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October 2019 Story and Poem Contest Rules: Winning stories and poems will be published in Pony Pals Magazine. All entries must be original, meaning that the member who enters them must have written the text. To be eligible the story or poem must have a horse or pony in it someplace. Stories should be suitable for all ages, including younger members. All entries published in the Magazine will earn 500 Wiggins Bucks, the best stories and poems will earn 3000 Wiggins bucks and trophy for the writer. Pony writer quills are awarded every day, remember to quit the scavenger hunt and restart it after you get your quill to earn a higher score. Jane Crandal & JB

October 2019 Story and Poem Contest

Rules: Winning stories and poems will be published in Pony Pals Magazine. All entries must be original, meaning that the member who enters them must have written the text. To be eligible the story or poem must have a horse or pony in it someplace. Stories should be suitable for all ages, including younger members. All entries published in the Magazine will earn 500 Wiggins Bucks, the best stories and poems will earn 3000 Wiggins bucks and trophy for the writer. Pony writer quills are awarded every day, remember to quit the scavenger hunt and restart it after you get your quill to earn a higher score.
Jane Crandal & JB

Jane Crandal & JB
2019-09-28 19:07:49
Ponies and Horses
By Adeline HC

Every passionate stride
Every heartfelt whinny
There's nothing better
Enjoy your ponies
Love on your horses
There's no greater two
Than ponies and horses.

Adeline HC & Esprit Ellis
2019-10-05 13:14:37
Hannah’s Horse Diaries
Part 1
‘The Cow Pony, Miki and Mel’
By: Wind drummer

A ‘cow pony’ to us, meant a pony that kinda looked like a cow. Normally, we meant a moon white pony with black spots covering him/her like measles. A dainty head, tufty mane, short tail and black socks were other signs.

We had a cow pony once. Copra, I think his name was. He had a feisty spirit and was quite green when we first got him. I remember thinking; “Ugh, I hope we sell him soon!”. But in time, I grew to love him as much as everyone else did.

As he was only 13. 2 hands, I was the only family member who could ride him. I was quite put out at the time, but we loved each other all along. Copra was very headstrong, and seeing as I was only 4 years old at the time, he seemed “large” to me. But after a few years, Copra seemed teeny when I rode him. And so we had to sell him.

I remember crying hot tears, when he was sold. I was never told who took him in, but I like to think that he was very happy at his new home. And he might be the same happy pony he was back then, today.

After the sale, I needed a new mount. After hours and hours of scanning magazines, and looking at websites, we finally found one.

Miki was his name. A spirited pony, with a gentle nature. “A real Indian gelding, with extra flair” the article informed us. So we rang up, and found a suitable day to visit.

When we arrived at the farm, and I saw him, I was in love. My parents were more worried about other things, and spent a long time looking at the stable he was kept in. Everything seemed fine, and we visited again with the horse truck to pick Miki up.

That was when the owner told us something we didn’t know. Miki actually wasn’t the only one in the deal. A horse also had to be sold; Melody. We were shocked. I was delighted, but my parents were not.“We don’t have room for another horse!” They argued. But after much coxing, they gave in. Shortly after, I became the proud owner of two very special horses.

Miki was a cute, 14 hand black New Forest Pony. He had 2 white socks, and a pretty white blaze. His hooves were in good condition, and his mane and tail were long and flowing. He was calm, and gentle. Easy to handle, with very smooth paces. The only rough spot, was that he was extremely anxious when it came to tack. I had to learn how to calm him down, and mostly ride bareback to keep him happy.

Melody (Or Mel) was a sweet, sassy horse. A Morgan, she was. Dappled and cute, she was very much like an Appaloosa, with few differences. She was calm, and gentle, but feisty with some things (like getting shod).

The pair stayed with me for a long time.


Wind drummer & Mr Nice Guy
2019-10-08 20:11:12
Sparrow – A Short Story
By: Horse Gentler

I.

Winter was over. Across the plain and on the mountains, the signs of spring were unfolding. The windflowers and bluebells were emerging, and the whole land was covered in young spring grass. The birds sang in the trees, harmonizing with the gentle breeze that danced over the hills.

To this, Sparrow listened as she lay beneath the shade of a pine tree. She was trying to think good thoughts. The days ahead looked promising for the herd, and soon they would welcome new members when the mares began to foal. There were more horses in the herd now than ever, and that was good. They had survived the winter quite well.

“Everyone,” Sparrow thought, “except Mother.”

She was trying to forget, but she really couldn’t. Every time the storms rolled in, Sparrow though of her mother, a beautiful, dappled gray with a snowy mane and tail, galloping fearlessly before the herd. Storm – Sparrow’s mother – had been the lead mare for as long as anyone could remember. Caring and fearless, she had guided the herd to safety countless times. But now she was gone. No one felt the loss more dearly than Sparrow. Even now, she remembered galloping beside her mother, listening as she explained the benefits of different herbs, learning to scent water and danger. But now what?

Sparrow had no prominent position in her herd. In fact, had she not been the filly of Storm, she would have been kicked out or lost long ago. She was not much to look at; merely a pale chestnut with no markings on her face or legs. Perhaps Scar, the alpha stallion, would let her stay for the knowledge she had gained from her mother.

“Everything’s different without her,” Sparrow thought with a mournful sigh. “She’s the reason I’ve made it this far. What will I ever do without her?”

A bee flew between her ears and settled on a nearby wildflower. Sparrow watched it climb about the little plant, as it searched for the nectar hidden inside.

“I wish I could be like you,” Sparrow said to it. “Flying across the plains, free. Never having to know pain and sorrow.”

Presently, the insect took off. Something had disturbed it. From the bottom of the hill that Sparrow was resting on came another horse, a handsome copper bay with a nearly perfect oval in the center of his forehead. This was Justin, a young stallion who had joined the herd recently. He was a pleasant fellow, kind and courteous, and always eager to help. Sparrow liked him, but everyone else seemed a bit wary of him. He had shown up at the herd one day, and no one knew where he had come from. Everything about him seemed bigger than was normal for a mustang. That aside, he looked strong, and everyone knew that a strong stallion meant strong foals.

Justin walked over to where Sparrow was laying. “Are you doing alright, friend?” he asked gently.

“Yes,” Sparrow said quickly, avoiding eye contact. “No. But I’ll be alright.”

The big bay folded his legs and dropped down beside her. He looked out over the plain, allowing his mane to fly in the wind. “Your mother was a great leader,” he said reverently. “She saved my life, letting me come here. I’m going to miss her.”

“Me too,” Sparrow said with a little sniffle. “I don’t know what I’ll do without her.”

The two horses turned to face each other. Compassion filled Justin’s eyes. “You are like her in many ways, Sparrow,” he nickered. “You’re strong. You know so much. You care about those around you. All those years, Storm was preparing you. You still have what she taught you, and that can never be taken.”

Sparrow turned away. “It doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I won’t pretend that it does,” Justin replied. “You loved her, and you need time to grieve. But I do need to remind you that you have responsibilities.”

Sparrow shook her head. “I don’t even think I’ll come to the meeting tonight. We all know Dandelion’s going to be the next leader. Why bother?”

“We won’t know for sure until then,” Justin replied. “Besides, old Scar may surprise us yet.”

Sparrow hesitated.

“You will come, won’t you?” Justin asked. “Come with me.”

“Alright,” Sparrow sighed. “I’ll come, but I don’t think it’ll do much good.”

“That’s the spirit,” the bay horse said, rising. “I’ll come by again this evening. Try to eat a little, and if you need me, you know where to find me.”

“Thank you, Justin,” Sparrow said. “I’ll try.”





II.

At sunset, the herd, about forty in total, gathered beside a large rock on one of the slopes. It was an ideal meeting place, for there were enough trees to conceal the horses, but enough space for everyone to be comfortable. It also afforded a view of the surroundings, in case danger was spotted.

The horses stood in what resembled a circle, with some gaps and some bunches, chattering uncertainly about what was to happen now that Storm was gone.

Suddenly, the speaking ceased. From the trees on Sparrow’s left came an older stallion, who walked with a high head, a heavy step, and a fierce appearance. He was blue roan, but with white overo markings and several marks that testified to the many battles he had fought. This was Scar, the alpha stallion of the herd, whose job was to keep them together and protect them. Rumor had it that he was originally called Hoarfrost, until a mountain lion scratched him across the face. The marks could still be seen against his white nose, making him look even more fearsome. He walked assertively into the middle of the assembly. All attention was focused on him.

Scar lifted his pale eyes and looked at each horse in turn. “We are gathered here tonight,” he said in his distinctive deep voice, “to address the loss of our alpha mare.”

Sparrow disliked how that sounded. Was Scar not even sad that Storm was gone?

“The grass dies beneath the winter snow,” the alpha horse went on. “Then it rises again in the spring, never to be conquered. So we are. We shall rise again from this winter, and become stronger than before!”

Some of the horses cheered. Sparrow lowered her head. “He isn’t sad.”

Scar stomped his hoof, his way of ordering silence. “I have called you here,” he said, “to announce my selection of a new leader, who will run in the place that Storm once held.” His ice-colored eyes met Sparrow’s. “Come forth.”

With faltering hoof-beats, Sparrow obeyed. What did he mean by calling her to the center? She walked until her nose was about two feet away from Scar’s. She raised sorrowful eyes to look at his worn face. The unfeeling gaze seemed to freeze the very blood in her veins. Sometimes she wondered if he truly cared about anyone.

“Brothers,” he resumed, looking at Sparrow alone. “I give you Sparrow, out of Storm, your new leader.”

Silence followed. Sparrow stared. Had she heard incorrectly? She looked at Scar, searching his face for some clue. He didn’t really mean for HER to lead the horses, did he?

She was not the only one. The horses murmured and whispered amongst themselves. Sparrow didn’t’ have to hear what they were saying to know that they were expressing their doubts.

“Does really mean to have Sparrow lead us?” one horse said.

“But why her? She so shy, she wouldn’t stand up to a nuthatch.”

“Storm was her mother.”

“Scar’s old enough. Maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing anymore.”

Scar whirled around to face the speaker. “Who said that?” he demanded. He settled on one of the younger stallions. “It was you, was it, Hawthorn? Well, chew on this for a while. Sparrow has been learning from Storm from the day she was born until now. This filly has more knowledge of the land between her ears than most of you have in your whole bodies. Now who thinks I don’t know what I’m doing, eh?”

“I don’t think she’s up to it, sir,” said one of the mares.

“Do you?” the alpha stallion snorted. “If any of you object to my choice of leadership, you can leave as soon as you wish. And rather than you question my judgment, let any of you with doubts have it out with my hooves.” For emphasis, he reared up on his hind legs, neighing aggressively. Some horses backed up. Scar was old, but his bite still stung. He smiled, almost smugly, at the effect that his display had taken.

“You are dismissed,” he snorted with a stomp of his foreleg. “Except for you, Sparrow,” he said, a bit less gruffly than before. “You are to come with me.”

Uncertainty clutched at Sparrow’s heart. She did know a lot about their home, but would it be enough to make her a good leader? How could she ever live up to the standard that her mother had set? She looked over her shoulder at Justin, who gave her a reassuring smile. Somewhat encouraged, she followed Scar past the big rock and into the trees.

He turned to face her. “The spring means good things for us as well as for our enemies,” he said. “We must move from here soon, and you will decide where we go.”

Sparrow opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She closed it quickly, hoping Scar hadn’t noticed. He snorted.

“Your mother taught you everything she knew about the land,” he grumbled. “Start using it.”

“Sorry,” Sparrow whispered.

“Don’t apologize. Think.”

Sparrow closed her eyes. She didn’t like being rushed into a decision, and she didn’t like having to think in front of Scar, whose impatience was strong enough to be felt.

“I must try,” the chestnut mare told herself. “What would mother do?”

A picture of a flat stretch of land covered in short grass with a shallow creek skittering through it came to her mind. A few grassy hills rolled up and down along the horizon. She recalled that this place she was thinking about was called Sunshine Field, because the grass always looked golden in the sunlight. It was a good place to go, Sparrow reasoned, since there would be food and water. Most importantly, it was far away from the territory of their enemies. She opened her eyes. “Let’s go to Sunshine Field,” she told Scar.

Scar nodded stiffly. “We shall leave as soon as you are ready,” he said.

Sparrow thought for a few moments more. “I think we should leave in the morning. It will be easier to see where we’re going, and we don’t want to fall into any of the gulches along the way.”

“So?” Scar wanted a direct answer.

“We’ll go in the morning,” Sparrow said hurriedly.

“Fine,” the older horse said. “That is all. You may go.”

“You…” Sparrow stammered. “Did I make a good choice?”

Scar laughed. “Wouldn’t you like to know? I suppose we’ll see soon enough.” With a swish of his tail, Scar was gone.

Sparrow was feeling more discouraged than ever. She had done what she thought Storm would have done. She had done what made logical sense in her mind. And Scar had not given her even the smallest reassurance.

She walked out of the woods and over to where Justin and some other horses were grazing. Justin stepped aside to offer her some especially tender grass. “How’d it go?” he asked.

“Not very well,” Sparrow admitted. Briefly, she recounted her meeting with Scar.

“I wish mother was here,” Sparrow sighed. “She would have told me if I made the right choice.”

Justin took a thoughtful moment. “I don’t see anything wrong with your decision,” he said. “Sunshine Field is a well-informed choice. As for Scar, I would say you would’ve known if he disapproved of your thinking.”

“You think I did the right thing, then?”

“I think you did your best,” he nickered. “Now, come have some of this grass. You’ll need your strength to lead the herd tomorrow.”

Part of Sparrow hoped tomorrow would never come.





III.

The horses woke up with the sun. Many wanted to snatch a few bites of grass before setting out. Sparrow was too nervous to eat. She was thinking about how she would have to run in front of the herd to lead them to Sunshine Field. She had run beside her mother thousands of times before, but this time she would be alone. What if she forgot the way, and ended up getting everyone lost? What if she accidentally led them straight into danger? Her worst fears were heightened when she scented a storm approaching from the direction that they needed to go.

“That storm is a long way off,” Scar snorted. “Unless you have us walk the whole way, we should be there before it breaks.”

“Maybe we should postpone leaving,” Sparrow suggested shyly. “To be safe.”

Scar glared at her. “Look here, Sparrow, I’ve already collected the herd together for travel. I’m not about to have my work go to waste because you’re afraid of a little rain. Do I make myself clear?”

Sparrow nodded weakly.

“Good. Get to your position, then.”

The herd stood in a roughly ovular shape. While Scar moved to the rear of the group, Sparrow moved to the front. She tried to appear confident as she spoke to the great group of faces looking at her.

“We leave…” she tried, but her voice faltered. She took a deep breath, hoped no one had noticed, and tried again. “We are leaving for Sunshine Fields today,” she declared. “Everyone pair up and stay together. We have to cross several gulches to get there, and if one of you needs help, your buddy can step in.”

The horses shuffled around some, nickering to each other. Sparrow could tell that they were still uncertain about Scar’s choice of leadership.

“I wouldn’t blame them,” she thought. Then aloud, “Alright, everyone. Move out!”

She started off at a brisk canter. Soon, the thundering of hooves about her ears told her that the herd was following her. Occasionally, she looked back to check on them, as her mother had done. She spotted Justin and Dandelion in the main pack, and easily sighted Scar as he whipped around the back of the herd, keeping them together.

“It feels so lonely out here in front without mother,” Sparrow sighed. She slowed to a trot as they crossed a brook, and then broke into a gallop. As the pebbles crunched beneath her hooves, a shadow moving rapidly over the land caught her eye. She looked up.

“Hello, down there!” came a familiar voice. It was Zaltana, a young peregrine falcon Sparrow had befriended last year.

Sparrow smiled. “Hello, Zaltana!” she shouted. “I’ve missed you. How have you been?”

“As well as a falcon can be,” the bird replied. “The mice and squirrels are in abundance this year. I have had my fill and more.”

Sparrow tried to focus on keeping up with her avian friend, rather than on her preferred meals. Sometimes it was nice to be an herbivore. Eating wasn’t so ridiculously messy.

“I’ll say,” Zaltana said, “wasn’t there another horse that used to run next to you? A gray one?”

“There used to be, yes. That was my mother. She… well, passed on a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Zaltana said repentantly. “I guess I still need to work on being sensitive.”

“You didn’t know, Zal,” Sparrow replied. “You couldn’t have known.”

“SPARROW!”

“Uh-oh,” Zaltana said. “Here comes grumpy. Catch you later, Sparrow.”

Sparrow barely heard her friend. Scar was storming towards her, fury on his face. He cut her off, forcing her to stop. The abrupt change of pace caught the other horses off guard.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the overo roan demanded. His heavy breathing blasted Sparrow in the face. She was still too dumbstruck to reply.

“Have you lost your mind as well as your sense of direction? Sunshine Field is that way!”

A cold wave of realization swept over Sparrow. Looking up to speak with Zaltana had caused her to become sidetracked. Now they were almost four miles off her planned course. She hung her head as Scar continued to rant.

“Thank heavens I stopped this nonsense in time,” he fumed. “We could’ve all ended up in cougar territory. Now it’ll take at least a half hour to get everyone organized again. We’ll be lucky to make it by the time that storm hits. And as for you, Sparrow, you will be careful to make sure we are not sidetracked again. Understood?”

Sparrow nodded, biting back tears. This was all her fault.

Without another word, Scar set to bunching the scattered herd together again. The horses were distracted and worried at being in an unfamiliar place. Occasionally, they would hear a sudden noise, startle and scatter, and then group back up under the admonishing of Scar. Black clouds were on the horizon by the time they were finally on the way again.

Sparrow tried to focus on which way to lead the herd, but even as she did, she could not help doubting herself. What would Storm have said if she were here? She would have been so disappointed.

“But if mother was here, none of this would have happened in the first place,” Sparrow thought. “Perhaps I shall tell Scar that I’m not the right mare to do this.”

Yes, that is what she should do. She couldn’t risk the lives of her herd members because of a foolish mistake she might make. When they got to Sunshine Field, she would speak to Scar and ask him to pick someone else. But not right now. She didn’t have the courage to face the alpha stallion now.





IV.


Thunder boomed as the herd came to the place bitterly referred to as “Bleeding Gulches.” Many horses had, in the past, fallen into one of the many crevices and had been torn by the sharp rock that lined the sides and the bottom. They were particularly dangerous this time of year, as the snow on the mountains was melting, which could cause flash floods. Sparrow knew that they had to navigate through the maze of terrain slowly, but the storm was approaching fast.

“It looks bad,” said one.

“Do you think we’ll get caught in it?”

“Couldn’t be. Scar and Sparrow said we’d be out of here before it broke.”

“But that was before Sparrow led us the wrong way.”

“I hope she knows what she’s doing.”

Sparrow wasn’t sure she knew what she was doing anymore. How could she have been so foolish? She might’ve put the whole herd at risk. Now they had the storm to deal with. There were very few places where they could take shelter in Bleeding Gulches.

Presently, she heard hoof beats. Justin trotted up beside her.

“You seem depressed,” he said gently.

Sparrow remained looking straight ahead. “I’m fine.”

“Your hooves are dragging and your ears are drooping. That doesn’t seem fine to me.”

“I don’t really want to talk about it,” Sparrow said. She was lying, but she didn’t think she could discuss her present state without breaking down completely.

Justin sighed. “Alright. I’ll leave you alone.”

The hurt and confusion in Justin’s voice only added to her own frustration. She had already endangered the herd, and now she had put her friendship in jeopardy. She hadn’t done anything right since the day had started.

Suddenly, her sensitive ears caught a strange sound. She stopped, and the rest of the herd followed suit. The next instant, Scar was beside her.

“What is it?” he asked with his usual unflinching nature.

“Do you hear it?” Sparrow asked. It sounded as if a group of horses was approaching them from the direction of the storm, but that couldn’t be. There were no other horses in sight, and the thumping noises were too faint and too numerous to belong to another herd.

“I hear it,” Scar agreed. “It is too heavy to be rain.”

The sound changed from a soft thudding to a clacking, like rocks falling onto rocks. The next instant, a white lump landed square between Scar’s eyes. He reared up and whinnied – if it could be called that, for it sounded more like a roar – in fury and surprise. At the same instant, a blinding flash of lightning ripped through the sky, followed by an earsplitting clap of thunder.

The herd fell into a panic. All at once, shouts and whinnies of terror filled the air. Some horses bolted for cover. Others reared up, screaming.

Another flash. Another peal of thunder. It was as if the clouds were full rocks, which they now threw unmercifully at the panicked mammals below them.

At first, Sparrow was just as terrified and bewildered. No sooner had she bolted than she realized what was happening.

“Hail!” she shouted, competing with the terrified exclamations and the pounding of the rock-like ice. “Everyone stay calm! It’s only hail. Find something to stand under! Protect your heads!”

Her herd was beyond help. The horses ran and turned and scattered like leaves in an angry river. She could see the whites of their eyes. Scar was still furious, striking out as if at some unseen enemy. Sparrow shouted again and again, but it was hopeless. She could only watch as her friends and family dashed madly in every direction.

The she saw Justin. He had regained his composure. He too repeated Sparrow’s words to those around him - futile though it was – as he navigated towards the tree that Sparrow had taken cover under.

“I can’t get them to stop!” Sparrow yelled to him above the hail, which was now coming down in a torrent.

“Keep trying,” Justin replied. “We’ll do it together!”

Something made of pale gold streaked before them. It was Dandelion. With horror, Sparrow realized she was running straight towards the edge of one of the gulches.

“Dandelion, no!” Sparrow shouted. She tried to move, but her knees refused to budge.

With a neigh of determination, Justin raced across the distance between them and the palomino. Sparrow watched, utterly helpless, as the distance between them and the drop closed. With one last turn of his haunches, Justin leaped in front of Dandelion inches before she reached the edge. Dandelion tried to turn, but was too late. She collided with Justin. The big bay lost his footing and went plummeting into the gulch.

“NO!” Sparrow screamed, half in horror and half in desperation. Ignoring the sting of each hailstone, she left her shelter and ran to where she had last seen Justin. She did not notice that Dandelion, too scared and bewildered to think clearly, ran off in the opposite direction.

The hail was so thick it was almost impossible to see. Sparrow stumbled toward the edge of the gulch, bruised and crushed. She called out to Justin.

No response.

She called for anyone who might be nearby.

Silence.

The hail subsided. For a few minutes, Sparrow stood still, questioning what to do. The herd had been scattered in the chaos, and she might not be able to gather them together again. She only knew the location of one other horse, who at that moment might be hurt or even dying. She couldn’t just leave him. She had to get to him.

Carefully, she stepped over the edge of the gulch. Her hooves crunched on the loose rocks, some of which skittered down the incline. She walked sideways, as her mother had taught her, being careful to bend her legs and use her head to balance. The gulch was not too deep, nor was the slope too steep, but if Justin were badly injured, it would be difficult to get him out.

When she reached the bottom of the gulch, she saw a large dark shape through the rain, which came down in a mist.

“Justin,” Sparrow whispered, stumbling towards him.

Justin laid on his right side in the middle of the valley. As Sparrow approached, he lifted his head slightly.

“I though I heard you,” he whispered weakly.

Sparrow nudged his cheek. “Can you stand?”

Justin tried. When he put pressure on his right leg, he cringed and crumpled to the rocky ground again.

“Guess I won’t be walking out of here,” he panted.

“Let me see,” Sparrow said.

Still gasping from pain, Justin slowly rolled onto his other side. When Sparrow saw his wounds, her stomach turned. Three large gashes gaped from Justin’s strong shoulder, surrounded by countless cuts and scrapes. The wounds bled freely, and the blood quickly covered most of Justin’s leg.

Sparrow’s mind flew. Mud. She needed mud to stop the bleeding. She pawed the ground, hoping to find soft earth beneath the pebbles. But there was none. What now? Water? He needed to drink to make up for all the fluid he was losing. If he didn’t…

“Justin,” Sparrow said with a cracking voice. “You have to try and drink some of the rain. You have to.”

No response.

“Justin?” Sparrow looked at the face of her friend. His nostrils quivered, indicating that he was alive, but his eyes were shut. He had fallen unconscious.

So this is how it was to end. Her herd scattered, her best friend dying, and she was powerless to help.

“I failed,” Sparrow cried. “Scar, Justin, I failed you. If it weren’t for me, none of this would’ve happened. Mother, I’m sorry.”





V.

It was still raining. Sparrow’s body steamed with sweat, but her face steamed with tears as she stood over her unconscious friend. What would she do without him? He had been there for her when she had lost Storm. And now…

Sparrow crumpled to the floor of the gulch in despair. She didn’t care that she might get caught in a flash flood. What did it matter whether she lived or died anymore?

“If only mother had been here,” she whispered.

The wind sang mournfully. The thunder became more and more distant. Still the rain came, turning the landscape gray with its mist. Then all at once, Sparrow felt someone watching her. She looked up, afraid to see a cougar or wolf waiting to pounce. Instead, she saw the tall, majestic outline of a horse in the rain. She blinked, wondering if she was seeing things. The shape remained and came closer.

Sparrow squinted. The horse was gray, perhaps due to the rain, with warm, kind eyes. The mane and tail were too pale to see.

A strange sense of familiarity rose in Sparrow’s mind. “Mother?” she whispered.

The horse made no reply, and instead reared on its hind legs and whinnied. Its hooves made no noise on the rocks, but its cry echoed through the rain. Sparrow’s ears pricked. That was it. She could call to her herd, and it would be amplified because of the gulch’s walls.

Sparrow felt her strength renewed. She scrambled to her hooves and walked toward the shimmering figure in the mist until their noses almost touched. Then she raised her head and whinnied. She whinnied as if her voice could reach between the worlds. The gray horse joined her. They cried out powerfully, their voices echoing through the gulch. They reared and struck the ground as if their very lives depended on it. Sparrow felt as though she was dreaming, but she was perfectly awake. She lost count of how many times she raised her voice. Then in a heartbeat, the rain stopped, the mysterious horse vanished, and Sparrow could hear the sound of approaching hooves.

“Here!” she shouted, all her hope returning. “Down here!”

Moments later, the weathered face of Scar appeared over the edge of the cliff.

“Are you hurt?” he boomed.

“Not me,” Sparrow said. “But Justin is. I can’t get him out by myself.”

Five more horses appeared next to Scar as he ventured down the incline.

“Carefully, now,” Scar said as he and the other stallions made their way down.

“How did you find us?” Sparrow asked as the horses worked to revive Justin.

“We heard you neighing,” said a stallion named Hawthorn. “After we finally calmed down, we realized it was you and followed the sound.”

“What about everyone else? Are they okay?”

“Everyone’s fine. They all knew to go towards you. However did you get that idea?”

Sparrow smiled. “My mother taught me,” she replied. She didn’t have to tell anyone about her encounter. The more she thought about it, the more she decided that it was best stored and treasured in her heart alone.

By sunset, the herd grazed contentedly in the light of the sunset across Sunshine Field. Sparrow stood a little ways off, next to her friend. Justin’s wounds had stopped bleeding, and apart from being stiff, he was feeling better. The rain had brought with it an increased availability of water, and Justin had quenched his thirst in full.

“Tell me something, Sparrow,” Justin said as he shifted to lie on his uninjured side. “Do you still have doubts about being a leader?”

“You really should be resting, you know,” she replied playfully.

“I know,” he replied. “But I’d like you to tell me.”

“To be honest, I’m still not completely sure of myself,” Sparrow said. “I think that’ll just have to come with time.”

“But today you saw that when needed, you knew exactly what to do.”

“Yes,” Sparrow agreed. “I know I can’t change what happened, but I can change what happens in the future. I’ve learned the weight of my responsibilities. And…”

The sun fell behind the horizon. The land was covered in a glorious shade of gold. A new day would follow. Sparrow looked out over her herd.

“I’ve discovered that if I do my best to care for us, I can be a great leader. Just like mother.”

Horse Gentler & Stardust
2019-10-10 09:52:29
Ocean's story
By Arnora

The moment i was born, it was like
the world was .... looking at me. Every thing semmed to be following me. A ringing call sdounded across the plains. The call to flee. I was on my feet, galloping away as we fled from the humans "No!!" My mother whinnied "You will not touch my one filly!" "Run" my father told me "Run ! I will catch up to you later.Run"I ran. I didn't look back as I ran. When the herd had outdisdaced the humans and were a safe distace away , our leader made a herd count. My parents had been caught. Another marer began to nurse me.
...................2 years later....................
I wass a two-year-old when it happened. The herd was grazing in the plains when the humans came. We ran, but I was caught. When they trucked me off to a pipe coral and put me inside , I was with other herds. They seemed to have a leader who was planning an escape.But as I made my way through the horses, I saw my parents. Hurriying over to them, I called to them."Ocean" my mother cried "You got captured."Several days later we escaped. When me and my parents got out we ran a way from this herd and found our own. My herd had a vote and in the end I became lead mare. We traveled to a new place where humans could not find us. Now, three years after that I am still lead mare and have two healthy foals.Sometimes in the evnings I look over the hills and wonder what horses have evaded the humans like my herd, and who helped them, becase you can't escape without help from others.

arnora & Bosco2
2019-10-14 17:50:17
Save me

part 1


I sat at my computer, staring unblinkingly at the blank, white screen. A screen where there should have be words. Lots of words. My fingers should have been aching from typing, but instead, all I was stuck with was an empty brain and a headache from staring at the screen too long.

There was a knock at my door, and I scrambled to cover up the stark white nothing before my mom could see how pathetic my essay was going.

But luckily it wasn't my mom who came through the door.

"Why are you still here?" Ariana, my best/only, friend said. "We were supposed to meet at the stable more than half an hour ago."

"Oops." My cheeks flushed. Was that today? "Sorry. I have to write this essay. It's the last thing before I turn in my college application." And it was slowly eating away my brain.

"Well, we both know you think better around horses. She looped her arm through mine and pulled me up from my swivel chair. "No escaping this Katy. You know you can't out argue me."

I sighed. Unfortunately, that was true. So I let Ariana drag me out of my room.

"Katy," Ariana said a few minutes later when I was driving us to the stables. "Do you think Micheal will be there?"

My eyes narrowed. "Ariana, I hope that wasn't the only reason you dragged me out here."

"Oh don't be so suspicious. And of course not. I'll bet you find the perfect thing to write your essay about."

I put the essay out of my head and focused on picturing my boy Alejandro's face. The gorgeous red gelding always calmed me down. I kept reliving how he had helped me through our move from Spain a few years ago, until we pulled up to the large-but-homey property of Gildamere.

Ariana leaped out of the car as soon as we pulled up, and I followed soon after.

As soon as I stepped out next to Ariana, our friend Micheal came running up and grabbed me by the shoulders. I was all prepared to smack him and run when I saw the panic in his eyes, and the way his hair looked like he had lost a fight with his pillow.

"Katy, tack up Alejandro. We need to ride out to Ravensrock NOW!" His eyes had stretched so far they looked like eggs.

"Micheal, what are you talking about?" Ariana demanded. She looked nervous. I couldn't lame her. This was definitely giving me chills.

Micheal ran a hand through his hair. "Come with me." He said. He half ran to the barn door and pulled it open. We followed him past the stalls, feed room, and tack room until we reached the office.

He picked up a piece of paper.

"A few hours ago Randy rode out to Ravensrock on Jackson."

"Jackson?" I asked. "Why didn't he take Lindy?" Jackson was one of the school horses, and it was weird that he would have taken him instead of His own high strung mare he adored so much.

"I don't know. But the important thing is, he didn't come back."

"But Ravensrock is only five miles away." Ariana said. "He should have been back within an hour or two."

"Exactly. And about twenty minutes ago, this came through the old fax machine." He held up the piece of paper.

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"What does it mean?" It was probably the stupidest question ever, but I couldn't think of anything else to say.

"It means we have to ride out to Ravensrock and look for anything that might have caused Randy to send this."

I was already half way out the door before Ariana asked a questions probably should have been on my mind.

"What about Jenna?"

Our over-enthusiastic riding coach had to have known about this already.

"She's went to alert the authorities." Micheal said.

"Well what about Daniel?" I asked. It was a fifty-fifty chance that the horsey equivalent of a janitor was there, but worth a shot.

Micheal shook his head. "Day off. And all the other riders are have either left or are on thanksgiving vacation."

"Well we can't leave without anyone here." Ariana pointed out.

"That's why I waited until you two got here. Ariana, why don't you stay here and wait until Jenna gets back, and Katy and I can ride out to Ravensrock?"

"Uh, sure." I said before Ariana could argue. Truth was, there was no way I could stay here knowing any of this without going crazy. Which was probably why Ariana narrowed her eyes at me before we hurried to the barn to tack up Alejandro and Tiger.

"Think we'll find anything?" I had to ask as I threw on my blanket and saddle. Alejandro jerked his head up, not used to the way I dumped my tack on him without even giving him a brush. But there was no Time for that now.

"I don't know. But I hope so. Anything could have happened. He could have fallen into a ditch and hurt himself, or Jackson could have run away and he got lost. Probably no big deal."

I didn't want to burst Micheal's positivity bubble, but there was a rather important detail. "How did he get access to a fax machine?"

Micheal froze, neither of us wanting to think about what that could mean. What it *probably* meant. From then on we tacked up in silence.

Within two minutes we had fully tacked up, and were mounting outside.

"You guys have your phones right?" Ariana called as she joined us.

I held up mine, and Micheal nodded.

"Okay, keep the ringer on and please come back soon. Stick to the plan. Ride to Ravensrock, look for anything suspicious, and come back. Do NOT take longer than two hours."

"You sound like a worried mother." Micheal teased, but he looked just as concerned.

"Okay Randy," I said as I snapped the buckle of my helmet. "Let's find out what happened to you."



SWC & Serenity
2019-10-15 20:40:06
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