After his historic Triple Crown victory, American Pharoah, most beloved of horses, did yet another rare, remarkable thing.
He went to his fans and greeted them warmly, enthusiastically, almost embracing them.
This is uncommon in racing. The exhausted horses often shy from the press of well-meaning admirers. But not this hero! Not American Pharoah!
This mighty creature who, just moments earlier, had carried our hearts upon his back, had wound our hopes and imaginings through his mane, had drummed the beat of our very pulse with his flying hooves, had driven us all to glory, now came forward, brave as ever, and allowed the luckiest few to touch him.
All present surely gasped and wept as he bent his great noble head, nuzzling human hands with at least as much love as they offered to him at that moment. Kisses were exchanged, and the humans were reduced to childlike glee. And it was remarked that this American Pharoah was a good horse, a fine horse, an intelligent horse, as gentle and generous as he was strong and swift.
Why did he do this?
I like to imagine that this horse, this good and fine and intelligent horse, had come to make his victory speech to us. We had proclaimed him a hero, after all. If we could have stilled our cheers enough to hear, I imagine his words might have gone something like this:
Here is kindness, humans.
Feel it. Know it.
Kindness is my gift to you.
Not far from here, behind a curtain, my fallen brother is writhing in pain. His leg is shattered. He was mighty and dear, humans. He was beautiful. Will you go to him? Will you hold him and speak good words to him? Will you take this kindness to him?
Kindness: I think that is your word for what I am trying to say, but I am not sure.
Many of my brethren have been taken behind that curtain: beautiful souls, noble souls, spirited souls! They work, they sweat, they run until they break. The doctors come and go, come and go, and there is much stumbling and crying from horse and human alike. And finally, if the horse proves incapable of mending, the humans say that there is only one thing left to do, and kindness demands it.
What is your kindness, humans, which is so demanding?
Here is mine. You may have it; it demands nothing. We have only to stand here together and share this moment.
Do you think there could come a time, some day, when horse and human could share a moment like this, and there would be no whips, no crops, no digging-in-of-flesh to make it happen?
Could you trust yourself, you think, to be kind to me, and I to you, without giving me strange drugs?
Oh! You are crying! Dear humans, I’ve no wish to make you cry. I have come only in the name of kindness to be with you.
But in the name of kindness, could you help me?
There are brothers and sisters whom I lost along the way to meet you today. They were good horses, fine horses, noble horses, only not so fast as I. We were together once, but when I turned around to look for them, they had disappeared. Can you, very kindly, tell me where they have gone?
Are they safe? Are they cared for? Oh, do tell me of their adventures! Tell me how they run through green fields and feel the wind course through their manes! Tell me how they roll on their backs in the sunshine, and go home in the evening to soft stalls rich with the perfume of fresh hay! Tell me of their freedom, of their happiness, of their loving homes!
Do tell me they know kindness!
Tell me they will know it, always.
Why are you crying, humans?
As I watched the magnificent head of American Pharoah bowing to caress the ecstatic humans, I could not help but cry. I wept for the generosity of this animal, for his natural friendliness, for his willingness to share in our happiness, for showing us the joy of kindness despite all we seem to get wrong.
I pray we will someday make ourselves worthy of the kindness offered.
Author: Katie-Anne Laulumets
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Diana Robinson/Flickr