The Thunder of Their Hooves

Jerry Finch / Habitat for Horses
It happened long before our time, before time even began, in a place of mist and trees, in a place of open land and brilliant moonlight, in a time and space far beyond our creation or knowledge.  Aware, alert, in touch with the rhythm of the earth, they lived in a place we never knew, that we could never imagine.  Their hoof beats thundered across the plains.  Their cries echoed through the valley.  In vast herds, in small family groups, they dwelled in a world removed from humans, in a world unto themselves.
What it must have been like for that first human encounter!  Gentle, inquisitive, brave, that lone stallion who walked through the morning fog and stood before the hunter.  Did the hunter stand in awe of his beauty, unprepared for the encounter, unknowing of all that stood before him?  Did the hunter lay down his spear and walk gently toward the stallion?  Did the stallion walk toward the hunter?  Did they greet one another as equals, two spirits born of freedom?
I’d like to think it started that way, that the first encounter was of a gentle nature, that the two instantly understood, acknowledged, and eventually passed on through the fog, understanding that nothing, ever again, would be the same for either one of them.  Tens of thousands of years ago, seen through the early morning mist – a brief meeting of two spirits that would forever change all that we are to one another.  Our future, and that of the horse, would thereafter be entangled together.
They didn’t depend on us.  It was us who depended on them.  We mounted them and rode swiftly across the plains; they became our wings as we soared to distant lands.  They

Once a wild horse, Voodoo, is a survivor of the Three-Strikes Ranch, now living with Willie Nelson

Once a wild horse, Voodoo, is a survivor of the Three-Strikes Ranch, now living with Willie Nelson

carried us, our families and our belongings.  They expanded our world far beyond the horizons.

Through some twist of evolution, we were able to bring them into our world.  We asked them to forget about their world, to leave behind all that was and become part of all we created.  Far later, such a move would be called “dominion” and be claimed as a right given to us from our God.
And under that authority, we herded them, raised them, bred them, stalled them, whipped them into submission, put restraints on them, saddled them, shoed their hooves, and used them until they dropped, then we either left them to starve or killed them and ate their flesh.
Not all humans did that.  Even in the days before the Bible, people wrote of gentle training, of the majesty and the glory that stood before them.  On cave walls are paintings that show the wonder of the horse, the awe we felt as we stood before them.  The Bible has more references to equines than any other animal.  Countless images and words bring an understanding of the devotion that many had, the love which many felt.
Yet our history is one of cruelty, not of love.  Many cry over the fallen, while only a few do the killing.  We’ve let it go on for so many centuries that we’ve accepted it as human nature.  We’ve let the few destroy what the many want to save.
Listen to the horses on a quiet morning.  Listen as they nicker to one another through the early morning’s mist.  Hear their soft sounds beneath the background of the crickets and the awakenings of the birds.  We didn’t remove all that they were.  They are still as wild and majestic and perfect as they were ten thousand years ago. They could still live without us.  They don’t need us, you and I.
They don’t need us, but we need them.
We need them to forgive us for all we have done, all for all we continue to do.  We need them to bring us to the earth, to bring us back in touch with the purity of nature.  We need to feel the warmth of their breath, the touch of their nose.  We need to be assured that all is forgiven, that we, no matter who we are or what we have done, will be accepted by those who live in a place so far away from our own, in a world that we will never understand, one of which we can only dream.
For we know that despite all the cars we buy, all the digital cameras we own, that regardless of the perfect houses we live in and the jobs we have, we’re missing something.  There is emptiness beneath our soul, a piece that was never found in a puzzle that will never be complete.  In our desperate attempt to claim all that we see, to show that we are the masters of the universe and all that stretches before us, we’ve forgotten that essential part of our nature that belongs with the hunter, looking through the early morning mist at the stallion that stands before him.
Itchy (Keith) Voodoo's lifetime buddy.

Itchy (Keith) Voodoo’s lifetime buddy.

We’re forgotten that we share the world.  We’ve claimed dominion, but we’ve failed as caretakers.  In our efforts to become gods, we’ve lost sight of the true function of God – to protect and have compassion for the earth.

In listening to the horse we can hear the calling, we feel the return.  It’s there, just beyond our reach.  If only….if only we could feel the thunder of their hooves.
Habitat for Horses is home to almost 200 horses and donkeys from all over the country. All have suffered from mankind’s “dominion” over them. Our mission, our calling, is to restore that which has been torn apart by respecting, nurturing and loving. If they are truly ready to try again, they can be adopted, but they can always come home again. This is their sanctuary for the remainder of their lives. 
Be a part of the experience. Join us, help us help them. Your support, both financial and emotional, strengthens all that we do. Together, hand in hand, we reach out, touch, and feel the thunder of their hooves.
  • Suzanne Dunham

    Thank you for this beautiful insite!

    March 3, 2013
  • Jamie Holder

    I read many of your articles and many bring me to tears.This was no exception. What you do is so admirable. I hope that one day I can contribute more.

    March 3, 2013
  • Beautifully written!

    March 3, 2013
  • sherriey

    someday i too hope i can give more then i do now.
    thank you for this beautifully written article…its deeply heart felt.
    God bless you.

    March 3, 2013
  • Karin Buckham

    heartfelt message, Bless you my friend for all you do.

    March 3, 2013
  • Debbie Stoutamire

    Bravo – Jerry! Once again, you are the voice for the horses! God will richly bless you for what you are doing! I do know that Jesus will ride through the clouds some day on a horse. I hope we both can be here to see that!

    March 3, 2013
    • Jerry, Thank you so much for writing this with so much clarity. I, too, feel it is important for us to ask forgiveness from the horses and God. He gave us the responsibility to care for them, and so many just do not “care” for them. Just a means of profit. I agree with all above and especially Debbie’s comment. Thank you for all you do. Blessings to you!!!

      March 3, 2013
  • Arlene

    Dear Jerry !!!! I commend you , awesomely written with true insite of the Beauty that stands before us , majestic magic !!!! We cannot fail as their caretakers, we must some how restore the faith that was awarded to us !!!! My fondest wish and desire for them is the Freedom that they so truly need and deserve , just as we require it they do also, it is what they crave , it is not much to want after being faithful to us….. I have seen and felt the Mustang on the Nevada desert hundreds of times , and everytime I have been there they inspire my soul and enrich my life…….. They healed me when i thought there was nothing left for me… they gave me my life back , one horse did this for me ……… As was said in the movie Seabiscut , he thought we healed him , but the truth is he healed us !!!!!!! A untamed Tennessee Walker brought me back from the brink ……….

    March 3, 2013
  • Very touching and beautiful. Thank you for all you do, Jerry.

    March 3, 2013
  • Barbara

    Absolutely true. Thank you for sharing this with us and as it has been said many times, “Now you know the rest of the story”. So many have felt the gentle touch of your hands and I thank you for all that you do.

    March 3, 2013
  • Sue

    The Wild Horse situation is so dire and so hopeless. Seems no matter what we, the horse lovers, try to accomplish, it is never enough to stop the carnage.

    I have had my soul/spirit filled with the Love of the Horse. I have saved two horses from an uncertain future. With me, I know they will be save.

    March 3, 2013
  • Mustang man

    “The biggest enemy to the partnership of dressage is impatience and the human nature to dominate other creatures.”

    Walter Zettl

    “Do not demand at the end of the lesson what the horse cannot do easily and happily yet! Always finish the lesson with something the horse is able to do easily and that he will thus perform happily, so that there is cause for praise and display of affection.”

    (1908;Peter Spohr)

    “Dressage is more than just learning how to ride. Dressage is a way of life. As you learn more about horses … and the beauty of creating something in a horse … you find that this process becomes how you ask yourself about what is right and wrong in your own life. Because when you work with a horse, you are not just dealing with the problems in this horse , but also with the problems in your life. People grow through their riding. Or you don’t grow. You have a choice, but the opportunity is there.
    “I deal with hundreds of horses — horses that have been handled correctly and incorrectly, all with different problems and talents. And I may not know anything about their histories, but I have to learn to understand them at that moment. With this creature we’ve chosen to confine, we have the responsibility to learn how to make its confinement as pleasant as possible. Not just tolerable, but pleasant, because he liked it when he was free, and he can only be beautiful when he likes where he lives and how he’s being treated.

    Melissa Simms

    March 3, 2013