Wild Horses Part 1 of 4

Blog: October 9, 2014

A Note from Becky: The next four posts are something of an allegory, measuring the value of freedom in life that holds its own set of entrapments, versus living a disciplined life that might offer greater freedom.

 

Wild Horses

Part 1 of 4

It’s spring and the wind blows through the manes and tails of the wild band of horses. Heads high, faces pointing into the breeze, nostrils blowing and enlarged as they examine the tantalizing and teasing smells that bring anticipation for a good year. Green grass, water, and softer ground to walk on are abundant after early rains. They are free and wild and roam at will through the open spaces. Grazing on the green grass along the usual trails, they embrace the freedom to come and go at a flicker of a thought.

Freedom, how could life get better than to have total and complete freedom?

The summer brings dusty, hot days and depleting food sources. To survive on something more than dried up weeds they are forced to leave their open spaces and travel to the pastures–on the other side of the fences. They hope desperately some wires will be down, a gate open, or at least some of the abundant grass will have expanded underneath those fences.

They arrive hungry, tired, weakened, and to the sounds of humans within the fences. Sounds that bring fear, because the humans steal their freedom. If they can find a way in though, they will post lookouts and graze for as long as it’s safe. The humans are to be avoided at all costs. They steal their freedom.

No wires are down or gates open. The little grass that is underneath the fences lasts but a few days. The rocks wear down their hooves even more. Travel becomes more difficult. Water becomes scarce. Their ribs begin to show and hip bones are more pronounced. The traitor horses that are now within the fences graze and drink their fill while the wild band, hiding in the trees, watch longingly. Humans are seen about, but do not seem to be bothering the traitor horses, regardless, the humans are to be avoided at all costs. They steal their freedom.

Weaving back and forth through their open spaces, trying to find what food there is, the band continues to struggle. The summer has enacted its usual harshness evaporating the little moisture to be found, just as it evaporates strength from the band. They hope the monsoons come early, but mostly that they will just come.

The heat has mitigated, with the cooler days of fall. The rains that came eased their struggle, for now. Grass is greening, water is closer, and the moisture made the ground a little softer–relieving their sore hooves. Bellies are fuller and ribs are trying to dip back underneath their hides. Life is beginning to go well again.

When the cold arrives they have some fat under their winter coats and are optimistic. The first cold nights see them walking and grazing and not concerned for the extra energy their bodies are using to stay warm. As winter progresses their butts are to the wind, heads constantly down as they pick through any remaining grass stubbles their teeth can grab. The hair that tries to insulate their bodies, hides the bones that are once again protruding. Now, chilled to those bones, they try to huddle together to preserve their energy to stay warm, but are so hungry they have to keep walking to find food.

Months see them grazing along old and overly used trails, weaving back and forth through their open spaces. One day an old mare laid down and never stood again. Another day a young mare gave birth to her foal, but did not have enough milk—it lived but a few hours. She was weakened, but survived.

The leader of the band was an old stallion and in the height of winter, when he was at his weakest, a younger stallion made his move. Fighting with all his skill and experience to keep his position, his weakened state could not sustain him. He was beaten and ousted by the younger and stronger stallion.

Trying to stay with the band he traveled just far enough out that the young stallion wouldn’t come back to finish him off, but close enough that the wolves that followed their trail, wouldn’t consider him so weak they would try to attack. He pondered his position, his life, and the cycles of the years. Was it true? Was freedom the best of life? Or was there life better than this? This total and complete freedom? He pondered the young mare, devastated by the loss of her foal. Was this the best her life would be? And what of any more foals she might have? If she had a choice, would she really want them to have this cycle of life? A life that many chose, out of a determined to live free, or just ignorance in not knowing there was a choice. Maybe there was not a real point in living outside the fences.

The fences. He stopped. He wasn’t the leader any more. He did not have to live the wild life by some creed he didn’t even remember what it was about. He could go his own way. He looked toward the herd and saw the young mare, watching her as she traveled with a listlessness that was not just from hunger or cold.

Little did he know that she was having her own inner discussion. She was so depressed that she didn’t think she could continue to do this cycle of life. Her despair was so great all she thought of were the fences. She remembered the grass on the other side of them and the smell of the water on the breeze from that pond that seemed to never dry up. The horses there had been taken care of. They had food and water whenever they needed it. The humans—were they really that bad? Did they really steal their freedom?

She looked over at the old stallion and saw him watching her. She saw him suddenly stop and without thinking she stopped too. How could she get to the other side of the fences and enjoy grass the year round, water whenever she needed it, feet that never ached again, and having her babies not die at birth? If she was going to do this she would need help. He was old, but still strong enough. He was already an outcast. Would he go with her?

Continuing in Part 2