Was asked yesterday with a simple: How do they sleep at night? When it comes to the unwanted horse and their owners/caretakers, I have no firm answers.
Is it a lack of compassion?
Is it selfishness?
Is it an inability to face unpleasantness?
Disdain? Ignorance? Apathy? I can't begin to list all the factors at play...it's some of everything, with a healthy dash of laziness and an inability to accept responsibility. What motivates people to act as they do? From the horses' perspective, it does not matter. It is what it is.
Food, water, shelter, all arise from the human stewards they have been blessed or cursed with. How often, how much, wholesome or not-the basic requirements of life are met, or not. Their very survival depends upon beings and situations that evolution did not prepare them for. They look to us for herd leadership and (when all is said and done)-to life itself, especially in Alaska. For myself, I accept and willingly shoulder that responsibility. It sits easily on my shoulders, whether it is convenient or not, easy or challenging. I am the steward of the horses in my care and they look to me for everything.
This morning it is almost -12 degrees.
My steps were thunderous in the quiet as I walked to the barn. The air was so still that I could have guessed the temperature based on "nose hair burn" (a uniquely Alaskan gauge) without mercury in a glass tube.
Across the skies to the north, the aurora borealis stretched-east to west in a broad band of pale green. Hundreds of feet tall, it was slightly shimmering, undulating to some earthern drum I could not hear. The horses waited in anticipation, alert, calm, and with appetite. They blew gently as I portioned out hay, quiet and content under one of Alaska's greatest majesties.
Whether I represent a concept as simple as "food" to them, or herd leader, I do not know or care...and it does not matter. Quiet sighs and blows filled my ears and my heart lifted. These horses, today, in my care have their needs met and their futures secure.