Author Topic: The Lesson  (Read 1969 times)

Offline MidnightZodiac

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The Lesson
« on: December 30, 2015, 05:12:13 PM »
The Lesson.

The little girl’s shoulder still ached, and she was frightened almost beyond belief. Two of the creatures that had treated her so badly before she came to this place were approaching, so she did the only thing she knew… To run away, before stopping and turning so that she could get a good look at those that threatened her. They had both stopped now, the taller one some distance behind the smaller one, who still had it’s arm outstretched towards her.“Sorry Steve” said Callie, “I made a hash of that didn’t I?” “No” smiled Steve “She’s just very frightened, and you were a little quick for her that‘s all… She doesn’t know that she’s now safe and loved, and she can only judge us by the humans she’s met in the past. Frankly, they weren’t too good to her.” He paused for a moment, then said “Just take a few steps back Callie. Let her know you understand how she feels about us, and that you mean her no harm.” Callie did as she was told, and keeping her eyes on the filly started to take a few steps backwards. The little girl watched with interest. The behaviour she was seeing was completely unlike the behaviour she had seen from other creatures like this. She remembered being chased into pens along with her mother and father, then being separated and restrained with ropes before being taken to an enclosure where there was fire. While she’d never seen fire before, her instincts told her it was dangerous and should be kept away from, but before she knew it something had been taken from the fire and pressed against her shoulder; she could feel and smell her flesh burning but could not struggle or move to get away from the pain. The ropes held her motionless and dug into her if she even tried to move, but as she lay there she thought she could hear her mother’s call… It was the last time in her life that she would ever sense the closeness of either her parents or the other horses that she had run with on the moor.

The little girl was puzzled… What was this trickery that was being played out on her? She couldn’t fathom what was driving these creatures. Every instinct screamed at her to keep away, yet from these two she sensed no ill will or intent. They certainly didn’t seem to want to chase and catch her… In fact the smaller one’s backward movement told her that they understood her fears, and didn’t want to add to them. “What do I do now Steve?” asked Callie, still feeling a little bad that her mistake had caused the filly to run. “Nothing” said Steve. “Just be patient, make yourself as small as you can, and wait for her to make the next move… She’ll come to you when she’s ready. She has to work out if you are friend or threat.” The little girl was aware of the pain in her shoulder and felt dampness under the wound. She desperately wanted to lick it clean, but had found that it was too far forward for her to reach. Now her brain was busy trying to deal with both the pain, and the situation she found herself in. She hurt, but she desperately needed another living being to find comfort with, whether it was one of her own species or not.

The desperation drove her to make one small step towards the figure who remained crouched and motionless. Encouraged by the figure’s stillness her confidence grew a little and she cautiously took a few more steps… Until her nose was inches from the arm that was outstretched to her in friendship. “What do I do now Steve?” Callie whispered, not wanting to send the horse away again. “Just keep offering friendship, along with that piece of apple.” he smiled again, remembering the thrill he had felt years ago when he had been a young horse’s first point of contact with humanity. “Yes,” whispered Callie, “I meant to ask about that, is it right that we shouldn’t bribe horses with fruit?” Steve pondered for a few seconds then said “Normally that’s right, but, this little girl puts no value on being touched by humans, she doesn’t see that as a reward, only something that has brought pain to her. So I think until the time that her mind is changed, a little fruit will do nicely.”

The little girl’s nose sniffed at the arm and hand that was offered to her. She could also smell the sweet juiciness of the piece of apple that it held; but she was confused… Was the fruit intended for her? Did these creatures give gifts of food? Or was it a trap, designed to draw her in to be caught again? Eventually she decided that it might be safe to take the fruit, so she stretched her nose as far forward as she could before snatching the apple with her lips and teeth. Callie gave a whispered “Ow” as the apple was taken and eaten. “She bit me Steve.” “No she didn’t,” he replied “You’ve got to remember that she’s never done that before… Next time it will be easier.” Callie reached into her pocket and pulled out another piece of apple, which was quickly eaten too. Steve’s experienced eye could see that both little girls were starting to relax; the filly’s outline went slightly softer and rounder, while Callie started to smile, taking great pleasure from hand feeding the little girl. “What do I do now?” she asked, and Steve told her to gently stand up while keeping the apple pieces going. “Now just give her nose a gentle scratch when she reaches for the fruit… That’s it just there between her nostrils. Let her know you’re her friend.” “Now just gently back off, one step at a time and see what happens.”

Callie followed Steve’s instructions to the letter and was delighted to find that for every backward step she took, the filly took one step forwards. “Look Steve” she said excitedly, “She’s following me.” “Yes,” was Steve’s calm reply, “I hoped she would… Horses are always happiest when they are doing the same thing as their friends; so you are both walking together!” The three walked, one step at a time, to the gate, where Callie and Steve said their goodbyes to the little girl. Then Steve turned to Callie with a serious look on his face. “Dora has decided,” he started, “That you will bring on and train the little girl…” He could barely finish before Callie’s pleasure exploded. “But” he tried to continue, “You can only work with her during the week after you have finished school, and all your homework is done. Then at weekends you can work with her for as long as you like, but once again only after your homework is done. The Colonel has arranged with your mum to visit and check that your homework is finished.” Callie looked slightly crestfallen. “And finally, there is just one more thing that you have to do… Give the little girl a name; a horse is never complete until it’s named!”

Steve could see that Callie was almost overwhelmed with joy, so he started “I’ll tell you a little about her, things that might help… She was born on Exmoor in Somerset, and was recently rounded up in the pony drifts; that’s when she was branded. Then she was transported all the way up here on her own, never getting the chance to say goodbye to the herd that she’d been with since she was born. She was bought at the drift for a few quid by old man Crook, because his daughter reckoned she could bring on unhandled ponies and make a profit from them… But this little girl fought back and broke the woman’s hand, so she was going to be sold for meat, being labelled as untrainable.” Steve paused for breath, “But Dora got to hear about her, and offered old man Crook a couple of pounds over meat price, on the understanding that he delivered her this morning… So, here she is… Does that help in choosing a name for her?” “I don’t know,” said Callie, “It’s both an honour and a responsibility to name Follyfoot’s latest arrival, so I‘m not really sure…” “Well,” Steve smiled “I did have one thought… Perhaps we could name her after the first Follyfoot person to touch her; perhaps the first person in her short life to offer friendship and affection rather than fear… and while it might be a little confusing, what do you think of Callie, Callie?”
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."