Word count 1009
My thanks to Sandy and Rob
They are here again, pursuing us with their angry shouts and charging mounts. How many times have they come after us? Though some have been taken away, I’ll do my best not to let it happen to me or those around me. This is my life, and I don’t want to leave it. Nowhere can be as good as this, it is my home, and I will fight those that want to take me with them! They will have more than they bargained for; I promise that with all that I am.
Already some are gone, taken from this land, separated from the rest of us as those on horseback guide them away with their loud, piercing whistles as they swing their ropes above their heads, issuing threats of a stinging slap of those rough, braided coils. Three of us try to break away, escape, and run for safety, for freedom, but we’re caught before we get very far and taken back to the others.
Now we are turning! No! No, not there! Ahead is the canyon, the one with no way out; if we go there, we’ll be trapped, and I vow to myself that I will fight; they will not break my spirit. I will remain wild, rebellious, and I shake my head as my long white mane floats around me like a majestic cloud, and I am defiant with nostrils flared and ears laid back. My screams are loud, louder than the humans with their ugly noises. But the gate is closed, and I am caught as I glare, issuing a challenge. They will learn!
They are dividing us, taking some away in small numbers. Where are they going? Soon a rope is thrown, and it circles my neck as it is pulled tight, and I back away, fighting the tether. Now another line flies above, and it, too, settles around me, jeopardizing my chance of escape. I lunge forward, then throw my head back and rear on my hind legs, pawing the air with sharp front hooves. The scream from deep in my throat shatters off the granite mountains as I am forced away from the others by men mounted on tame, broken horses on either side of me. Horses with broken spirits… that will never happen to me!
But those ropes will not stop my fight as I pull and sidestep to unseat the riders and make their horses stumble, hoping for the chance to run free again. But it doesn’t happen. And soon, I am forced into a railed pen, and the gate is quickly shut after I am taken through. The ropes are released, and I race alongside the wooden fence that holds me prisoner. I toss my head and charge the rail and watch the pathetic humans scatter. Any fingers that clutch the railing risk my gnashing teeth as I aim to bite whatever exposed skin I can find. And all the humans run from me, and I laugh at their cowardice.
It has been three days that I am held captive. I have not eaten, nor have I slept. The humans try to make me bend to their will. They want to strap the heavy leather to my back and ride me, make a tame, obedient horse out of me, but I will not let them do it. I will fight them. I will make them hate me, and maybe they will see their folly trying their best to tame me. But I will never be broken, and I will fight them until I no longer draw breath.
The rider landed on the fence. Was it the rails I heard cracking or his bones? That is the third human today that needed help to rise from the ground. But as I ran toward him with flattened ears and lips drawn back to bare my teeth, I saw the fear in his eyes as he vaulted over the rail to safety. For the rest of the day, they left me alone. Was I to contemplate my fate or ask for another chance and let them take my spirit? They could wait… and wait, because it wasn’t going to happen.
The wind shifted in the afternoon, blowing up from the south, bringing with it more human noise. Men were gathered down at the edge of the yard when a wagon passed. The girl from the house was driving, and there were two strangers with her. The wind carried the scent to me, a different and curious scent. It wasn’t a human from this ranch. He was new. It was wild and exciting as I stood straight with ears forward and tested the air. My eyes wide and unwavering and covered with my white forelock as if in defiance.
I watched as the man climbed from the back of the wagon and landed lightly on his feet to stand, taking in all that was around him, and our eyes met. We stared, not moving, not giving in, each issuing a challenge to the other. Was he the one?
Blue eyes took in all that was around him, missing nothing. But they stopped, coming to rest on the beast in the corral. A magnificent animal, strong and spirited, looking around him as if he dared any contact.
The blue eyes stared, not turning away. This was a horse that wouldn’t submit. To break the steed would ruin the very thing that made him uncommonly majestic. The toss of the head, the wide-spaced eyes, and ears that took in every sound around him and missed nothing— all spoke of intelligence. No, to break this horse would be the same as putting a bullet in his brain. Might as well open that gate an’ let him out before taking his spirit away… and the blue-eyed man knew he could not— would not let them destroy the glory of this animal.
The horse was outstanding, exceptional in every way. Was he the one?
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