Emaciated to Emancipated #452
March 26, 2017
Tammi Jo Regan sits up suddenly in bed and wonders what has caused her to wake with such a start this time. No stranger to insomnia, restlessness is not something new or different to her, and yet there is something about tonight that feels a bit off - a perplexing tug that prevents her from rolling over and falling back to sleep.
Not one to take sleeplessness lightly, Tammi ponders what remedy might be the most effective: A glass of water? A warm cup of chamomile tea? A sleep aid? Waiting for motivation to move her, she hears it. What starts out as a quiet, subtle suggestion, like a murmuring in her inner ear, gradually grows in intensity to a repetitious, almost insistent urging:
“Check the slaughter website, Tammi Jo.”
Tammi draws in a breath and practically asks aloud, “What? Why?”
Again it comes, this time as if someone is standing right next to her, “Check the slaughter website, Tammi Jo.”
Throwback to the not so distant past, when Tammi had brought home her 6th rescue horse inside two years time. Tammi had saved this horse from imminent and senseless slaughter in the eleventh hour from a Pennsylvania kill pen. Having first heard about it through her horse circles, she simply couldn’t let the beautiful Belgian Draft Horse die just because no one else could or would step up to save him.
After successfully bringing her rescue through quarantine, Tammi made the conscious choice to unfollow the slaughter website and social media pages, mainly because she couldn’t bear to see horse after gorgeous horse brought to the chopping block day after day, hour after hour. She clearly couldn’t save them all. She knew there was only so much she and her rescue organization, For Hank's Sake, could do. So in order to protect her soft heart, she turned off the incessant news feed of horses destined for destruction and told all of her rescue colleagues to please stop sending her pictures of horses in desperate need. She needed a break.
“Check the slaughter website, Tammi Jo.”
Unable to ignore the urging another moment longer, Tammi throws off the covers, walks downstairs to her office, turns on the computer, and re-opens the slaughter website page. The clock reads 3:00 in the morning. She can’t help but ask herself, “What am I doing?”
Right then and there, it becomes profoundly evident why she awoke. She sees on the computer screen before her a powerfully gorgeous painted Tennessee Walker, dubbed with the slaughterhouse number “#452.” There is no history on him. No information on where he came from or why he was dropped off. He stands still in the photo, looking weary, malnourished, disproportional, and depressed.
He is, by far, the most interesting looking horse she has ever seen with unique tri-color markings and a beautiful black and white mane and tail. She zooms in and notices a marking directly beneath his right eye in the shape of a teardrop and her heart stretches beyond measure as she calls to mind the teardrop heart marking on the forehead of her very first rescue horse, Hank.
This beautiful horse is one she can easily train, she instantly knows it with a knowing that defies logic, and yet she wonders if it’s too late to not only save him, but to save her from herself. How and why is this horse calling out to her across the miles? Is she the one who is supposed to save him? This would put her at seven rescue horses. Could she manage all that? There was no time for questioning. He was slated to be killed at 6:00 pm sharp that very day. She knew he didn’t stand a chance.
Tammi is struck with the intuitive notion that she is going to name him Cochise. She doesn’t immediately know why this particular name comes to her and why she hears it so strongly, but she will later learn that Cochise is an Apache warrior name meaning “Strong as Oak.” The most famous Cochise was a leader of the central band of the Apache who led an uprising against advancing European Americans who threatened to claim their land. Why in the world would an Apache horse with such a foretold name come to her in the middle of the night? Tammi couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a little bit of intercession happening on the part of her dearly departed father, Duane C. Regan. She didn’t fully comprehend it all, but she knew beyond any doubt that this Cochise would come home to her barn and live out his days with peace, companionship and comfort alongside of her and the rest of her rescue herd.
She pledges his stay fee in full right then and there. She emails her hauler to arrange for his transport and quarantine. She fires off a message to the barn to ready another stall to make way for the beautiful Cochise. Stall #4 is set aside in honor of her late father, who during his life championed everything that his daughter’s rescue mission represents. As promised to Duane C., Stall #4 at Equinox Stables would forever be reserved and revered for an incoming rescue horse. A sweet and playful promise was made to her Dad when Tammi Jo assured Duane, “I’ll always keep Stall #4 open for you, Pops.” Curiously enough, Stall #4 is already occupied by Tammi’s 6th rescue, BraveHeart who is still in rehabilitation. Since Tammi keeps her rescue horses in rehab for a minimum of one year, that means she needed a second Stall #4 for Cochise! What an unexpected delight and privilege it would be to have two horses standing symbolically in Stall #4 in honor of her late father. Who could have ever predicted that she would one day have or need two stalls marked #4 at the same time?
Cochise, who mysteriously spoke to her from afar during the dark of night knew. In just under an hour, a horse that previously had no sponsor, no bail, no transport and no hope was saved and became the seventh member of the For Hank's Sake herd.
Later, Tammi would go on to discover that the Apache were among the first Native American tribes to learn to ride horses. As a nomadic tribe, who depended on the buffalo for survival, horses forever changed life on the Great Plains. They allowed the Apache to hunt more buffalo than ever before. One of the most colorful episodes in the long career of the Indian Horse was the gathering of millions of wild Longhorn Cattle off the Texas ranges after the War Between the States. They swam every river from Texas to Canada, enduring stampedes, tornadoes, hail storms, and freezing blizzards. They did it all while foraging on grass and brush without grain, and they came through it ready for more. The Indian horse tipped the balance of power in favor of mounted warriors. The United States Army found, in attempt to conquer the Native American Indian, that the only effective way to defeat them was to take their horses away from them. Repeated instances of complete massacres of Indian horse herds is documented evidence and mute testimony to the toughness of the breed.
Cochise was called into Tammi’s life. Whether it was Cochise himself communicating through some kind of divine telepathy or Tammi’s beloved and deceased father, Duane C. Regan, spiritually interceding on Cochise’s behalf, this incredibly beautiful horse, with no known history, was saved from sure and present doom after being handed over to his executioners. His bloodline drips with rich history and proud service. Senselessly relegated to merely a number, #452, his days of duty and drive would have come to an abrupt halt, if not for some loving, supernatural communication that crossed over the Great Divide, calling to Tammi through the dead of night, salvaging this “Strong as Oak” warrior from his own modern day massacre.
Reason to Live #452, Cochise “Strong as Oak” Regan, is home. Safe. Sound... and free. Welcome to the herd, Chief. We honor and adore you.
Cochise, The Chief
"Strong as Oak"
Reason to Live #452