This was supposed to be the Whisper story. When I decided I wanted to write a story to go with the picture of Ashwin's eye that I thought would make a great book cover, I brainstormed.
The following is what I started with, but I got stuck and just didn't feel it was the right story. I'm glad I stopped! I think this story could have been good, but Whisper is definitely better.
This is all I had written when I decided to try something else. It isjust over 2,000 words. Maybe I'll finish it someday, but for now it will be filed away with the rest of my unfinished stories :)
It seemed like an eternity before she cautiously approached the end of the trailer, then bolted in to the corral.
Head held high, she circled the enclosure, eyes wide and fearful. Her body shone in the sun. I immediately fell in love with her beautiful silver color. She came a stop in the center of the pen, but as Ben took a few steps toward me, she ran to the other side and cowered against the panels, fear visible in every quivering muscle.
A smile spread slowly across my face. "She's beautiful." I whispered.
"I don't envy you, Marie." Ben shook his head as he closed the trailer door. "Her previous owners must really have done something bad to her. She doesn't trust anyone. It's a miracle I got her on the trailer." I sighed. "It hurts me just to look at her, Ben. She's so scared. How can people do this to their horses?"
Ben shrugged. "I don't like it myself. Be careful, Marie. She's not safe. I wish you would have let us put her down. You or anyone else could get hurt bad." "No, Ben." I shook my head. "I couldn't let you do that. She has so much of her life to live yet. I think I can help her."
"I hope so. You know what will happen if you can't do something with her." I knew only too well what usually happened to horses like this and if I couldn't figure out some way to reach this terribly frightened horse, the same thing would happen to her.
"Thanks for delivering her, Ben. I'll let you know how it goes."
"No problem. I'll be seeing you." Ben hopped in his truck and drove quickly away.
I waited until his truck was out of sight down the road before walking over to the corral and leaning on the top board.
While Ben and I were talking, the mare had been checking out her new surroundings, but when I walked up, she retreated to the back corner and regarded me warily.
My heart ached for her, a horse I was sure, deep inside, was gentle and loving, but abuse had forced her to protect herself, making her angry and dangerous.
I stayed out there for nearly an hour, during which time she never moved from her corner, her eyes following me wherever I went.
I placed hay and water just inside the gate then retreated to the house where I watched her through my kitchen window.
When she was sure I was gone, she cautiously approached the slice of hay and began to nibble on it. I sat down at the table and stared at the wall. I had worked with many rescue horses with difficult problems, but none had been quite as challenging as I was beginning to think this mare would be.
"Please give me wisdom, Lord." I prayed. "Give me wisdom to know how to help her."
After a good night's rest, I felt ready to tackle the gray mare.
I fed my other horses and turned them out in the pasture. At the time, I had ten horses, not including the new mare. Four were permanent residents, and six were ones I was getting ready for adoption. The four permanent horses had too many issues to be re-homed, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of them. So they stayed. Two of them had been with me for five years and were like my kids.
Once all the other horses were taken care of, I carried a slice of hay out to the new mare.
She backed into the corner when she saw me coming and lowered her head, feet splayed ready for use. I set the hay down by the gate and walked a short distance away.
She didn't like the fact that I was still nearby. She snorted nervously and rolled her eyes fearfully, but to my surprise, after about fifteen minutes she edged toward the food.
Shocked, I held perfectly still and watched. Her eyes never left me as she started on the hay. I stayed until she finished eating, then walked slowly to the house, more determined than ever to get through to her somehow.
In the house, I sat in my favorite chair by a window that overlooked the horse pasture and thought back through the more challenging horses I had dealt with.
There was the abused mustang gelding who would stand for hours with his head in the corner and kick viciously when I tried to approach him, and the ex-racing thoroughbred mare who would bite and strike with her front feet whenever I tried to put a halter on her. There were several others who stuck in my mind because of their severe issues, all caused by mistreatment or bad handling by their owners.
But this mare was different. From what I had observed so far, which wasn't much, she seemed to be the type of horse that kept all her feelings and emotions bottled up inside, only letting loose occasionally, and without warning. Horses like that are the most dangerous. You never know what they're going to do and when.
I stood up and grabbing a bottle of gator aid from the fridge, I head out onto the porch and settled on the railing, where I had a clear view of the mare. She was hanging her head outside the corral, looking almost wistfully at the other horses. That surprised me. According to Ben, all she ever did was fight when they put her in with the other horses.
I thought about letting her out with them, but quickly disregarded the idea. If I turned her out, I'd never catch her again and she would probably just beat up on the other horses.
I took another gulp of my gator aid, then walked to the barn and got some grain.
The mare snorted as I approached the corral and backed into the corner.
I ignored her as I walked to the center of the pen and set the grain down, then went back to the gate and seated myself on the ground, on the inside of the fence.
The mare looked at me and then at the grain. She knew what was in that bucket and she wanted it, but she didn't want to come that close to me to get it.
I avoided looking her in the eye, I didn't really look at her at all. I made my eyes looked around and past her. Looking a horse directly in the eyes is a challenge or a correction.
After two hours I was about ready to give up when the mare took a tentative step forward and instantly backed up again.
I let her settle for a minute, then got up and walked out of the pen, leaving the grain behind. I was pleased for just the little bit of forward movement. I stepped behind the barn door where I could watch her without being seen.
As soon as I was out of sight she crossed the corral to the bucket and ate the grain, then walked to the gate and smelled the ground where I had been sitting. Nostrils flared and eyes dilated, she backed away slowly.
I grabbed a saddle stand from the tack room and set it just outside the barn door. She watched as I hauled out some saddles I wanted to work on, but didn't retreat to her corner as she had before.
I spent all morning working on tack and she eventually began ignoring me.
I went in the house at noon to make something for lunch, but step back outside when I heard a vehicle pull in the driveway.
It was Ben. As soon as the truck stopped, he leapt out and ran up to the house.
"Ben! What's the matter?" I hurried down the porch steps and met him halfway.
"Marie! I'm so relieved! I called your phone several times and when you didn't answer, I thought something had happened to you."
I groaned. "I spent the morning outside and I forgot to take my phone. I'm sorry I worried you."
Ben shook his head. "I thought maybe the mare did something to you. Please make sure to have your phone with you from now on."
"I will. I was so eager to work with the mare I forgot to grab it."
Ben turned his head toward the corral where the mare was watching us curiously. "How's she doin'?"
I smiled. "Real good. I think we made some progress this morning. She'll be a challenge, but I think I can help her."
Ben grinned. "That's great! Just remember that she's unpredictable."
I nodded. "I know. I'll be careful."
We walked over to the corral together and the mare quickly backed into the corner.
I told Ben what I had done that morning and he was impressed with the mare's response.
"She needs a name." I leaned my chin on my arms. "I don't like just calling her 'the mare'."
"Marie!" Ben shook his finger at me. "Don't go getting attached to her. You have too many horses as it is. You're job is to get her ready for adoption."
I sighed. "I know, I know. It's never easy to say good bye though. Not after helping them through all their issues. And I have a feeling it will be even harder with this one."
"You always did have a soft heart." Ben smiled fondly.
I chuckled. "I guess so. But I'm glad I do. I can't imagine hurting animals so much that they turn into frightened, angry creatures like this mare, like the other horses out in the pasture."
"It is sad how much animals have to bear at our hands." Ben straightened up. "Well, I need to get back to the farm. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Alright. Thanks for checking up on me."
Ben grinned. "No problem. I'll leave you alone as long as you keep your phone with you."
I promised I would and waved to Ben as he drove out the driveway, then headed back to the house to finish my lunch.
I spent the rest of the afternoon tidying the barn and doing yard work.
At five o'clock I called the horses into the barn and fed them, then carried some hay out to the mare and put in the center of the corral, then sat down by the gate.
By the time the mare over came her fear and stubbornness enough to take a few tentative steps toward the hay, I was tired, sore and hungry, but exhilarated over the progress we made that day.
Before taking a shower and heading for bed, I called Ben to report on the mare's progress.
He was just as surprised as me to hear how well she was doing and congratulated me on my success.
I went to bed that night happy and content.