At a horse rescue facility where I manage the barn two days a week, sixty-two equines live in freedom after enduring abusive situations imposed on them by ignorant caretakers. Ponies, mules, burros, mustangs, racehorses and sway-backed elders have sorted through the dynamics of hierarchy and personalities into a motley herd running in a blended community. This month they are confined to a dry corral to allow the spring pasture to sprout, establish and grow. This induced confinement has sparked cabin fever ranging from rambunctiousness to listlessness.

Cash and Duke, two young mustang geldings, are in high spirits. Mouthy, nippy and pushy, they run amok. The herd takes them in stride but our human staff are more judgmental. How to handle these ruffians is hotly debated.

Last week on a warm afternoon, two young men visited the rescue. They lost their mare over the winter and made arrangements to peruse the rescue herd for a potential adoptee. Eccentrically dressed as Revolutionary War soldiers with a British Bobby twist, I cautiously kept a wary eye on them. They respectfully stood outside the fence, dangling the back of their hands through the bars for the horses to sniff. Albeit in bizarre attire, the men were soft-spoken and stroked the horses with a slow delicacy. Their speech and mannerisms were oddly Shakespearian. A wormhole opened and I fell into a timeless dimension of Colorado Cowboy merges with Elizabethan Era.

I invited the young men to enter the herd. Macho mustangs Cash and Duke, entranced by the dashing newcomers, blocked the other horses from their human prizes. Exuberant Cash toppled an elaborate Brit Bobby helmet while Duke nibbled shoulder emblems and tore an embroidered crest off a chest. The young men welcomed the playful brotherly reception, but stood their ground with poise. The ruffians quieted.

As we stood amongst the herd, the men told me of their rooster who had broken his leg last winter on a bitterly cold day. They kept the bird in a warm barn for months, taking turns cradling and coaxing him back to health. Their murmuring, mellow voices had a sedative effect on the mustangs. In a trancelike state, heads hanging and lips twitching within inches of Revolutionary War uniform cuffs, the boisterous mustangs soaked in trust. The entire herd enveloped us in a hushed reverie.

I left the rescue at the end of the day feeling energized. If inter-species communication can be so tolerantly generous, surely we can do the same within our human population. Vastly different beings delighting in curious companionship promises worlds of delightful enchantment.

freedom after weeks of confinement

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