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Horse Strong

Excerpt: I hold out an apple and wave it in the air so she will get the scent. “Here, girl,” I call, hoping I’ve got her gender right. She eyes me suspiciously, puts her head down, and grazes on the spring grass. I can’t blame her. It is lovely and green where she is standing. But I’ve risked my life from death by snake and death by car and death by thistle for this moment, and the least she could do is show appreciation. Besides, she will love these apples.

I manage to crawl under the barbed wire, but my sweatshirt gets caught and I can’t easily free it. Not good. I had no idea how mean barbed wire actually was. I tug myself free, ripping my sweatshirt in the process.

“Here, beauty,” I say quietly as I walk slowly towards her, holding out an apple on the palm of my hand. I can feel the moisture from the ground seeping through my shoes into my socks, but I keep on going, doing my best to avoid any of the puddles in the low spots. The mare, if she is a girl, raises her head. I’d like to report she is happy to see me, but her ears are back and she is twitching her tail angrily. I hope she isn’t a stallion. This might not have been such a good idea.

I am twenty feet away. “Easy, horse,” I murmur in my best I-mean-no-harm voice.

Her response is a snort, a kick in the air, and a wild dash away, her tail, weighted as it is with mud, held high. I see now she is a girl. An unfriendly one. It’s impossible to tell if she is old or young, not that you can tell a horse’s age except by teeth. I am not feeling very much like getting close to her teeth. I have a feeling she is meaner than that thoroughbred stallion back in Lexington.


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