THE CONVERSATION

"I don't like this!"

"You're over-reacting. There's nothing here you haven't seen before."

"There's plenty here I haven't seen before! And too much of it!"

"Just relax, don't you trust your human?"

"Of course I trust my human! It's just, well, sometimes he's not too bright. Often he doesn't know when danger lies ahead and it's up to me to tell him."

"Sure, out there in the wilderness. They count on us for that. But in here, especially in a town as large as this one we have to count on them. You're safe."

"No, I don't think so."

"Has your human ever lied to you?"

"No"

"Has he ever neglected you?"

"No"

"Has he ever punished you when you didn't deserve it?"

"Well…."

"Honestly?"

"Oh I suppose not."

"So just relax and take in the sights and sounds. We don't come to this town very often and it's actually quite likable once you get used to it."

"No, I'm never going to get used to this! There's too many sights and sounds, too many smells coming at me. How do you keep it all straight?"

"One thing at a time."

"WHAT'S THAT? It's making so much noise!"

"That's a milk wagon."

"AND THAT! Flying over my head!"

"Those are flags. You've seen those before."

"But not so many all at once! OH MY EQUUS! What are those things coming at me?!"

"Those are miniature humans, playing. You've seen those before too."

"NO! There's too many! I've got to get out of here, I've got to run! Where can I run to?!"

"CALM DOWN! Look at you, you've worked yourself into a lather, and stop shaking!"

"I can't help it! I've got to run! RUN! RUN!"

"LOOK TO YOUR HUMAN!"

"What?"

"Your human. Is he scared? Is he tense? Is he is in fight or flight mode?"

"Oh…..well…no He's alert, but not stressed."

"And doesn't he always let you know when it is time to fight or run?"

"Yes, he does. And then we run. And I can run like the wind. I'm the fastest I've ever seen. No one can catch me once I get going!"

"Yes, I know. We are all very much aware of how fast you can run."

"Well, you're pretty fast too."

"Huh hu."

"What's that over there?!"

"It's just a wagon with pots and pans hanging off it."

"But it's so NOISY! It's hurting my ears. Oh no! It's coming towards us, what do we do?!"

"Where were you born?"

"What? What do you mean?"

"It's a simple enough question. Where were you born?"

"Ahh, well. I guess I was born in a barn. My first memories are of sweet smelling hay and warm, comfortable straw. My mother was so beautiful and kind and her humans valued her immensely. She had such elegance. They were very pleased with me too, but then how could they not be? Oh, those were wonderful days, my mother's tongue caressing me, her warm breath on my face—and delicious milk! That was before I knew how good grass was of course.
Sometimes one of the humans would come and brush my coat and that felt so good. Then going out in the field to play with the other foals and coming back into our stalls at night to suckle and then sleep away the exertions of the day. Ahhh, that was so nice."

"What about your father?"

"Father? What's that?"

"Your sire."

"Oh him. I don't know, I didn't really pay much attention to him. He made me nervous and fortunately my mother didn't want much to do with him either so we just stayed away from him. What about you? Where were you born?"

"I was born out on the open range."

"Really? Wasn't that dangerous?"

"It could be. More than one of my friends got taken out by predators."

"Oh that's awful! You're lucky you survived!"

"No, they were silly. They went too far from the herd and that's what did them in. I loved it. My first memories are of the soft spring breeze caressing my wet mane and coat and of my mother standing over me. The soft grass was so sweet to smell and so comfortable to sleep in. At night you could see the stars twinkling overhead and hear the coyotes howling."

"Oh, I don't think I would like that."

"Oh no, it was wonderful. You were safe within the herd and everyone looked out for everyone else. And my father was big and bold and black as the night and though he could get mean tempered sometimes and chase us foals away, I thought he was magnificent."

"And your mother, what was she like?"

"Oh, she was very protective of me, and bossy to everyone else. She even laid into my father a few times if he got too close to me. She was a good mother. She wasn't as pretty as some, but she was tough and sturdy and of a good sensible temperament. I've heard it said that I get my looks from my father and my mind from my mother."

"I thought you said your father was magnificent."

"He was! Pure black in colour with a very fine and handsome head. They say I have my father's head."

"Attached to your mother's clunky body."

"What do you mean 'clunky'? I'm not clunky, I'm solid!"

"And you sure didn't inherit your father's colour! Black is so handsome but you're just not quite there. You're too dark to be a bay but not dark enough to be a true black. You're just kind of wishy washy in between."

"I happen to be what is called a 'seal brown', and I think my colouring in quite striking!"

"What's a 'seal'?"

"I don't know, but that's what I am. My human likes it, he's always telling me how handsome I am. Besides, it's better than being skinny and spindly legged."

"I'm not skinny! I'm fine boned! And my legs are not spindly, they're long and elegant! They're the reason I can run so fast! I can run a hole in the wind! I can outrun you with my tail up in braids!"

"I haven't seen you outrun me yet!"

"That's just because I'm being nice. I'm holding myself back so you won't feel so bad being left in my dust!"

"You? Nice? That'll be the day!"

"Just you wait until the next time we're in a race with those other horses! I'll show you—ouch!"

"What?"

"My human just gave me a sharp jab with his heel."

"That's because he knows you're being nasty—again! He's telling you to smarten up."

"I know what he's telling me! I don't need you to tell me what he's telling me!—ouch!"

"See."

"Fine! Let's change the subject. Where did you get a name like 'Buck' anyways? You're not a buckskin."

"I don't want to talk about it."

"What do you mean, 'You don't want to talk about it'? It's a simple enough question."

"I got it when I was young and foolish, and didn't know how to behave myself under saddle."

"Oh. You mean you used to deliberately try to throw humans off your back?"

"I said; I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!"

Okay, fine! Geesh. And they say I'm temperamental! OH MY EQUUS! WHAT WAS THAT?!"

"Oh my goodness, don't start this again. It was just the big clock in the town square."

"But it was so loud! It hurt my ears! I forgot I was suppose to be afraid of all this stuff! You were deliberately distracting me!"

"Well it worked didn't it? All this time when you weren't paying attention to it, nothing came out and ate you alive did it?"

"Well no, but that's not the point."

"Of course that's the point! You waste so much energy on things that won't hurt you when there are so many other things out there that will! Once you learn to tell the difference, then you'll be a good horse for your human but until then you're just a nuisance."

"But…but I try to be a good horse."

"I know you're trying."

"It's just when so many things come at me at once, I don't know how to deal with it."

"That's when you need to trust your human. We're lucky, we have humans now who treat us fairly. It hasn't always been that way for me."

"No, nor for me. Maybe that's why I get so scared and angry sometimes. I never really felt I could trust my human. I do like this one though. We had a bit of a bumpy start, and he can be stern at times, but he is fair to me and I think he likes me Unlike your human, he doesn't like me at all, I can tell."

"Well, you haven't been with us for long and he's used to me. Give it some time and just stop acting like the whole world is against you and you'll do fine."

"Okay, I'll try. In the mean time, I'm getting hungry. Where are we going anyways?"

"Well, if memory serves me, we're heading for the nicest livery stable in town."

"Really? What's so nice about it?"

"Well, the stalls are big and airy and always clean. The hay is good, plus there is a big grass paddock out the back and if we're lucky we'll get to spend the rest of the day out on it."

"Grass!? We get to go out on grass? Oh I can hardly wait! I don't know what I was so nervous about. I'm beginning to think that this really is going to be a likable town!"