Sitting in the passenger seat of my neighbor’s truck as it crawled down the road, hazard lights flashing, I was starting to hyperventilate. The barn door had blown open in the fierce wind, and my two horses, Tara and Fuersti, had run the length of the barn aisle and out the front door. I called to them, but they didn’t stop. As they headed for the neighbor’s yard, I grabbed my phone, a halter and lead rope.


They didn’t stop in the neighbors’ yard. They took off across an adjoining corn field that had just been harvested, nothing left but pale yellow stubble. An endless field, acre upon acre upon acre bordering a busy road. It was dusk; very soon it would be dark.


They disappeared. Vanished. I simply could not see them, had no idea where they had gone. I dialed 911, got a recorded message that my call could not go through as dialed. What?


I ran to the neighbors’ house, knocked on the patio door. Carolyn was washing dinner dishes, just finishing up, and she smiled and opened the back door. We had only met once before. I live in town; these are my horses’ neighbors. And my horses have only lived here for a few months.


“My horses got out,” I said, breathless.” I don’t know where they are. I can’t get 911 on my phone. They could be headed for the road.” My terror was so thick, I couldn’t even feel the fear. It was reduced to a piercing thought: They could be killed on that road.


Carolyn handed me her home phone, and I dialed 911. The operator connected me to the Sheriff’s department. I said, “My horses are out; they could be headed for McGuire Road.”


A busy road at rush hour.  And even when it isn’t so busy, the speed limit is 55. Traffic speeds by at 60. Easy.


The operator said, annoyed, “I don’t know what we can do for you.” I wanted to reach through the phone and slap sense into her frozen brain. I said, “What you can do is send an officer out here to help me find them. They could be on McGuire Road!” What was wrong with this woman? What on earth was wrong with her? Did she not understand that not only were my horses at risk but that a human could die in a collision with a 1200-pound animal?


Carolyn’s husband, Ron, grabbed his coat and said he would drive me around in his truck, help me find them. Carolyn stood sentry in the driveway the two properties share. Before we got into the truck, Ron and I walked to the edge of their yard and looked into the corn field, in the direction Fuersti and Tara had run. There was still a little bit of light, not much. We didn’t see them.


And so we drove slowly, slowly up and down the busy road, my mind tripping over itself. What if they are on the road? What if they’ve already been hit? What if they just kept running? “They could be anywhere,” I said, field after field after empty field.


We pulled into a neighbor’s yard, and I ran to the door, knocked. The woman peered through the glass, didn’t want to open the door—did I look that scary?—but she finally did. She had horses, said she would check out back and see if mine were hanging out there. I gave her my cell number, asked her to call if she saw them.


I jumped back in the truck, and Ron and I drove back down the driveway to McGuire Road, spotted the Sheriff’s police car and pulled up next to it, its searchlight piercing the darkening fields. I told the officer they were my horses we were looking for. She seemed bored. She said she had my number. A minute or so later, she was gone.


“These horses are my life,” I said. Ron nodded.


We circled back to our shared driveway. Carolyn had not seen them. We headed back onto the road. I didn’t know what do to. I did not know what to do. I started to hyperventilate.


Then I caught myself. I said to Ron, “You know, I’m an animal communicator.” Had it slipped my mind? Had I forgotten who I was?


Oh? he said. I sensed he didn’t know what to make of that.


I calmed my breath, my heart. I found my still center. “Fuersti,” I said, “where are you?”


He said, “Oh, we’re not far.” And then he showed me where they were.


I said to Ron, “They didn’t cross the road. They’re not far.” I pointed. “They’re over there.”


He pulled onto a dirt road that ran through the corn field adjacent to his house. As soon as we pulled in, I saw Tara and Fuersti in the headlights.


They were jazzed up from the wind and the run, full of adrenaline— but I was finally able to get a rope around Tara’s neck and begin to walk her out of the field. Fuersti followed. It was completely dark now. Ron kindly led me back across the field, through his yard, and to the barn and then held Tara in the front yard while I got a rope for Fuersti. Then he led Tara inside, waited until they were both safely in the arena, the gate latched.


I offered him a ride back to his truck, but he said, “No, stay with your horses; I’m fine.” I threw my arms around him. “Thank you. Thank you. You are the best neighbors I have ever had.”


Tara and Fuersti looked at me impatiently, like, OK, we’re here now, so where’s our food? As though nothing had happened. Nothing.


“Jerk,” I said to Fuersti, the instigator. Tara would never have done this on her own.


“You’re a jerk, Fuersti,” I said, my heart swelling with relief, with love.


Not 10 minutes latter, as they were munching their dinner in the arena and I had finished spreading their nighttime hay in the paddock, a cold rain began to fall. It was pitch black now. No moon, no stars. Dark and cold and wet. And we, all of us, were safe.




I have fixed the latch, so the barn door can’t blow open again.


I brought flowers to my beautiful neighbors.


And I will try my best to remember this: Enveloped in a cloud of fear, I couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, could barely breathe. But when I found that still, quiet place inside of me, I knew exactly where to go.



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10 Replies to “Stillness”

  1. Oh my gosh Pam! I can’t even imagine how I would feel in that situation. I’m so glad you found them. Fear can definately be a crippling emotion. To be able to calm yourself down enough to get to that quiet place inside of you in the mist of such an overwhelming fear is a miracle in itself. I’m glad that everything turned out okay.

  2. Thank you, Kylie.

    Pretty crazy that I didn’t start out by asking them where they were, isn’t it? The thought scampered through my head at one point, but I dismissed it because I thought it would take too long to sit quietly and listen, and what if I didn’t hear anything? I felt I had to take action. I had no time to lose.

    It wasn’t until I realized that my action was futile that I was able to sit in silence.

  3. OMG Pam…given what happened with Chisum, I felt the panic reading this … so happy they are safe and didnt travel too far…and yes, what wonderful neighbors.

  4. Hi Pam,

    I’m sorry you had to go through so much panic with your horses when they charged out of the barn. I know how much your horses mean to you, so I can well imagine the level of anxiety/panic that would have flooded through you when they disappeared into the night. It’s pretty easy to forget what resources and skills we do have at our finger tips when we’re suddenly overwhelmed with adrenaline in response to an emergency situation. I was so relieved to hear at the end of the story that they hadn’t wandered all that far away after all.

    By any chance does Fuersti’s name mean Feisty? He does seem to be a bit of a feisty and mischievous fellow.

    1. Thank you, Sue. Fuersti is indeed a mischievous guy. His name, which he came with, is Austrian. Fuerst means prince. The “i” on the end is the familiar form. His name was also meant to be a bit of a joke as he and his sister (same dad, different moms) were born days apart, and Fuersti popped into the world first 🙂

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