July 16, 2012 by  

Mustang : The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West By Deanne Stillman[1]

Deanne’s excellent book is heralded by numerous authors and environmentalists as a tribute to the land and the horse.  This excerpt from the introduction will make you want to learn more about the Mustang and the many blessings of the horse/human bond. Many of us practicing Equine Facilitated Learning speak about this partnership, and I believe that Deanne speaks eloquently for the horse by exploring our relationships, our origins, and the compelling need to save the horses and ourselves.

From Introduction:     

“This is the great paradox of the horse.  It possesses a wild spirit but serves as the greatest helpmate this country—and all of civilization—has known. 
Other wild animals have been pressed into service or entertainment, but it is only the horse – the beautiful, mysterious, powerful great white –
that consistently moves back and forth between here and there, horizon and corral, range and rodeo, inspiring centuries of song, art, literature, and worship, and stirring passions that have wreaked havoc in everyone from King Solomon to the ancient Greeks to cowboy poets. We see your fire, all have said.  We want it…
Deanne Stillman and Bugz,
Deanne Stillman and Bugz, Photo by Betty Lee Kelly

How and when did the moment of partnership first occur?  No one knows for sure, and there is much speculation on this subject.  But however it happened, it’s clearthat the horses’ ability to provide flight was universally desired, and nowhere is this desire more pronounced, more extreme, than in America, where escape and the chance to start over is not a pipe dream but a birthright.  We may not think of ourselves as part of a horse culture, like the nomads of Mongolia, for instance, but in our own way, we are; we worship cowboys and we’re jacked on freedom and we love moving fast through wide-open space, preferably on a cactus-lines highway in our most iconic car, the Mustang, whose grille features a galloping pony.  Yet as we ply the road, many of us do not realize that the real thing is fighting for its life on the rocky playas just over yonder, staking our the dream, being wild and free for the rest of us…

As you follow the tracks of the wild horse, perhaps you’ll agree that it deserves a safe haven in the country it helped to build, deserves the protections it once had and were only recently unraveled; perhaps you may have a greater understanding of the forces that are contriving to wipe out our loyal partner, the one in whose hoof sparks this country was born.  We may be fighting wars around the world, but in the West, to paraphrase the great environmental writer Bernard DeVoto[2], we are at war with ourselves.  To me, there is no greater snapshot of that war than what we have done and continue to do to the wild horse.  As it goes, so goes a piece of America, and one of these days, bereft of heritage, we may all find ourselves moving on down the road.”

~Deanne Stillman

 So, it is not only the Mustang and wild horses in America whose freedom is endangered, but all of us who try to restrain and limit others and in the process also limit ourselves.  The horses’ ability to be in the present moment, to serve as our loyal friends, and to run like the wind reminds us of our own authenticity while they hold the sacred space of possibility for us to reconnect with our hearts and souls.

[1] Stillman, Deanne. Mustang: Saga of the wild horse in the American West. New York, NY: Hough Miffin Books, 2008

[2] De Voto, Bernard. The Western Paradox. New Haven: Yale University  Press, 2001


Comments are closed.