To Save a Horse
The dawn sky is streaked with blues and pinks and purples. The grass is wet with morning dew. I walk out to the barn to feed Riot and Button. Next to me, Hallee yawns. The morning birds sing a song and trees sway to the music.
“Taylor?” Hallee asks, “Do you think that we could go on a trail ride?”
I smile, “Of course.”
When we reach the field, Button is already waiting for us. Hallee reaches out to stroke Button’s chestnut face.
“Good girl,” Hallee says to Button as she slips the halter over the horse’s ears.
“Riot!” I call. The black Morgan gelding’s ears prick and he trots towards us. Riot is my Mom’s horse, but she lets me ride him.
“Hi boy,” I whisper to him. I fasten the halter on his head, and open the gate. I lead Riot out first and Button and Hallee follow us. When both horses are out, I lock the gate.
“Come on Riot, let’s get you breakfast,” I say.
Hallee and I lead Button and Riot into the barn. I bring him into his stall. I slip off his halter and pick up his feed bucket. I walk into the feed room. I dump grain into his bucket and re-enter his stall.
Riot immediately tried to dig into his grain. I pushed him away. Once I placed the feed bucket back on it’s hook, I let Riot eat.
While he was eating, I grabbed my purple grooming kit and started to groom him. When he was done eating, he nuzzled me with his velvety muzzle. His whiskers tickled my skin, and I smiled.
“Taylor! Hallee!” calls Mom, “Breakfast is ready!”
“Coming!” we call.
Once we are out of the barn we take off running. The rising sun warms our skin. The wet grass leaves water droplets on my boots. The smell of roses and lavender perfect the April morning.
When we reach the porch, we are out of breath. My Mother shakes her head and chuckles. We follow her inside the house.
In the kitchen, a plate of blueberry muffins sits on the table. Two glasses of orange juice are poured.
“Thanks Mom,” I say.
“Thank you,” says Hallee. Mom smiles and heads out into the morning sunshine.
My Mom is a horse trainer. She trained Button for Hallee and me. A bay thoroughbred, Linus, is going back to his original owners today. My Mom picks up the horse, trains it, and takes it back when she is done.
My dad is a famous author. He has written many great books.
Hallee is my sister. She looks like Dad, and I look like Mom. I have Mom’s blonde hair and petite figure and Hallee has Dad’s sandy brown hair and freckles. We both have our Grandpa Willy’s blue eyes.
“So Hallee, I was thinking about taking Riot and Button out to that meadow in the wood. Imagine how beautiful it will be! Flowers dotting the sunshiney grass!”
Hallee grinned, “That will be so fun! Maybe we could gallop!”
“Yeah,” I reply, “As long as Riot isn’t getting frisky.”
I squeeze Riot with my legs. “Trot,” I say. Riot picks us a well controlled trot. His black mane flies like a banner in the wind. His neck is arched and his ears pricked. Button and Hallee trot beside us. Button’s flaxen tail trails out behind her glossy chestnut coat. We trot down a wooded trail. The sun and leaves dapple the forest floor. Soon we reach the meadow.
The meadow is full of spring flowers. Button and Riot graze and Hallee and I talk.
“Okay,” I say, “Riot, Canter!” Riot takes off at a smooth, fast canter. I urge forward. He gives a joyous buck, and continues to canter. I give him a small kick, and he takes off at a gallop.
“Woohoo!” I yell. The wind in my face and the beating of Riot’s hooves are all it takes to make this day perfect. Soon though, Riot slows to a trot, then a walk.
“That was so cool!” Hallee cries. “Totally!” I agree. We walk back to the barn.
“Girls! Back from the trail ride already?” asks Mom.
“Yeah,” I respond.
“Once you are done untacking Riot and Button, turn them out and come inside for lunch.”
Hallee and I nod. We take off the saddles and bridles. We clean them and hang them in the tack room. Then we lead them out to the pasture. Immediately, Riot gallops off. Button however, walks slowly out to the water trough.
When we come inside for lunch there is two plates waiting for us. Each has a ham sandwich and five celery sticks and five carrot sticks.
“Eat up girls!” calls Mom. Then the phone rings.
“Hello? This is Jen Maxwell speaking. Horses? Yes I own two. What? I’ll be right there.”
The color had drained from my mother’s face.
“Taylor! Hallee!” barks Mom, “In the car now!” We didn’t need to be told twice. We rushed into the car.
“Mom?” asks Hallee, “What happened?”
My mother's face darkened, “Do you know Silver Spurs Ranch?”
Hallee and I nod.
“Officials found fifteen mares and foals. They all had been abused. We are going to adopt a horse.”
“We are getting another horse?” I ask.
“Yes, Taylor!” Says my mom in an annoyed tone. “If we get a mare and foal, the foal is yours.”
I can’t believe it! I might get a foal! I kept my mouth shut though. Then I remember, fifteen mares were abused. Fifteen! The thought of hurting an animal made my eyes tear up. I would never hurt an animal! I would give these horses a good home!
“Get out girls,” says Mom sternly.
Hallee and I pop out of the car. In front of us is a muddy pasture. The once blue sky was replaced with gray clouds. In the pasture is a large group of muddy, half-starved horses. Some have a spiderweb of scars over their backs and flanks.
“Hello!” Calls a man on the other side of the field. He runs toward us. “Are you here to adopt a horse?” he asks.
My mother nods.
“Follow me,” he says.
We follow him out into the pasture.
“I’m Steve,” says the guy, “Would you like a mare or mare and foal?”
“Mare and foal,” says mom.
Steve leads us over to a gray mare and bay foal.
“This is Distorted Shadow and her foal, well, her foal doesn’t have a name. Would you like them?”
“Can we get to know the horses a bit first?” Asks Mom.
Steve nods. I walk up to the gray mare.
“Hey Shadow,” I say to her. I hold out my hand. A peppermint sits in my palm. Shadow sniffs the peppermint and slurps it into her mouth. I stroke her neck. At first she jumps in fear, but then she calms down and closes her eyes.
“Mom!” I call, “This is the one!”
My mother gives me a small smile, and she and Steve help me lead the mare and foal into the trailer, that is still hooked onto the truck after Mom brought Linus back to his owners.
Mom tells Hallee and me to get into the car. We both whisper about the foal and the mare.
When we get back home, the sky has darkened.
“Come on girls!” calls Mom, “Let’s get these horses in the barn!”
Shadow is being very well-behaved, so Mom let me lead her. The foal was being less... well-behaved. Mom had a hard time bringing him to the large stall.
Shadow and her foal are in the large stall. That stall is used for mares and their foals, so it is extra large.
“Okay,” I begin, “We need to find a name for the foal.”
“Yeah,” Hallee agrees, “He’s a colt and has quite an attitude.”
We both laugh. The sky is lit for a second before a roll of thunder shakes the house. Rain strikes the ground.
“Wow,” I say, “That is quite a storm.” Hallee nods in agreement.
“How about Cowboy?” Hallee asks.
“That sounds cool! But what about Aero?” I reply.
“Oh I love Aero!” cries Hallee.
“So the colt is now, Aero?” I ask.
“Yes,” Hallee replies.
In the morning, a mist fills the air. The sky is shrouded with clouds. Hallee and I walk out to the stable. Riot and Button peek out of their stalls.
“Hey boy!” I say as I stroke Riot's black face. I walk into the feed room and prepare his grain. Then I walk out and slip into his dimly lit stall. I give him his grain and pat his neck before exiting.
Mom has written the amount of grain for Shadow, so I can feed her. When I enter Shadow and Aero’s stall, Shadow rears up in surprise.
“Woah!” I say.
Shadow calms down when she smells the grain. I give her the grain and stroke her back. I also pat Aero. He gives me the evil eye but doesn’t kick.
“Bye!” I say softly.
When Riot and Button are done eating, we put them in the first pasture. Mom takes Shadow and Aero to the second pasture.
Afterward, Hallee and I muck out the three stalls. And after that, Mom calls us in for breakfast. We walk slowly inside.
On the kitchen table, there are two plates of scrambled eggs and sausage. Hallee and I walk back out to the second pasture to watch Shadow and Aero. Aero is galloping around the field, while his dam is grazing quietly.
In a few weeks, Aero is weaned and halter broke, and Shadow is fit enough to be ridden. I climb onto her back and kick her into a trot. Her trot is smooth and easy to sit to. Her gray mane blows in the wind. I urge her to a canter. She transitions perfectly and continues to canter. Her legs fly out striking the ground with balance and grace.
“Girl, I hope Aero is as amazing as you.” Continued in Comments section