“Lots of times you can feel as if an exile in a country that you were born in.”~A Nafisi
I now understand why horses sometimes need a whisperer.
I was driving out in one of the rural ranching towns in the area and came upon a scene in the distance of two real ranching cowboys running a herd of horses. We quickly made the turn onto a dirt road to catch up to them and we did but at the point where they were opening the gates to let the horses into a different area. I took a few shots and then said hello to one of the cowboys. We talked very briefly and he told me that the horses were being put out to pasture for the winter. They rode back off into the direction from where they came while the horses watched them intently. There must have been a dozen in the herd and every one of them stared at those cowboys riding off. Then the neighing started, loud and plaintive. They neighed for a good 15 minutes or so and most stood at the fence, just staring at the place where they had come from. They understood what was happening and they did not like it….they were being evicted from the ranch for the winter. I’m not sure if it’s common practice and I wished I had asked more questions after witnessing their actions.
One bold horse had crossed the dirt road solo after 20 minutes or so, seemingly unmoved by the eviction and grazed like nothing important had occured. The rest of the bunch, while still looking towards their old pasture, had begun to move down the road a bit, munching on grass here and there. But one horse stood right by the gate, looking towards the ranch and she did not budge. This one poor mare almost seemed dumbfounded, stuck right at the point of her unwanted exit. I petted her for awhile and by the time we left some 45 minutes later, she was still there. My heart broke for her when I realized how conscious she seemed to be of having been uprooted and I thought about how she’d probably miss that old home until the spring comes when she (hopefully) makes it back inside the gate once again. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing too much and maybe they will all adjust in no time. But witnessing the scene, I know for sure that they felt something strong.
Don’t kid yourself. Animals feel and have emotions. And personalities. The sensitive ones probably have a tougher time but their gentler souls probably also make it easier on the others in a group. I woke up in the middle of the night after dreaming about them, hoping that their adjustment would be swift and that they will all make it back through that gate when the exile is over.