered.
When I went out to feed my horses, I longed to hug my big bay mustang Maka, to bury my heart in his big chest—for my comfort not his. I went to him as I always do, but today he moved off. I walked to his other side. He moved away again. My heart slipped down to my knees before I understood the betrayal he was expressing. No, he did not have cognitive knowledge of the happenings of the last two days (or did he?). He did not know that a roomful of cattlemen and others who would benefit financially from the deaths of his brethren had voted to kill them—to kill his brothers and sisters and cousins, his sire and dam if they are still alive, in holding or on the range. He only knew that the day I left I doctored his eye. Haltered him and then probed some ophthalmic medicine into the corner of his eye and under the lid. I hurt him to help him—but he only knew the hurt. Hence the betrayal, the moving away.
Or maybe he felt the heaviness of me this morning. The despair. Maybe he sensed that and wanted nothing to do with it. (I don’t blame him. I want nothing to do with it.) He can’t tell me in words but in actions he tells me that right now, this morning, he wants nothing to do with me.
This morning Maka will not be a sponge; he will not hold my grief. But he will be my mentor, my guide. My leader. He is a big strong powerful gorgeous mustang, with deep brown eyes and a deep heart, and he is a reminder that what we—friends of mustangs and of each other—are doing is right. Today we may need to drink hot peppermint tea to calm our stomachs, or those of you who can drink alcohol may have a glass of wine or whiskey, but tomorrow . . . tomorrow we must resume the fight. Or tonight, or right now.
The betrayal I feel is huge. I feel as if someone poked a stick in my eye, a railroad tie in my gut. My heart is sick. My stomach is sick. There is not a cell in my body that enables me to understand how those people on the National Advisory Board, with the exception of mustang hero Ginger Kathrens, can recommend killing—killing—thousands upon thousands of mustangs. Horses. Beings. Living breathing heart-beating tail-swishing hoof-stomping grass-chomping mating and birthing and dozing and drinking and standing-in-the-shade-of-a-juniper or in full sunlight on a cold winter morning beings.
I expect I am not the only one among you who is reminded of human genocide. Of human beings corralled onto reservations, or slaughtered in the field, or psychologically crippled when language and hair and culture was cut off. Whose food source was slaughtered and left to rot on the plains or in the desert air in order to kill and control a population of PEOPLE.
Now this country is doing it again (not that our horrid racist behavior has ever stopped). That any member of our human species can consider killing another species by the tens of thousands for no reason other than to save money and land for profit-making enterprises is unconscionable. How is it not unconstitutional?
We must go on. This morning I saw a link to a story on Katie Lee. River people know her but mustang people might not. She is 98. And still fighting for the freedom of the Colorado River through Glen Canyon. Glen Canyon Dam was started in 1956, the river above the dam, and Glen Canyon itself, drowned in the sixties. Katie Lee has awakened for decades of mornings to the knowledge that her heartplace was murdered. And she kept waking up. She kept fighting. She is fighting today. Right now. To free her river, her canyon, her heart. (http://knau.org/post/katie-lee-goddess-glen-canyon-inspires-young-activists#stream/0)
We must do the same. We must help each other stand and fight with whatever strengths we each have. Those strengths may be donating money or making phone calls or writing an e-mail. You may be in a position to go out onto the range and start learning your local bands. You might talk to your family and neighbors. Learn more about PZP. Educate. Or work with your own mustang in a round pen and listen to the lessons that mare or gelding is teaching you.
Find your way. Do it for each other. For this big band of mustang friends.
More importantly, do it for the horses.
We must keep fighting for the horses.
With much respect and love for you all,
beautifully said dear Kat. I’m doing what I can do from over here
Thank you Kathy Park–they need all the help they can get!
Would love to help and save them all they need freedom.
Thank you for sharing this.
I am in Dorset in the UK, but I have grown to truly love the mustangs. I am not sure what we can do, but perhaps those against the mustangs will listen to figures (even if they don’t always listen to facts). Can we get figures about the zeroed out areas, find out whether they are good for horse habitat again?
Can we find out more and more about the pzp and perhaps do figures projecting the situation in x number of years, and also how this will continue to be managed.
I expect much of this has been done, but can it be done in a way that it can’t be ignored? That is the practical solution?
I think we need to get more reps on the advisory board, Ginger is alone. She needs backup, so a great range of reps, not just those for killing the mustangs. Easy to say, I know.
We will never back down.
Oh Kat it’s awful, can’t believe it’s come to this. Your piece will help.
I will continue to fight!!! I will continue to email, call, and tweet everyday!!! I remember the first time I saw a wild mustang and I have never forgot that day over 40 years ago. I have loved horses since I can remember . How would the west be what it is today without them? Would we have explored, battled and hunted riding cows? Camels? Buffalo? They are and should always be our American icons.
Prayers for the mustangs & burros. America needs to speak up and stop this cruel heartless unnecessary slaughter. Sickening!
Thank you for your heartfelt article. Horses are a part of our tribe, and we should all fight for our tribe.
We will do whatever we need do, can do for them, the mustangs and for those of us who love them so deeply. We’ll do it for each other as we all share one common bond, our love for them.
And we’ll do it for America because without them it is America no more.
As the late,great Tom Petty sang I won’t back down,you can take me down to the gates of hell,but I won’t back down!.This should be the mantra for the wild horses advocates. Helping from Ireland!
Some “Americans” have been exterminating creatures and other humans, for a very long time, it is so sad. We must learn to live with nature and its creatures, and those that are different, not destroy everything for profit or someones agenda, or just plain greed, fear, domination.