I woke up in sweats because I was having a nightmare. I was choking and coughing because my windpipe was being crushed, and then I fell to the ground as men with smiles on their faces roped my delicate hind legs. Oh, it hurt so badly. The sting of the rope, and the crushing weight of my rib cage as I hit the ground. I couldn't get up I was so tangled in ropes. I looked for my friends Marjorie and Johnny, but I couldn't find them, and people were laughing. They were laughing at me, Miss Abby. I did not understand. I have always been cherished and loved and although I knew that my wild cousins were cruelly treated, shot and persecuted I never thought it could happen to me. I knew about donkey roping because Nellie Jean, Doc, and Jack shared their stories with me. But, when we heard Marjorie crying to Johnny about the Van Horn donkey roping, Jack, Doc and Nellie Jean shivered. They are the faces of donkey roping.
Jack has been a member of our family now for many years. His back legs pop when he walks, and his mind was so crazed he even thought my humans would hurt him for many years. He is still cautious even though they are always kind to him. He told me how they would strap a horn hat to his head, which is why his ears are bent, and how they would send him out with an electric prod. He said he ran, and he kicked and he fought, all to no avail. They roped him over and over and over again at each event, many, many, many times. He said his neck would blister, and sometimes he could not eat for days because his throat was swollen. He told me they would laugh at him and call him names. They would beat him if he tried to hide in a corner. Eventually, he learned that if he went to a corner tucked his head and held his back feet very closely together, they could not rope him. Instead, they beat him. He heard them say, get rid of him, he's no good to us now. Get some fresh wild donkeys, and Jack went to auction where most with his mental state end up going to slaughter.
But, Jack was lucky. He was purchased by a private person who then later died, and that is how he came here. It took five years to gain enough trust from him to be able to get him to accept walking up to his head and rubbing him between his eyes. Now, it melts him. He loves it, but he is quick to jump if he thinks people are going to trap him. I love dear Jack, he is so old, so wise, and now so forgiving.
Nellie Jean came from New Mexico where she was saved out of Denis Chavez' kill pens by concerned citizens who banned together and raised the funds to save her. She is new to my home at Todd Mission Ranch, but she is starting to get the picture of what life with kind humans is all about. Poor girl, she is so beautiful and black. Slick as a whistle now that summer is here, but her back legs were horribly deformed from donkey roping. She was so afraid, and the pain she suffered was unbearable she said. And, she too remembers the cheering when she fell. Her heart was broken and her spirit was too. But, now she is here and the mending has begun. She does love to be groomed now, and have her head rubbed. It is amazing her forgiving nature, but she is not forgetting. She will run if she thinks she is being cornered and things must be on her terms. She will get better and better mentally as time goes by and the consistent kindness adds up.
Nellie Jean told me her stories too, and because she was maimed she ended up coming very close to being on a dinner plate. It is a horrible fate my equine brothers and sisters suffer when they are transported for slaughter. I don't want to go there. I can't even consider it. The stories of hours and days without water and food packed tightly with strangers who hurt you for space. Imagine being a tiny donkey packed with stallions and frightened mares. It is just beyond my heart to be able to cope with the knowledge of this suffering. Why is legal to hurt us in so many ways? What makes man think he is so superior to us? We are the ones who bore Jesus on our backs. We are the ones God chose to speak to angels, and we are the animals who represented peace when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. We are also the only thing Jesus ever said he had NEED of, the only thing. I guess that makes us darned valuable and a certainly an equal on this planet to man.
Yes, I awoke from this nightmare even more determined to stop the event called donkey roping. The laughter, jeers and cheers still ringing in my ears, I was grateful that for me it was only a nightmare. But, I am truly angry that such a "sport" exists at all and is truly a living nightmare for my unfortunate relatives who fall into evil hands.
Fortunately, Van Horn TX has answered to the thousands of e-mails, phone calls, faxes and letters by finally canceling THIS event. I, Miss Abby thank each and every one of you for showing that you care. Sadly, this is going on all over the United States and will continue in Texas until the public is made aware of the suffering it causes to us. We are not cows, our windpipes are exposed unlike a cow whose windpipe is buried. Our necks are longer, and our legs are delicate. Nor do we have the tough hides of cattle, yet we are roped many more times than they at a single event. This is what causes the blisters.
I don't like seeing calves roped like this either, but there are physical differences between us that makes the suffering they endure, one hundred times worse for equines. Our minds and hearts are naturally trusting and we desire to be with humans. The behavior of these men is a betrayal to us. Have we not always served man with honor and loyalty? This hurts our minds and hearts. We want to trust again, but it is hard once betrayed in such a horrific way and so many times..... and the laughter and cheering when we are hurt rings in my lovely long ears. I do not understand how this is fun for people to watch. I do not understand how people can laugh when we suffer so. I will pray for them. It is the donkey way, to protect, to care, to love, to cuddle. I will pray for them that one day they realize what they have done and the laughter stops.
Many good, wonderful people stood up for my wild cousins who were about to be abused in Van Horn TX. It was not easy. It took many organizations and many letters and calls to make this cancellation a reality. So, so many kind people out there who care. I will certainly tell Jack and Nellie Jean so that they too can start to believe in the kindness of man again. It will never be the same for them as when they were innocent, Never. But, it is a start and it will go a long way toward healing the wounds of their hearts and souls. Please do write letters to the editors about the event itself and how grateful you are to the good people of Van Horn TX for taking down this event. You can reach them at Pecos Enterprise, Pecos, Texas firstname.lastname@example.org, the Davis Mountain Dispatch and the Alpine Avalanche. email@example.com These papers are distributed on Thursday in all the local towns in the Van Horn area. Also, please send a special thank you to:
P.O Box 762
Van Horn, TX 79855
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Monday - Friday
Mayor Okey D. Lucas - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Pro Tem: Gilda Morales - email@example.com
Alderperson: Mingo Corralez - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alderperson: Nuny Morriss - email@example.com
Alderperson: Pam Young - firstname.lastname@example.org
City Administrator: Fran Malafronte - email@example.com
We donkeys do not handle this kind of abuse well at all. And, when they do it over and over and over again it compounds the damage. Due to the great drought going on in Texas many guard animals have lost their home at the same time making donkeys very available at a very cheap price. Meanwhile, the price of calves has skyrocketed, so we donkeys are the targets for these foolish men who do not appreciate our true value. To them, it is all about the dollars. Our suffering means nothing to them. Subjecting us to this abuse will cause us to go sully (we don't move) and we shut down. Sometimes, the abuse causes such great damage that we are crippled and killed. If we are not killed our next stop will be Mexico to meet our end with a patella knife. We must stop this cycle of abuse.
Keep in mind, that Jason Owens still owns these donkeys and their fate is uncertain. Please call him directly at (432) 940-9051 and ask him to relinquish these dear souls to donkey rescues that are stepping up to take them into their sanctuaries. They will most likely never be adoptable, so they will need to be in places where they can live out their lives just being donkeys. Peaceful. Please keep calling. These donkeys are not safe, and he may move on to a new venue with them, having lost this one. Hopefully, people will be vigilant about these events and post when they see one come up so that we can keep mounting these campaigns to stop it. Until it is made illegal it is what we need to do. I cannot have nightmares like the one I had too many times. I am literally still shaking from the thought. Marjorie was giving me a lot of extra hugs today, and I know why. I wish everyone knew how valuable we are. She says we are priceless!
It is very interesting to me that these humans who consider themselves to be so intelligent would miss out on the obvious worth of my long eared cousins in SW Texas! There are so many enterprises that could be set up and themed by the existence of one wild burro herd in the state. These beautiful relatives of mine live in the Chihuahaun biosphere which encompasses Northern Mexico, and SW Texas. What a treasure! What a history! So much could be done to highlight the hard work we did for humans. We never complained. In fact, we try so hard to please our human friends. We were with the surveyors when they first scouted this land and even helped them when they did not know how to find water. We helped to build the railroads, and even took children to school. We worked in the mercury and silver mines, and only asked to be well treated, because work doesn't scare us, but loneliness does.
Imagine, if you will the revenue that an event like Bishop Mule Days might bring in? Or, how about someone started a business of donkey trekking? Then, there is the famous pack burro racing that brings in millions of dollars revenue to CO. Of course, there are those who will get a thrill out of a guided tour with an experienced outfitter who can take them out with mules and donkeys. What an experience that would be! There are so many possibilities for promoting our legendary attributes of loyalty and willingness to work that it seems funny that instead they chose donkey roping. Well, I am here to give them ideas for bettering the lives and the image of donkeys in Van Horn TX. This was once the stopping point for a great mail run from San Antonio TX to San Diego, CA. What a history! It would seem they would be proud of this and promote it. Hopefully, now they will. Check out this story about Van Horn's Well:
Van Horn's Well
Culberson County, Texas
Ca. January 15, 1858; Van Horn, Texas: Stage company employees at the isolated stations dotting the overland trails had one of the most dangerous jobs in the West. During the winter of 1858, Light S. Townsend was station chief at Van Horn's Well, The twenty-three-year-old Townsend was normally a driver for George H. Giddings's company, but he had injured his arm a few weeks earlier and was given station duty until he recovered. Three other employees, all Mexicans, worked in the station with him. One of them, Jose Lopez, was an experienced Indian fighter. Another was an unnamed man from Chihuahua who was half Indian, and there was something about him that Townsend mistrusted.
That evening, Townsend secured the hayricks, which contained seventy-five tons of feed, then he shut the mules in their stalls and locked the big gate at the corral entrance. The eastern stage was overdue. Townsend suspected Indian trouble, but all he could do was keep his men alert and prepare the weapons. The men stacked rifles and ammunition near the loopholes of the two-hut station, then they played cards and waited for the stage. At midnight, the stage still missing, Townsend had his assistants douse the lanterns and prepare for bed. He had just gotten his boots off when, in the darkness, he noticed yellow light coming through the loopholes and heard a crackling noise. The hay was on fire. He shouted to Lopez to go out and drive the stock to safety. But when Lopez swung open the door, several arrows whistled past him. "Los Indiosl" yelled Lopez, slamming the door.
The four men each took a loophole and watched for one of the assailants to show himself in the darkness. Muzzle flashes lit up the night as balls slammed into the station like hail along with the flying arrows. Townsend tried to ignore the screams of the mules as flames spread from the hay to the roof of the stables. Smoke and the awful smell of burning animals filled the room.
The Indians, Mescalero Apaches, swarmed around the station. As a warrior tried to shoot through a rifle port, Townsend thrust the muzzle of his Sharps through the hole into the Indian's side and pulled the trigger. Then the station keepers heard warriors on the roof, trying to dig through the mud-and-wattle ceiling. Lopez stood beneath them with shotgun ready, A warrior poked through with a large stick, and when he put his eye to the hole, Lopez let him have a blast of buckshot, blowing him off the roof.
The story above is from this book. Click to purchase.
Stage Stand Fight at Van Horn's Well
During January or February 1862, about fifty savages charged and stormed the Stage Stand at Van Horn's well. Wm. Hope and four Mexicans were present to defend the premises. The Stage Stand was a rock structure and the roof covered with dirt. The mules were kept in rock pens immediately behind the rock building, and the two front rooms connected by a large hall. The savages made a dash through this hallway for the mules, and two of their number killed. The warriors then broke loose the dirt roofs and fired the rafters. Hope and his four Mexican companions were forced to flee. But Hope told them not to fire until it became necessary, and to lie flat on the ground when closely crowded. When they pursued these tactics, the savages would circle and fall back, and in this manner retreated several miles before the Indians withdrew. Wm. Hope then sent the Mexicans to Fort Davis to notify the soldiers, while he himself circled around the Indians to meet the upper stage, which was coming from the west, and which he met before it struck the Indians.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.
August 1868; Van Horn, Texas: Former Texas Ranger "Bigfoot" Wallace and eight companions were driving the mail stage between El Paso and Fort Davis when they saw dust rising in the distance. They hurried to a defensive position at Van Horn's Well as the Indians (probably Apache) became visible. The Indians charged then withdrew a short distance. Wallace killed a few horses for breastworks and waited behind them. The night passed without incident, but in the morning the Indians, thirsty, tried to get to the well. They hid among their horses as they turned the animals loose to go to the water. The ruse failed, costing them several mounts as Wallace and his men blasted away. The Indians then rode in circles around the barricade, showering the defenders with arrows and bullets, wounding three of them. That afternoon, a great thunderstorm struck, blunting the Indians' ardor for attack. They soon departed.
Three of Wallace's men were wounded; the estimated they hit 11 Indians.
The story above is from this source. Click to purchase.
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