The Story of the Appaloosa - Part 1: The Beginning
FROM THE WRITER THAT BROUGHT YOU 'A HORSE CALLED CREEK'.....
My name is Cowboy. Even though I went through lots of names in my life, Cowboy was my very first. I am an Appaloosa horse. This is the story of my life, to the beginning to the end. Though most stories are told from the human eye, this one is told from the eyes of the horse.
I opened my eyes for the first time. I saw a big, grassy place. No fences. I saw my mother nearby. She nickered to me, and got to her feet and began licking me clean. I looked around with bright, curious eyes. There were many other horses. Some grazing, some cantering about, some looking at me. I looked up and saw a big, heavy looking stallion.
He was my father. He was the leader of the herd. I looked around at everyone. They were standing up. I was still laying in the soft grass. I snorted a little baby snort and tried to heave myself to my feet. I fell onto my side. I snorted again and heaved myself to my feet. I stayed up this time. I wobbled over to my mother and searched for milk. I nursed from her for a little bit, then wobbled away.
I looked around. A tall sorrel horse was sniffing me. I wobbled away and hid under my mother. She pinned her ears at the sorrel and he backed off. I looked around the big, grassy place from under my mother. It was just the start of my new life.
The Story of the Appaloosa - Part 2: Growing Up
I learned all that was important from my mother. I learned that the sorrel horse that sniffed me was Jack, a clumsy young horse in our herd. He seemed nice, but he was a clumsy oaf. He tripped over nothing, but would always catch himself. He would always get the young filly's attention.
I learned all about the horses. Jack, Raphael, Mirabella, my father, Topthorn, Jesse, Cloud, and Joey, the big bay Thoroughbred. I learned that we lived in a wild horse sanctuary. I learned that there were fences all around, I just couldn't see them. They were far off. I learned that I would have to be careful around roundups. My mother had to explain what those were. Once I found out, I was terrified of them.
I grew up to be a strong, muscled up 4-month-old. I was already strong and had muscle. My mother rattled on about something called weaning, but I never listened to her. I was always bounding around in the tall grass, chasing a butterfly or field mouse. Sometimes I would go play with the other 4-month-old colts while my mom talked with the other mares.
The Story of the Appaloosa - Part 3 - The Roundup
I never thought of a roundup coming to my herd. It never crossed my mind. I had lived for 4 months in my little herd territory, and no roundup came through. Until one day.
I was a six-month-old now, quite big and strong. My mother came to me to tell me something, but her nickers were washed away by the sound of chopping air. I looked up to see a huge helicopter.
Everything inside me told me to run. So I did. The whole herd was running up a path, running away from the huge helicopter. I galloped after them, as fast as I could. There must have been some Thoroughbred in me, because I was very fast. I was catching up with my father when I saw big pens ahead. I whinnied, then slowed and searched in vain for my mother.
She was nowhere to be seen. I neighed in heartbreak and galloped after the herd. We were all herded into corrals. I was shoved into a corral with about 4 other young colts and fillies about my age.
I trotted up to the fence and looked for my mother. I saw all the grown horses of both herds in two different corrals. A big, round corral was in the middle. The horses were roughly dragged into it. To calm myself, I tried to think of my own imaginary world, in my own field of paper flowers, with candy clouds of lullaby...
But my thoughts were broken by a booming voice. It was a man's voice, calling out words very fast. It sounded like $50, but then $100. Then $300. I didn't know what was going on. I whinnied for my mother, then circled the pen. I paced and paced my worries away. Well, I tried to pace my worries away. It just wouldn't work.
It was very late in the day when all the people finally cleared out. Only two grown horses were left. My father and the lead mare from the other herd. I sighed and laid down. It was definitely going to be a long night.
The Story of the Appaloosa - Part 4: A New Home
I woke up the next day to sunlight pouring in my eyes. I let out a moan and got to my feet. The two grown horses were gone. I noticed that two other colts that were in the yearling pen yesterday were gone. Now a paint filly was being dragged in. I walked up to the fence to get a better look. The filly fussed and fought and snorted and whinnied, but the lead was yanked every time.
I snorted and trotted laps around small pen I was in. The little paint filly sold quick for a lot of money. I snorted and broke into a canter, but I was stopped by a slim man. He pulled a terribly tight rope halter on me. I neighed and half-reared, but I was yanked hard. And it hurt, because the rope halter was so tight.
The man started to lead me into the large corral. I looked around. All of the people crowded around the fence eyed me skeptically. And in an instant, it was a total bidding war over me. I heard $400, then $500, till $700. Then the hammer was banged on the table and I was sold.
A big man grabbed my lead and roughly dragged me off. There was no trailer to greet me as we left the strange place. He continued to lead me down the dirt road. My rope halter had rubbed me raw and I felt like we had walked for miles when I saw a little farm house ahead. Beside it was a small, old barn.
The man shoved me into a stall in the barn. I huddled in the corner, trembling with fear. The man looked at me and smiled slyly through gritted teeth.
"Not bad for $700, are you, my little fire-brand? Not bad at all." He growled and went outside into the farm house.
After a little bit, I heard more footsteps and excited voices nearing closer. And then there were two pairs of eyes looking at me. A young farm boy studied me for a bit until his face broke into a beaming smile.
"Oh, Mother! Look at this young spotted colt! Look at his muscle. Look at the brightness in his eyes! Oh, Mother, he's perfect! When he gets older and when I get older, I'll ride him all around the countryside! He'll be the best horse out there, no other could touch him!"
The boy's mother sighed. "You're barely past thirteen, Albert. And this horse is much too young. And your father told you to get nowhere near him."
Albert walked into my stall anyway. He ran his hand along my back and through my short silver and white mane.
"Mother, when Father's drunk, he never knows what he's talking about!" His mother let out another sigh.
"Don't say that, Albee. You don't know what your father has been through." Albert didn't reply. He continued admiring me. He tended to me, and I don't believe he stopped talking the whole time. "Albee, don't talk to the horses. Horses are obstinate and stupid. That's what your father says." Albert still didn't reply. I began to trust the boy more and more.
Yes, this part may be a copy from War Horse. But what's a good story without a little War Horse? Haha, a few of the following parts might be from War Horse as well.
The Story of the Appaloosa - Part 5
Albert spent the rest of the day with me. He gave me clean water, fresh oats, and he tended to my rope burns. Finally he looked me in the eye and gave me a new name.
"I'll call you Cowboy... you understand? You're mine now." He smiled and stroked my muzzle. He walked out of my stall and locked it behind him. "Sweet dreams, Cowboy." And with that, he left the barn.
Albert and I grew up together. We had a lot more in common than just awkward gawkishness. Whenever he was not at school in the village or at work with his father on the farm, he would lead me out over the fields and down the flat, thistly marsh by the Torridge River.
Here on the only level ground on the farm he began my training, just walking and trotting me up and down, and later on lunging me, first one way and then the other.
On the way back to the farm, he would allow me to follow him at my own speed, and I learned to come at his whistle, not out of obedience but because I always wanted to be with him. His whistle imitated the stuttering call of an owl - it was a call I never refused and I would never forget.
Old Zoey, my only other companion, was often away all day plowing, cutting, and harvesting out of the farm, so I was left on my own much of the time.
Out in the fields in the summertime, this was bearable because I could always hear her working and call out to her from time to time, but shut in the loneliness of the stable in the winter, a whole day could pass without seeing or hearing a soul, unless Albert came for me.
As Albert had promised, it was he who cared for me and protected me all he could from his father, but his father did not turn out to be the monster I had expected. Most of the time he ignored me and if he did look me over, it was from a distance.
From time to time he could even be quite friendly, but I was never able to quite trust him, not after out first encounter. I would never let him come too close, and woulds always back off and shy away to the other end of the field and put old Zoey between us.
Every Tuesday, however, Albert's father could still be relied upon to get drunk, and on his return, Albert would often find some pretext to be with me to ensure that he never came near me.