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Cherry Bay Indy
My name is Indy, and I was born wild, into the Western Herd in the mountains of Colorado. Embrey, my mother, was a gorgeous chestnut mustang mare. She had a long, thick, blaze, and an overo pattern. I remember when I was born, her deep, brown eyes stared at me lovingly. Her whole aura reflected her being motherly. I miss her so much. You see, I was captured by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and freeze branded. I knew when I was freeze branded that I would most likely not return to my mother and my herd.
When I was born, there was a cool breeze blowing through the warm March air. The lush grass surrounding my mother and I felt like a warm carpet brushing against my sides, and stroking my new coat. Even though I had a fresh warm baby fuzz coat, I was still cold. My mother stood up with great effort, and turned her attention towards me. She brought her nose down and blew into mine. It was a symbol that said, ‘You’re safe, don’t worry little one, I love you.’ My mother and I stayed around the area I was born for a few days before she led us back to the herd. In that time, I learned what the world was. I saw other animals, like squirrels and birds, and even tripped in a stream. My mother provided me with nutritious milk when I was hungry and her own body heat when I was cold. When we finally returned to the herd, I was a big deal. My father, a strong dun mustang, approached me. My mother intercepted him, but eventually let him through. He protected me with his life. He tried on the day my story really starts.
On a warm August day the next year, the Western Hills herd was galloping to a new grazing grounds, our stallion spotted trouble. I was just a yearling, so I didn’t know what it was, so I went up next to him. Even though I was bigger, I was still a baby. My father pinned his ears and pushed me back towards the herd. Being the stubborn colt that I was, I followed him. It was quite a sight, I’m sure. Like a toddler being dragged away from the candy store, already happy on a sugar high. My Father’s fierce expression was enough to finally ward me off. His eyes shone with leadership, but also with fear. Just then, a horse galloped around a rise in the mountain. At first I was excited, and went to greet him, but then I realized that there was as rider atop the horse. I turned in fear, as did the rest of my herd.
My mother urged me to go with her, but I stubbornly went through the forest. I thought that if I could get lost in the woods, so would the rider. I was as wrong as a goose kissing a moose. As I ran into the woods, I didn't even think about stopping. My legs went on without me even guiding them. It was as if they guided themselves on some unseen force.
I ran and ran, hoping that my mother would find me. I kept hearing rustling and thinking it was her or my father, but it never was. A few times I thought I heard a human, but brushed it off because there was no reason a human would be in the woods. One day as I wandered endlessly, I spotted a horses' tail through the trees. I followed it, hoping that by some miraculous event, it would be a horse from my herd. As I came around the tree however, I met a horse that I had never seen before. He had a thick head with a Roman Nose, and a short mane and cropped tail. It was obvious that he was a human horse. I turned to run, but before I could, a rope slipped around my neck. Then I realized that a human was slipping off of the horses' back. It was the same man I had seen earlier! His strongly angled face, almost square; sandy blonde mustache and blue gray eyes that looked as though he had gone many sleepless nights. Even as a yearling that didn't know humans very well, I could tell that this one needed more love.
I flailed, and tried to run, but the human tied the rope to his strange seat on his horses’ back. His horse gave me an apologetic look, and started trotting through the woods. I, obviously, was forced to follow.
“Where are we going?” I asked him.
“Don’t worry, once you get used to it, you’ll like it,” the human horse replied.
“But you haven’t even told me where we’re going!” I protested.
“I haven’t? Oh my, excuse my manners! I’m Sgt. Toby, and you’re headed to the auction barn.”
I thought about this for a moment as we trotted. What was the auction barn? I knew the word barn had floated along the herd before, but what was this word "auction"? It was foreign to me.
“What’s an auction barn?” I asked, testing out the word.
“You don’t know? Wow, I didn’t realize how little you mustangs actually hear. The auction barn is where you are sold to a human, assuming they want you.”
“I can’t be sold!” I shrieked, rearing.
“Calm down, you stupid animal!” The human said, striking my flank with his crop. The world of humans was becoming even worse than I had originally thought. But maybe if I went to the auction barn without any more outbursts, I would get released. But, what if a human wanted me? What if a human didn’t want me?
“You said that some horses weren’t taken by humans,” I said to Toby, “what happens then?”
“Well, then you either get turned back out, or you get sold to slaughter. If you misbehave while being shown, you’ll get the latter.”
When we got to the auction barn, I realized just how horrible my luck was. There were many mustangs there, some that I recognized.
The human led me inside and handed me off to another human.
The next human I was set with put me into a pen by myself, but next to other horses. I wondered what herds they where from, and why they were here. Did they come the same way I did - by brute force and capture? Or did they know that their herd was being rounded and not even try to escape? I knew I wasn't a part of the latter group.
There were many pens inside the auction house. The whole place smelled like sweaty horse flesh and fear. The tension in the air was so thick that you could taste it. Some horses conversed with each other in our own horse way, and some just cowered in fear in the back of their pen. The stall rails were red and rusty, and each creaked if you even barely touched it. The whole building was made of wood boards; all coated somewhat in a peeling red paint. Each horse had hay, but many horses were too afraid to eat. Either that, or they didn't know what the dried grass was. I sure didn't. There was one horse that intrigued me, however. He was a short palomino mustang, horking down his hay. It didn't really occur to me that a wild mustang eating hay with no problem was out of the ordinary. But then I realized that mustangs don't understand what hay is and therefore don't eat it.
"Excuse me," I said, "but why are you eating that dry stuff?" The palomino didn't even look up. He just continued eating. I kicked the rail to get his attention.
"Wha?" He said through a full mouth.
"Why are you eating that dry stuff?" I said again.
He looked down and back up. "I always forget that I'm the only veteran here," he whispered to himself. "Look around kid, what do you see?" He said. I began to speak, but he answered his own question before I could even form a thought.
"You see a bunch of scared horses, not wanting to be taken by the humans. Well guess what? It's the opposite for me. I see the confused look on your face," he rambled, "I'm one of those horses that no one wants. First time being caught I was terrified, just like you. I went into the show ring and nobody bid on me. Not even the meat man. I was lucky that he was asleep, otherwise he would've snatched me up, a porker like me. Listen, I don't go looking to be caught, definitely not. But when I do I relax. Every time I've been set back out. The auction guys have even named me! I'm officially Freedom Flyer for all the times I've been set free from this place. So kid, I'd just say relax. And that's why I'm eating this stuff. Not too bad either, just dried grass. Now, you can go back to your worrying, or relax." After the palomino finished, he went back to eating. I however was not about to relax. It was my first time here, and my mother had always said I was beautiful. I was very worried that a human might take me.
A warm wind blew through the hot July day.
"Momma," asked a little cherry bay colt named Little Turtle. "Am I pretty?"
She smiled and nuzzled his neck. "Just as beautiful as your father. Maybe even more handsome!" The little colt, delighted by this news, ran and bucked and kicked. Soon after, exhausted by his little bronco experience, he came walking back to his mother, hungry. After he had had his fill, he flopped down in the long, lush grass and slept deeply.
A human came for me, much faster than I had anticipated. He put a halter on my head and a lead on my halter. Together, we walked out into the show pen.
"Don't worry," said the palomino, "You'll be fine. Won't be sold to the meat man at least, too pretty." We lined up outside a small door, just big enough for horse and human to fit. I heard a loud noise that went quickly, occasionally pausing, and began quickly again. Between some of those pauses, I could hear more humans shouting; shouting against each other. Finally, the loud noise seemed to satisfy them, because the human noise stopped altogether. Then, the loud noise began again, and my handler walked me into the arena. Shocked by the bright lights and amount of people, I reared. It wasn't just a small rear, it was as full out, almost-flip rear. The loud noise began, and the whole crowd laughed. Then I figured out where the loud noise was coming from - a man in a large cowboy hat with a big mustache to match, sat in a wooden box with a microphone. This was an auction.
The mustache man began and just about every one of the humans stood up with white things that they held up on sticks. The mustache man would point to a human and they would smile, but someone else would be pointed at, and the previous human would shoot their white thing up again. There were two humans in the crowd relaxing. One, who I assumed to be the meat man, was asleep with a blue can by his side. The other was a woman, who sat by looking into my eyes. I kept looking at her, for there is no reason that a horse would look away from someone who is looking at you. Finally, as the mustache man was finishing, she stood up and shot her white thing in the air. The mustache man was a little surprised, but made her an offer, she drove it higher, and the other bidders couldn't go to a price that high. She had won me.
As I was taken out of the ring, the palomino whinnied his congrats and uncooperatively walked into the arena. (Because no one wants an uncooperative horse.)
He walked into the arena, calm, but unsatisfied. His handler had to pull and prod him to get him to move. Once again, no one bid. His palomino coat was dirty, and he was much too fat. He obviously disliked people, and needed a lot of work just to move one hoof. No one would possibly want a horse like that unless they were very committed. Unless of course, they were a seller of slaughter.
The palomino walked out of the arena, wide-eyed. The man who was asleep during my auction walked, or rather stumbled, into the holding pen for sold horses. He smelled of fermented grain, and spoke strangely.
"I finally nailed me a fat one," he said in his strange speech. "Been tryin' to nail you for years, Freedom Flyer." He said the palomino's human given name with such sarcasm and disgust, that everyone shuddered.
"All you are now is a can of dog food, or a bottle 'a glue. Maybe even Jell-o, or on a plate in some foreign country." The palomino's eyes shone with fear. He looked at me pleadingly, hoping that in some way I would be able to save him. I stared back, thinking of how lucky I was. The meat man walked off with his new prize.
My handler put me in a pen as I watched the palomino go.
"I want you to know," he called as he was pulled away by a rope, "my real name is Cloud!" I locked that into my memory, telling all horses of the great Cloud, the survivor.
A few minutes later, my new human came for me. She gently opened my pen, and stroked my trembling sides. I was still terrified of her, even though she was very kind and loving. I thought of my mother, and how she was the same way.
"You're safe." She whispered into my ear. Those two words, for whatever reason, comforted me completely. All of my anxiety and trouble was gone. even when she clipped on my halter and lead, I was ready for my new home.
As we walked out towards her trailer, I saw Cloud standing on the meat man's trailer. He looked towards me, and I whinnied sympathetically. He lowered his head and gave a weak response. Just then, a woman ran up to the meat man. She handed him a slip of paper, and his eyes got wide. They started arguing, and all of a sudden, the man was getting Cloud off of the trailer! Both Cloud and I were confused, but the woman looked satisfied as she walked away, Cloud's lead in tow. I whinnied to him excitedly and he answered with a hearty and happy bellow. Cloud's legacy would live on. Turns out, so would mine. I would always be Little Turtle, son of Embrey and Brave Dawn, but I had as new name; Indy.
A cherry bay mustang soared over jumps in a large show arena. His breaded mane gleamed and twisted as he and his rider flew over jump after jump. Both horse and rider were content and enjoying themselves. The arena was one of many in this stallion's history, and all much better than his first.