Thundering Hooves Includes Animals’ Angels


“Thundering Hooves ~ A Native Peoples Event” united over twenty Native American Nations and citizens from around our country in Alpine, TX.  Hosted by Neta and Darrel Rhyne of Toyahvale, Texas, a talented array of creative artists, musicians and animal advocates were showcased. Animals’ Angels was invited to this three-day epic event, which took place in the first week of October.

Brandi Turner and Amber Taylor represented our organization that weekend.  Amber gave speeches on both Saturday and Sunday. She was the voice of Animals’ Angels as she shared a vision of a future without threat to our horses, but also revealed the harshest realities of what actually happens to them.

Amber and Brandi were on cloud nine when they called me last week sharing the enormity of this event. They spent time in the company of like-minded individuals who believe in harmony, love and great respect for our animals. But let them tell you in their own words what the occasion meant to them and how it changed their lives.

Anne: When you travelled to Alpine, Texas what did you find when you arrived?

Amber: Assignments in West Texas have typically been trying and sad, as I have only been there to conduct investigations of equine crossing the Mexican border bound for slaughter. I was eager to revisit this part of the country with a new agenda; which was the firm intent to educate and empower the audience. We were greeted by an encouraging energy, which radiated throughout the small town of Alpine. As we neared the Granada Theater for the first night of “Thundering Hooves” the air was charged with an invisible but glistening current.   

Brandi: When we reached the Granada a performance was already in progress. We were met by some of the people we knew from either Facebook or from email correspondence. Directly after Friday’s performances ended we started meeting people from the audience and the artists who were performing or speaking at the event. The energy that filled the theater engulfed us and it was apparent everyone felt the same.

Anne: The program of entertainment was pretty impressive. Tell us about the performances and how you feel about what you saw.

Amber: Many heartfelt thanks to the organizers, Neta and Darrel Rhyne, as this wouldn’t have been a possibility without their vision. A well-respected list of attendees presented and performed for three days at “Thundering Hooves”.

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Rod Rondeaux is a multi-award winning actor, stunt man and horseman. He opened “Thundering Hooves” with a powerful prayer and blessing.

Rachael Waller Rondeaux shared tearful insight into the emotional reconstruction of the West Texas 25, a herd that was saved from slaughter last year. She has done a fantastic job allowing these equine to become the public’s herd, and their voices are being heard nationally.

Jean Albert Renaud (JAR) is an actor, educator, singer, and international horseman. He shared commentary, poem and several songs celebrating the horse. He is a strong ally for the horses and lives what he speaks. He is currently filming a documentary about horses and children.

Micki Free is a Grammy Award Winner and five-time Native American Music Award Winner. He is an unbelievable guitarist and singer that kept the crowd’s spirits high.

Mark Barfoot is an award-winning Native American Folk Artist, flutist and master drum-maker, and his artistry is beautiful.

Larry Yazzie is a captivating, dynamic, and World Champion Fancy Dancer. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off of him while he was effortlessly showcasing his talent.

Shea Red Horse (Keck) is a beautiful, award-winning, powerhouse singer and Women’s Jingle Dress Dancer. She sang Amazing Grace (in the Cherokee language) concluding “Thundering Hooves”, and didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.

Matthew Black Eagle Prince led us in prayer and ceremony, and is probably the most profound individual I have ever met in my life. He lifts spirits, and inspires, through words and song.

Lynny Prince is a published author, poet, and musician. She graced the all-star stage Sunday evening, and is a genuinely beautiful human being.

Shawn Michael Perry served as the Master of Ceremonies for this event. He is an actor, educator, and chart-topping Native Rock and Country Artist, currently up for nine Native American Music Award nominations. He performed several songs from his latest album and blew me away with ‘Aboriginality’.

Marjorie Farabee, with Wild Burro Protection League, spoke about the plight of our wild burros and even brought a few fuzzy friends with her for folks to meet. The ability to touch the exact animals she referenced in her presentation made their story very personal. 

Brandi: The performances were outstanding. The Musicians, dancers and artists really impressed me, they displayed so much passion! They gave us insight into a world that most of us had never experienced and for that I will always be grateful.

Anne: I know your investigative work is not easy. How did you become involved with Animals Angels? Share with us the major points of focus during your presentation.

Amber: The work is extremely difficult, both emotionally and physically. Without our investigations, I feel that many of the voiceless would remain so, and that is the fuel I use to stay strong. I had stockpiled ten-years worth of data about horse slaughter (statistics, auctions, kill buyers, etc.), when Brandi Turner came into my life. She reached out to me almost two years ago and we became fast friends, fellow advocates. I had already been following the work of Animals’ Angels for several years, and after getting to meet Sonja Meadows and seeing her devotion to the animals first-hand, I knew this was the only organization I wanted to be part of. Sonja took a huge chance on me and I’m continually humbled by her faith in me.

Our presentation at “Thundering Hooves” mapped out every facet of the journey all equine slotted for destruction must endure. No stone was left unturned because we felt the entire story of these equine must be seen and heard in order to be fully understood.

Brandi: I have been involved with Animals Angels for a number of years. Being a truck driver provides the advantage of seeing the countless transport trucks loaded with horses all across this nation. I relayed vital information to the organization and was asked to join the volunteer team. During the course of the weekend at “Thundering Hooves” I spread information about our work and I was on hand to answer people’s inquires about Animals’ Angels.

Anne: Were there many people in the audience who had no knowledge about horse slaughter and the terrible things our equine endure?Did they ask you many questions?

Amber: Many people approached us over the weekend, thanking us while saying, “I just didn’t know”.  We brought copies of three of our latest investigations, our video, ‘A Horse’s Nightmare’ and brochures to share.  I feel privileged to have been able to spend individual time discussing the issues further with all who expressed a desire to help end this atrocity.

Brandi: Most of the people at the venue, both presenters and the audience, knew very little about the plight of horses in the slaughter pipeline. They came up to us and asked questions regarding the process and what they could do to aid in the fight to end this horror. Information was distributed and people were added to our Animals’ Angels email list.

Anne: Tell us about the dancing. The entertainers wore such beautiful outfits. The photographs taken are filled with action. Did the dancers interpret or explain what their movements meant?

Amber: Shea and Larry are stunning to watch, but their skill reaches beyond just being visually stimulating. Their unique music selections consumed me the moment the first beat dropped, and I found myself engulfed in the stories both were developing through dance. The dances never felt like a “performance” but rather a passionate, and comprehensive, experience.

Brandi: The performers were beautifully dressed and dramatically accomplished in their techniques. They helped the audience understand what they were doing and connected the purpose of each move they made. As one of the audience, I was able to follow along with a clearer appreciation of what was being conveyed.

Anne: Did you hold any meetings to discuss possible solutions to stop the misery of our horses? Was there any resolution as to how to reach more people and to encourage them to take a stand against horse slaughter?

Amber: There were many impromptu discussions and everyone collaborated in an effort to determine how their own resources could be used to assist this cause. I believe that the importance of our mission was understood and feel strongly that our work will continue to be circulated. 

 Brandi: There were conversations throughout the weekend and numerous ideas were put on the table. Ideas from some of the people there were discussed and offers of aid were gladly accepted. People understood the importance of our investigative work, as it is the only way to find out what is really happening to our horses and burros.

Anne: Tell us about some of the people you met and the energy levels you felt in the Alpine Granada Theater.

Amber: If I had to choose the best word to explain the energy level, and how I felt when I was there, it would be ‘pure’. This vibrant energy was loving, hopeful, and honest. I am forever changed, and am honored by the relationships formed at “Thundering Hooves”. Never have I felt such a communal sense of courage or purpose.  I am a better person today and I’ll strive to become an even better person tomorrow.

Brandi: The different cultures and people were inspiring; they made me feel that all things are possible. By our joining together as a total unit, all nations and cultures can willingly work together to make the dream of ending horse slaughter a reality.

Anne: How was your presentation received?

Amber: I believe our presentation was well received because our intent was always to empower the listener through education. It was fulfilling to share our data and reports, thus providing a greater sense of understanding concerning the slaughter of America’s equine.

Brandi: Amber gave the Animals’ Angels presentation. As I watched the faces of those listening to her with rapt attention, it was very easy to see how moved they were by what they heard and saw. Amber touched all of our hearts and explained the importance of the investigative work we do. As a result, Animals’ Angels found new supporters and new people were added to the roster opposing horse slaughter. I am very proud of our contribution and that we were asked to lend our expertise at this great event!

Anne: Were Neta and Darrel happy with the shows and the effort to help save these animals?  How long have you known them?

Amber: Neta and Darrel have been family to me for over a year, and “Thundering Hooves”, was a vision come true for so many reasons. I know they were moved by the support given to them by so many at this event. 

Brandi: I have chatted with Neta for several months on Facebook but I did not meet her or Darrell until the event. I believe that they were thrilled with the results from their combined efforts. I am very proud to have been a part of this amazing endeavor.

Anne: What is the most important thing that was emphasized over the weekend?

Amber: Respect for the horse and being good stewards.   

Anne: What will you always remember? Was there anything that happened that shocked or surprised you?

Amber: I will always remember the unity of our bond, and will continue to use the energy I found moving forward in life. I was astounded by the selflessness shown by all, and the willingness and readiness to unify for the horse. “Thundering Hooves” was not just a vision to support a cause, but to foster a strong cultural movement for the horses. I whole-heartedly believe it did just that and can hardly wait until next year!

Brandi: Remembering how I witnessed all the varied expression and emotions on the faces of the audience throughout Amber’s presentations. Just seeing the initial shock of those learning about these poor horses, burros and mules for the first time. My biggest surprise was the reaction of several of the men sitting quietly. Men who normally would never show any raw emotion in public, and how they openly embraced their compassion and vulnerability … and because of this they are now ready to aid in this cause.


These Angels have seen their fair share of the horrors in the existing pipeline and the shuffling of innocent equine slated for slaughter. They joined the many Native American nations present at this wonderful event to embrace the spiritual link to our American equine. They remind all of us that these creatures have a valiant spirit of their own which needs to be honored and respected.

Many thanks for such fine women who are bold, strong, and courageous and lovingly committed to making change. Thanks to the dedicated leadership of Sonja Meadows and her Team of Angels, Neta and Darrel Rhyne and all of the performers and artists who gathered for the “Thundering Hooves” event. When one voice grows stronger and louder … it will be heeded.


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