by Rachel Warden
Wild, free, spirited creatures rule this land. The atmosphere echoes with the melodic beat of horse hooves. Galloping faster, faster, faster – full speed ahead! Feet pounding against the ground, I long for a better view below. When I finally reach the rugged mountain top, my eyes bask in the view, admiring the varied creatures. Black, white, brown – all magnificent colors swirl together in this wonderful array of God’s creation.
From a vast expanse of glorious earth, I can see for thousands of miles without a trace of man. The eye can see naked earth, inhabited only by the beautiful beasts of this luscious valley. The mountains whisper tales of the Natives who once occupied this land. Generations ago, they were the ones who possessed this treasure. The mountains bear the history of generations upon generations of wild horses roaming the land. The air lingers with the smell of rain, from a storm which has now come to pass.
Dew coats the grass beneath my feet, dampening my worn-out Ked’s. I make myself comfortable, sitting upon a sturdy rock to observe the horses. Now they have found their tranquil haven alongside a small pond within the valley. A few foals struggle to squeeze between the elders to quench their thirst.
Slowly, I raise my camera to capture the serenity of this moment when suddenly a roll of thunder booms! The sound echoes throughout the valley. Whinnies erupt from the herd as the horses shift uneasily. I find myself a bit shook up from the sudden burst of thunder as well. Perhaps the weather has sparked a memory fleeting from the horses, ever so slightly. A memory of war, gunshots – the essence of inhumane behavior brought upon these innocent animals. Although their bodies are built strong, they harbor the history of tragedy within their herds. Man had tried to harness a relenting power that resonates within these wild horses. They are the survivors of the greed of man. They are the legacy of freedom.
It could have been hours. It could have been minutes. But time had passed and the wild horses began to gallop out of sight once more. Now, as the sun begins to set, I pick up my old Nikon, along with my notebook, and begin the journey home from this secret valley. A cool breeze tussles my unruly hair as I turn away from the scenery. Reluctantly, I take a few steps. All at once, I feel an overwhelming sense that I am being watched.
A chill runs down my spine and perhaps a small gust of warm, moist breath at my right forearm- it is now that I know. Slowly, carefully I turn to see the face of one of the horses just a couple of inches away. He picks up his long black ears and investigates my face. He searches for something, perhaps a threat or maybe a friend? His eyes do not leave mine. For a moment, we are lost in time. His beauty is captivating, and I can’t break this enchantment.
Without second guessing, I reach out my arm cautiously. I turn my gaze to his soft, black nose as I reach my fingers toward his forelock. He does not move. He does not protest. He doesn’t even flinch. I run my fingers through his tousled black hair and we lock eyes once more. But then, I wake up.
This short narrative was inspired by the herds of wild horses which once roamed our earth. Although the horses haven’t gone entirely extinct, they are now an endangered species. I encourage you to join the cause to preserve these magnificent creatures by joining an organization such as Savehorses.org(although there are many others). Education is the first step in saving our wildlife.
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