"Beauty is as Beauty does." I quoted this expression in an essay in my book; it was one of my grandmother’s favorite sayings. She used it whenever she had occasion to believe one of us was straying toward the flash and missing the substance in life. Deeply imprinted into my psyche, it has become my immediate response to superficial loveliness. When I heard that Bo Derek had agreed to be a spokesperson for our battle to make horse slaughter for human consumption illegal in the United States, I thought of “10” and almost choked over the sensuous nature of Bo Derek’s image. Then I was told she would be the narrator for our video about horse protection and my immediate thoughts were “What could a chocolate box beauty have to contribute other than a fabulous face, perfect figure, and softly intoned voice?” Fortunately, my grandmother also taught me to keep my mouth closed if I had nothing positive to say. Bo is not only physically perfect, her heart and mind are as close to angelic as her form. She is kind, gentle, and yet fierce in her desire to protect horses. Her intelligence illuminates her face and animates her speech with clarity of purpose.
The video preambles with Bo and her gentle Iberian Arabians; their snowy beauty is the perfect counterpoint for Bo’s own perfection. Invisible bonds of love flow between them, palpably uniting their hearts and reinforcing a relationship they freely engage in. Her sweet voice talks about the love horses and humans share together as her milk white hands gently stroke a proud-necked steed. Music rises and the video begins. Bo’s dulcet tones underscore the scenes that ensue as she speaks of a thoroughbred and the ride to hell at a slaughter plant that he faced. She speaks of hope for rescued horses; the role horses play in our lives, and the bill now being considered to keep them safe (HR 857). Scenes flash video shot in California, Kentucky, Washington DC, and Texas as she narrates. She ends with the story of the thoroughbred that began it, and his final ride to Texas. Not the false Texas of the slaughterhouses, but a place of safety and a home filled with love. That horse was Monetary Justice (from my story “Disposable Commodity”) and he is seen as Bo’s golden voice speaks about refuge for horses. His beauty complements her voice and I was caught in a net of wonder as she wove her magic.
To my shame, I have to admit that even the polished perfection of the finished video can’t quite counteract my tendency to giggle as I remember the day we filmed here at The Last Refuge. When the film crew showed up, they wanted to capture video of the horses that came here out of the kill pens. They had a specific agenda, unfortunately little horse experience, and NO draft mule experience. I could tell that the way their jaws dropped when the boys came over to see what all the strange equipment being unloaded was all about. One of the camera crew turned to me and asked, "What are those things? Donkeys on steroids? I've never seen anything that huge!” I smiled with absolute mirth and told him they were mule babies, and have miles to grow before they slept.
Dan and Jack are baby draft mules, only about eight feet tall at the ears and growing at a fierce rate. Their mothers were draft horses and their father was a Mammoth Jack so they are projected to be mountains with ears by the time they stop growing. Products of a drug lord’s hobby they were seized by the IRS and came here to sanctuary. Intelligent and incorrigibly inquisitive, they are at the center of all excitement and creators of most of it.
The producer and team wanted to capture a peaceful scene of horses grazing around the pond, were racing an approaching storm, and had some notion that horses will follow directions like good extras. Well, maybe my horses might have but the mule crew was having none of it... there were strangers here and they had fuzzy black things on sticks attached to camera lens poking over the fence. Had is the operative word here, Jack snatched and ran, Dan in full chase heels kicking, and behind them the plaintive wail of a cameraman missing the sound cover of his mike. While I was trying to straighten that out I noticed the producer wandering out into the field to "reposition the herd" with carrots poking out of his back pocket. I'll spare you the scene, the pocket came off cleanly, and I truly could see no blood on his back-end so I think his accusation of being bitten was a bit unfair. Re-aligning and putting piles of hay out got the decorative group they wanted to film and even though the cinematographer gawked as we walked past the mules, he did maintain his composure for the rest of the filming. I don't think he believed me about the mules also being at risk for slaughter because he muttered under his breath about how even the French would never eat giant jackrabbits.
Somehow, the melee above resolved into a peaceful scene in the finished video, the wonders of modern editing performed admirably. The video will be up on websites next week and if you see it take note that there are tall ears waving at The Last Refuge. If you can take your eyes off Bo Derek that is, Beauty is as Beauty does and as my husband says, “Bo Does!”