A rare breed.

Nov 13th, 2015
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  1. >You are Samantha Tanner.
  2. >You work at a corral. A kind of pound for equines.
  3. >Originally this was mostly for earth horses, but these days, you find yourself full of worn out Ponies who's owners where too ignorant to keep a horse well off.
  4. >Food born Sickness, Colic, Poor teeth hygiene, chewing and other anti social habits. to biting rearing and kicking.
  5. >The idea of the ponies being something like human intelligence is new for you, but you suppose dolphin trainers get along somehow.
  6. >Nowadays the feeling has settled into normalcy, but that normalcy is infuriating.
  7. >Horses didn't have any business being treated like equals you thought, and so it followed that Ponies should also fall in line like any other animal.
  8. >But a slew of misinformation about equines and how to treat them correctly has been persistent long before any neon horsies showed up with a dull look in their hauntingly expressive eyes.
  9. >People stalled horses, separated them into pens and spread distasteful habits and lowered the quality of life for the animals, all because they didn't want to go through the effort of catching them out on pasture.
  10. >They'd steal foals away from a mother and wonder why it grew up to have bad habits and act aggressive even though they "loved it"
  11. >And the opposite was just as true, of people who treated horses like monsters who would kill you at any second.
  12. >Horses where dangerous yeah, but you knew from experience it's because people couldn't see it from the horses point of view. they couldn't predict their behavior.
  13. >It all boiled down to an awful situation you where already enduring, so the arrival of the ponies didn't mean you showed much emotion over it all.
  14. >You had tightly controlled emotions, horses where alert, they knew and sensed weakness. You needed to keep them safe, so they needed to see you as strong.
  15. >But it was hard. Hard because of her eyes. A ridiculously tangled but curled mane, a coat of alabastar fur. Blue eyes... always crying.
  18. >Not with tears, but with the pain of Isolation and mistreatment.
  19. >Like many horses, these ponies kept in their crampt quarters when not in use started to get seemingly docile and slow, they would stand bored for hours, and often do little when approached.
  20. >thinking they won, the stupid humans as some horsemen called them wouldn't pay attention to the signals the horse was giving them.
  21. >Inevitably, they'd get bit, bucked, or something would scare them and they would send the horse to a trainer for the nth time, or even sold off or worse.
  22. >You could see it when she came in. that mare was even still chewing on a piece of door trim when you got her.
  23. >She pinned her ears at you whenever you got close, but mostly avoided you, normal equine behavior.
  24. >She didn't speak, which was somewhat normal. Once you got her in the shower room, you cleaned her off. Careful to read her signs, you really didn't want her to trip and fall by getting spooked
  25. >In the end you managed to finish grooming without injury. though the signals you where getting where off putting to say the least.
  26. >You decide to start calling her China glaze. Her colors reminded you of those beautiful white and blue plates.
  27. >Leading her with the halter still on was a chore, she did not want to go, and you'd have to work on that.
  28. >For now though, it was time to clock out, and that meant settling in Glaze with a neighbor. They couldn't be introduced in a stall with an earth Horse.
  29. >While they where remarkably similar in a lot of ways, the larger cranium and brain of the Ponies meant that they slept more than the 2-ish hours of the other horses.
  30. >The poor things would never get any easy rest with the skittish and pushy mouthy animal's always nosing them.
  31. >the stall you brought her to was much larger than a traditional horse stall. The corral didn't stall their horses much, and normally they where used for Ponies who needed special care or to be away from the herd for now.
  34. >A pegasus mare named Pinion with an injured wing and fore hooves would be China glaze's new room mate.
  35. >Inside you set up the stall and restocked things for the two. A comfortable buffet of stale hay for resting, on which Pinion was already half asleep on, raising her attentive head as you walked the new mare in.
  36. >You washed the different salt and mineral blocks, Refreshed the water, and spread about a half a flake each of oat, rhye, and wheat into a clean dry trough
  37. >Some water melon would be provided in the day tomorrow, but for the late night that's how it was.
  38. >the stall had a sliding low profile window with chicken wire they could peek out of.
  39. >You take off glaze's halter slowly and carefully. You look at her feet sadly, seeing the polished shoes shine unforgivingly. You'd have to be careful with her.
  40. >She'd need time to heal once you removed the awful destructive horse shoes, but she also needed to be taught her place as a lower "horse" than you, and how to obey and not be afraid of you.
  41. >People who had issues with that kind of thought troubled you a bit. They didn't seem to understand that no matter how mean it sounded, you couldn't help a horse if you let it be in charge.
  42. >"Alright, I'll see you tomorrow. try to relax and stay off those shoes." you comment, an ear flick showing attention to you, but glaze was otherwise disrespectful, which you knew to let go for now.
  43. >in all honesty it felt alien to talk to them, even as expressive and intelligent as they seemed. years of horsemanship shaped you into a quiet woman who understood horses talked with their bodies.
  44. >Now that language communication was possible, it seemed all that much more alien and strange. But you didn't hate your job.
  47. >The return home wasn't bad.
  48. >It was quick, but the real issue was what waited for you back at home.
  49. >The place you lived at was an old saddle club, a small facility with an almost barn shaped home,
  50. >it had enough room for maybe six or so horses and maybe nine as many ponies.
  51. >Currently there where only three, Horses that is.
  52. >You got the place from a retiring horse trainer you worked with whom was getting too old to take care of them
  53. > He taught you a lot of what you know, what wasn't taught from watching the real trainer; the horses and their behavior.
  54. >Liking your work ethic and matching up morally let you make off with the place as long as he could be assured you'd take care of his horses and he could come see them.
  55. >It was a money sink hole, the equity invested was rather low, thanks to him taking some out to get his new flat.
  56. >but it was "Free" in the exchange, which worked for someone as young as you.
  57. >It was something like a dream come true, but it was a hard working dream to be certain.
  58. >Horses where not a part time job.
  59. >They needed constant care to not become dangerous to the riders whom your income depended.
  60. >You also hired a few interested high school and college kids In between your job at the corral.
  61. > That meant you where basically working 80 hours a week.
  62. > A minimal 18 hours to yourself each week.
  63. >Loving horses was hard labor.
  64. >But you made it a day at a time, Always learning, always saving money.
  65. >You'd do the rounds on the horses, playing farrier, trainer, food giver, riding them, giving occasional lessons to the hands and the customers who rode them.
  66. >Flake the different kinds of hay, wash the salt and mineral blocks, clean the water, check for flies and injuries; No short cuts.
  67. >You where saving up for a new horse.
  68. >Having just three was expensive, but a lot of people liked to ride in groups.
  69. >All in all it only would have brought another 100 to 300 dollars in a month net profit.
  72. >Unless you where a breeder with good bloodlines there was no big money in horses.
  73. >After your sad meal of pizza doctored up with vegetables and spinach salad, you collapsed into bed, dirty and tired.
  74. >As much as you wanted to you never got the energy to shower twice.
  75. >When you woke you where still Samantha Tanner.
  76. >You had to get breakfast and work your way to the corral.
  77. >You stop before getting into your car, getting a few aids and quick horse boots to go with you.
  78. >China needed those horse shoes taken off of her, but first she needed to learn to obey.
  79. >Letting her relax and heal wasn't going to do her good in the long run unless she learned to heed her handlers even while
  80. >There was a lot of work, and a lot of egos at ranches, but results where results
  81. >Despite being younger than many co-workers, your work with your horses was increasingly result driven.
  82. >Which meant for most of your time you where softening up the new and difficult equine refugees
  83. >When you got to the stall China glaze and Pinion where in, you took a look inside, Assessing things behind the locked metal grate on the top portion of the stable door.
  84. >Both where awake.
  85. >China was silently pacing, her flicking ear and subtle flinch an easy tell that she was growing far too used to the way the silvery metal on her hooves had damaged them.
  86. >Pinion was a little jacked up from her new room mate, though this wasn't necessarily bad.
  87. >It soothed both of their minds, it would also mean that because Glaze was being difficult she was also going to be hard to control.
  88. >It looked like Glaze made herself top mare pretty quick.
  89. >A silent head toss and flicked tail and Pinion backed away cautiously.
  90. >Both of their heads where somewhat high, and even though you where not in direct line of sight, you knew better.
  91. >China glaze found Pinion's presence comfortable.
  94. >She wasn't sending her off because she wasn't showing enough respect.
  95. >She was being sent off because it put China between her and me, and gave her room to fight.
  96. >She knew you were going to come in and likely that would mean trouble for you.
  97. >All from observation, learning how the horse, or in this case, pony, behaves, and to read their body language, would keep you out of the hospital.
  98. >Thinking better of your short crop, that desire had put in your hands rather than practicality, you went to go get a Halter and a tougher aid.
  99. >Riding crops where really made for horses anyway.
  100. >Ponies where smarter than this.
  101. >You picked up a garden rake instead.
  102. >The garden rake was mean looking, but unlike the crop it could be a little nicer since it had a verity of positions it could be used as an aid.
  103. >For now you settled for carrying it in the half way point so you could turn the most effective even near corners of the wider than normal stall.
  104. >the tines of the rake pointed up, which would hopefully do its work in intimidation alone, and keep China glaze from rearing up at you.
  105. >A halter and rope made its way into the deep pockets of your cargo pants, Velcro unsealed for easy grabbing.
  106. >You set the boots down near the cramped set of bars designed to contain Ponies and Horses.
  107. >You didn't like using these, A well trained horse shouldn't need them, but you needed to get the boots on the business end of that pony without losing your head.
  108. >Soon enough with everything set out, you move to the stall again, the corner of your eye seeing China still on the ready.
  109. >Most people would wear protective gear going in there, but you thought they gave a false sense of security
  110. >For ponies especially though, they seemed to understand the idea behind it, so it became doubly unwise to go in there with protection and look way less confident
  113. >China glaze needed to see that you didn't mess around, that you weren't afraid of her, and the easiest way to get relief was to listen and obey.
  114. >The latch slid open as you entered, Alerting both that you where going to enter.
  115. >With the rake faced forward you settled eyes on the two
  116. >Pinion was cramped back, nervous and getting clear direction from Glaze to stay there, farthest away from you and behind the white and violet mare
  117. >Her ears pinned and her expressive eyes showed a mare in a violent mode.
  118. >You'd read the description of this unicorn.
  119. >She was thought to be feminine and beautiful and so ended up in the hands of a few rich girls who became enthralled by her seemingly perfect coat and color.
  120. >In the end none of that mattered, to you a pony was a pony, It was no surprise that bad horsemanship encouraged an aggressive horse.
  121. >What was notable though was the skill she seemed to have.
  122. >Many ponies knew how to get violent, but this pony was as devastating as she appeared delicate.
  123. >She ended up pawned off, Having pissed off too many owners.
  124. >The last one had a daughter who got her arm broke.
  125. >The father was furious and wanted her ground up into horse meat and glue to pay for the injury.
  126. >The reality was though that there was incredibly little demand.
  127. >Many many horses where slaughtered for meat, but it was all international and nobody wanted a unicorn that had been exposed to magic suppressants.
  128. >It was just as well as the girl was taking it well for someone of her attitude, which is to say, she thought that killing it was very extreme even if her idea of fixing the problem was animal abuse.
  129. >Because you sat in on that, you where ready for a wild tangle, but it wouldn't be anything like a cartoon dust cloud of violence.
  130. >China Glaze reared up, head high, ears pinned.
  131. >She pawed the ground and looked at you.
  132. >Her whole body was telling you "hey, don't mess with me or I'll give you both barrels"
  135. >You started to put pressure on her, to get her away from Pinion.
  136. >It was both working and dangerous, as the white mare seemed to have little fear of the rake
  137. >She was wary of it, even taken aback, but she still reared, and attempted to use hoof and shoe to knock the tines and try to force me to drop it or lose balance.
  138. >You click your mouth, snapping your fingers and pointing in a sweeping draw towards the door, looking at Pinion while stepping behind her drive line, where her neck and shoulders lay.
  139. >By moving that way you could ensure that the pony thought that you where not trying to impede her movement.
  140. >"walk" you complete the order, with clear direction.
  141. >Pinion began to move and so did glaze.
  142. >Right now, driven by her instincts, this was her mare.
  143. >And she was not going to let you take Pinion so easily.
  144. >You've worked with her before now though, and though you saw her loitering and Glaze trying to cut her off, you repeated the gesture while stepping into glaze's range.
  145. >"Don't listen to her, you listen to me!... walk" you mumble and repeat the command clearly, though Pinion could probably understand most of what you said.
  146. >You where used to blathering stuff horses couldn't understand, then separating a clear order out as part of their direction
  147. >Glaze was trying to squeeze away and block off Pinion, whenever you gave pressure there, she would redouble her efforts to reach and gore you.
  148. >Ordinarily this was behavior you'd crush immediately, but the reality was while Pinion was there she would mess up the program intentionally or not.
  149. >She created a draw, and something a protective mare or stallion would want to defend.
  150. >Pinion was cautiously making her way to the door.
  151. >When she exited you slipped back a bit, giving Glaze a bit of release as you closed the gate behind you with the but of your rake, not taking your eyes off China.
  154. >The fury was warring with pain and sadness as you stalked Glaze with a glare of simple concentration.
  155. >Your face was tense as you focused everything on the mare.
  156. >China seemed to be less confident now that she didn't have anyone she was going to badly injure herself to protect.
  157. >At this point you could still get hurt, but things where more predictable now, even with a smart Pony.
  158. >Pressure, Not allowing Glaze to snake, Moving her feet, keeping her uncomfortable and preventing her from reaching and hurting you, while showing no fear.
  159. >You only got to back up three times.
  160. >Tired muscles would let ears relax and move somewhat forward, and she would face you.
  161. >As soon as she gave respect, stillness, and passiveness, you would immediately reward her with release of pressure, giving her her space, turning your back to her.
  162. >It was the third time that she was tired enough to start realizing this wasn't an opening, but something else.
  163. >Her feet where in pain, a slight limp had developed, her front left hoof.
  164. >Ponies and horses had most of their weight on the forward set, and she had been rearing and fighting you the whole way.
  165. >At this point she was panting and didn't want much trouble.
  166. >You had some sweat but where other wise fresh from the lack of injury and the lack of work you needed to turn directions.
  167. >As long as that mare and you where in a closed space, you would always have the advantage.
  168. >Horses where fast, so it was far more difficult to control them in pasture
  169. >That lead to a lot of unfortunate cases of mares like China left in stalls for most of their lives.
  170. >You draw your hand forward to touch her.
  171. >She was nervous of you and you knew it.
  172. >This was the part that was touchy.
  173. >Making a mare move, and be uncomfortable, and get tired out was easy.
  174. >It was release that was hard.
  177. >You needed now to show this animal that you where not an element that existed to hurt it, but could also provide comfort.
  178. >Too close and she would fight or bite, interpreting the invasion of her space negatively.
  179. >On the other hand, too far away and she wouldn't learn to let you come in close.
  180. >Deciding to stop close enough to be about a thumbs width from the mare you back away again, waiting for a while.
  181. >Her head unconsciously rose up in thought, the expressive and feminine looking Pony even tousled seemed at first confused.
  182. >You move in again, putting her back on something akin to alert, this time a single digit, with your rake pointed as away from her as you could, touched her nose.
  183. >Moving back again, you waited another few seconds.
  184. >Every hand full of the ticks of the longest hand of a clock, you would move closer.
  185. >Sometimes Glaze took a step back.
  186. >She hadn't yet pinned her ears yet though.
  187. >Eventually you got close enough to run a hand gently and slowly along the bridge of her nose.
  188. >Though not while a domestic pony, there was still enough space on her sweated fur to rub the full length of your hand up and down a bit between her horn and nose.
  189. >A trip down across her eyes, whiskers and lashes here even more pronounced than normal equines due to the eye's size, caused her to flinch.
  190. >Never the less, you made the trip down across them, confident and correctly understanding that the kitten-like whiskers would cause her to close her eyes reflexively.
  191. >Your slow actions and her exertion and stress seemed to result in the shaking you observed.
  192. >Sometimes ponies like this shivered at this stage.
  193. >It reminded you of a kind of nervous pervasive fear.
  194. >They didn't seem cold, nagging thoughts wondered on how human that emotion was had to be put aside.
  195. >You could not help a pony if you did not teach it to obey you.
  196. >An easy mantra to forget your doubts since it was true no matter the details.
  197. >You backed up a bit again.
  201. >More release, then you step forward, touching the mare's neck lightly, repeating the process to the other side.
  202. >Though you suspected this pony had been taught to not speak, a quiet "w-why" seemed to escape her tight thought.
  203. >It was almost shrill and slightly uncomfortable a voice to hear for you.
  204. >A gentle hand sets the rake upright as calmly and slowly as possible against the wall near the both of you.
  205. >Then you slowly move towards the mare.
  206. >The technique was slightly dangerous, but your confidence was something you had to trust at this point.
  207. >Hopefully she would not bite or stomp you.
  208. >Slowly fingers gently crossed from stroking her face again to sliding under her chin and neck to calmly lock her head in place.
  209. >Vocal but stifled whimpers emanated from the voice box you where so close to.
  210. >Your hand reached into your pocket and gathered up the rope and halter
  211. >Slow was the name of the game.
  212. >Some would be eager to slip the thing over the pony immediately.
  213. >You knew better.
  214. >This animal was stressed.
  215. >This animal was prey.
  216. >Being caught was the worst thing, and would only be worse the faster and more surprising the event was made to be by impatient humans
  217. >You took the rope, which despite taking up the dominant position in her vision, you knew she could see.
  218. >You could feel her movement.
  219. >You reached with it without unwinding it and began using the rope as a tool to pet her back while you stroked her neck on the opposite side.
  220. >She recognized the rope and what it was, but it wouldn't have made a difference if she where as smart as a domestic horse.
  221. >Even they where smart enough to understand what a rope and halter where.
  222. >It was only through this practice of slow desensitization, that the equines would start to understand that this rope didn't mean being lunged and 'shown whose boss' and bits and hard pain and work.
  223. >She whinnied a sore pitiful cry.
  226. >Normal horses did so because they where nervous and wanted other horses to be near them.
  227. >They where looking for friends.
  228. >You weren't sure if that was the same with Ponies, but you gave the approximation.
  229. >"It's alright. You're safe." The words came out stilted.
  230. >It was strange to not simply mimic the sound.
  231. >Ponies could understand language though.
  232. >As you did, you pulled the rope apart and looped the halter around the bottom of her neck.
  233. >Keeping it loose, You pulled away a bit, giving some small release.
  234. >Her head was lowered now.
  235. >A submissive gentle incline, her ears were forward.
  236. >It was different with Ponies though.
  237. >It always ate away a bit at your heart, the expression that accompanied the gesture.
  238. >Blue eyes lidded and downcast.
  239. >The expression of a sad child.
  240. >You walked her a bit, grabbing the rake and leading her outside.
  241. >You scanned for Pinion or other animals, knowing how easy the game could change.
  242. >Generally the one you had in your lead rope was docile enough, but horses delighted in making things complicated.
  243. >Pinion was no where to be found.
  244. >Maybe the rake scared her.
  245. >You'd have to go check up on her once Glaze was all taken care of.
  246. >You decide now would be the best time to put the halter on.
  247. >Gently you take away China Glaze's head, reaching under her neck and chin to wrap your hand around her, the rope lead laying over the top of her neck.
  248. >With the halter open, your hand draws the end over Glaze's ears, causing whining and whinnying.
  249. >"I'm here." You murmur quietly, still unsure about the whinny, but knowing in normal horses it meant insecurity and calling for friends.
  250. >By the time Glaze began to struggle, you had the throat latch battened down.
  251. >Taking the lead rope, at about half the distance between the end, and the rake in your other hand, you stepped away before Glaze could associate any of her actions with your new found distance from her.
  254. >As always, the slow way was the fast way.
  255. >With enough distance, Glaze was sure to trip up in the act of following you when you didn't have gloves or a helmet or any other protections.
  256. >The perceived vulnerability from her was too seductive.
  257. >Whenever she needed a reminder you would click your tongue and use the rake to give pressure.
  258. >Eventually she calmed down enough, head low again and showing submissiveness.
  259. >Even the place of your destination didn't seem to spook her too much.
  260. >She moved between the bars with a dejected sound that caused you to bite your lower lip.
  261. >You shut her in there between the vertical bars.
  262. >She tosses her head angrily even in her submissive posture.
  263. >Prey do not like to be trapped.
  264. >"Easy Glaze, Easy" you murmur, paying more attention to the boots than your words.
  265. >It was going to be a tough habit to break, getting used to smarter ponies.
  266. >An iris gazed back at you even from your lower purchase near China's rear haunches.
  267. >Already you had internalized that this pony knew you where up to something.
  268. >You try to touch her leg to get a feel and she kicks and jerks, the tight bars keeping her from doing anything but become a danger to herself.
  269. >Wincing as metal strikes flesh, you hated these metal death traps.
  270. >They where awful on ponies and horses alike.
  271. >But you needed to be protected from getting struck in a too sweet opportunity by Glaze so you could get the soft padded rubber boots on her.
  272. >By the end of it you where struggling and sweating. Most of the work was in getting the first two booties on.
  273. >You suspect that any instrument of human making meant pain to Glaze, benign looking or no.
  274. >At that point Glaze seemed to pick up on the idea a little and at least stopped trying to jerk her hoof out of your grasp.
  275. >She seemed to take offense to you touching her anyway.
  276. >Not any less than you expected when you went through the trouble of trapping her in this miniature metal pen.
  279. >"Back" You command while unhitching the gate.
  280. >She seemed reluctant to, but eventually slowly moved back, gaining confidence, and her ear twitching less from pain with the boots.
  281. >You tied her up on the end of that gate by the lead rope, taking the opportunity to touch her face.
  282. >Animals who are prey typically don't care for that behavior at first, but it was instrumental to demonstrating to Glaze that human interaction with it didn't mean rakes, rope, and pain.
  283. >Instead the message had to be sent that those things where only for when she was out of line.
  284. >With her secured but no longer in a tight cage, you set the rake down and fetched a hose, careful not to leave enough time to Glaze to pick it up
  285. >She was eyeing it cautiously but you return and praised her for the right answer, slipping her a carrot, which she munched on reluctantly.
  286. >With the shower head and grooming brush you began to wash gently and groom her, cleaning of the foam sweat and salt that built up from her physical activity, stress, and resistance.
  287. >You even took out some spray conditioner and oil.
  288. >With a regular brush you began working out tangles in her mane and tail.
  289. >You strangely got very little trouble from her, even grabbing her tail, which you made sure to do from her flank, reaching over the croup.
  290. >Subtle touches along Glaze's body by you communicated your presence to her, so she wasn't spooked by you disappearing mostly into a blind spot.
  291. >You took a hair tie, one of your own, from your pocket, wrapping her tail up a bit so it wouldn't drag on the ground.
  292. >You thought to cut it, but you'd need to talk to an expert.
  293. >Normally you did not need to trim a horse's mane ever.
  294. >It was for keeping flies off and a short mane would make protecting vulnerable flesh that much harder.
  295. >Where there gigantic flies that required this specialized tail in some regions?
  298. The colder temperature made you reach into the cabinet and towel off most of the moisture without disrupting the grooming pattern.
  299. >Glazes expression was docile now, head lowered to a gentle inclined, she looked at you warily, like you played some kind of trick on her.
  300. >"It's alright, nice and clean, no tangles" you offer by way of explanation.
  301. >It was something you needed to work on more.
  302. >Normally your lips where loose around these ponies.
  303. >You might say something that could get you kicked theoretically.
  304. >The concept was foreign but all the same seemed important if alien.
  305. >She was walking better now as you moved her off, grabbing the lead, leading her to the covered Round pen.
  306. >You took her nice and slow, letting her know she could wander a bit and look around.
  307. >You where careful to put pressure on her when she didn't listen.
  308. >Other times barn flies would wander by and she would swat at them.
  309. >She seemed to eye you warily as she did so.
  310. >The expression reminded you of a child who did something wrong
  311. >A bit of a show, you met eyes then you sharply turned your body away, not facing your back to her, but letting her know from body language alone that you weren't about to fly off the handle if she needed to use what nature gave her to protect herself.
  312. >Once she started moving again you decided at this point it was the perfect opportunity to implement the rake.
  313. >Slowly you got her used to feeling your touch along the way.
  314. >A finger here, a pet there.
  315. >Gentle fingernail caressing her mane and spine.
  316. >Finally, you brought the rake up, concerning her, and gently ran the back of the metal along her, particularly in spots with flies.
  317. >She even worked with you a bit when you gently scratched at her vulnerable belly.
  318. >She shivered once you began again.
  319. >You really wanted to understand that.
  320. >It wasn't really normal horse behavior.
  321. >No surprise with a new and intelligent species, but that didn't shed any insight on why.
  324. >You let her into the round pen and immediately she got rather pensive.
  325. >Yours had grass on it, but with so many new horses, it was important to flake out hey if you wanted to feed horses in here.
  326. >The grass couldn't really take sustained grazing.
  327. >You moved over to the hey closet.
  328. >Grabbed about half of a flake of rye and flaked it lightly in a flat pile around the round pen.
  329. >Beforehand you draped Glaze's lead rope over her withers.
  330. >She seemed entirely nervous and focused on you, but you made a show of absolutely ignoring her after flaking out the hey
  331. >You'd get to round penning her soon enough, but this mare needed to learn that rakes, round pens, ropes, and halters where not bad.
  332. >That they did not mean instant discomfort.
  333. >'find the right answer' was something every old world horse knew.
  334. >If you did nothing but round pen a horse in the round pen, as soon as they entered they'd take off in circles
  335. >'How do I get you to stop? How do I get release?' Apart from taking care of a horses health correctly, this was what horse training really boiled down to.
  336. >Spending time with her to make sure she knew that the right answer, and spending time with humans to make sure they gave the directions clearly.
  337. >So with your rake and your back both leaned up against the pen wall, you let Glaze get used to her new environment.
  338. >Time to eat, time to think, time to reflect and learn from the previous events.
  339. >Even if a horse was not "intelligent" it still needed that time all the same.
  340. >You figured if these Ponies where as smart as they seemed and as people said, they'd need it twice as much.
  341. >Everything else could come later.
  342. "The slow way is the fast way" You murmur to yourself.
  345. >The wind gently swept through your ears.
  346. >You could hear her every breath. The way she turned from tense to relaxed.
  347. >Her gaze was difficult, filled with brimming emotion that was difficult to decipher.
  348. >You are Rarity
  349. >And you are confused, miserable, and hurt.
  350. >It started with your feet. Nails drove a beautiful looking silver shoe into your hooves.
  351. >Ordinarily it was so beautiful you would have been amazed at the quality and make.
  352. >The joke was of course with no magic and no desire to let their new live stock and draft animals make use of it, that meant driving the horrible thing into your hoof with nails.
  353. >You had been walking on metal for months, and your hooves felt constricted, sore, and soft from the metal constantly pounding against it with every step.
  354. >For the first time in a while, did not have to feel horrible soreness at every step.
  355. >Your hooves are covered in something this new human put in.
  356. >They reminded you of their own shoes.
  357. >Soft on the bottom, with some kind of elastic substance, they didn't fully help, but broke the impact of the shoe with the hard ground.
  358. >There was hay everywhere, flaked over green but sparse grass.
  359. >You felt too on edge to eat, but that seemed to be the intention.
  360. >This was a round pen, you'd been in one before.
  361. >Your first owner, before the shoes, seemed to delight in running you around with a whip non stop in here.
  362. >Even now, despite your quivering fear and uncertainty with the human in front of you, the dominant part of you simply said to run in circles.
  363. >But you weren't being threatened or moved.
  364. >You lowered your head a bit, taking a nibble of the grass, both green and hay.
  365. >It was Rye and Fescue.
  366. >It was bland but far from awful.
  367. >Even eating, you could clearly keep an eye and ear on the human.
  368. >She still didn't seem interested in you.
  369. >Even thinking about her and your circumstances caused fear and shakes.
  372. >It wasn't so much that you didn't think you could take her, but that you knew you couldn't get away with it.
  373. >To add insult to injury, you could feel that she was getting to you.
  374. >She didn't fight fair.
  375. >But that sounded so hollow as well.
  376. >Fair? She approached you with a garden tool and nobody protection despite your reputation
  377. >If you weren't worried about breaking or tearing something in your leg, you could have taken some scrapes from that rake.
  378. >She wasn't afraid of you.
  379. >And because of that confidence, fear trilled your spine.
  380. >It was the kind of confidence that you only ever really saw in one pony.
  381. >You didn't want to think of her right now.
  382. >Your feet still hurt, but they where better, and with the halter and rope draped loosely, despite being caught you felt unconstrained.
  383. >It would have to change, but it would change.
  384. >Hooves trembled and shook as your gentle quivering turned to quaking.
  385. >And right now at least you didn't have the courage or endurance to keep fighting.
  386. >"The slow way is the fast way" you hear her mutter.
  387. >She seemed unusually loose with her lips and yet contradictingly tight with them.
  388. >Why would she be so silent, and yet when speaking, never seem to say much directly to her at all
  389. >Maybe that was part of her plan to break you.
  390. >You where just an animal to her, nobody that had to be talked to.
  391. >And the worst part was that it was working.
  392. >Not even a day and you where shaking like a small filly.
  393. >The trembling sometimes outshone the pain of your injured hooves.
  394. >Joints ached from being primed for use after being so stiff and cramped.
  395. >And now you where in this circular pen, given free range of movement, and hobbled no more than a lead rope drawn over your withers.
  396. >The isolation from before, the angry and loud men, that haughty woman who was responsible for your dreams of having your hooves amputated.
  397. >All of those things seemed to vanish into your new handler's clarity.
  400. >Made all the more remarkable by how successful the awful strategy was.
  401. >Fight, and you will be run ragged, Obey, and you received instant release.
  402. >Even when she was lying she gave you space, cajoling you gently.
  403. >The feeling of ropes, bits, pain, and panic where instead replaced with the slow poison of a step by step procedure.
  404. >All to allow you to remain calm while she stole away your freedom.
  405. >Never so slow as to let you get distracted
  406. >Always slow enough to feel the full force of shame at your suddenly submissive behavior.
  407. >You grazed and grazed, you knew little time passed, and yet it seemed like hours already in your mind.
  408. >Piecing together the realization that this human was winning by a land slide, and as dull as you had become from months of mistreatment, you figured out why.
  409. >It was easy to fight when that was just as easy as obeying.
  410. >Your previous owners didn't ever give you any sense that obedience could make things less unfathomably torturous.
  411. >And by the time you realized what your new handler had been up to, it was too late.
  412. >In your confusion you obeyed, in your confusion you stood and contemplated, facing her.
  413. >She moved away, and it repeated, and in that short time, you had made the ultimate folly, and tasted the sickly sweet drug of obedience.
  414. >If you told yourself ahead of time, to ignore it, to realize it for what it was, maybe you could have avoided it.
  415. >But now you knew exactly why your bones trembled and your back seemed to sting with ominous fear and submissiveness.
  416. >Because it knew how to make it all stop.
  417. >What was once before an unending battle, your body, lesser mind, and instincts all knew to get reprieve all you had to do was obey.
  418. >Face forward, ears forward, both eyes, like a school filly before class started.
  419. >It was horrible, awful, the worst possible thing!
  420. >Because you needed to fight, you needed to keep going, to preserve your momentum.
  423. >But you wouldn't. you could feel it from your hooves to your ears.
  424. >Kill her, cripple her, get her to go away so you could wind up with someone who was too stupid to let up from the abuses you endured.
  425. >It would be so easy, but you where poisoned.
  426. >Your heart and hooves would not let you do what your mind knew you must, they rebelled from rebellion, to become turncoats of submission.
  427. >Wobbling, your hooves bring your barrel to the ground.
  428. >The sound of nickering and a newborn child emanated unquenchably from your throat.
  429. >Salted rivers bubbled down your cheeks, matting fur and the halter together.
  430. >You shut her out, vision swimming under the sea of your misery, unable to behold the catalyst that broke the dam that held your angst.
  431. >In between your cries, you greedily sucked in saliva and swallowed, while your subconscious was finally forced to address the disharmony you had been dealt.
  432. >Unable to bring yourself to say their names, despite almost needing to, shouting them in your mind for your quivering and singing voice box that refused to
  433. >Twilight, Rainbow, Pinkie, Applejack, Fluttershy, I wasn't strong enough, I wasn't strong enough.
  434. >Your cries followed the tempo and tone, but enunciation was beyond your delicate mind.
  435. >Even still, roughly, and nearly unintelligibly, you called out.
  436. >"Oh Sweetie belle" pained vocal chords cry out.
  437. >Your sobbing continued, and even as shock and fear flowed through your distracted mind from her touch, you did not flail, flee, nor rise.
  438. >Soft, gentle, though they seemed so much like claws in their thin-ness, the texture and gentleness were more like a minotaur's hand.
  439. >Eyes peeked through swimming currents, to see her distorted shadow fall over you as she knelt, poised to spring up, and yet without her rake.
  440. >Disgust and need warred with you, your malefactor behaving like the benefactor you needed so much right now.
  443. >Weak and self loathing as you are, you don't give in and let her draw you forward.
  444. >But even so, you correctly let her comfort you without incident, and even her posture shows a distance, she loomed to the side rather than over you, not even truly facing you.
  445. >Eventually, her hand withdrew and she gave you more distance.
  446. >You yourself were able to pull yourself out of your misery.
  447. >You lumbered to your sore hooves, feeling the blood work its way into your legs where the nails did not constrict its flow.
  448. >Desperately you shake images of your panicking sister, pulling on her collar as you stand horrified, dumbfounded, and impotent from your mind.
  449. >Not enough, never enough, there wasn't a price humans could pay to fix all this.
  450. >Anger and weakness fills you.
  451. >You are as emotionally raw and resentful as you are tired and unwilling to fight any more.
  452. >Bringing even a battered shadow of harmony to your mind had taken much of you.
  453. >Even still you can feel your handler was too a bit frayed.
  454. >Never the less, she approached you confidently.
  455. >She took the lead rope, in her other hand was the rake.
  456. >This time, the blunt end was facing your way.
  457. >You are almost mesmerized by the way she seems willing to bare more cumbrance for no benefit in cajoling you.
  458. >That is until you feel it press against your croup, and hear her click your tongue.
  459. >Instinctively you move your hind legs away, but your tired mind takes a bit to piece together the order.
  460. >She's stepping behind your withers as she pushes with the rake, and even to your tired mind, the answer seems straight forward.
  461. >'move'
  462. >You are reminded of the man for a moment, heedless and implacably swinging a whip as he flailed about striking you for seemingly any imperceptible motion
  463. >Numbly, you begin to appreciate unconsciously the complex skill this human seemed to be dealing.
  466. >Definitely not in any way in admiration, nevertheless, the tight control she had not only over her body, but the way she seamlessly presented herself was night and day from your old owners.
  467. >'turn away'
  468. >She would speak only with her body, stepping for you with the rake cutting in front of your fore hooves and drawing her hand with the lead rope back, before swapping the two as you slowly learned to complete the motion.
  469. >'turn in'
  470. >She would counter your turn as you looped around her, this time you stumbled, your natural inclination was to move away, but with your aching hooves and with a blurring of time, minutes? An half hour?
  471. >You slowly understood without any words her motion, stepping back instead of in, yet still in front of your forward motion.
  472. >She switched hands frequently with the rope and the rake as you passed.
  473. >Ironically she seemed to regard the implement with as much contempt as you did.
  474. >Never the less you did make her use it a couple of times in your confusion.
  475. >The both of you never seemed in much hurry, You where not forced to tire yourself out needlessly.
  476. >Always when you seemed to get frustrated by confusion, the human seemed to know.
  477. >She'd bring the lead rope in, and shrink down, as if she where cold.
  478. >You'd come in to face her, resisting the temptation to nibble, head but, or push her.
  479. >Sometimes she'd send you off sooner than others that part at least you where not as of yet understanding of.
  480. >And yet despite all your anger and self loathing at the betrayal of now even your mind, something changed about the way you saw her.
  481. >As frustrating and demeaning at first that she just wouldn't talk, it became more and more obvious that she was talking.
  482. >She talked to you with her body, with her emotions, confidence.
  483. >Her frustration with the rake and her patience when you did not perform to your expectations
  484. >She never seemed to take it personally even as your anger at times frayed.
  487. >It felt poetic and, you hated yourself for daring, maybe even empathetic.
  488. >That she was teaching you to behave under the constraint of silence, just as your voice had been beaten away from you till you where a quieter thing, more broken than Fluttershy.
  489. >No, she was even more generous with her silence, if a horrible slaver could be so called.
  490. >For even her body language had taken pains to reduce the noise of anger, stress, fear.
  491. >It reminded you of the Wonderbolt performances.
  492. >The lead flyer directing the squad even as sound and the impracticality of voice stripped away until there was nothing but their bodies, the air, and harmony.
  493. >In the most fulfilling and awful poisonous way it rankled you.
  494. >It spat on everything you understood and perceived about these humans.
  495. >That somehow this slaver was trying to bring both herself and you into a state of harmony.
  496. >A philosophy upon which you embodied a very element of, a magic powerful enough to contend, if apparently not always defeat, the forces of chaos.
  497. >You would throw a fit if you had the energy
  498. >You couldn't accept it.
  499. >Slavery could not be a form of friendship.
  500. >But your poisoned heart couldn't pump out the venom either.
  501. >Eventually, you faced her again.
  502. >Once more, she gently lay the lead rope from the halter over your withers.
  503. >She began that slow bodily mantra, touching you and drawing you into a disarmed state.
  504. >You once again found yourself helpless to it.
  505. >Gentle movements that where slow and perfected drew you out of your submissive stupor in the pleasant and awful touching of Master upon slave.
  506. >Human arms where not that long.
  507. >You should have expected it, in fact, you were not even all that upset.
  508. >Why not? Of course the human would use the rake that both of you seemed to have a distaste for to groom you into accepting its touch.
  509. >You could understand the implications, but you forced yourself not to.
  512. >Lowering your head back into its submissive and gentle incline, you emptied your head and mind, and let her do what she wanted,
  513. >If she was going to turn you into some animal slave then the least you both could do for yourself is spare yourself the horror of fixating on what exactly was being done to you.
  514. >Your withers felt so heavy even with nothing but that rope on them already.
  515. >Eventually you were sent off on a gentle trot.
  516. >Your human handler disappeared behind the gate.
  517. >At this point you where too pliant and lost in your own fatigue to care.
  518. >Hooves ached and legs trembled, you felt just alert and stressed enough to avoid laying down, but forced yourself to anyway
  519. >Your human handler would surely be back for you.
  520. >You would probably be holed up again, you should enjoy the open air and feel of grass rather than a cramped stall or worse.
  521. >Your tail and mane swished, well dry by now, and lustrous again.
  522. >Defending yourself against flies by lazily swishing both was not all that difficult.
  523. >Maybe a little nap.
  524. >It was safe enough right?
  525. >Despite the trill of fear, the lead rope subconsciously reminded you of her.
  526. >You lay your blue eyes shut, and let them rest the weary soul inside you.
  529. >You, once turning the corner, shook out a heavy sigh.
  530. >In your chest, a weight was on your heart.
  531. >Only now could you let yourself truly catch up with the emotions you had been feeling in there.
  532. >The rake safely tucked outside the round pen.
  533. >The only one inside there now was China glaze.
  534. >You didn't like leaving an unstable mare in there alone, sentient or not, but you had to do something before you could spread back to your other duties.
  535. >You are Samantha Tanner.
  536. >And no matter how awful you felt you still where getting paid to do this job.
  537. >And every second you wasted suffering the emotions of that mare wouldn't just get taken out of your own work ethic, but also the lives of every mare you didn't spend enough time with.
  538. >You had to go track down Pinion.
  539. >She had to be kept away from the other horses while she healed, but Pinion was a good mare, who's coloring and comeliness where the main reason she was not yet out the door to a new owner.
  540. >The corral was not an auction.
  541. >Prospective owners where vetted for a minimum of horse related experience, appropriate accommodations.
  542. >Technically, the new Ponies where still equines, so your job had legal right to deny anyone owner ship as if she where a real horse.
  543. >That bought you a fair amount of latitude in dealing with customers though.
  544. >You fetched another halter and lead rope, just in case.
  545. >You wouldn't need your crop though.
  546. >While sometimes Pinion got nervous you put China glaze with her specifically because you worked with her and knew you could count on her to be a good girl even with China messing up the program.
  547. >It took you about 20 minutes to track her down.
  548. >You found her drinking from a Horse water fountain near a domestic horse gelding named Dusty.
  549. >It was a simple reconfigured sink. Even domestic horses where smart enough to operate it if you trained them on it.
  552. >It was wide enough to accommodate the Equine sense of distance, and there where traditional water buckets, so the high horses wouldn't keep the rest thirsty.
  553. >Other than being a bit nosey though Dusty seemed fine with letting Pinion drink despite not being near the herd much.
  554. >Pinion was smart enough to keep away from the herd if she became too much of a draw.
  555. >She spotted you and you saw her ear pivot towards you.
  556. "Good girl. Everything okay Pinion?"
  557. >You force the words out of your mouth.
  558. >One step at a time, you'd get used to talking to horses for real.
  559. >Pinion was quiet around you, you suspected, because you where quiet.
  560. >She was inclined to ignore you, and since you didn't put any pressure on her she busily drank before turning to you and responding.
  561. >"Yes Ma'am"
  562. >She uttered quietly.
  563. "lets put you back in the stall. I need to check your bandages while China glaze is out."
  564. >You offer directly, still trying your hand at avoiding simple directions through the body.
  565. >She seemed just as awkward as you about the whole thing, and trudged back, avoiding too much pressure on her injuries as you lead her back without rope or halter or even body direction.
  566. >The shifty pegasus rubbed her head against you slightly as you moved the spacious stall door open.
  567. >Only a few more weeks and Pinion could be allowed to go back to socializing with ponies and horses at her choosing.
  568. >It would be another month after that before she could begin actually working though.
  569. >It was just as well in your opinion.
  570. >As much as you felt guilty, her injury was a delay that gave you more time to familiarize with their off shoot of the species.
  571. >There was so much you didn't know that you needed to.
  572. >Everything seemed well on Pinion and you spent a bit of extra time grooming, relaxing, and maintaining her hooves.
  575. >A timid and whimpering tone came from Pinion that you where not sure how to answer
  576. "I.. Is she go-going to be calmer?"
  577. >Breathing a sigh and holding your silence for a bit, you look Pinion in the eyes.
  578. >You really weren't sure.
  579. >You had tried to avoid thinking about China glaze but that problem wasn't going away.
  580. "Was she like that the whole time?" you ask slowly.
  581. >"E-every time we heard foot steps..."
  582. "If she's aggravating you injury or keeping you from resting I can separate you two. I figured you'd prefer the company though..."
  583. >"I... do ma'am... I just..."
  584. "You need to listen to us, not her. When we aren't there, you can fall in line with her if it's comfortable to you. But between our word and hers, you know which to obey."
  585. >"y-yes.. Ma'am" she answers with a head downcast and a lilting tone of a fearful child being told that monsters where not under the bed.
  586. "It's okay to be scared, but you still have to listen" You offer gently.
  587. >It wasn't all that balming in words, but you felt that it embodied something that should be.
  588. >Her owners would watch out for the scary things and keep her safe even if she was afraid.
  589. >Still, you felt like maybe sometimes that meaning got lost with the way Pinion normally reacted to that.
  590. >You really need to take some of your lunch break figuring out how to convey that lesson better.
  591. >A bit more socializing and you locked up Pinion in her stall leaving to go fetch China glaze.
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