Tag Archives: horses

If the Shoe Fits

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He held the lead rope in his hand and asked, “You want me to guide you around the yard for a little while you get used to her?” Casey sat atop the chestnut mare and looked down on him incredulously. Her familiarity might be somewhat limited, but she certainly didn’t need his help finding her way around a saddle.

“I think I can handle it,” she sarcastically replied. Maybe he was just trying to be nice to his guest, but she wasn’t 12 years old for Pete’s sake. The quickness with which she snatched the reins surely clued him in on her exasperation. He shrugged his shoulders, one raised eyebrow hinting his surprised reaction to her haughty remark.

The equestrian art might be arcane to some, she thought, but she knew the basics. Casey didn’t need help mounting to ride, even with the animal at 14 hands’ height, and she wouldn’t ask for it even if she did. Pride got in the way of appreciation for being invited on the ride.

She’d driven in from the city for the day but had grown up around livestock and knew what to do and not do around large animals. Maybe a total newbie wouldn’t see a difference between a halter and a bridle or know a cinch strap from a bit. Casey didn’t claim to be a caballera, but she knew that much.

A horse warns of its anger by pressing its ears back. Only an idiot would walk behind one and its potentially lethal back legs. Some common sense measures like that stood out in her mind. Perhaps the man insinuated nothing with his remark, but she took offense to it anyway. He had no idea how much she knew, but she still got perturbed at him assuming her ignorant.

“So, then why am I getting so defensive?” she asked herself. Her host walked away across the paddock, dust from his boots rising up behind him, a brown cloud in his wake. Maybe he wanted to kick that chip off her shoulder with his scuffed Tony Lamas, manure encrusted in the heels.

Lost in her own inner monologue, Casey jumped when a dog’s yip brought her suddenly back to the present. She shook away the daydream and spied a terrier mix prancing around in circles on the ground below.

The dog’s short spotted legs propelled it upward to nip at her feet, surprisingly high considering the location of the stirrups. Casey drew up her toes, with their brightly-polished magenta nails detailed in tiny white daisies at her recent pedicure. Looking down to ponder her flip flops, she muttered, “Huh, no wonder.”

**

Studio30+ writing prompt – arcane

Studio30Meet a younger Casey in The Fence Post and find out why she started getting sassy.

Image: Paw Nation

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Roughage

They let him take his truck along on days when everyone went out on the grounds. It was otherwise considered dangerous to allow the man the length of metal chain, much like a dog’s lease, so he pulled the toy along behind him. He was likely in his 50s, only his official chart knew for sure, but had the capacity of a child.

On recreation days he and his fellow patients were supervised by attendants in an area with swing sets and teeter totters. They might as well be children. The men were corralled within the surrounding fences while an Aid sat atop a picnic table watching their random activity.  Little to nothing kept him occupied, so toting the black plastic S*W*A*T truck across the grass and sticks was a pleasant enough distraction from his ostensibly miserable existence.

The group varied from those with stunted brain function that kept them in a state of adolescence to the ones who were probably “all there” but deemed criminally insane but safe enough to keep them out of the penitentiary. Better to be incarcerated here than with the thugs up at the big house. And they were better off than the waterheads trapped in infancy at the hospital, where anything from a car wreck head injury to a birth-defect or encephalitis kept them suspended in a bed-ridden purgatory of medical compromise. An afternoon out meant they were at least breathing fresh air instead of the stale recirculated oxygen inside the walls painted institutional yellow at 800 North Lincoln Street. The entrance’s wooden sign read “State School and Hospital” and employed the largest percentage of the small town’s population. It kept the citizens with a steady paycheck and its occupants out of the rest of society’s concern.

Jarle Naustvik - Flikr

Jarle Naustvik – Flikr

Some families didn’t want to think about loved ones whose care became too much for them or whose condition was so helpless they had no other choice but to commit them there. It was easier to forget about whether their son or brother got to go outside for an hour or two every few weeks to commune with the outdoors.

A house next door had a dirt patch to its east with a handful of horses the guys could watch wander around within its own confines. Their attendant said they could feed them grass through the woven-wire fence as long as they kept their hands on their own side. Funny how no one ever asked the people who lived there if it was okay. Those were the days before lawsuits were so common.

The S*W*A*T truck rattled along behind the man, his squat little body bent over in its trek. His hair hadn’t been washed for days, but no one cared — even him. Hygiene was the least of his concerns, because a simple joy came from yanking the silly truck all the way over to those horses AND getting to touch and feed them. It was an exciting thing to do when there’s little else.

Out of his peripheral vision, he spotted a lady in the yard next door who was eyeing his progress along the fence line. The scowl on her face intimated she wasn’t happy with his presence, although her mood made no difference to him. “Hey there, Big Mama,” he called. “I am Womp! What yo name?” Hands on her hips, she scoffed and didn’t answer him. Her disgust apparent, the woman darted back into her house. She obviously didn’t find it acceptable for those boys reach over into the back lot. No matter. The joy gained from the equestrian feeding frenzy was all that concerned them. The greener, the better.

A tall spotted horse with ruined red eyes smelled his way to their offering, its head moving back and forth till it reached the prize, but a rounder one on short legs saw the juicy treat being presented. Neither animal minded the source a bit. The “crazies” came to feed them every once in awhile, which suited them just fine.

The woman had meanwhile informed her husband they were back. He was his usual surly self and immediately began dialing the phone. Upon an answer and connection to the administrative building, the man demanded, “You need to send a supervisor out to the south lawn! Your damn nuts are over here bothering my livestock again.” He paused, tapping his boot on the floor in impatient exasperation.

“I don’t care,” he continued. “They might have just as much right to be out there as the next person, but I’ve got kids over here who don’t need to see their bullshit.” More silence ensued, and crimson flamed in the man’s face and showed how he felt about the answers he was getting on the other end of the line. His voice rose in indignation. “Next thing you know, another one of those nuts will be naked on a park bench again!” The attendant’s watchfulness made no difference to him, as this was a repetitious conversation and he felt the workers did anything but pay attention to their charges. He threatened, “If it happens again, I’m taking it to the top! You tell that woman in charge that I’m either calling Jeff City or crossing the fence to take care of it myself.” A sharp ring resounded from the wall phone when he slammed the receiver back onto it.

Outside, two horses’ jaws gleefully masticated all that was given. The barely 20-something Aid sat studying a textbook in the center of a makeshift playground, glancing up from reading every now and then to survey the group for which he was responsible. They continued to pull weeds and shove them between the wires to pile up in front of eight hooves across the divide, however invisible to them.

Down an adjacent hill, a short man with dark, greasy hair moved slowly out of earshot. He was oblivious to where he was expected to be, the black square toy bumping blissfully along on wheels to his rear. The plastic truck’s lettering grew smaller as its owner faded into the distance.

*The writing prompt I am was from Studio 30 Plus.s30p

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The Fence Post

She wasn’t very good at the task she was given. Then again, no nine-year old would be … at least not one who weighed 60 pounds soaking wet and was used to her regular t.v. lineup every day after school instead of hanging out by a broken down barbed-wire fence. The job at hand was one usually meant for a ranch hand, a blue heeler, or some other fool willing to stand flailing her arms around in hopes of not being stampeded.

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Kelly Piet via Flickr

Casey’s imagination ran wild wondering how much that mare weighed and what her own body would look like once it was stomped down to a bloody pulp on the dried-out grass beneath her dirty bare feet. In her mind’s eye, she could see horseshoe-shaped indentations in her flattened skull as they hauled her off to the morgue.

A big dapple-assed horse just missed its targeted gate and went to the field’s other end, giving her a short reprieve. She was catapulted to the past when, at another time in an also seemingly empty pasture, she found herself facing a similarly formidable opponent. Casey remembered walking back to where her family waited at the car when her dad hollered at her to turn around and look behind her.

They all considered it quite funny when she did an about-face and found herself almost eye-to-eye with a giant spotted pig … two times her size and bigger than any creature she’d been near in her short life. It grunted at her, and she screamed bloody murder.  Casey stumbled over divots left in the once rain-soaked ground that had dried into ankle-breakers and sprinted toward the others. Her dad laughed and remarked he’d never seen her feet move so fast. They all yucked it up while she almost wet herself.

Her memory was full of such beasts, like the slaughtered hog once hung by its hind feet from a tree down by their pond. It was shot, gutted, and cleaned for the sake of its meat and swung there as if a sacrifice suspended from a monolith. Blood dripped from its descendant snout, a streaming red remnant of its then absent life.

One of her parents remarked how the damn porkchops tasted good, so the kids should hush up about how they ended up on their plates. “Turn your head if you don’t like it,” they’d said. “You won’t complain when your stomach’s full.”

Such were the bugbears of her disturbed slumber. It baffled her mother why she was so haunted by these trifling bugaboos, but they were very real to Casey. Dreamlife or not.

The mare’s whinny brought her back to the present and offered Casey a fleeting frisson as the animal’s gait reversed in her direction. She shook herself into action, jumping up and down in place and yelling, “Heyah, yah!” at the behemoth. Terror was momentarily overridden by the necessity of action.

It hurt her feelings more than anything that her dad didn’t realize how much acting as a tiny human stop-and-go light scared her. She wasn’t meant for this type of duty, and he should consider her safety more important than some inanimate object. Or a horse.

Besides … Gilligan’s Island had already started at 4 o’clock, and the theme music was well past by then. She was sure to miss Laverne and Shirley up next, too. Pondering the on-screen lineup helped her at least mentally escape the present dire straits.

Casey tried to make herself as large and daunting as possible, a veritable giant, in volume if not stature. Her heart could make her voice become as big as necessary to keep from being trampled, and her dad and this horse would learn just how much larger than life she could be.

Studio30This post generated from the writing prompt “hurt” at Studio 30 Plus

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