Writing and Expression From The Sunshine Coast

The Shoeless Horse, Episode 21: Coming To Grips With The Reality Of “Humane”

in Spoken Word/Storytelling by

The pale horse staggered along the path in the sunlit field, his head heavy on the girl’s shoulder.  Never in a million years could Bonnie have imagined a day like this.

She was devastated by what she’d seen today – by what she, the vet and Pete had done. They had caused a brave, feisty little horse to believe he was being murdered.

In fact, they had sent Hogan half way to Nevermore with anesthetic in his veins that drained away the horse’s strength, his ability to fight and even to think.

She couldn’t believe the horse was leaning on her afterward. How could he not be afraid of her now?  His head was so heavy, and she too could barely stand as she stumbled and weaved with Hogan down the path toward the lowest section of the Pinda brothers’ wide pasture.

From the window of the neighbouring house on the street above, Marion and her mother watched the stricken pair, wondering if both girl and horse were going to stay up on their feet.

“Mum, what have they done?” asked Marion.

“I came into the kitchen, something caught my eye, and there they were,” said Sylvia, dabbing her eyes. “In the middle of it.  I watched him hit the ground.”

Down below on the path Bonnie was tired and frightened, worried about the horse tumbling to the ground, hurting himself and possibly taking her with him. She’d heard a variety of tales about horses rolling on their riders…

“Good boy,’ she murmured to the horse, …keep walking, it’s going to be all right soon…”

She desperately hoped he wasn’t picking up the fear in her voice, her body.

Even now, as she thinks of that awful day she feels frightened and alone.  It’s a blur. Did anyone come down to the field to be with her ? Did Marion leave her mother and walk to her side? Did the Pinda brothers see what happened?

Her parents would have been at work, or just coming home. Where were her brothers, and Dawn? Everyone in the family had their own lives. Her siblings, unlike Bonnie, were involved with sports, so they may not have been home either.

After many decades, the weight of her horse’s head and the profound sorrow she felt is etched into her soul.  She helped torment a being who was both brave and innocent. He’d become dangerous because he believed he deserved to be free of fear and pain.

‘Many people say animals don’t comprehend, don’t have ideas, don’t think or feel,’ Bonnie said to friends later, ‘and those people are so wrong.’

It was clear to her that the horse in her charge had arrived in Port Moody with a bundle of experiences that had molded him into the creature he was now.

Perhaps becausehe’d been lovingly treated earlier, his spirit wasn’t broken by his experiences with men carrying and using tools. Instead, Hogan was clearly willing to fight to get away when he believed people were again going to hurt him.  How could Bonnie not admire him ?

Weeks ago, the manager of the riding stable had yelled shocking words at her .

“This animal is LOCO – he needs to be PUT DOWN!”

So… Bonnie had worked to find a solution. Today was supposed to be the gentle, kind way to get a difficult horse onto the ground to work on his hooves.  Instead, today was another awful nightmare.

‘Good boy, keep walking, that’s it,’ she’d said again to the dazed, exhausted horse.

Deep down, she believed this animal didn’t deserve the treatment she herself was orchestrating.  As they continued to walk slowly in the meadow, the hills of Anmore slowly changed colour . The afternoon sun faded, and with it went its warmth, beauty and hope.

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