Intro to the story:
Why must conversations always come so late?
Why do people always apologize to corpses?
~ David Brin
The Zumwalt Prairie is a place I’ve gone to write poetry and be inspired by the wind in the air sending history past, a place where the Nez Perce roamed, and so did my mind. I could feel the stories in the hills. Bella’s story begins here, in the mountains of Wallowa County, Oregon.
Zumwalt Prairie is a high altitude grassland, with elevations ranging form 3,500 to 5,500 feet , The simi-arid climate averages 15 to 17 inches of precipitation yearly, with the majority of the precipitation coming in the winter months in the form of snow. The history of the place is filled with stories of Chief Joseph, as well as such legendary horsemen as Tom and Bill Dorrance. Wallowa County is ranching country, home to about 7,000 people; a place where people know, respect, and love horses.
Perhaps that is why it was so surprising when a story of 120 horses, on a 500 acre ranch, were being seized by the local sheriff in a suspected neglect case. Adding to the surprise, the horses were not Quarter Horses or Mustangs, as one might expect in that area, but rather Lusitanos, a regal Portuguese breed associated with 4 thousand years of history.
The back story to Bella’s situation is unclear: law suits mingled with political undertones, blame spread among the employee/employer relationships, newspaper stories printed and retracted, breeder disputes with governing bodies, name calling and labeling, definitely a dream gone wrong. The local sheriff became involved in Feb. of 2011 when the farm, elevation 4,800 feet, was buried under 3 feet of snow, fences had fallen down, horses were having trouble getting to water, and there wasn’t an adequate hay supply for the horses to make it through winter. The horses could not be moved at the time due to the harsh weather conditions, so sheriff’s office took hay to the horses. The horses eventually were taken into custody and moved at a later date when the weather conditions allowed for safe transportation of the herd. The owner/breeder lived in the Seattle, WA, area, hundreds of miles away. From the outside looking in, the details are chaotic and hard to understand. The underlying questions: how can one breeder and her ex-husband support 120 horses, even if you they own 500 acres? And why would a breeder want 120 or more horses?
The rest of the story can be found on my blog.
http://sagetopaz.wordpress.com/2011/12/ ... tary-2011/