The Healing Horse, Ch. 10, Scene 4: Getting to Know Rocky, and Explaining Pegasus

At last, a long scene, as little Karen tries to explain how Pegasus has grown overnight, and why he does not need a bit in his mouth for her to control him.

Scene 4: Getting to Know Rocky, and Explaining Pegasus

The barn was like she remembered from the day before. Long and narrow, it had a row of stalls down each side, and the cool air smelled of straw and horses.

Pegasus was in the first stall, and the young man whom she had heard was spreading straw on its floor. He looked up when she entered.

“Howdy!” he said. “You must be Karen. I saw you, yesterday, here at the ranch and at your house. Daddy told me you’d most likely mosey ‘roun’, soon after sunup as you could manage. You can call me Rocky. I’m the bronc buster in charge of animal hygiene, as you can see.”

They both laughed as he pointed to the shovel leaning against the stable wall next to a pile of horse apples.

Karen introduced herself and asked him if he were from Texas.

“No, ma’am,” he replied. “I was born a Californian, but I’m hopin’ that if I try hard enough, I’ll grow up into a Texan, someday. Meanwhile, I try to fake the accent.”

Karen laughed, again. He was as funny as Joshua.

“Seriously,” he added, “I hope to become a veterinarian or a cowboy. I’m not sure which.”

“You must really love animals, Rocky. I see you have that manner about you.”

“Yes, ma’am. Manner and aroma.”

She couldn’t stop laughing. Then the conversation turned serious.

“If you don’t mind, ma’am, I have a question for you.”

Kitten smiled and waited. No one had ever called her ma’am before, not even Joshua.

“When Pegasus got here, yesterday, he seemed a li’l small to me ’n Daddy. Now, Arabians ain’t big horses, but still this’un seemed too small. Then, this mornin’ when I come to work, he was full size. Not big, mind you, but the size a fellow’d expect of a horse of this here breed. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I called Daddy, ’n’ he said to put the saddle on him. If he was bigger, then it wouldn’t fit, but it did fit. On top o’ that, he always inspects every new horse, and Pegasus has a scab on his back. Daddy didn’t see it, last night, after y’all petted Pegasus, but it was there, this mornin’. It looks like a saddle sore that’s havin’ trouble healin’ up, but the scab is purple not red. Why, even Daddy said he’d never seen anything like that.”

He paused and looked at her, obviously expecting an explanation. Karen thought fast. How could she explain without giving away Pegasus’ mystical origins or sounding crazy, or lying? After a moment, she decided that humor was her only hope to avoid a head-on collision with truth.

“He may have looked a little smaller, yesterday, because he hadn’t had enough water to drink. He must’ve been dehydrated and shrunk, like dehydrated food. And the scab is purple because of his royal lineage. He’s a real blue blood.”

She giggled when Rocky’s jaw dropped, and then she quickly changed the subject.

“Speaking of saddles and sizes, I want to go for a ride, but I’m not big enough to saddle Pegasus myself. Could you please help me?”

Rocky seemed to accept the change of subject as a challenge, and with a smile he quickly saddled Pegasus.

“Yes, ma’am. I can saddle any horse, but this bridle doesn’t have a bit,” he remarked. “Can you control him without one?”

Karen wished she had taken time, the day before, to look at Pegasus’ saddle and other tack, but she had been so used to them being part of him that she had not considered what they would be like after his transformation. Fortunately, when she had read about carousel horses, she had also read about real ones and their care.

She laughed again and said, “He’s a very well-mannered horse. When I ride him, I just tell him what I want him to do, and he does it. Besides, if he had a bit in his mouth, it would be hard for him to talk.”

As Rocky watched with his mouth hanging open, she climbed up on the feed trough with her strong right leg and threw her left weak leg over Pegasus’ saddle. Shifting her weight into place, she was ready to ride.

“I have cerebral palsy, and my left leg is weak, so I mount from the right not the left. Bye!” she said with another laugh.

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Rocky. “And happy trails to you and your talking horse.”

©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

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