I hid my disgust as the riders talked about their show jumping competitions. Cindy, one of the riders, believed she was one of the best. She had three pure bred dutch warmbloods imported from Europe. The past week she never stopped talking about how one of horses had arthritis at fifteen years olds -but that came as no surprise to me since she made the horse do jumps almost daily since he was six.
I was mucking out one of the horses stalls when she and her friend walked past me with a smug grin on her face. “Groom him for me,” she said.
I continued cleaning out the dirty pelts, “my job is to do maintenance on the barn,” I said.
She gave me a glare and whispered something to her friend. Then they walked to the cross ties. A let out a sigh of relief, I already didn’t like riders who made horses do stuff they normally wouldn’t do. I wasn’t appalled by jumping either -just disgusted by riders that made them do it too often and disposed of their horses afterwards.
Blaze was one of those horses, now my horse that I bordered at this place for an absurd amount of money. I had hired some guys to start doing fencing at my house so hopefully he wouldn’t have to stay here long. I tried to let him inn the arena whenever I could. I hated seeing him in a stall, swaying, biting the stall, having nothing to do, but stare at the four walls around him. My blood boiled every time I thought about what they did to him. The destroyed his vocal cords to try and expand his windpipe. He used to be a race horse, but as long as he was with me, he was never setting foot on a track again.
Then there was a knock on the stall door, “excuse me,” it was Nancy, the owner of the barn -one of the only few people I could stand here. “I know its not what we agreed upon, but Cindy has a big competition coming up and wants you to groom her horse.”
“Why? Wouldn’t grooming him herself help her establish a better bond with him,” I said.
Nancy sighed, “you’re right.” She leaned against the stall and rubbed her temples, “but this horse is actually one she just bought and she’s been struggling with him.”
“All the more reason for her to do it herself,” I said, picking up another pile of dirt and putting it in the wheelbarrow.
Nancy gave me an exhausted glance, “I know, but her parents pay a lot of money for her to be here, if she complains about the slightest thing here, I get to hear about it from her parents.” It wasn’t fair, she was lucky her family could afford all of this for her. Meanwhile, I took barn work part time so I wouldn’t have to pay as much on board.
“Fine,” I said. I let the pitchfork rest of the side of the stall door and walked to the cross ties. I grabbed a curry comb out of a small grooming box kit that sat on top of a dirty white stool. When I approached him the horses ears when straight down, and when I starting grooming his shoulder he kicked out at me with his hind leg and I hit him hard on the rump – he stopped shortly after. Nancy was watching me, but I knew it was an act to win Cindy’s approval. I knew if she had a few more consist riders, she’d give Cindy and her family a piece of her mind -but I knew she couldn’t afford to.
Cindy came out of the tack room with a english saddle that looked almost brand new. I lost track of how much tack she had in there. I ended up just keeping mine at home and bringing it when I had time to ride. “It’s about time,” she said. “I hope you realize that my family is paying your salary, so when I tell you to do something you do it.”
I noticed Nancy raise a brow at her, and I almost laughed at what she said. No one here would ever get paid a salary working here and I didn’t get any money, it just got taken off my board. I walked out of the way as she put the tack on and the horse tried several times to bit her and she muttered something under her breathe. I was about to head back to the stall I was working on, then Cindy said, “wait, I’m going to ride him in the outdoor arena and there’s horse poop in there that needs to be cleaned up.”
“Alright I bring the wheel barrel over,” I said with my back turned to her so she didn’t see the glare on my face. I had cleaned the outdoor arena first thing in the morning, there couldn’t have been that much.
And when I brought the barrel and the pitch fork up there, I knew I was right. Only one pile in the corner of the arena. “I can get it,” Nancy said, but I told I’d do it. I thought she had to put up with her too much that day and I didn’t want her to be put through more trouble than she had been already.
Before I even got up to the arena, I heard a loud scream. Cindy had tried to make her horse jump a five foot jump and the horse reared instead, sending her into the ground, then the horse galloped to the fence and jumped. He then grazed on the lush green grass right outside of the arena.
I smiled, at least not all of the horses put up with her.
Prompt: write about an animal setting itself free.