Monday, April 23, 2012

The Mustang in my Heartstrings

There was a book that I read when I was in fifth grade, called "Smokey, the Cow Horse". A story of a range bred horse. Sort of the american west's answer to "Black Beauty". I still remember one line. I'm sure this isn't exact, but it went something like this..."the little grey horse had gotten tangled up in the cowboy's heartstrings." For me, it is a poignant line, resolute piece of my own truth. Horses get tangled up in my heartstrings. It happened again last Friday. This was the day that I went to the Bureau of Land Management mustang adoption. I had heard it referred to as an auction and that is what I expected. When I arrived there was no one there but the staff and the horses. This kind of gave me an "Oh Crap!" feeling. Horses are only offered so long and when they have been passed up so many times they are considered three strikes horses. While no one says absolutely what happens at this point, it is rumored that they become dog food. Having a crowd looking them over, and then hopefully adopting, would have eased my mind considerably. I walked around the animals penned there. Two, three year olds that could be adopted for $25. The remainder of the mustangs were two year olds and yearlings. There were also about ten burros being offered, some gelded, some intact jacks. There I was, just the second car in the lot, a few staffers and a bunch of equines. After my second lap around, I stopped one of the staff and asked how the auction worked. First I was corrected, it wasn't an auction. It was an adoption. Day one was the viewing. Day two, you came with your paperwork and you line up. It would be first come, first served. You had your money or check and approved paperwork. You walked through and picked your horse or burro. They would then be separated and loaded. Then the next person had their chance. So on, until they ran out of horses or adopters. If a lot of horses are adopted in that location they will come back. If not, they won't. This is a bit of a catch 22 as they do no advertising. They do not try to get local volunteers to do any legwork or stimulate any interest. Many times, no one even knows the BLM were there with horses and then they scratch their heads and wonder why the adoption numbers are low. It isn't like it needs to cost them money. All they have to do is ask for help. There are people like me that are wanting, waiting to help. Despite this perplexing situation, the staff were helpful. They answered more questions in a few minutes and I received more information, then I had been able to get from website or through inquiries at the national level for over a six month period of time.... well, actually ever! While talking to the BLM personnel, my friend Jackie arrived. We walked, we talked, she yelled at her nephew. We nearly froze our butts off with the wind whipping through the arena. Then Jackie's friend arrived. We were now three. She wondered why she hadn't heard that this event was going on. Jackie, who lived close to town, said she wouldn't have known about it except for talking to me. Her friend then said, "Lets see what we can do about this." She walked away with her cell phone. When she came back she said she had called a friend at the local radio station and he was on air. He was going to put out a plug for the event. About twenty minutes later, cars started to arrive. In the meantime, we just kept walking. Looking at horses, noting behavior. Leaning on fences to see if any would come up to investigate. Watching expression. It had been a long drive. I was so cold and I stood by one pen and yawned. Then yawned again. The entire pen took notice. Then one of them laid down. The next time I walked by more were down and the next pen was laying down as well. Yawning it seems, is the body language equivalent of, "I'm content, I'm tired, I'm not going to eat you now, We're cool" I must have walked that lap around the pens about fifty times. By the time I had done five laps, I was taken by three different horses. 6921, 6943 and 809. Something about those three. Something about their character that made me think they would mesh well with my own personality. Something about the look in the eye. It was heart wrenching. There seemed to be an infinite well of sadness in those dark eyes. Those three mustangs definitely got tangled up in my heartstrings. While going to be with them left me feeling a bit like I had been touched by the divine, I had no way to offer them a haven. I was helpless to save them. And I know that they are lost to me now. Gone forever. I'm going to see what I can do to change some things. Thinking about what I can do to help. I have been thinking about volunteering in some way. I've been thinking about how to improve fencing. I've been thinking about the adoption application that is in my purse. Can't help myself, now that I'm having trouble with my heartstrings. Louie

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