The Wild Mare
by Lexi W.
Ezperenza galloped in a circle around Wilpen Herd, her long cream mane flowing back, her red roan coat shimmering in the sunlight after a long sleep. What was taking them so long to wake up? She snorted and tossed her head irritably. Just then, her best friend Artemis cantered up behind her. “Hello Artemis!” Ezperenza greeted her friend with a happy whinny.
“Hi Ezperenza! How are you doing this fine morning?” Artemis whinnied back. Ezperenza looked up at the sky. It was a very dark gray and looked like it was going to rain soon.
“I don’t really think this is a
fine morning.” Ezperenza snorted. “You’ve always been the optimist. You say
it’s a fine morning when it is about to rain!”
“Well at least I’m an optimist and not a pessimist.” Artemis squealed. Ezperenza looked at the ground and pawed slowly. “Well, sorry, I didn’t really think before I said that.” Artemis nickered. “Call it truce?”
“Ok.” Ezperenza happily agreed, her good mood restored.
At Memory Creek Ranch, Andrea Prescott was making stew and sourdough biscuits when she saw her brother, Chad, outside of their door. “Why Chad, what brings you here today?” Andi cried over the winds.
Chad answered, “I was wondering if I could steal Riley for a little bit. We found a herd of horses up in the hills, and I want him to help us catch them. I’ll give him one horse of his choosing.” Andi thought about this. Just then, Riley rode up.
“Howdy Chad, what brings you here?” Riley called cheerfully. Andi explained what Chad had said. “Well,” Riley pondered. “I guess we do need another horse. Think we can gentle one?’
“Yes.” Chad replied. “I have gotten most of my work horses from wild herds. Once they forget their herd, they get tamed.”
“Ok then.” Riley sighed. “I guess I’ll help you.” So they rode off to the hills.
Soon, the herd started to wake.
“Ezperenza! Where are you?”
Ezperenza heard her mother calling. “See you later!” She called cheerfully to Artemis then trotted off in the direction of her mother’s voice. “Hello Mother.” She greeted Ginger.
“Ezperenza! Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you everywhere! The stallion of the herd smells human. We need to leave now!” Ginger whinnied.
“Ok Mom. I’m ready.” Ezperenza answered warily, for she didn’t like humans. Just then, she heard hoofbeats. But none of the herd was moving! Ezperenza screamed in terror as she saw a bunch of humans with horses come over the rise. But it was too late. They herded the herd into a nearby corral and shut them in. “Mother!” Ezperenza cried. “Where are you!?”
Her mother waded her way toward her. “Shush sweetie, shush. Everything will be fine.” Her mother assured her but Ezperenza could see fear in Ginger’s eyes. Then, someone lassoed Ezperenza. Ezperenza screamed again in terror.
A voice called, “Chad? Can I have this one?”
“And a voice answered, “Boy, you sure got yourself a beauty. Yes, that one should do.”
Then they hauled Ezperenza out of the herd.
Riley trotted toward their ranch, thinking, “Well, I got myself a mighty fine horse. I wonder what Andi will think of her?”, when Andi came running out of the ranch house.
“Oh, what a beautiful mare!” Andi exclaimed happily as she ran towards Riley.
“Don’t get too close,” Riley laughed. “You might scare her.” The mare reared and squealed, her eyes showing anger, wariness, and that she was scared. “Poor girl.” Riley sighed. “But we need the horse. Let’s put her in the pen, shall we?”
“Oh please!” Andi cried excitedly. So they dragged the mare to the paddock. Andi observed her, and saw she was the most beautiful horse she had ever seen. The mare was a flaxen red roan with a hint of dappleing throughout her shiny coat that glistened in the sun. She tossed her mane and squealed again, unhappily. “Oh, how will I ever train you.” Andi breathed.
Ezperenza was angry and scared. These humans had just towed her away from everything she had ever known; her herd, her mother, her friends, everything! Now she saw another human running toward her. She reared up on her hind legs and squealed, “Don’t come any closer!” Then the people dragged her toward a wooden thing. Ezperenza had heard of these. They were paddocks, the most horrible thing in the world! They trapped horses in them and didn’t let them out! The people shoved her into the paddock and latched the gate.
Then, Ezperenza heard the horse that let the human ride on top of him speak. “Hello. I am Dakota. I’m very sorry that you got trapped here, but don’t worry. Riley and Andi are very nice.” Dakota snorted calmly.
Ezperenza watched him warily. “I don’t want to be here! I want to be with my mom, my friend, and the herd! How come they took me?”
“They took you because they needed another horse.” Dakota replied. “Don’t worry, once you get used to it, you will like it here.”
“I’m never going to like it here.” Ezperenza muttered before Dakota got taken away by Riley.
Andi walked with Riley to the barn, as he unsaddled Dakota. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we knew what she was saying?” Andi asked Riley.
Riley laughed. “No horses can talk, and none ever will. Let’s leave it at that.”
“What do you think we should name her?” Andi questioned.
“I don’t know!” Riley sighed, exasperated. “You pick a name.” So Andi walked out of the barn and watched the mare. Her face brightened as she had an idea. Andi ran back to the barn and yelled, “I know what would make her feel more at home! You could put Dakota in there with her!”
“To have Dakota get slaughtered?” Riley groaned. “Why my horse? Why not Shasta?”
“You know how Shasta doesn’t really like other horses.” Andi sighed. “Please Riley? Dakota can take care of himself. He’ll be fine.”
“Fine.” Riley winced. “But if he dies, it’s your problem.”
“WooHoo!” Andi cheered as she grabbed Dakota from Riley and walked out. She opened the gate carefully, as to make sure the mare didn’t get out. Then, the mare reared and cantered toward her. Andi screeched and dropped Dakota’s lead, scrambling out of the way and closing the gate. “That was a close one!” Andi gulped, but thankfully Dakota was in the pen. Then she came up with the perfect name. “Storm Cloud. I’ll call you Storm Cloud.” Andi smiled happily.
Ezperenza watched warily as the girl walked out of the barn with Dakota. Then, the girl opened the gate. Freedom! Ezperenza cantered toward the gate, but the girl screeched and dropped Dakota’s lead, closing the gate. Ezperenza squealed in protest. Why did everyone have to ruin her trips?
Then she heard the girl say, “Storm Cloud. I’ll call you Storm Cloud.” Storm Cloud? But she already had a name! She questioned Dakota. “Why did she just say she’d call me Storm Cloud?”
Dakota answered, “When people catch horses, they also name them different names. When I was a baby, my mom called me Cisco. Then, when Riley got me, he renamed me Dakota. I like my new name, and you’ll have to too.”
“But I want my name to stay Ezperenza!” Ezperanza stomped her hoof. “Storm Cloud is not my name.”
“I never said Storm cloud was your name.” Dakota calmly replied. “I just said that is what the humans will call you. They’re not going to call you Ezperenza.”
“Could you at least call me Ezperenza?” Ezperenza begged Dakota.
Dakota laughed. “No, I think you need to get used to being called Storm Cloud. Then again, they are probably just going to call you Storm. Storm Cloud is too long to say every time.” Ezperenza sighed unhappily as she trotted to the other end of the paddock, kicking the gate to see if it was loose. The girl, called Andi, Experenza learned, came up to the gate.
Ezperenza heard her say, “Hello Storm! How are you doing today?”
“Horrible.” Ezperenza muttered as Andi walked up to her. Ezperenza backed away, stopping a few feet away.
Dakota started talking, “Storm, you don’t have to be scared of her. She is here to help!” Ezperenza huffed but didn’t move as Andi got closer. Andi started slowly reaching out to Ezperenza, and Ezperenza flinched, but didn’t move. Andi slowly stroked her face.
She crooned, “Good girl! Good girl Storm.”
Ezperenza huffed again but stayed perfectly still, liking the petting a little. Over the days, she let Andi out her more, and they bonded slowly. Now, Ezperenza thought of herself as Storm.
The Wild Mare [Part Two.]
Andi walked up to the paddock, watching Storm. “Hello Storm, how are you doing today?” Andi called to the beautiful mare. She walked toward the mare, stopping as she backed up a few feet. Andi saw Dakota whicker at Storm, then Storm stopped backing up. Andi slowly reached toward Storm’s velvety nose, touching it sent a thrill of shock through her.
“Good girl! Good girl Storm.” Andi crooned stroking Storm’s face. Storm started to relax, and that was the beginning of their bonding. Over the days, they bonded to the point where Andi was going to try to ride her. One day, Andi came out of the barn, whistling to herself. This was going to be so fun! “Storm Cloud!” Andi called and Storm trotted up, whinnying happily.
Andi walked into the pasture and stroked her muzzle, throwing the saddle on at the same time. Storm stayed very still, having practiced this before. Andi slipped on the bridle carefully, and led Storm to the mounting block. “Stay girl.” Andi commanded Storm and she stood still. Andi carefully put a leg over her roan flank, sitting in the saddle trying not to be tense. Storm nickered happily.
“Yes!” Andi cheered, starting to walk Storm. They got through the first session quickly, and all of the sessions flying past after that. Then, one day, Andi decided to take a trip into the mountains. She was going to stay a day and come back home the very next day. This was going to be so fun!
Andi finally started to ride her! Storm was thrilled to see Andi coming out of the barn with a saddle. Andi threw the saddle on her back, and led her to the mounting block. She slowly put a leg over me, and I trembled with happiness. What better thing to start the day? Andi started to walk her, and after that the first lesson flew by. The next few weeks of practicing led them to be a great team. One day Andi got on her and turned her to the mountains. Storm was confused, but very excited. They trotted off to the mountains after Andi told Riley where they were going and how long it would take approximately.
“I can not wait to see where we’re going!” Storm whinnied in happiness. Her legs flew as she tried to get there as fast as possible, and Andi laughed. They were soon in the forests of the mountain, walking slowly from glade to glade, enjoying the green grass and fresh air. The pair now came to a stream, its water bubbling happily over smooth stones. Storm now heard something. She tensed, and her ears flew up, her nostrils quivering. She heard Andi say something, but all she could focus on right now was the rustling coming from over on the other side of the stream. Then, Storm felt Andi tense up on her back. Storm saw another… horse? She gasped. There was a human on top of the horse! A gruff voice said, “Don’t move a muscle.”
Andi gasped in terror as her hand flew to her heart. Why did this always have to happen to her? She surveyed the man as he pointed a gun at her. He was sunburned, and had a scraggly lock of hair on his head that looked like it hadn’t been cut in years. His face was a mess, with a scraggly beard hanging limply off his chin.
“Now come with me, little missy.” He growled, grabbing Storm’s reins. I had no objection, since the only thing I could do is get off and leave Storm, which I would never do. He marched us along for about 5 minutes until I saw a cabin in between some enormous trees. Andi was now fuming; what right did he have to just grab her horse and march off with her?
Her hand curled into a fist, then she reminded herself, “Do you really think you can beat 200 pounds of burly muscle? Really Andi? Just cool down and try to stay alive.”
“Get off.” The man commanded her with a glare. Andi immediately dropped to the ground. “Now, there is a shed in the back. Put your horse into it, and if you don’t come back in 5 minutes, I will shoot.” Andi gulped and grabbed Storm’s lead, bringing her to the shed. She tied Storm up loosely, then as quickly as possible took off the saddle hoping that would help for now.
“It won’t help for a quick getaway.” Andi grumbled to herself then heard the man cursing. She ran back to the front of the cabin.
“Where have you been missy?” The man glared at her from beady eyes.
“I just finished putting away my horse.” Andi explained gulping back down a snarky remark. “I came back within 5 minutes.”
The man grunted in reply then told her, “Come inside now.” Andi obeyed, but not before noticing that the man was limping. Andi went inside, and saw that the shack didn’t look much better than the man. There were empty whiskey flasks all over, the bed was dirty with the sheets hanging off the side, and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a century. Andi slumped on the floor, suddenly exhausted. The man tied a rope around her hands, then her ankles.
“Won’t take a chance with you runnin’ away missy.” The man chuckled and went to bed. He was snoring within a minute.
Andi was out cold before ten seconds, but her last thought was, “Oh, what will I do?”
Storm was infuriated. A man had just taken Andi away, and locked her up in here! That wasn’t very nice. Storm pawed before realizing something. When she pawed, her rope flapped like it was tied loosely! Storm pulled back, and it slid off easily. Free at last! She ran past the cabin, then stopped, looking inside. What would happen to Andi? Then she had a brilliant idea.
“I’ll just go home!” Storm thought. “Then I can warn Riley, and he can warn all the people at the Circle C Ranch.” Contented with this thought, she galloped away. They weren’t very far away from home, so it didn’t take her long to get there. Storm raced into the yard and skidded to a stop. There was Riley, feeding the horses and doing his late night chores. Storm whinnied at him, and he looked around in surprise. She saw his eyes widen, then he ran towards her, grabbing her reins. She heard him exclaim something, then he hopped on her. They galloped at breakneck speed to the Circle C Ranch, and almost ran over Chad. Riley bellowed something, and Chad’s eyes widened. He nodded and a minute later Chad, Riley, and a dozen other hands were lined up ready to go. They all ran off into the darkness, disappearing into the night.
Andi layed shivering on the floor. She had been awake for a long time, but hadn’t done anything. She tried to untie her ankle binds, and failed, but they were loose! Andi tried again, and again, until they finally came free. She ran outside with her hands still bound. Andi raced around the corner and… Storm was gone? Andi looked around in confusion. Her saddle was still there, but Storm had disappeared. She must have gotten free because Andi tied her absently, and forgot to tie it tightly. Storm was probably all the way in Mexico by now. Andi sighed, walking unhappily back in. It was soon morning, and the man woke up, yawning. Then he noticed her ankle bindings were gone.
“What happened?” He demanded angrily.
Andi simply said, “I stretched my legs.” Then refused to say anymore. This was going to be a long day.”
They were getting very close. It was morning now, and they were cantering towards the place where Andi was being held captive. Riley and Storm were in the lead, because Storm went straight to the cabin. Riley just sat on her back. Storm stopped, and pawed the ground. If they peered through the trees, they could just barely see a shack. Storm say Riley gesture, then Chad say something. The men went around to the back. Storm felt Riley get off, and he ran towards the cabin with gun in hand. Storm decided she’d better stay there.
Riley and Chad approached from the front, and Storm heard Riley yell something. A man threw open the door to the cabin. It was the same man who captured her and Andi! She heard the man yell something, then Riley and Chad yelled back. The man disappeared inside quicker than Riley could say anything, and came back out with a gun pointed at Andi. She heard Riley gasp, and Chad yell a few things at him, sounding very mad. She heard the man yell something back, and shook Andi. Then, Storm saw the other men Chad had brought sneak around and point their guns at the man. She heard Riley yell a warning, but the man didn’t listen. She saw one of Chad’s men point the gun, then heard a terrifying noise.
Storm reared in terror. The man screamed and dropped Andi, falling to the ground like a sack of potatoes and writhing there in agony. She saw Andi run, crying into Riley and Chad’s arms. Finally, everyone was safe.
The man stomped around the cabin angrily. “You're gonna make my breakfast now, and you're gonna make it fast.” He yelled at Andi. Obviously, he was in a very bad mood.
Andi was in a worse mood. “How am I supposed to make you breakfast when my hands are tied up?” Andi snapped back at him. The man growled and untied her hands. Andi grumpily stomped outside to get water, then came back in. When she came in though, she heard something. Hoofbeats? Andi dropped the water bucket.
“Why did you do that!!!???” The man roared. Andi flinched but said nothing. The hoofbeats were getting louder. Then the hoofbeats stopped.
Andi’s face went from curious to beaming in a second as she heard Riley’s voice call, “Andi? Are you in there!” Andi was about to reply when she felt the man slap his hand over her mouth. She kicked her feet, but it did no good. The man threw her aside and slammed the door open.
He yelled, “Why are you here? Git!” And bunched his fists.
Riley yelled back, “Give Andi over now!”
Chad bellowed, “If you don’t, you’ll have worse problems to worry about!!!” He pointed the gun angrily. Andi saw the man come back inside. He grabbed her roughly, then grabbed his gun.
He shoved the gun against her head and hissed, “If you try any funny business, you're dead.” Then he shoved the door back open, holding Andi tightly.
Riley gasped, and Chad screamed, “You let go of her! You will be dead before you can shoot her!”
The man yelled back, “Well fine! Over her dead body!” and shook Andi. Andi whimpered, scared. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw three men sneak around the corner of the cabin. They all had guns.
Riley warned, “If you don’t drop her, we’ll shoot.” But the man did nothing. One of Chad’s men aimed, and fired. Andi barely had time to register that if that man’s aim was an inch or two off, she’d be dead. The man roared in pain and let go of her, dropping like a rock. She saw blood pouring from his arm that was holding the gun. They had shot his gun arm! Andi, as soon as she saw this, ran to Riley and Chad, crying. She was safe at last.