This is Journey, but that wasn’t always his name.
He was once wild and free, living in peace with his family in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (nearly 800,000 acres located in northern CA and western NV). He was just a baby when he endured a brutal roundup orchestrated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Cruelly separated from his dam in the BLM holding pens, he was returned to Twin Peaks to live with what remained of his family. Sadly, as a young colt he was caught in another roundup. He and other members of his close-knit family once again endured the onslaught of the low flying helicopters as the terrifying machines ran them at breakneck speed over dangerous, rugged terrain. Facing captivity for a second time, this boy we named Journey was castrated and branded.
But for reasons unknown, he was once again set free in his Twin Peaks home with his ever diminishing family. In a horrible twist of fate, Journey endured a third roundup as the BLM continued its illegal roundups of this vast area specifically set aside by the US government for free roaming wild horses and burros. Life in the BLM holding pens is horrible for any horse, but even more so for one who has known nothing but freedom. Journey was adopted and transported from the cooler temperatures and higher elevations of his homeland to the oppressive heat of FL. He did not adjust to captivity.
He had several homes, with one saving grace: A woman who would keep track of him and make sure he never “fell through the cracks”… She contacted Proud Spirit about allowing Journey to come live out his life with our herd; a life where he would never have any demands on him from humans, a life of freedom. We agreed that he deserved this life. Now we had to come up with the funds for transporting him to Proud Spirit. We had a quote of $1000 from a professional hauler. We sent out a plea for help, but donations were not coming in. Several close friends offered contributions, but it still wasn’t enough. And then something amazing happened… I received a note from a long time believer in Proud Spirit. She said she would absorb the entire cost of Journey’s transport!
Back in 2004 our sanctuary was still located in FL. I was sitting in my office working on my second book, Hoof Prints: More Stories from Proud Spirit when the phone rang. It was a young lady who was just about to release her first novel. She had some questions about horse rescue and asked if I had time to talk. I did, and she and I had a terrific chat about all things equine. She told me that she was in Sarasota doing research about circuses for her next book. I invited her out for a tour of Proud Spirit. She thanked me but doubted she would have the time. Over the next few months we would exchange emails and have a few more terrific chats about horses and books and writing. I was always struck by her gentle kindness and genuine love of all animals. The young lady? Sara Gruen. The book she was researching? Water For Elephants…