We are so excited to have just released THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE, an autobiographical narrative by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, author of the international bestsellers DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. In this compelling read—what I like to call “Siddhartha for horse lovers”—we travel alongside a young Hempfling as he seeks out life’s deeper mysteries and meaning. We experience his failings, just as we strive for the same understanding he ultimately achieves.
THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE—get yours before everyone else! (Plus, order two or more copies and get 20% off!)
Here is a free “sneak peek” from THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE:
“Come quickly! You must come now! The little stallion—they’ve driven him into the steel cage—he’s bleeding all over and now he can’t get out. You must come quickly!”
Fernando, our neighbor’s chubby son, has climbed the steep hill below us as fast as he can manage and only just has enough wind to shout out his message toward the rear wall of the house. He can’t see me but must have guessed that at this time of day I would be working with one of my stallions behind the half tumbled-down wall.
Finally his little round, red face appears in a large hole in the wall, and he repeats his message before I can say anything to calm him. I have never seen this boy so animated before and decide to forego any questions: it is clearly an emergency. I lead my horse into his stall while I shout to Fernando to go straight to the jeep.
A minute later we are bouncing down the precipitous stony track; the sun is already low on the horizon and even though here in the mountains we are over 100 kilometers from the sea I have, as I often do on evenings like this, the sensation of being able to smell fish in the air. As soon as the sun sets, the smell disappears and is replaced by the strong odor of the pine trees that clothe the slopes.
In front of us, the old house looks across a wide dusty plateau; to the left of us the road, shored up by the ubiquitous, half-crumbled walls that cover the landscape, plunges down to the valley.
Fernando points in an agitated manner with his little arms toward a group of men in front of us. “There they are, the idiots, and now they don’t know what to do!”
“Calm down, Fernando! Let’s first see what’s happened.”
We pull up in front of the group, which stands aside. The boy leaps out and starts to run toward the cage before Antonio stops him.
“You stay put, Fernando, do you hear?”
Only now can I see the tragedy: they’ve driven Pinto, a fiery young stallion, into the narrow steel cage, which is big enough to contain a bullock or a small horse but without leaving the creature the smallest room for movement. Whole herds are trapped by using this dreadful contraption. When the front and back gates of the cage are closed, no resistance is possible. In this case the stallion is thrashing about in such a panic that in addition they have used a serreta, a veritable instrument of torture. Sharp spikes are digging into the tenderest part of the horse’s nostrils and the rope attached to the serreta is now tangled around one of his forelegs. Any attempt to move him or indeed free him from the cage only increases his panic and tears his nostrils even more severely.
Antonio, the manager, comes toward me, saying, “Este caballo es malo, malo, malo!” “He’s a bad, bad, bad horse!”
Through gritted teeth, I take a deep breath before greeting him as civilly as I can.
“You’ve a problem here,” I say. “What happened?”
He replies but I am not really listening. I slowly approach the cage. I see the serreta, which by now has reduced the nostrils to a bleeding lump of flesh, and my blood boils. I pause a moment as Antonio looks questioningly at me. I go toward Jose.
“Give me your knife,” I say, “and now beat on the back of the cage with your stick!”
He looks over momentarily at his father, but Antonio is impassive and nods without saying a word. The youth does what I ask, and the little stallion jerks his head upward in fright and to one side. Now I can get hold of the rope to sever it. At this point his front foreleg is so bent that he is almost lying on his side; the right hind leg has slipped through the bars of the cage and every convulsion only aggravates his situation. I ask the group of men to back away from the cage and give me space.
I gaze into the evening sky at the setting sun. I feel the calm. I feel the tension draining away. I feel the chaos of the situation like a knot—one that can gradually be undone.
“Be still, little horse! Be still!”
I can see that Antonio and the others trust me enough to leave me alone. Suddenly I feel as if I am observing the scene from a
distance. I am aware of a change of scents in the air: The wind has veered to the southwest, and it is pleasantly warm as it blows softly up from the valley below, carrying the heavy scent of the herbs that carpet the hillside. I breathe deeply and slowly, relishing the beautiful, mild evening; I feel the warmth of the sun on my left cheek and the breeze ruffling my hair. Once again I take a deep breath and enjoy the soft, balmy air. My fingertips begin to stroke the sweat-drenched neck of the little stallion. His eyes are now half closed and he has become completely calm. Only the horse can hear my voice as I describe the beauty of the evening to him.
Be among the first to read the rest of THE MESSAGE OF THE HORSE by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, available for the first time in English in a beautiful translation by David Walser.
Buy one for a friend, too, and get 20% off your order!