Friday, June 3, 2016

The Wild Horses of Kisatchie: Trouble at Fort Polk!

Yesterday, June 2nd, 2016, was the last day for the public to voice it's opinion to the U.S. Army regarding the fate of the wild horses that roam the forests and fields of Kisatchie State Park and often graze in the meadows that belong to the tank forces of Fort Polk. Many of us have expressed our sadness at the army's decision to remove these animals, which translates that they will probably be rounded up and sold to the kill pens. The army has recently denied having any responsibility for these animals, conveniently forgetting that when they transitioned from horse drawn implements and cavalry units to tanks and mechanized equipment, they turned their army horses loose to fend for themselves in the vast Louisiana forest, rather than to find them forever retirement homes. (Is this how we expect our veterans to be treated?) Like the wild mustangs of the Outer Banks that I write about, these Louisiana horses do not have the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to take "care" of them, but depend totally on their own instinct and ingenuity as well as the kind hearts of horse-loving individuals who have tried to share the plight of these animals via Facebook and other social media sites.

A Living History:

One local author, Curt Iles, wrote a children's picture story book a few years ago to share the story of these horses and their importance to our American military history.


Written for children ages eight and up from the viewpoint of Uncle Sam, a cavalry horse, this story tells about his life and work in the army with his best friend, Sergeant Ed. In the months before Pearl Harbor, Sam and Ed participated in the Louisiana Army Maneuvers. As these maneuvers ended, Uncle Sam and some of his friends escaped into the piney woods known as the Kisatchie forest. There they lived and flourished, becoming the forerunners of the "wild horses of Fort Polk".

I highly recommend this book, not only because it sheds light on the history and plight of these horses, but because it is a good story and makes history come alive for children. I truly believe that our young people do not know our history today, much of which is our own fault for not giving this subject the respect and importance it is due, and partially because when it is taught strictly from a textbook perspective, it is lifeless and boring. But when students are introduced to characters, settings and events through colorful tradebooks, history and its players become alive and memorable. We may be unable to change the course of events for these wild horses of Fort Polk, but if our children learn to care about this issue then future issues, no matter where they originate, may be affected positively by their participation and voices. History is important. Our future depends on our children knowing where we came from and how we got to where we are, period. Without this knowledge, our future is shaky, at best. So take a moment to read this book and to reflect on our heritage. Then go to your local library and check out the children's history section. You'll be glad you did!

Activities:

Search for a cause that your family supports. Even small children (K-5 grades) can benefit from learning how to protest in a reasonable and responsible manner. Here are some things good citizens of all ages can do:
1. Write letters to people who can make a difference, for example: the mayor, your congressman and senator, the governor, etc. This is a great exercise to learn the art of formal letter writing. (For ideas and information on how to write a formal letter, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Formal-Letter
2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, explaining your cause and defending your position, pro or con. Before you write your letter, be sure to read several letters to the editor to see how others have composed their letters. For instructions and ideas, go to http://www.ncte.org/action/write
3. Make a poster about your cause.
4. Create a petition for your cause. See how many signatures you can get. Send your petition to a person in charge or to one of your governmental representatives. To learn how to create a petition, go to: http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-School-Petition

Food:

To accompany this book, I am sharing my recipe for "Horse Cookies". Although they are designed for our equine friends, I discovered that they are very tasty--and enjoyed them too! I first made them for my own horse, Selah, a Polish Arabian mare that I loved dearly. Selah, however, did not like sweets of any kind, so this recipe was wasted on her. However, the horses that shared her pasture loved them--and followed me around every time I visited Selah, searching for horse cookies in my pockets.
You expect me to eat what?

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups steel cut oats
3/4 c. bran flakes
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. shredded apple
1 c. molasses
1/2 c. applesauce

Directions:

1. Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (Fahrenheit). Spray a muffin pan with spray oil. Scoop dough into muffin cups, filling each cup half way. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a teaspoon of brown sugar each.
2. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Store in an air-tight container (or plastic bag).