Through New Eyes: From Wilderness to Willingness
Updated: Nov 5
Lark is the name I have been gifted by the kind-hearted humans who observed me while I was wild and free.
It's hard to describe to people (even though I will try) just how difficult and stark a change this is in the grand scheme of my life. I spent 18-some years as a wild horse roaming the Sand Wash Basin in the northwestern corner of the blood-red land called "Colorado."
Losing my freedom and the wilderness that I called home has been a big change for me. Fortunately, in my rescue, I have been granted a smaller herd of three youngsters to keep me company and who are leading by example when it comes to trusting people. I have had my own babies over the years, many of whom I have lost all track. Maybe they find themselves in homes with people, and perhaps they do not. I may never know.
One of the hardest things about coming off the range is losing your relationships with one another...how you lose your family. Our entire existence on the range depended on the connections we made and the dynamics within our herds. Losing that intricate system leaves one in such a vulnerable and terrifying position.
However, there is a distinct difference that I can sense between the people here who care for me and those who were involved in rounding me up. Of course, both sets of people have a mission, but I can feel the genuine nature and authenticity surrounding me here at this sanctuary in Kiowa. The land is even vaguely similar to that of the Sand Wash Basin, although I think we get more moisture and have a bit more shade in some of the places here, which gives me hope for growth, sustenance for the soul, and the ability to thrive.
It is a curious thing to get used to all the noise. While I keep listening to humans visiting and talking about how quiet it is out here, I can still hear for exceedingly long distances. I can hear the man three miles away when he feeds his chickens, and I can hear what are referred to as "lawn mowers" running at different times —what precariously noisy things they are!
There are cars and trucks that I cannot always see but which can be heard when the wind blows from the south. Every now and then, I will just perceive the voices of people in the distance, laughing or chatting. Humans just don't realize how much their version of silence is our version of clatter. This originally kept me from wanting to settle in and relax too much, but each day is a step in the right direction.
Horses in the distance will whinny, and I wonder if they are aware that they are alerting all of the predators as to our location. My guess is that they don't understand. But I have contemplated this to be taken one of two ways, or maybe even both: maybe there are no predators to be worried about here like there were on the range. Or, these horses can learn a lot from watching and observing our wisdom; this is a level of ancient and wild wisdom that no domesticated horse would ever have access to, which is not their fault.
As a horse at For the Love of Aria, I haven't experienced a need that wasn't immediately attended to. Never in my life did I expect to be met with so much fresh water on a consistent basis. That is a luxury that I am hesitant to get too attached to, lest it changes, and I go back to really having to watch my intake and the availability of a good source of hydration.
While I am getting used to people coming and going, I still head to the back of the pen when they enter. I'm just not ready yet, to trust and give myself entirely to the species that shook my whole existence. It is difficult because they first took my freedom, and now, even though I can tell that these people are far more conscious of what I am saying to them and I can tell they care about my needs and my comfort, part of me is still afraid of what else humans might want to take from me.
Little by little, day by day, I have resolved to be open to changing my opinion about my new circumstances. If I don't have the option to be back on the range, this appears to be the best place for a wild horse like myself.
The three youngsters with whom I now live have shown great adaptability and resiliency when it comes to opening their hearts. I can see tremendous benefit in the connections they are forging with people. But they are much younger than me and have experienced far less life than have I; however, given that we are now on rather uncharted ground for mustangs, maybe it is from them who I need to now learn. Maybe the young minds and the open hearts are the way of the future...of my new future.
At night, I still listen to my owl friends. They are plentiful out here, and they remind me of home, warming my heart with memories and pleasantly filling my sweet dreams with each hoot. They remind me that someone who is wild is watching out in the places I can no longer see. The birds around here are more in number and greater in variety than they were in the basin. It's as though they have all joined me to remind me of the bigger picture, the view from the top of the mountain, so to speak. At this point, the importance of their message is for me to appreciate what I still have that I loved from before and all I have that's new.
From before, I still have the earth and her elements; fresh grass and water; dirt that reminds me of those who came before me, even on this very land, so very long ago; weather that tells me what the grasses will be doing and where to find special flora at certain times of the year; and wildlife that surrounds me, reminding me that these people are still invested in preserving something that is wild and appreciating the gifts of the land.
The new things I have are bountiful as well, including natural shelter from trees and talk of man-made shelters to come; an endless supply of fresh water, and a wide range of grass that, even though it's not plucked straight from the ground, tastes unlike any grass I have ever had, which is a novelty; a plenitude of people who make me feel rare and special —there's nothing like people "oohing and aahing" over a wild Mustang.
And veterinary medicine (or so I have witnessed and heard talk), as a horse needs attention to a wound or illness, there is a person who comes to care for them. On the range, those sorts of injuries and any kind of illness can easily spell an unfortunate and painful end. These are all new things that I find interesting and promise a bright new future ahead.
Honestly, while I am still afraid, there is a sense of wonderment and gratitude for this new situation. When you find yourself completely surrendered to the will and control of others, there is an odd sort of freedom in that. Someone is always caring for me here, and I hope that is one kind of freedom I get to keep.
If I don't have to worry about my own food and water sources and protecting myself from predators, I can go about the business of relaxing and being a horse. It's still quite new, and sometimes the concept feels a tad like an ill-fitted hat (trust me, I have seen some cowboys who clearly didn't look at their reflection in the water before leaving home for the day), but I am hopeful for my future here at this lovely place called For the Love of Aria.
I trust the people in my new home when they say that I have been promised a life of love and care...forever. I know that they are invested in my health and wellbeing. More than anything, under the given circumstances, it is obvious that I find myself in the care of good people who want what's best for me. For that and for them, I am grateful. If I have to no longer be physically free on the range, it is clear that I am free to have a voice and a choice here; what great good fortune there is in that.
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