16 Nov 2022 (World Horse Day)
In 2001 while following news on the aftermath of 911, the footage of a horse straining under the load strapped tightly to his/ her back while making the mountainous crossing between Afghanistan & Pakistan would forever be soldered onto my brain. It was one of those “once you see it, you cannot unsee it” moment for me.
That TV encounter would lead me to learn more about the suffering of packed animals & support efforts devoted to improving their conditions. In my attempts to raise funds for them, I read up as much as I could. Soon my affinity with writings & artworks that featured horses, donkeys & mules also grew. A trip to Morocco to visit the Society for the Protection of Working Animals Abroad (SPANA) opened up.
And all the above had been bestowed upon me by a nameless horse shivering in the winter cold of armed human conflicts.
Recently a former student was heading to Nepal. By way of wishing her a trip filled with pleasant encounters & learning ease, I gave her a handmade card featuring a mythical horse.
Mythical horses or Windhorses (Lungta) are carriers of auspiciousness in Tibetan and Mongolian cultures.
One of the things the young lady did when she reached the Boudha Stupa was to take out her windhorse card and take pictures of it with the prayer flags.
I have this belief that even if we cannot change the fate of working animals directly, treating representations of them or thoughts associated with them kindly has power.
May the gesture of a girl circumabulating the Stupa with the windhorse card under her jacket, bring better treatment to all working horses and animals.
May our aspirations for better days for ourselves and others never cease regardless of outcomes. 🙏