Kane opened up bleary eyes at the sound of the barn doors being opened, and cool spring morning air drifted all the way to her stall. She blinked a couple times in confusion to her surroundings before everything quickly came back to her in a rush. She escaped from the whitecoats and had wandered around for a while before finding a stable to rest for the night. Now the moment came for her to decide.
Kane flicked her ears back in thought, should she stay here or move on? True, the likely hood of her being found here by the Erasers was slim to none and the life would be easy but she couldn’t help but feel anxious to press on and not stay in one place for too long. Kane’s thoughts were cut short at the sound of grain hitting plastic feed bins. Eyes widened in excitement, food! She joined in the bellowing of the other horses calling for the humans to hurry and feed them.
“So what do we do with her?”
Kane looked up from her food and listened to the conversation while gleefully crunching on the grain in her mouth.
“No one claimed her, so I guess we work her like the rest,” the father said.
Kane reached down and took another mouthful of grain. Work? I wonder what type of work I could possibly do.
“Come on girl, just work with me a bit okay?”
Kane pinned her ears back at Austin as he tried to tighten the girth again around her belly. She tried to turn and bite him, but a rope tied to a wall kept her head from reaching that far back. Kane brought her head back with an angry snort. Sure of course she would behave what reason would she have not to, other than the thick leather strap being pulled tighter and tighter around her stomach. WHY DON”T YOU TRY HAVING YOUR INSIDES SQUISHED OUT OF YOU!!!
“There,” he finally said and she wanted to give a sigh of relief, but before she could Austin brought out another horrible contraption. Kane began to back up but was quickly stopped by the rope once more as Austin brought it toward her face. “Woah girl, woah,” he said soothingly.
Kane ignored the words and lifted her head higher out of his reach. No way was he getting that on her! He would have to kill her first, shoot her and rip her head down to place it on her. Never in a million years would she allow such a thing-
“Alright girl, let’s work on some basic cues,” Austin wiggled into a more comfortable seat. Kane stood in the center of an outdoor arena. Head and ears lowered, this was humiliating. She moved the bit in her mouth but it still felt awkward and uncomfortable.
Kane’s eyes widened as heels dug in her side. That was it! Her head snaked around and grabbed the young man’s ankle with strong blunt teeth. With a quick snap of her neck Austin laid in front of her on his back looking up at the angry mare.
“Looks like she showed you who’s top horse,” an older voice chuckled.
Kane looked up to see the father standing at the fence, his arms folded and propped against the top railing on the white fence. “Boy, haven’t you learned anything about girls? You have to treat them gently and with respect.”
Kane watched as Austin lifted himself off the ground. She pinned her ears back as he reached for the loose reins and felt a sudden rush of power as she saw him flinch backwards. It was nice for the first time to be the one feared rather than living in fear, from the Erasers.
Austin appeared to brace himself and reach for her reins again, this time giving a couple of comforting words as he did so. Kane flicked her ears up in interest. Stubborn one wasn’t he? She allowed him to take hold of her reins and lead her back into the center of the arena. She watched his back as he led her through the sandy arena. It was strong, but not overly muscular, covered in a worn red and black plaid shirt. She liked him. Didn’t know why, but something about him she liked, call it animal instincts.
“Now remember boy, take it nice and easy.”
Austin stopped her in the center of the arena and gave a quick yet thorough check to make sure all the tack was in correct position and all of it was at the right tightness. Swinging up he settled himself in his seat once more.
“Try again now.”
“Okay girl,” Austin said softly leaning forward and patting her neck. “I’m gonna give a light kick and you move forward, alright?”
Her ears flicked forward, was that what he wanted? She gave a snort of understanding and waited for the cue, moving towards the rail as she felt the soft nudge.
Austin worked with her for several months, and in that time Kane became healthy and strong, her body filled out and the daily routine of exercise devolved her muscles. Her coat glowed red from the constant care of good grooming and the bound between her and Austin grew. She trusted him above anyone, and he began to favor her above all the other horses in the stables, giving her extra treats and special attention.
He came then with her halter and lead rope. She nickered to him happily. He chuckled as he opened up the door and patted her neck, “hey girl, what do you say to a run?” She whinnied and threw her head up and down with excitement. “Ok, ok girl. Settle down so that I can put this on.” She did as she was told.
Her hooves clopped on the cement as he led her out of the stables and into the beautiful outdoors. “Austin, where are you going?” The two of them stopped and watched as his father approached with raised eyebrows.
“Just going on a ride, want to see just how fast this little filly can go.”
“And your chores?”
The boy sighed. “I’ll do them when I get back, it will rain soon and I won’t be able to go out. I would love to see if she is fast enough to enter her in some competitions.”
“Fine, fine,” he said waving the boy away and turning to go back to his work. “but be quick.”
“Oh,” Austin said with a large grin, “I sure hope to be.”
The wonderful exhilaration, her hooves pounded on the soft ground below her. Faster, faster she took them. The air whistled around them as they pushed towards greater speeds. Austin gave a cheerful laugh. “My god are you a fast one.” He leaned back in his seat and she slowed. He wound them through several different turns, they reached an apple orchard where the young boy climbed one of the trees to retrieve a delicious apple for her. He took a bite and offered the rest to her before swinging back onto her and nudging her forward with a light lope.
Kane reached down and cropped the grass with her blunt teeth as her rider decided which path to take, he had made sure to use a bitless bridle which now allowed her free access of her mouth. “Hmm, right would probably be our best bet. Looks like a storm will be hitting us soon and I don’t want us to get stuck in it.” She felt him shift on her back. “Though it would be nice to stop at the market and buy some things for supper tonight.
She lifted her head still chomping on the sweet grass. She smelled the air and felt an unsettling presence, she suddenly wished to get moving. She side stepped a couple paces and threw her head up and down.
Austin quickly checked her with the reins and patted her neck, “its ok girl.” He gave a sigh, “If your acting up I guess the storm must be coming in strong, let’s go home.”
She gave a relieved soft nicker and cantered off to the right, towards home. They were making fair progress. Kane was quick and sure footed on the uncertain terrain, and her rider was soft on the bit while she found the right path, and pulled her head up whenever she took a wrong step. The grass grew tall, reaching her stomach and even her shoulders. She gave a nervous snort, but knew better then to run full pelt when she couldn’t see the ground. Something though, something was lurking in the grass.
“It’s ok girl,” Austin said giving a soft pat to her neck, “we’ll be home soon.”
She shook her neck and continued. She hoped that he was right, that everything would be ok. What was that? Her ears flicked back at the sound, a rustle? She tried to pick up the pace but felt a pressure on her nose holding her back. He didn’t understand, something was following them and moving fast. The pressure didn’t lighten up but steadily increased bringing her to a trot then a walk finally he had her halt.
Kane pawed the ground nervously, they had to keep moving.
“Hello.” It was Austin, apparently having stopped her to pick up a call on his cell phone. “Yes….soon we are on our way back…great faster than I thought she would be and incredible light on her feet…yeah see you soon.” There was click as he closed his phone and she felt him shift slightly in the saddle to put away the phone. “Sorry girl, dad just wanted to know if we were close, apparently the storm is worse than originally thought. Let’s run back.” Kane threw her head up and down needing to get moving. He lifted the pressure off her nose and she gathered her hind muscles preparing to sprint forward, and that’s when it all happened.
Snapping jaws came out of the tall grass, Kane nickered in fear and reared up, dancing on her hind legs away from the attack. Another attack came from behind and she allowed her front end to fall back to the ground and hold her weight as she kicked back hearing a satisfying yelp. She heard rustling that gradually grew fainter. Good, one down. She turned to see the other one who had attacked her first turning and running away. What was that all about, only two Erasers attacked? And one fled without even fighting? She ignored the curious circumstances and finally started to take note of what was going on around her.
The storm had finally caught them, lightening streaked the sky and rain pelted down on her soaking her coat…and Austin lay on the ground not moving. She transformed back to her human form and stumbled towards him awkwardly on two feet.
“A-Austin?” She kneeled down next to him and reached her shaking off colored hand towards his still body. She lightly pressed her fingers to his chest. She gave a soft sigh of relief. Thank god, he was still alive. “Help,” she cried out hoping maybe someone would hear her and come rescue Austin. But the only reply she got was the boom of thunder.