Thursday, 25 April 2013

A salute to brown eyed heroes

Today is ANZAC day.

The anniversary of the first major military campaign fought by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the First World War. These soldiers were fondly known as “Anzacs”.

On April 25th 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces landed at Gallipoli, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. A bloody campaign raged for eight months, resulting in major casualties.

Anzac Day commemorates the lives of Australians and New Zealanders who served and died not only at Gallipoli in WWI, but in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Dawn services are held at memorials in all towns and cities throughout both countries.


Today though, I wish to commemorate the huge-hearted horses, and the stout, stoic donkeys and mules that have played a vital role supporting armies in the wars of mankind throughout history.
For though they had no choice, they bore their abhorrent roles valiantly.


Driven and ridden, they provided support in the transportation of troops, supplies and armaments and against all odds, stayed the distance on patrols and reconnaissance missions in times before motorisation.

Most astonishing of all, were the horses that courageously charged headlong into the oncoming foe, their riders brandishing spears, bow and arrow, swords, lances or guns, depending on the era.
For “animals of prey”, this was an incredible ask, as their instincts are to turn and run from perceived danger and sudden noise or movement.
And, the all pervasive smell of blood.

Battles were often won solely due to supreme mounted tactics. War horse trainers recognised the strong fight-or-flight response in a horse and utilised the self-preserving ability to strike, kick out and bite.
In close combat, the animals themselves became weapons.

Weary and scarred like their human companions, alliances and deep friendships were formed. Bonds bound by blood and forged in foreign, inhospitable lands.

The endurance, stamina and enormously generous spirit in brutal conditions of conflict, climate, hunger, exhaustion and disease while having to travel uncertain terrain and distances, has earned equine war animals the more than well deserved title of “noble”.

I don’t glorify their roles. There is no glory in war. No beauty in cruelly broken bodies. No romance in blood-soaked soil. Nor in the trail of tears and destruction left behind.

But, there is bravery.

Let no one dispute the strength of mind and heart it takes to face the stench and fear of death – in any circumstance, peacetime or at war.

For those brave participants, not only the horse, but all animals in all wars throughout the ages, I salute them.

Not beasts of burden. No.


Every one of them.


  1. I love this. Sadly the reward for horses that survived the slaughter on the battlefields was all too often to be slaughtered by their riders. Too expensive and too difficult to bring home after the war was over. Bah.
    At least dogs generally are brought home, and given an honourable retirement.

    1. Yes, it is very sad that choices were made to end the lives of faithful companions. But, often, the fate of those left behind was not a good one.
      Perhaps, with no other option, it was kinder.

      Whichever way you look at it, war unfairly exacts it's toll on too many victims.

  2. oh darling vicki. this post moved me to tears streaming. it's a beautiful tribute to the silent voiced heroes.
    our state just recently and very surreptiously passed a law allowing slaughterhouses of horses. it broke my heart.
    actually in vietnam the war dogs who had fought right along with their humans and often risked their own lives to save the lives of their soldiers ~ well ~ they were thought to be like so much 'equipment.' it was cheaper to leave them with the enemy. and to a certain horrible death. and to be eaten. such a stupid war in every way.
    I didn't know about anzacs until just now. we americans are so hopelessly ignorant of other nations' histories and contributions. it's shameful. thank you for helping me understand. even if so late in the game.

    1. It was hard to write this post as I don't condone or glorify war, especially the evil that mankind does.
      I tried to keep it on an unemotional level.
      There have been many animals, and birds, used for "the war effort" throughout the centuries, in every country. And most of them were sacrificed to it.
      And now, I fight back the tears.

  3. Vicki, I have tears pouring down my face, both from your beautiful post and the replies. I wonder if humans will ever see animals and birds as fellow travelers on this journey and not as objects to be used?



    1. Oh Victoria, I so wish for that. For cold, greedy hearts to soften when they look into the eyes of this planet's wondrous creatures.
      I fear it won't change. The love of money and power is great, and sadly, suffocates any shred of consideration for these sentient beings.
      They are commodities to the "powers that be".

      I never want to forget to acknowledge these beautiful souls that are forced give their lives for mankind's greedy, superficial, short-termed goals.

  4. *SIGH*... What a beautiful tribute, Vicki! I'm with Victoria, hoping there'll be a time when animals are cherished our equals in living and spirit... But as you say, the green of man is too big sometimes, and that's when animals suffer most. Thank you for your sweet comments at my place. I'm sorry to be slow to visit and email. I had a jewelry commission come in and have been working on that. And in a couple weeks we travel to see my family. So very full days just now... LOL! Happy Weekend, my friend ((LOVE & HUGS))

    1. Thank you Tracy. If only there was a way to soften the cold, hard hearts of the greedy and ignorant. We all suffer, but it is those without a voice that suffer the most.

      Wishing you safe travels and some quiet stolen moments for yourself in your coming full days :)
      Hugs xx

  5. Great post. I like the way you put your words together with the pictures.


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