A short story dedicated to the American Saddlebred Museum, located in Lexington, Kentucky. In honor of Mrs. Helen K. Crabtree & RuthAnne Lewis (The Last Crabtree Girl).
My eyes squinted as I took my first step out of the barn. I was led into the sunlight by the farmer holding a lead rope clipped to a halter firmly attached to my head. The sun washed over my body, and the cool spring air danced through my coat. A bird flew from a bush, and a large shadow followed. As the farmer tugged and pulled harder on the lead rope, I raised my head higher and higher while my eyes widened because everything was scary.
Where does he want me to go?
A cat jumped from the hay truck and then the dark, mysterious shapes on the ground grew larger and started to move with every step we took. I raised my head with my long arching neck and snorted! The noise bellowed around me, sending chills down my spine. The long-necked creature was too close! Not knowing what to do, I planted all four hooves firmly to the ground. I didn’t know life was so frightening, so absolutely terrifying!
The gruff voice of the farmer fell around me as he bellowed, “You are a chicken.”
I am not a bird! I’m a horse! Doesn’t this human know?!
He yanked on the rope and started to howl, “You are worthless, and you can’t do anything! There is no use of a horse with such a long neck and legs that bounces and parades around.”
He led me into this small box he called a trailer, and I have never seen anything scarier. I snorted and pranced, almost hitting my head on the roof.
Maybe he’s right, I am no use to anyone. So where am I going? What if I don’t have talent to do anything and no one will love me?
The trailer came to a stop, the loud engine puttering to silence. I heard footsteps followed by voices. The smells were different, but I couldn’t see outside because my head was too high. Even my ears were flattened by the top of this box. Someone opened the trailer door behind me, and I shook. Then I heard the familiar voice with a growling roar say words I didn’t understand as I was pulled out of the trailer.
What did I do wrong?
The farmer handed my lead rope to a young lady and then didn’t say goodbye. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to follow him, but the trailer made such a clatter as it bounced farther away. As it bumped and rattled down the road, I started prancing, kicking my knees up high and arching my neck, and swinging my head in a pleading wave. Please don’t leave me.
A soft voice said, “It’s all right. You are safe with me.” I felt her hand on my shoulder as she whispered some more. I took a deep breath, and she started to rub my neck. She walked in front of me and rubbed my face with her gentle hands while whispering, “It’s okay. You can trust me.”
I looked to my left. I looked to the right. Everything gave me a fright, but I didn’t jump nor did I snort. Maybe it’s something she said? Maybe it was how she made me feel, which was nothing I’d ever felt before that I could remember.
She put me in a place she called a stall that smelled of fresh pine and something else.
What is that I smell?
She led me to a bin that held something she called oats and the hay nearby was fresh, and it was all for me to eat. She picked up a thing called a brush and ran it over my body. It felt wonderful and made my coat shine. She picked my feet up, which was kind of strange. But she used a tool that helped her remove the stones that had been making my feet hurt, and all the while, her voice continued her sweet tone.
The next day I was introduced to the whole farm. There were horses of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Some of them had humans on their backs, and some pulled buggies. This is crazy. I know I can’t do that. Some flew like birds over things called jumps. Oh, I know I couldn’t do that. While others walked over wooden bridges and opened some gates. I surely couldn’t do that!
I learned to stand by a wall, which was an easy task because she made me feel at ease and I wanted to please her. Then one day it wasn’t her who came to brush me.
What in the world? A soft dinosaur!
I raised my head and took a sniff, then planted my feet firmly to the ground. Then I heard the voice of the young lady, the one who I’d named Crystal. I chose that name because it means a pure hearted person, plus when she shines my coat, it sparkles and glistens. The dinosaur spoke with a whisper that sounded much like my Crystal. It took Crystal’s brushes and brushed my coat. This flappy dinosaur seemed all right. It had a voice of an angel, like Crystal’s, so it didn’t give me a fright.
The terrifying boogie men all seemed to settle down in my head as Crystal introduced me to every one of the dreadful things. It was terrifying at the start, but with her trusting hand and kind voice, I learned to trust instead of snort, prance, and jump. Before I knew it, I was under saddle, then pulling a cart. You will not believe this, but all the things I’d thought I couldn’t do, I could do! Now I hold my head up proud while I trot, walk, and canter. I learned I can jump. I can open a gate and walk over a loud wooden bridge. I can go on a trail and help a person rope a cow! It took one step at a time and to learn to trust, and now I know I can be loved. Now, I am living proof that an American Saddlebred horse can do anything!
While I hold my head up high, I say, “I’m the horse America made.”
A question for readers: If you have a horse, what do you think he/she has named you?