Title: Freedom Ring
Rating: PG-13 (for a horse slaughter scene later on and perhaps some light swearing)
Summary: A first person account of the life of a mustang filly, how her family is split up, and how she is affected by the Burns Amendment.
A/N: I got inspiration. Hope you peeps enjoy.
In the cold winter of 2004, a man named Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican Senator, slipped a short paragraph into a spending bill. The bill was passed, and before long it was quite plain that something was wrong. Then someone read the paragraph in the law. It said that all Mustangs over ten years old, or who had been unsuccessfully put up for adoption three times, could be sold to the highest bidder. Without restriction of any kind. Before long, forty-one Mustangs had been slaughtered for their meat so that the wealthy of France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Japan could enjoy a "delicacy" – horsemeat. I was born into this world. And I had the great misfortune to be born a Mustang.
I was born on the Fourth of July, two years before the Burns Amendment was made law. My mother, lead mare of a large herd, told me I was destined to be great. She said there was something special about me, that my name would someday be known by everyone. I never took her seriously. All I knew was that I was the daughter of the most powerful stallion around. He was a tall red chestnut named Commander. He was the great grandson of Hidalgo, the legendary Mustang who helped save our breed so many years ago. Maybe that's why mommy told me I would be great. I never really cared, because my world was happy.
When I was two my mommy started telling me stories about the White Bird. The stories were about how any Mustang who was hunted by the White Bird never came back, except for a select few who galloped back, exhausted, terrified, and without their family. These poor souls often went mad, running away from the slightest noise, jumping at any movement, never calming down. My mommy would nuzzle my bright chestnut and white neck, and tell me that I shouldn't worry because the White Bird had never ever come anywhere near our territory. It only calmed me a little.
"Wake up baby, wake up, we gotta run now, baby." It was my mommy. I struggled to my feet and shook my long black and white mane. I was a bright chestnut paint, with a star, stripe, and snip on my face.
"Where's my sire?" I asked, looking around for the striking chestnut stallion. He wasn't there.
"No time now, baby, we gotta run. Your sire saw the White Bird, it's coming closer." She said, her voice panicked and strained. I half reared, and then quickly cantered out of the small canyon we had sheltered in that night. I heard a roar behind me and almost stopped to look back, but my mommy nipped my side and told me to keep running. We bolted through the meadows that during the day seemed so peaceful, but at night seemed to be crawling with monsters and ghosts. The four other mares in our herd, plus my older full brother Strike, all ran as if their lives depended on it. I barely stopped to think where we were running. I had to get away from the roar, the scary noise behind me, and the flashing lights that I caught glimpses of out of the corner of my eye.
After what seemed like days, we finally stopped. A metal gate closed behind us, and we saw for the first time the fence closing us in. My sire, who arrived last, reared angrily, challenging anyone to come near him. I saw something move, something tall that stood on two legs. I stared at it for a while before I realized it must be one of those humans that the older mares used to whisper about. I stood close to my mommy's side, hoping that we would be all right. The White Bird flew over us and I whinnied in fright. It shone in the early morning sun. It's metal? I thought to myself with slight bewilderment. My mommy was shaking all over, and some men with whips hit my sire because he tried to break out of the corral. Then the men drove us into a narrow alleyway and loaded us into trailers. My mommy and I were standing next to each other the whole time, terrified of being separated. The men seemed to not want to hurt us, but they had no idea how terrible it was to lock us up; we who had been free all our lives.
We were sent to holding pens somewhere in the desert. It was hot, and there was water for us to drink but there were so many of us that we almost trampled each other to get food and something to drink. Some more men came and checked my mommy and sire's teeth, and then my herd mates' teeth. They didn't check me or Strike for some reason.
"Well, Bill, those five there are over ten, that's for sure," one of the men said. The other nodded.
"Yep, almost a pity. Such nice looking horses, but the stallion's too wild to do anything with." He replied, rubbing his chin with one hand and peering at my sire from across the paddock. He sighed deeply.
"You know, my daughter was a real good hand with training the horses," he continued absently. The other man jumped slightly.
"Well I'll be damned, Bill! You haven't talked about Kate since the accident," he said, looking at Bill warily. Bill grunted a response. He kicked at a rock with his foot, staring at my sire.
"I dunno why I mentioned her. Just that stallion, he looks just like Todd, Kate's horse." He sighed and stepped away from the fence.
"C'mon, let's go get something to eat." With that he and the other man walked away. I began to wonder about humans, and if they were really as cruel as they seemed.
Three weeks later my mom and sire and my herd mates were herded into a smaller pen with other older horses. I followed my mother, keeping close to her side. The men didn't see me, but when my brother tried to come they drove him off. My sire was exhausted from fighting the humans and trying to keep the other stallions away from my mommy and me. A man with a microphone stood in front of a small crowd of seedy looking people and a few ranchers.
"All right, we have a ten year old chestnut stallion, good health," the man said, reading off of a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. With a slightly malicious smile he added, "There's 'bout twelve hundred pounds on 'him, by the way." Some of the men in the crowd chuckled darkly. My sire tossed his head and snorted as if to say "Don't laugh about me; it'll be the worse for you if you do." The man set down the clipboard on a pedestal.
"All right, let's start the bidding at three hundred," he snapped into the microphone. One of the seed looking dealers raised a hand to show he had bid. The bidding went on for a few minutes before the bidding stopped at four hundred. My sire was roped and led off to a double-decker trailer. He reared in protest, but one of his handlers hit him with a whip and he bolted forward into the trailer. My herd was sold off one by one, all to the man who bought my sire. One of the men spotted me as I followed my mother.
"What about this little one?" he said, jerking his thumb at me. The man glanced at the auctioneer, and then sneered.
"If she wants to come so damn bad, let her come." He walked away and got into a pickup truck, slamming the door shut behind him. My mother was driven into the trailer, and I was driven in with her. Thus began my long journey.
A/N: All right All right I know I probably got some of my facts wrong, but just trust me for a bit. I've never been to a Mustang auction, so I have to guess at what it's like.