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A Whisper in the Wind
I ran wild, free, happily across the wide open fields, cantering through streams, jumping rocks and occasional fallen trees, galloping along abandoned beaches. I was a loner, I didn't have a home, nor a herd. I always preferred, though I was welcome to stay with almost every individual herd, I was pretty popular with all of them. I was often called Whisper, but that was then.
I'm now in a circular, enclosed area, packed tight with strange horses moving all around me. They were all frightened, although I shouldn't be talking. I was pretty frightened myself. Creatures walking on two legs swarmed around us, staring with their tiny eyes. Occasionally a smaller one tried to touch one of us, it was probably their young, but got taken away by a bigger one.
In all the years I've spent in the wild, I learned not to show weakness or fear, so I stood my ground as coats of all colors brushed mine, and I had a flashback of how I got here:
I was cantering up a hill. When I got to the top, I paused briefly to admire the view. As I stood there, I heard the faint sound of galloping hooves. I turned around, and in the distance I saw a herd of horses, galloping across the field. I watched curiously, and as they got closer, I realized they all looked scared. The whites of their eyes were showing, their nostrils flaring, every tail was streaming behind them.
At first I stood there in shock, unsure of what to do. As they reached the top of the hill, I had come to my senses and wheeled around, galloping full on in the opposite direction. By then they had caught up to me. As we reached the other side of the hill, other horses started to surround us, except these weren't normal horses. Each one had a set of solid looking ropes on their faces and backs. On the back ropes sat the creatures that walked on two legs.
They were obviously planning on taking us somewhere. They herded us over the hills, across the streams, and through the forests that I knew so well. We traveled for days. A few of us would try to break away, but only to be forced back to the others. Eventually we came to an area I didn't know, with wooden huts and dirt paths.
The sound of a creaking gate brought me back to the present. Finally, we had been here for days, and now we were being set free. I took off through the gate, but only to be jerked back by a rope attached to the mask they put on my face. I looked around, trying to figure out what was standing in the way of my freedom. My eyes fell on one of the two-leg-walking creatures (I earlier found out they were called humans). It was tall, with a short, dark brown mane. It had grey eyes. Somehow, if almost looked sorry for me.
It tugged on the rope gently, trying to get me to follow. I reared back on my hind legs, trying to break the humans grip on the rope, bit it was no use. Plus, there was something about this human that made me trust it. Maybe it was the sympathetic glances it kept giving me. I ended up following the human. I was so tired, I couldn't put up a fight.
The human led me to a big, white box that could fit about two horses. It had a flat hill leading into it. Something about it made me nervous. I started to back away, and I could feel my eyes widening at the sight of the box. The human slowly walked towards me, stretching out an upper leg. I strained my neck forward, curious, but cautious. I sniffed it and snorted, tossing my head. It laid a firm. . . Hoof? on my shoulder. Then it started to lead me towards the box again. I followed reluctantly. When I reached the flat hill, I raised my front leg slowly, and gently put it on the hill, testing it. Then, one after the other, I lifted the others until I was inside of the box.
I looked around. It was hard not to panic, everything was grey. The only sky I could see was a little sliver from an opening in the side of the box. I stomped my hoof as the human tied me up. He then patted me and walked out of the box, closing it loudly behind him, making me jump. I whinnied loudly as the box lurched into motion. Out of the opening, I could barely see the human. He watched after me longingly, then hopped into his own box and sped after me. I hadn't slept for days, and something about the smooth, swaying rhythm the box made while moving make my eyelids droop.
(. . .)
I awoke to the box swaying to a stop. I heard the creak of the hill lowering. I stomped my hoof, I couldn't see anything that was going on behind me. The human walked in, untied me, then backed me out of the box. I was so happy to be able to see the whole sky again. I tugged at the rope and stared longingly at a patch of lush green grass growing nearby. The human patted me and let em grab a few mouthfuls before he lead me away.
He took me to a large hut. It had a big opening in front, as well as one in the back. Inside had smaller spaces built to fit one horse. Each one had a wall coming halfway up the space to get inside, and it swung back and forth, either letting something in and out or keeping it inside. In our case, it's letting horses in and out, or keeping them inside.
The human tried to lead me inside one. Like the big white box, it made me nervous. It was a closed space with no sky at all. What could you expect? The human tugged on the rope, and I followed reluctantly. It took my face mask off and patted me, then walked out, swinging the wall in so I couldn't get out.
I looked around and saw a net of dull yellow grass. I ambled over grabbed a mouthful. It was absolutely delicious. As I munched on it, I watched everything that was happening around me. The humans led all kinds of different horses to and from the big hut. Some were carrying the solid rope, some horses already had it on. Once I was finished, I decided to get some rest. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
(. . .)
I smelled it before I heard or saw it. A bitter, choking, burning smell. I awoke abruptly, knowing something wasn't right. My lungs filled with the acrid air. The humans were shouting to each other, the horses whinnying, frightened. But I also heard loud crackling and popping. I saw a bright orange glow, like the setting sun, but I couldn't see where it was coming from.
A human came in and threw a face mask on me, then tried to drag me out. But the thing was, I couldn't move. Everything that happened to me in the past few days started to pile up. Being taken from my home, everything I've known. Being forced to travel with strange horses, then packed into a tight space with them. The experience with the big white box, and now this.
The human shouted into the aisle, and there it was. My trusted human, the one who has been with me practically since I got here. He grabbed my face mask and looked into my eyes, and I knew then that I had to follow him. He walked quickly, and I followed close behind. Finally we were out in the open air. Every horse made it out safe, same with every human. But in this time I realized something. The human, my human, only sees me for who I really am. I'm just a whisper in the wind.
I canter around the ring, collected and steady. Mark was being careful not to tug on the reins and to sit lightly in the saddle, he knows I'm sensitive to that. He turns me towards the last jump, a simple cross around 3 feet high. As I reach it, I bunch up my muscles, and put my weight on my back legs. I push up off the ground, gracefully tucking my legs to my chest. I soar through the air, and just as I'm about to land, I stretch my front legs forward again, bracing for the impact. I touch the ground, with a soft thump, and bring my back legs under me as I land.
I canter on for a few strides, then Mark pulls me to a stop. He slides off and pats me. He untacks me, puts my halter on, then walks me around the ring for Cool Down, even though we both know there's no point. After about 15 minutes, he takes off my halter and opens the gait. I nuzzle him before galloping off into the night, ready to return early the next day.