I opened my eyes for the first time and exclaimed, “I’m a horse! Or a filly, really. I am black with white spots on my rear and have a pretty star on my head!” My mother kissed me and cleaned me up. I looked around to find myself under a blanket of clouds and low branches. I was cold and wanted to be nearer my mother. I tried to stand upon my skinny, fragile legs, but it was too hard. My mother encouraged me by nudging me to help me up. I got up! But uh oh … I’m slipping back down. My front legs stretched up front and my back legs behind, and it really hurt. It was like doing a giant split. I rolled over and tried again. By the time I took my first step, it was daybreak.
Ten days passed and my mother started walking away from me. Where was she going? I called after her. She nickered for me to follow close by. She called out into the forest and I heard an echo through the trees. She started to walk faster and then broke into a canter. “Come on!” she said. I galloped to catch up, still wondering where we were going but then I saw why we left. There were a bunch of other horses in the forest—big, dark-colored stallions, many mares with their colts and fillies, and then my mother and me.
All the other baby horses were bigger and older than I was. Who am I supposed to play with? My mother was just grazing nearby, she looked so tired. I laid down next to my mom, my eyes drooping. I could see all small things: the little butterflies, the dew on the grass, the other horses rolling in the muddy pond nearby.
I woke up after an hour, looking for my mother, who nudged me. We were walking again. But where? We walked, for what I thought were ages, but now I saw what the walking was for. Snow! Even in late spring there was preserved snow.
Overhead I heard a helicopter. The herd of horses looked up and then they started to run including my mother! I whinnied after her, but she didn’t reply. I galloped after her. The helicopter got closer and ran us around like some toy. Eventually, it got the herd to the bottom end of the mountain. All that time and effort walking up were wasted. A Judas horse ran toward a fenced gate and the stallions first followed, then the mares and the foals. My hooves were sore but I didn’t want to lose my mum. We got into the gates and people closed the gates behind us. We were trapped. Soon enough we were being separated by gender. Mares and their foals in one pen, and stallions in the others. It hurt to walk. A person in a cowboy hat came with a long rope and wrapped it around my neck.
My mother came over and protested against the person taking me away, but the person didn’t stop. He pulled me out of the pen and then shoved me into a small, metal, rectangular pen. My mother and I called for each other but she and I were still separated.
The man said to me calmly, “It’s okay. You’ll be with your mum soon. We just need to make sure you are fine to go.”
He picked up my feet and put these funny looking booties on me. Both my mum and I got turned back out.
One by one, more and more people started gathering in the stands in front of us. And one by one, our pack was being auctioned off. Soon enough, everyone in the herd was being trailered and driven away. My mother called after them and they cried back. We were the only ones left from our herd.
After the day was over the people were starting to leave. Three days later, they came back and my booties were off and I could walk normally again. A man who was talking way too fast was pointing at us. What was happening? I wondered. People raised a white sheet of paper that had big bold numbers on it. I was looking at the stands as people kept raising their numbers until finally one last person raised his number and no one else did. The man who was speaking, shouted into the microphone, “SOLD! To number 231!”
I looked to where he was pointing and a family of three was sitting there smiling. They had a daughter who looked about 12 years of age and was grinning ear to ear. I knew my mother and I were sold to the family. After the auction, a tall man led my mother out of the pen and I followed close by but was watching the man cautiously. Soon after, I saw the family of three standing by two trailers (one already full with other horses). They thanked the man and led my mum up the ramp into the trailer and tied her up. Then they put a soft rope around me and did the same thing.
I heard a truck engine start up and the trailer was shaking a bit. Then it lurched and I was frantically stepping around for a more secure footing. My mum was kicking her right front hoof against the trailer wall but stopped after a while, noticing that it was no use. I was feeling a little drowsy so I fell asleep during the ride to wherever we were going.