by Sonya Malecky Spaziani
I’ve been a horse crazy kid since I could barely sit up on my own on a leopard appaloosa. And while many thought… perhaps even hoped I would grow out of it, I am proud to affirm that I have since grown into a full grown horse nut. Besides riding and drawing horses, my obsession are American mustangs- the more natural and wilder the better… the love of something pure. Currently, I’ve made it my mission to daily do something for the plight of our mustangs, helping to bring awareness to their acute situation. My fascination is not just with the beauty and majesty of these creatures, or the wild lands they roam, but also their tight knit social structures, and behaviors… hundreds of generations of wild born horses shaped by their ancestors and their environment for optimal survival in an unforgiving land…. I like to say “shaped by the wind“. Some question how my horse-crazy obsession came about~ as with many things, childhood wonderment.
When I was a child- I believe around 5, I was part of the Brownies of the Girl and Boy scouts. We went camping somewhere in NE California with them for two weeks... and me being the way I am... was not fond of rules and typically did my own thing. While the troops gathered for meetings- whistle, flags, horn/taps ceremony blah blah blah... there were many people and so it was easy to "get lost" and escape, I was not about listening to a bunch of words and rules. Early on, I had spied a band of horses, down a trail from the campground to an opening, perhaps a 10-minute distracted walk away. I assumed they were wild, but really didn't know... but each day at the same time I went out there, and without realizing it, learned about social order and family hierarchy of horses. I learned horses were habitual and routine and found them there the same time each late afternoon... and each afternoon during the troop gather, I took off and observed them to my 'wild child' delight.
I knew enough to not get among them, but sat off from them and just watched and got my fill and thrill of what I love more than anything else in the world- horses. Curious about me initially, but they never got too close, close enough to sniff and snort at me from different angles, but soon enough went back to foraging of very dry forage among parched sands and brush, but seemed satisfied and healthy. After a while, I became their routine, and eventually melded into their environment. At the age of five, I distinctly remember watching and learning from their behaviors and social hierarchy by body language, and routine. I learned which horse would get the rest of the horses together, and walk down their worn trail to the next food and water source- same exact time each day. I learned at that early age there was a hierarchy- the one in charge, next down, those in-between, to the one at the bottom of the totem pole, who had to learn to be humble and learn his manners and patience first before the ones above him on their particular social scale.
So I remain a full-fledged horse nut who finds watching equine social structures and behavior fascinating. Nostalgic moments, part of the things that shape us into who we are today. And the wild horses I escape to even today, and I draw….
Where the wild winds blow,
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