Friday, April 19, 2024

The Deep Black Shadow

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Prose

The doorway filled with a deep black shadow, and the great figure of the huge grey stallion entered the small stable, head held high, nostrils flared, sniffing the air, seeking out whatever had invaded his space.

In the hayrack above the manger the small boy drew back in fear as the huge animal ambled up, sniffing and snorting. The boy almost dropped the half eaten apple he had been enjoying, then in a quavering voice, tried to soothe the animal, offering his apple in reward. The huge head dropped slightly and leaned forward and sniffed the offering, then the great mouth opened revealing two sets of enormous teeth, the grey lips quivered and, with the utmost care, the apple was taken so gently the shaking hand scarcely felt it go. Nodding his head and smacking his lips the big gentle animal seemed to be saying ‘Thanks little one, I enjoyed that treat.’

He took out the rest of his lunch; cheese sandwich and a Welsh cake or two, all were shared and eaten with such gentle manners that the boy lost all his nervousness and tickled the ears of his newly found friend. The boy chatted away and the horse swished his tail, occasionally nodding his head as though after profound thought he agreed with his young friend. Then planting his feet squarely, he closed his eyes and went to sleep, showing implicit trust and happy to share his stable.

The boy gazed at the beautiful animal and marvelled at the power of that neck and shoulders, the strength and grace of this gentle and graceful creature would remain in his memory for life.

A bond had been forged between the two and remained so for two summers and then sadly they parted company.

It was the custom in those days to take the animals in for the winter months and let them out again in late spring. In the case of the stallions, they were taken in to be cosseted and pampered, and then taken out on their travels to visit all their mares in the surrounding area. This meant a lot of washing and brushing, plaiting of tails and mane, all the decorations polished and shining, the great feet oiled and cleaned, bridle and back pad polished and reflecting all their surroundings. The handler too looking the part, jacket and breeches all clean and pressed, his boots and his leggings shining like cats eyes.

The boy was so proud, this magnificent powerful God of Nature was his friend and treated him as gently, as a mother does her baby.

Then, of course, after three full seasons he had to be sold, the owner had to be prevent in-breeding amongst his charges, passed on to pastures new. The boy understood this, but that next summer was to be one that always had something missing and the boy often murmured under his breath ‘Where are you now, my gentlest Giant? Think of me sometimes, I know I do you. As you roam, may it be in long green grass, in fields of buttercups and daisies, with a stream to stand in on hot summer days and quench your thirst at will. You were my first really true friend.’

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