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Story ID:586
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Bozeman Montana USA
Person:Freedom, the horse
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by Kathe Campbell

I don't understand it, never have, and never will. My life was unruffled and joyful, my supper and graze lush while contemplating my prime near my kin. The fields and pastures seemed eternally green, and the folks forked out two squares a day lending belly comfort and warmth at winter's chill. Then some folks arrived on the scene to take me away, leaving my ma and sidekicks befuddled as I was prodded into a tiny horse trailer.

Life was now simpler, not as good as the old place, no long green valleys, nobody to run the river with, but some tolerable I reckon. The hard case that took me away was unkind, jerking me around while breaking me to saddle and that cussed bit. I began to loathe the man and his leather quirt, his shouts and curses. My fare gave way to weeds and dandelions, stale ditch water, and nary one sweet handful of oats. I stood afire in summer heat, hot as a whorehouse on nickel night, while ogling the herd across the fence whinnyin' their content.

Why did these folks want me, I pondered? The lady crawled upon my back for a spell, never uttering a word as we walked down the dirt road on fair Sundays. Otherwise I was left to languish in a smelly, dusty paddock. My once sleek sorrel coat became dirty and my bony hips and neck were near bit through by a range of pesky chiggers.

Come evenin', the man and lady would scream and yell so loud as to make my ears twitch. Sometimes the lady would come flyin' off the back porch, only to lay bellerin' in the dirt. One time the man was so angry, he yelled and threw his fist through the window of their unholy little weather-beaten shack.

Autumn came and the man left the place in his old rusty pickup truck. God willin', I hoped to never see him again. The weeds in my corral were done and yet nary a soul came with a cake of fodder. I could near feel my own backbone for the lack of a good meal. The offish lady came around to fetch me a few handfuls of bunch grass from the yard, always carrying that rank bottle. If we'd taken rides, I could have harvested an afternoon meal from the dirty, grayish grass alongside the road, but it wasn't to be.

The first snow saw the grass widow leavin' early in the mornings, never to be seen till after dark throughout blizzards and hard freeze. She emerged from her little car carrying that God-awful stinking bottle as she mumbled nonsense and weaved her way to the house. I whinnied, cribbed on the rails, and kicked at the boards somethin' awful, but she never turned the lights on or gave me a thought. I was crowbait now, icicles clinging to my miserable hide and that eternal lump of snow perched atop my back.

Just as I was about to commence departure into heavenly bliss, another lady appeared. She opened my pen and ran gentle hands all over my body, murmuring sad sounds of horror and disbelief. Soon a horse trailer arrived and I wearily threaded my thin and weary legs up the ramp. My knees collapsed, leaving me a crippled heap of filthy flesh and bone. Kind folks helped me to walk into an indoor stall with straw, hay, and fresh water where I bedded and slept for days. At only two, my way of going had been struck sorry, and unless rescued, I'd be put out of my misery. I've passed into the place they call heaven, I mused. Not far wrong, for this was the community animal rescue sanctuary.

Yet another horse trailer pulled along side my pen and a rescue lady covered my emaciated carcass with a blanket and escorted me inside. After a long ride, at last, the smell of spring's green sprouts in a field and the loping hooves of other adoptees rushing to greet this pitiful wretch. I was turned loose to the glory of it all - a barn, grass and alfalfa hay, and fresh water from the creek when I thirsted. I was free.

Mrs. C. greeted me with shivers and gasps when she saw my bony neck and head schmoozing her donkey herd over the fence one early morn. "You must be a new rescue baby, you sorry thing," she tearfully whispered, caressing my head against her chest. The redheaded lady was kind and welcoming and made a soft place for me in her big donkey barn. She brushed my coat daily, cropped my splayed hooves, shared carrots, and assured me I had a home if I was a mind to stay.

Yes, this was Broken Tree Ranch, high in the Montana mountains. When they saddled up and rode the hills and forests on their big champion mammoth donkeys, I trailed along to renew lost youth. When they trained those loud and obnoxious longears, I was included and began to reclaim a sleek coat and muscle power. I had no yen to escape my grand new confines while pushing old memories aside.

The folks shook hands and hugged as the old man and little Indian boy emerged from their truck one day. They must have been good friends with my folks as I hankered after the youngster's tawny skin and shiny black hair. I was soon taking the shave tail on the grand tour of my acres as he pulled gently on my reins and spoke kind words. I reckon I was the best birthday present the boy ever got, and somehow felt easy and happy to walk into their horse trailer to go home.

They call me, Freedom.