Palomino Ranch was a wonderful equestrian community. Every family of horses lived in a comfortable stable, they had spacious fields to roam and trot, and they were surrounded by hundreds of friends. The horses of Palomino Ranch had been together for many generations, and over time they'd developed an almost human-like civilization. Over the years, they developed many sacred traditions,the most celebrated of which was a festival in honor of Native Son, the greatest horse who ever walked the earth.
Back in Native Son's day, many centuries ago, stables were hard to come by and when he did manage to find a place to spend the night, it was usually cold and leaky and food was scarce. But Native Son overcame these obstacles, performed wondrous deeds for all members of the animal kingdom, and became a shining example to horses around the world. Even now, hundreds of years later, stories of this fine stallion are told and passed along from generation to generation, and the Native Son Festival every December remains the grandest event of the year. Everyone looks forward to it; stallions and mares, colts and foals.
One summer, many years ago, a family of cows wandered onto Palomino Ranch. There were no other cows for them to live with, but that didn't present a problem at all, because the horses welcomed them with open hooves. The two leaders of the horse community, Guiding Star and Evening Silence, made sure that the cow and her two calves got the nicest stable, and that they were fed and cared for. And before long, the cows blended right in and were treated as equals.
Winter came, and with it the preparations for the Native Son Festival. The horses decorated their quarters with flowers and ribbon, and hung the traditional Silver Horseshoe from the large oak in the meadow. When Betsy, the mama cow, noticed the trinkets and baubles that festooned the stable, she approached Guiding Star.
"What's with all the hoopla?" she asked.
Guiding Star was more than happy to explain. He enthusiastically told Betsy the story of Native Son, how the legend had been passed on for centuries, and about how his deeds served as an example for all horses to follow.
"So what does that have to do with all these fancy-schmancy decorations?" asked Betsy.
"Well," said Guiding Star, "the Native Son Festival is a time for us horses to reflect upon what Native Son means to each of us. The ribbons and flowers that we hang represent the joy and kindness that Native Son brought to the world. The Silver Horseshoe symbolizes the hard work and sacrifice that he made for all of horsekind. It's one of our proudest traditions, and we'd love to have you and your calves celebrate with us."
Guiding Star had never discussed Native Son with a non-horse before, and he was absolutely glowing with pride. But that would change immediately.
"Oh, I don't know about that," scoffed Betsy. "That's a lovely story you've just told, but I don't believe a word of it. That horse, Native Son? Maybe he existed, but I don't believe that any one animal should be exalted above all others. And I certainly don't want my calves to hear such nonsense."
Guiding Star was a little disappointed in Betsy's closed-minded attitude, but he understood completely. "I understand completely," he said. "We certainly don't expect you to decorate your stable, and if our songs and celebrations bother you, we'll just hold them over in the barn so you and your calves won't be disturbed."
"I'm not sure that's good enough," said Betsy. "We live at Palomino Ranch just like everybody else, and I find this whole Native Son business offensive. My calves are sure to ask questions and they'll feel left out when the little kid horses - "
"They're called yearlings."
"Whatever. My calves will feel left out when their friends are celebrating. Can't have that."
"Oh, that's no problem at all! They're more than welcome to join in."
"You misunderstand me, Guiding Star. My calves are NOT going to participate in your nonsense. I don't want them exposed to it, and I certainly don't want them to feel like misfits on their own ranch. I'm telling you to take down the decorations and do away with the celebrations and parties."
Guiding Star didn't want to argue with Betsy, but he felt the cow was being unreasonable. "Betsy, please try to look at this from our point of view. The festival is important to us. If it's that much of a problem for you, there's a dairy farm just a little ways down the road, and I'm sure they'd welcome you and your family there. Maybe you'd be happier living with other cows instead of us horses."
"Oh, no," said Betsy. "We're very happy here at Palomino Ranch and we love our comfortable home. I don't think we should have to leave just because we don't believe in Native Son. Please think about what I've said. I'm going to go feed my calves now."
Guiding Star was frustrated. The horses at Palomino Ranch and around the world had held the Native Son Festival for centuries with no problems at all. It was always a time of great joy. Guiding Star decided to talk with his friend and confidant Evening Silence to see if they could come up with a solution that would make everyone happy.
"I don't know what Betsy's problem is," said Guiding Star. "I invited her and her calves to participate, I offered to move our celebrations to the barn, but nothing seemed to be good enough. What do you think we should do?"
"Well, I certainly don't think we should just do away with our most important holiday," replied Evening Silence. "The story of Native Son is too important to our community and our culture. If you ask me, there's only one reasonable thing left to do."
And from that day forward, in addition to the decorations, songs, and celebrations, the Native Son Festival included a traditional feast of beef ribs, sirloin steaks, and veal cutlets.