The No More Night Mares
A Dream Of Freedom
Dawn Van Zant
In the swirling mists and
shadows of light and time live ancient memories, long forgotten dreams and
legends. This is the legend of the "Night Mares." It begins with tiny Eohippus,
the Dawn Horse, from whom all horses descend, and unravels with the evolution
of modern Equus. A magical descendent, erased from history, and who can only
be found in the legends of the night. If you look far beyond the Big Dipper,
past Polaris to the Pegasus Constellation, you will find the missing horses
shining brightly. The luminous mares of a once noble herd prance across a
blanket of black sky. They are the "Night Mares", strong, wild and free;
a distant reminder of a fight for freedom. They dream at night that the horses
below are free to run wild with their herd. Their stars light up wishes for
all companion horses living with man to be free from harm and danger. Share
their dream and help it come true. Then the Night Mares can leave the dark
sky to run free with the herds below, free to bring the legend to life.
Long ago, when horses were
free to roam the land, lived a majestic stallion. His glistening coat was
painted entirely black. He had a long tangled mane and tail that curled and
danced in the wind. He was born on a night when the moon passed through the
earth's shadow. At that moment fate sealed his name, Eclipse. The legend
tells us that the moon itself shone in his wild eyes.
Eclipse was the fastest,
strongest stallion in his territory. With devotion and courage he kept his
herd of mares and foals safe and well fed. They faced hunger, cold, and dangers
like all wild horses, but they always felt safe with Eclipse. He led them
past any danger in the shadows of nightfall, guided safely by the moon and
the stars. In the light of day their thundering hooves and clouds of dust
challenged even the fastest wind. Nothing could catch them by night or by
One of the greatest dangers
the herd faced was man. Chasing the dream of taming the wild herds, man had
domesticated dogs, sheep and cattle. Now the chase was for the large, beautiful
wild animals that ran like the wind. A rush of excitement would fill their
hearts at the idea of riding the animal that ran faster than their imagination.
Man longed to feel the freedom and the power that the horse could give
Men were worthy opponents
for Eclipse, but so far he had managed to outsmart them. He watched over
his herd with tireless vigilance. With great skill he avoided the two legged
animals that hunted the herds and drove away some of the best mares and foals.
He knew all too well the fate of the capture.
He remembered as a young
colt being stolen from his herd along with his mother, Moonglow, and three
other mares. Even his father, the brave and powerful, chestnut stallion Flying
Wind, could not save them from capture. After many summers had slipped by
under the moon, Flying Wind at last saw his stolen herd from a distance.
He found them in small fenced fields where their wild spirits and sense of
freedom had slowly faded to distant memories. Moonglow, his misty white mare,
was losing her defiant lightning spirit and was becoming a ghost of her former
self. He whinnied and pounded the ground calling to their wild hearts. As
evening fell and the stars and moon filled the sky , Eclipse heard the cry
of freedom. He called to the mighty stallion Flying Wind. Flying Wind's mane
rose and his tail arched as if to carry a banner. He galloped to the wooden
fence and struck the railings until they split and tumbled below him. Eclipse
and the mares were free. They ran swiftly towards their distant herd in a
victory gallop, a gallop for freedom.
In the days that followed,
Flying Wind taught everything he knew to Eclipse. He believed one day he
would replace him as a great stallion, defender of the wild herd. Eclipse
vowed to the aging stallion that he would never lose the fight for freedom.
The two stallions reared and whinnied their pledge to the wind and the sky
Eclipse listened and learned
well from Flying Wind. In time he began to follow his own instincts, using
the evening mist and clouds to hide and protect his herd. Man never hunted
the wild herds at night, only in the safety of the sunlight. He would pass
through the lands of man under a blanket of darkness, leaving a trail of
Brave, cunning and strong,
Eclipse had challenged and won one of the most sought after herds in his
territory. He had to carefully guard his mares from rogue stallions who coveted
the herd that ran through the night as freely as the mist upon the moon.
He had his share of battle scars to prove his loyalty and worthiness but
he had never been seriously hurt. His greatest opponent was a large, stocky
buckskin named Golden Earth.
Golden Earth had a coat
the color of a willow, and a black mane and tail streaked with rays of sunshine.
He roamed the land with his graceful reddish-brown mare, Earthquake, the
last survivor of a once plentiful herd. When she galloped, her powerful hooves
sent tremors across the land; and her long black tail and mane following
like aftershocks in the air.
Every year Golden Earth galloped
to the top of the hill to whinny and stomp, arching his strong neck. He snorted
wildly until Eclipse answered his war call. It was always a brutal fight
but one that never finished. Golden Earth longed to fill his harem with mares
as beautiful as those in Eclipse's band. Although Golden Earth did not share
the herd, he shared a need to protect Eclipse's mares and foals from danger.
He was always close by, watching and sadly remembering the whinnying and
galloping sounds of his own former herd.
A bountiful season of fresh
green meadows, cool running waters and warm weather came to Eclipse's herd
in the year of his greatest challenge. There were nine mares and seven foals
that year, a good size herd for a young stallion. It was a time of great
pride for Eclipse. All of the foals were strong and bold like their sire.
Some were pintos, others were shades of black like Eclipse and some were
spotted and dappled. His lead mare Moonbeam, a pale dusty palomino with a
blaze that looked like a slice of the moon, had given him a foal that looked
just like him. The young foal, Moonshadow, followed his mother everywhere,
shadowing every trot and canter with perfect precision. The small black shadow
gained confidence staying close to his mother believing some day he would
be as mighty as Eclipse.
Eclipse's mare Comet, a
brown paint with a blaze that looked like a streaking comet, was mimicked
by a long-legged foal that circled her like a planet orbiting the
Lucky Stars, a strong gentle
appaloosa with a spotted coat that looked like stars sprinkled across her
backside, quietly groomed and nuzzled her offspring. When the herd went
thundering across the fields it was a blur of flying manes, dancing tails,
long legs and earthy colors. Golden Earth stood on a cliff and looked down
at the herd and could not help but admire the vision of beauty as they galloped
The Arrival of
Golden Earth looked all
around the land hoping to find a pasture where he could graze in peace. He
saw a small herd of strange animals moving slowly in the fields below him.
They walked on two legs and carried objects on their backs. He did not know
at first what they were but his instincts and his memories pounded a dangerous
beat to his heart. Then he saw something that filled him both with fear and
amazement. He gazed curiously at two horses following behind the herd of
these strange animals, carrying one on each of their backs. The animals legs
hung down around the horse's sides and they held onto their manes. The horses
walked quietly and calmly and did not carry themselves with the unbridled
grace of the wild horses he had seen moments ago in Eclipses' herd. These
horses were very different!
Being creatures of habit,
Golden Earth knew that the herd would return to graze in the pasture below
where this new danger was waiting for them. The buckskin looked for another
path down the mountain where he could escape and go to warn Eclipse's herd.
A rugged steep trail offered him a safe but slow descent. Earthquake, his
faithful mare, waited and stood guard on the hill above. Eclipse had keen
eyesight and was always alert, but Golden Earth knew that even his mighty
opponent could not sense what was hiding in the long grass. Eclipse had to
be warned of the approaching danger.
Golden Earth stepped through
the field as quietly as a soft wind towards the herd in the distance. He
went unnoticed by man; perhaps the lone stallion was not enough of a prize
for them to pursue. These men wanted to capture the mysterious horses that
ran through the night like lightening in the sky. This herd had magical power.
Anyone who rode on the backs of these horses would be protected by the moon
and the stars.
Once out of reach, Golden
Earth galloped off to warn Eclipse of the danger. He ran as fast as he could
until his coat was covered in sweat and his nostrils flared from his heavy
breathing. Eclipse heard Golden Earth's large hooves pounding the ground
ahead of him. Golden Earth whinnied a warning of danger that was carried
on the wind to the herd. With his ears laid back, Eclipse's put his nose
to the wind and smelled the scent of man on Golden Earth's breath. His senses
were flooded with memories of his capture and his pledge of
Eclipse knew that this stallion
loved his herd as much as he did, and so, on this day the two mighty stallions
united to save the wild mares from man. Freedom meant more than territory
today. Golden Earth gathered the foals and the slowest of the mares, while
Eclipse called Moonbeam, Comet, and Lucky Stars, his fastest mares, to his
side. With Eclipse leading them, they could outrun the men on their tame
horses. Golden Earth guided the rest of the herd to safer ground to wait
until Eclipse and his lead mares returned.
Eclipse stood on his hind
legs and whinnied his challenge to man in the distance and he thundered towards
him followed by his three mares. Clouds of dust surrounded the four strong
horses as they galloped past their would-be captors. The herd ran united
as one with the beating rhythm of their hearts and hooves. The wind danced
through their manes and tails and sang a song of freedom in their
The two hunters waited anxiously
for the moment of chase and galloped behind on their horses. Dust and dirt
from the hooves ahead of them flew in their faces; they could barely see
the wild herd. Their horses carried them swiftly, following the pace of the
stallion. A wild calling rushed through their tamed blood as they chased
the herd. It gave them strength and a speed that thrilled the men on their
backs. The chase continued as daylight faded and the spirits of the darkness
called to Eclipse. He was tired and weak from the pursuit. His will carried
him forward when his legs would have chosen to stop. The men, also weary,
thought they would have his mares for themselves before the night was over.
The pace slowed as the darkness surrounded the men. They were unsure of the
ground below them and a heavy mist was starting to rise in their path. This
was what Eclipse was hoping for, to vanish into the night air right before
Eclipse looked up into the
sky above him and whinnied a haunting cry for help. His call was picked up
by the fog on the ground and carried by the wind into the night. It found
its way to the mist around the full moon that glowed above them. "Free...keep
my mares free...wild and free..." it whispered to the moon and the
The horses that carried
the men heard the wild call and they felt and understood the sorrow in the
stallion's cry. They remembered the days of running free with the herd in
a land that seemed to stretch toward eternity. Despite domestication, they
would always remain herd animals. They knew what he was calling for, but
they had also found a happiness and harmony in their world with man. They
were free to love and be loved and had formed a bond with humans. They looked
up into the sky above them and gave thanks for their good fortune, knowing
that not all horses were treated as well as they were.
Spirits of Freedom
The forces of nature in
moon and stars looked down on the sweating, tired, aching stallion who would
have run to his death to honor his pledge of freedom. They looked ahead to
the looming hills before the wild horses and could see they were heading
for the edge of a cliff. The animals would be trapped with no place to run.
The sky spirits had always guided Eclipse, and would help him save the Night
Mares that galloped faithfully with him through the darkness and fog. The
cold mist that circled the moon unraveled itself and stretched down to touch
the cliff below. As Eclipse reached the edge, he faced the fear of capture.
He heard a soft familiar whisper in the wind. It was the spirit of Flying
Wind calling from the mist. "A heart that is brave and true holds special
magic. Listen to your heart and your call will be answered."
The magic of the moon and
the stars in the sky spoke to him. "Let your mares run. Let them keep running
into the night mist beyond the cliff and we will carry them up into the stars.
They will live in our sky where man can only dream of their
Eclipse whinnied to his
mares to follow the path ahead of them and he turned to face the men who
challenged their freedom. The mares galloped across the white mist that lay
like new fallen snow up, into the sky above the men. Their hoof prints and
their echoing whinnies blazed a pathway to the stars. The men stopped in
fear and awe. They were witnessing a magic that they could not understand.
They looked at the defiant stallion whose eyes shone with the light of the
moon and they lowered their heads to him in respect. He was truly the mightiest
stallion that ever lived. He could summon the magic of the moon and stars
with his valiant whinny. The men turned their horses slowly and rode away
from the prized stallion. Tomorrow they would return to their families and
tell a tale of such magic and power that legends are made of.
The stallion looked up into
the sky above him and whinnied softly to his mares, Moonbeam, Comet and Lucky
Stars. He was filled with both sadness and joy knowing that they had become
the freedom fighters for the wild herds below. The Night Mares pranced and
gleamed in the sky above him and showed him a safe path back to the herd
and Golden Earth. They would watch over their foals, their herd and the
generations to come. They promised to be the protectors of the night for
all horses, wild and domestic, lighting a safe path. It was Eclipse's destiny
to guard the land below. He returned to his herd and told the tale of the
mystical night. The horses bowed their heads in silence and vowed to pass
on the legend and legacy.
Legend and Legacy - The
A long time has passed since
the days of Eclipse and his wild herd. Wild horses vanished, then reappeared
on the earth, and are now vanishing once again. Man's history has both defied
and threatened their extinction. Man has been the horse's best friend as
well as his most brutal foe. The Night Mares look down upon us and watch
closely. It is their dream that there will always be wild horses and that
fate is kind to the captured. The call of their wild hearts and their thundering
hooves will be heard forever as a reminder to all of us of what freedom really
means. So if you awaken to a storm with lightening and thunder on a dark
night, it may be the Night Mares streaking across the sky. The pounding of
their hooves and their ancient whinny is a cry for us to save yet another
We don't have to be afraid
of the night. It is the keeper of legends and protector of creatures below.
Night Mares dance brilliantly against a background of black sky and glowing
stars to light our way to a time remembered. Gaze up into their bright lights
and they will guide you through the darkest of nights. And if you believe
in them, they will give you a magical power to help change the fate of their
Listen to the call of the wild herd and remember...
Reprint authorized by Dawn Van Zant