The Stallion
Abby, Age 13, Poynette, WI

Hooves clattered on the metal floor, and the stallion’s ears swiveled about atop his head like satellites in the wind. His eyes were wide and round; he could’ve easily been mistaken for a mad animal, seeing as the whites of his eyes were visible around the rims of his liquid-brown irises. Fright was palpable on his features, and it seemed to ride on the white clouds of vapor that vented from his flared velveteen nostrils. His short, slender legs danced up and down as he fidgeted this way and that, causing hollow sounds to emit from the aluminum floor each time a worn hoof connected with it. A scraggly black pelt was stretched over the horse’s stringy frame, and dried mud stained almost every inch of his unkempt coat.

The only world he’d ever known zoomed past the windows of the stock trailer as it rumbled down the gravel road, melting into the distance and leaving the rolling hills behind. The miserable stallion’s breath came out in short, ragged gasps as he watched, frightened and confused, savoring the scent of his homeland as it drifted through the vents in the trailer walls.

As the vehicle bounced and jerked along the path, the poor equine was shoved every which way, sometimes banging up against the walls or hitting his head on the ceiling in vain attempts at freedom.

Becoming frantic with blind fear, he pulled back against the frayed nylon halter and lead rope that bound him to the side of the trailer, causing the window bar to creak under his weight. The muscles in his sloping haunches bunched up while his forelegs remained straight out in front of him, braced for the pull. The pressure behind his ears began to scare him, and he stood quivering for a moment before rearing up on his hind legs. His front hooves pawed at the air, repeatedly striking the bar in which he was tied. He wasn’t stupid; he knew what kept him here, and he was determined to get out.

Just as he was about to come back down to earth, his right fetlock got caught in the pane-less window, and he began to panic in spite of himself. Twisting, leaping, kicking, and writhing, he managed to fight his hoof loose, but not without losing his footing and falling with a crash on his side. The lead rope was drawn taut and the halter attached to his fine head became exceedingly tight, causing him to choke and feel congested. The more he fought to find his legs, the more stressed he became; sweat dampened his lower neck and shoulders while a thick white foam began to squirt from his open mouth. Screams of insane terror emitted from his throat, and his legs flailed out in all directions, banging up against the trailer walls and causing a ruckus that couldn’t be ignored.

In all his fright, he didn’t seem to notice the fact that the vehicle had come to a halt. In a matter of minutes, brilliant rays of sunlight cascaded through the open door at the end of the short stock trailer, revealing to the greasy-haired, tobacco-chewing men outside the little black stallion in all his misery.

“That damned horse won’t stop fighting,” one of them complained, “and I think we should just shoot ’em right now instead of goin’ in there and gettin’ ourselves killed. Besides, what’s the difference? He’s gonna be a nice pile o’ meat when we’re done with ’em anyway.” There was a moment of silence, broken only by the horse’s terrified squeals. He didn’t know what was going on; he only knew that he was helpless and unable to defend himself.

Suddenly, he became aware of a dark figure striding toward him with something in its outstretched hand. Pinning back his ears and gnashing his teeth at the intruder, he struck out at it viciously with a fore hoof, but this didn’t seem to phase the odd, alien creature. It plowed forward and settled something cold and hard against the equine’s temple, waiting for several long seconds and seeming to linger over the decision it was making. The little black stallion, however, immediately stopped what he was doing as the small device made contact with the side of his head. Blinking slowly, his life reflected in the depths of his deep brown eyes. The cruelty of these two-legged creatures would never be forgotten, but he remembered his days as a yearling, tossing his head, kicking up his heels, and dashing through fields of sagebrush. The scent of wildflowers filled his nostrils, and a sudden shot rang in his ears.

He was free.

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