We’ve known each other since you were just a child.
Remember the pony rides at the Field Days? Remember Fury? And Flicka? And Silver? And Trigger? And Black Beauty? And me and my brothers and sisters at the Fair? And that little figurine of me that you kept on the shelf in your bedroom?
And do you remember when you got a little older and you came to ride me one day? How scared, but excited, you were when you first climbed up on my back? And how that fear went away when the two of us marched off? I knew you were a little scared. That’s why I took such good care of you. We ended up having a ball that day, didn’t we?
Now you’ve gone and grown up and made a life for yourself. A lot has happened in your life since that day so many years ago. You moved or you got a job or you went to college or you raised a family or a hundred other things. But I know you remember me because I remember you.
I’m still here. And I miss you.
We’ve always had a great relationship, you and I, going back hundreds of generations. Our histories are inextricably tied to each other. And it’s a bond that can’t – or shouldn’t – be broken.
My ancestors carried your ancestors from the big port cities in the East across mountains and plains and grasslands and deserts to places where they all ultimately settled down.
Your ancestors farmed the land and my ancestors pulled their plows and their wagons to market. As a team, your ancestors and mine built big cities. And together, they delivered all the goods and services to the people who made those cities their homes.
Together, our ancestors made this country what it is today. My ancestors were big and strong and worked hard for your ancestors. And, in return, they were well cared-for and fed and housed to the best of your ancestors’ ability.
They worked and lived together in war and in peace. In good times and in bad. Under the blazing sun and in blinding snowstorms. They were happy together, sad together, scared together and triumphant together.
They were brothers and sisters. And neither of them could thrive, let alone survive, without the other.
Maybe that’s why Mother Earth put us together in the first place.
We’re still brothers and sisters. And when a member of a family has a problem, he or she turns to his brothers and sisters for help. And I’m turning to you now for your help.
All across this land, too many of our four-legged brothers and sisters are suffering. Some are starving. Some are in pain. Some don’t have a home. Some are being slaughtered. Too many of us are in jeopardy.
And it pains me to tell you this, but much of this suffering is being caused by our two-legged brothers and sisters.
I don’t know why that is – maybe it’s ignorance; maybe it’s indifference; maybe it’s a loss of the sense of the history we share; and maybe – and I hate to say this – but maybe it’s greed.
You see, too many of us are being born. Too many of us are being forsaken because we’ve gotten old or injured. Too many of us are being ignored or forgotten or dismissed in favor of more material things. The reasons are as varied as the colors in the rainbow.
I just want you to know it’s happening, and I’m scared.
And I’m reaching out to you from across the years and across the memories for your help. Don’t worry — I’m not asking you for much. Just a little.
I’m asking you to call your representatives in government and tell them to put and end to our slaughter.
I’m asking you to donate a little every month for food and care for our brothers and sisters who live in sanctuaries and rescues.
I’m asking you who have the wherewithal to refrain from breeding so many of us.
I’m asking you to volunteer your time for us once in a while.
I’m asking you to teach your children about us and give them the opportunity to experience the joy we shared so many years ago.
I’m asking you to treat our lives with the same love and respect with which we’ve always treated yours. The way we’ve always treated each other.
I’m asking you to, once again, be our brothers and our sisters in deed. To be a part of our lives in whatever way you see fit. In whatever way you can.
I’m asking you to make me proud, once again, to say:
I am a horse.
Jim Gath is the founder and executive director of Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary in Cave Creek, Ariz. Tierra Madre is the “forever home” to 34 previously abandoned, neglected, injured or abused horses.