Independence Day

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The dew lays heavy on my back and in my nostrils. The sun hasn’t yet risen above the horizon but the day has begun.

I unlock my joints and shake my legs to clear the stiffness away, wandering slowly towards the nearby stream to take my first drink of the day. I slide my nose into the water and the coolness causes me to jump, splashing the water back onto my chest and down my front legs, causing a deep shiver to run through my body. I stop my splashing, smelling the air and listening to sounds carried by the morning breeze. It would not do to let the man catch me again, this time, luck might not be with me.

I shiver again when I think of the man and his ways of stealing spirit from your heart. It’s always the same with him, he admires the rawness and the wildness of something and then sets right away to tame it for his own uses.

I made my mind up quickly, the morning that he caught me unaware that I would reclaim my freedom or I would die. I would not let him on my back for long, if I let him on at all and in the end, his butt touched my back only momentarily before I shook him off, like a summer fly.

I tried to strike out at him with my hooves as he hit the ground but he had rolled away and gained his feet too quickly. I turned to face him and he side stepped towards the fence. I rushed at him and chased him over and out of my reach.

I wanted him to know that I was not one of his plow horses, born and raised inside his cage. I would not do his bidding, now or ever. I would not eat his grain and I would either be free to eat the wild grasses again or I would cease to be. I would be of no use to him.

I had waited for him to walk out of sight that morning, knowing that he would soon leave me alone and tend to his other duties, as he had every morning since he had captured me. I was beginning to feel the effects of little food and water, I knew that this must be the morning that I challenged his cage.

He had stood leaning against the gate staring at me, he had seen no other horse like me. I would not give into him as some of the others would. I had spent too much time free, I had too much free heart built up inside of me. I could not survive his way of life, even if I chose it.

After he had been gone from the gate for some time, I walked slowly around and around the enclosure, looking for a weak spot. I leaned against the fence here and there, looking for a place that gave a little too much. Eventually, I found a place where it had been mended before but the mend had not stayed tight.

As I watched for his return, I began pushing slowly and intently against the weakness. I swayed back and forth, putting my weight against it, then easing back away. It took very little time to work the mend almost completely apart. As the pieces parted, I heard his boots shuffle around the corner of the barn.

This would be my only chance, so I heaved one last time and sent the pieces of fence popping and flying as my chest pushed through and my hooves pushed down the splintering wood. He heard the noise and started to trot towards the corral but I was already through and close to a gallop. He yelled and flapped his arms like a giant buzzard, trying to spook me back towards the barn but there was only one fence between me and the high plateau, that was my summer home.

I glanced back once, to see if he would chase me, I knew that he would not catch me, even up on the back of his horse. He hadn’t even bothered to mount up, he knew I was gone.

 

text copyright 1996

image copyright 2013 by Traveler Wendell

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