I Know Those Horses
“Cherish these natural wonders,
cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage...”
- Theodore Roosevelt
I really enjoyed reading B.K. Bradshaw’s Crystal Brave novels even though I’m not exactly in their target audience. (I won’t say how many decades off I am.) A rare level of enjoyment came from how well some parts resonated with me from my own experiences. I know many of the places, and I know some of the characters.
There is an episode in Treasures of the Current when Crystal and friends are at a spot on Jacks Fork River. I know that place very well. I’ve camped there in all seasons, working on my documentary film, Wild Horses of The Ozarks. They hear a rumbling sound. I hear it, too. I know what they are about to see because I’ve seen it: A dozen horses come down the bank into the river. They splash across, two and three abreast. They climb the other bank and disappear into the woods, not to be seen again by human eyes for hours, or days. I know those horses.
I got the idea for my documentary from conversations with a photographer in the Osage Nation. (Coincidentally, there are Osage characters in the novels.) He described to me, in words and photographs, his tribe’s prairie restoration project in Oklahoma that includes bringing back the wild horse herds. Then, in researching the topic, I was surprised to find that there is a wild herd in my home state of Missouri. They roam free in the heart of the Ozarks, in the dense woods and old fields along the Jacks Fork and Current rivers.
I’ve spent days and weeks at a time with them, capturing what I can of them on camera. It is a very important story to tell about their history, their life on the land, their relationships with one another, and with humans who have brought them both help and harm.
Interested in the progress of the Osage prairie project, I corresponded with a journalist there about it. She wrote to me about a several days-long journey they take together commemorating their removal to that land in 1871. She wrote that it was a spiritual experience for her to see wild horses watching them in the near distance. I can only partway understand what she experienced. I have a different history. I don’t know her experience exactly. I know something like it.
Find out more about Wild Horses of the Ozarks here:
Photo by David Abberton, © 2012