Friday, July 10, 2009

The Rotten Neighborhood Blog Party.. Here is your story!!!!

Here is the story that you helped write. My original intention was to set it up as a PDF file and do a link. But with my Pea sized computer brain it is not going to happen that way.

I did change a few things for flow, but this is what we have so far.

Remember this is for a good cause and we will hopefully be able to do something with this.

We do have a little way to go until it is completed, but you all have done a great job so far.

____________________________________

Katie and Firefly!

The Story…..

The Bay mare grazed quietly in the pasture. She was heavy with foal and was staying in one place occasionally grunting as her foal kicked. It would soon be time and her foal would be here. Though she was surrounded by a band of mares she stood alone, the rest of the mares keeping a watchful eye on her…

Including her young owner, a girl of 16 who was a contesting rider. The sire of the foal was an all around champion. From barrels to calf roping, an all around performance horse. He was a Palomino, with 4 socks and a bald face.

The mare resumed her grazing, taking in a mouthful of sweet grass and she tried to nip at a fly on her left flank. Unable to reach it, she then lifted her hind hoof and removed it with a light scrape of her toe. Her shoes had been removed recently, and she felt the soft earth under her as she walked towards one of her pasture mates, a gentle eight year old gray mare. As friends do, they sniffed one another in greeting, the bay mare sighed, and they soon settled into mutual grooming. The mare closed her eyes and she nearly dozed, only to be awakened by her unborn foal as he stretched his legs within her. The young rider smiled as she watched her mare and in her heart hoped for a healthy foal.

The bay mare's owner smiled as her mare looked up and gave a welcoming whicker and left her horse friends to come visit.

The mare knew her young owner well and her favorite person knew just what the mare's favorite treats were. A sliced sweet apple and fingers that knew just exactly where to scratch the itchy spots. They were friends who respected each other and knew each other's ways.
"Hiya Firefly," murmured the young girl in a voice that is reserved for conversation between children and horses...

Firefly knew she was alucky horse indeed to have an owner as caring and committed to her wellbeing as Katie. Firefly had already experienced what can happen when an owner loses interest.

Five years ago, Katie had spotted Firefly from a distance at a local competition. Her owner, a large abrasive woman with a gruff voice had tied her to the trailer after a particularly hard run. Katie had seen them a few times before and often noticed this woman’s disregard for horses in her care.Katie rode by for a closer look and noticed the mare was still breathing hard from having just completed a run. "She should be walking." Katie told the woman. With a scowl the woman spun around and said "Then you do it" tossing the mares reins her direction.
Katie caught the mare’s reins and gently encouraged her to lead off and the mare reluctantly followed.Katie was stunned that the woman did not seem to care who had her horse and after a half hour or so it became clear that she really didn't.As long as, she did not have to be bothered Katie thought to herself. She had not loosened the cinch, or even taken the bridle off let alone, bothered to bring a bucket for water as Katie found out when she had asked.

The mare's owner was off in the clubhouse talking to her society friends and Katie could hear the laughter float down to where she stood with Firefly as she slurped noisily at the cool, clean water that Katie had lugged over. When the mare finished drinking, she rested her fine head on Katie's shoulder and Katie laughed softly as the water dripped off the mare's lips, running down her sweat dampened skin like cool relief. The mare let out a soft sigh and wuffled Katie's hair. "Knock that off silly mare or I'll have to rebraid this mess before my next class" Katie said, laughing as she did. Katie wondered what she should do with the mare.

It wasn't long before the mare’s owner reappeared, startling Katie. She was so entranced with the small star on the horse’s forehead only slightly visible under her knotted forelock. Katie had been untangling it with her fingers when the woman abruptly said, "Don’t bother with that. It doesn't make her run any faster."Katie’s face grew hot as her fist clenched in anger. Her hands gripped the mare’s reins. Her mind raced as she thought of so many things she wanted to say to the woman. Before she could stop herself she blurted out, "You don't deserve a horse like this."
Katie quickly clasped her hands to her mouth as she couldn't believe she'd just said that out loud. The owner couldn't either, she turned to the mare and ripped off all of Firefly's tack, bridle included and said. "Here then! Take her she's as useless to me as you are!!!" So there Katie stood with Firefly, thankfully one of the other competitors had seen what just transpired and quickly lent Katie a lead rope and halter. Firefly gently dropped her head into the halter and waited patiently for what was to come.

She stood there holding the lead rope, totally stunned by what had just occurred. Then a slow smile spread across her face. This lovely, sweet mare was hers. She had only dreamed of having a horse of this caliber.She made her way back to her parent's trailer, Firefly in tow. Now, she just had to convince her parents how wonderful this twist of fate was.
As Katie approached the trailer, she saw her dad. He was busy offering water to his gelding and her mom's mare.Her dad looked from Katie to Firefly and then back to Katie. Katie swallowed hard and said "Dad, you will never guess what just happened in a million years."
"No, I don't think I could ever guess!" he said.

Katie told her father the story, and after hearing what happened, Katie's dad told her "Go get your mom and tell her about this, then we can decided together what we are going to do" Katie walked off to find her mother, smiling hugely because her dad hadn't said she couldn't keep the mare.

Katie's father looked at his daughter and then at Firefly and smiled, he knew where the outcome would be, and he was glad he had brought the four horse trailer.

Katie quickly found her mother at the concession stand where she was trying to pick from the variety of nasty horse show food.Katie grabbed her by the hand and pulled her all of the way back to the trailer. All that she would say to her mother was "You aren't going to believe this!"
Katie's mom stood with her hands on her hips, looking from the mare, to Katie, to Katie's dad, then back again as she listened to the story. She looked to her husband, who grinned sheepishly and shrugged ever so slightly.Katie's mom sighed and said, "Well, we will need to find out if she has papers and get them or at least a bill of sale. Let's go find this 'lovely' woman."Katie and her mom started off in the direction of the woman's trailer. Katie had replaced the borrowed halter with one of her parents', and intended to return it to its owner after she had the mare's papers.
On the way over, Katie spotted the girl who had witnessed the whole thing. The girl came over and introduced herself, "Hi, my name is Brittney."She told Katie and her mother how horrible she always felt for "that woman's horses, the only thing she cares about is winning."Brittney then volunteered to accompany them over to the trailer and stand as a witness.

Katie's mother told them she'd catch up in a minute, and headed back to the truck to grab her purse. When Brittany and Katie arrived at the parking spot, the woman and her trailer were nowhere to be seen. The only evidence she'd ever been there was a crumpled up wad of paper covered in the dust from what must have been a speedy exit, judging by the deep tire tracks in the dirt."Oh, bother," Katie said. "I don't care if she's registered or not. She's mine, and that's that." Kicking the wadded up paper and tugging at Firefly's lead, Katie turned back towards her parents, even more secure in her knowledge that this horse was now hers. What were her parents going to do? Leave the mare standing in the empty parking lot at the end of the day? Lost in her thoughts, Katie didn't realize she'd left Brittany behind, until..."Wait!" Brittany called. Katie stopped. When Brittany caught up, she breathlessly said, "Check...this...out!" and handed Katie the now un-crumpled sheet of paper.

Katie read the paper and realized it was the registration papers for Firefly and the woman had signed the back allowing the mare to be transferred into her nameShe and Brittney proceeded to do the ‘Happy Dance ‘ with some high fives and whoops added in.Meanwhile, Firefly stood gazing at Katie with a soft eye and then she made a gentle wuffle of happiness.Her new life was just beginning.

She presented no problems; it was like she knew she was going home. The ride home was uneventful and when she stepped off of the trailer, Firefly knew this was it. The mental and physical abuse she had suffered at the hands of her previous owner seemed far away, even though it had only been a few hours.

Fortunately, Firefly had not been privy to the conversation, aka "war," going on in the truck's cab, during the drive home. Katie's parents were not thrilled with the addition of a new horse, but they admired their daughter's gumption and desire to do right by this mare. "Honey, what exactly did you say to the woman?" her mom asked, once they'd merged onto the freeway towards home.

"Um, I told her that she didn't deserve the horse." Katie sank into the back seat of the king-cab, hoping her parents would focus on each other instead of her.

Her father had stifled a laugh; Katie was becoming just like her parents, never afraid to say what was on her mind. But still she needed to learn there was time not to say anything.

"Katie! You really need to think before you speak," her dad admonished. Then he turned to his wife. "Do you think there could be any legal issues with this?"

Katie's mom, keeping her eyes on the road, replied, "My guess is the woman was pretty ticked about being called out by a kid. She won't be making any more waves that might bring attention to herself. "

"Okay. Well, I wonder if we should try to contact the owner, see what we need to do." Katie's dad replied, watching the rearview mirror as they turned into their driveway.
Katie piped up, "So, does that mean I can keep her?"

“We will see” replied Katie’s father.

Firefly backed out of the trailer without incident, and it was clear that she was used to hopping down without a ramp. She immediately raised her head and her nostrils filled with scents new and exciting. She let out a loud whinny as if to say, "I'm home", and then lowered her head to Katie to nudge her pocket. Katie smiled in relief when she found a wrapped peppermint that she had intended to give to Pumpkin, but was secretly glad that she'd forgotten. The kind-hearted sorrel Pumpkin would have understood. Firefly crunched the treat and nuzzled Katie for more. The family's cattle dog ran to greet them, suddenly stopping in front of Firefly. There was a hesitant stance, and then he carefully walked over to sniff her heels. Satisfied, he wagged his tail and stretched his body downward and yawned. Katie burst out laughing.

Katie decided to ride her new treasure, Firefly, the next morning. She had seen the mare's papers. Firefly was born to run and had the conformation to prove it.

Katie saddled Firefly, decided to try a sweet iron snaffle bit, and climbed on with no idea of what to expect. Firefly shuffled slowly around the arena with her head low. When Katie asked for a canter Firefly delicately loped at the speed of a sleepy snail. Katie growled at Firefly "What are you doing?!" Katie wanted to impress the new reining people so badly, but Firefly was a joke! She had no speed!Firefly was crushed. She wanted to impress Katie. She thought to herself as she ground her teeth "you idiot child, I have ribbons for doing this. How dare you not love me."
Just then, Katie's dad showed up. "Hey hon’, how's Firefly?"

Katie closed her seat and stopped riding. Firefly "stopped on a dime and gave change." "Dad! Did you see that?" Katie squealed.

"I sure did. Looks like she has some training. My guess is her old owner was riding her too hard. This mare's sensitive. Less is more." He turned back up to the house, chuckling under his breath. This mare was going to teach his daughter how to ride.

"Okay, Firefly, let's try that again." Katie thought "walk" and stretched tall in the saddle
Everything went along quite well for a time Katie rode Firefly all over the property that summer often with Pumpkin in tow. The threesome would disappear into the woods and surrounding pasture lands for hours on end, Katie often taking lunch along in the saddlebags. Their favorite place to stop was under the old sycamore tree down by the stream at the bottom of the hill. Firefly and Katie went together like peas and carrots.

The two mares got along great, even though Firefly towered over Pumpkin. Katie had guessed her height came from the Thoroughbred in her breeding. She was an appendix Quarter Horse as Katie had discovered by her papers the woman had left behind on the ground in the parking lot that fateful day. That was 5 years ago and yet, it seemed like yesterday thought Katie as she stared at the mare’s side and thought about the foal she carried.And then the new folks moved into the neighboring ranch, bringing with them, a lot of big money and high powered reining horses with them.

It was an unfortunate design flaw in an otherwise perfect farm that put Katie's arena directly next to the neighboring ranch's arena. And so the day that Katie took out Firefly for an idle jog around was the same day that Maxie arrived home from boarding school, complete with the latest "former World Champion" schoolmaster that her parents had delightedly paid Maxie's riding coach six figures for.

Katie decided to trust Firefly and her skill level. She knew it was there and she knew she had to ride it in order to get it.

As Katie watched Maxie and her newly paid for already made gelding Simba do their thing, she mounted Firefly and began to practice.

Maxie was a connoisseur of tack. She had rhinestone studded brow bands, gilded saddles; argyle ribbon pads, sheepskin wither relievers, brass-studded nosebands, and jeweled spurs. Today, on the first day home, she whipped out all the bling for the inaugural ride. She had already spotted that dowdy little bay with the kid in jeans next door. It was important to make good first impressions, after all. She fingered her latest purchase, a sparkly, leather-feathered racing whip. She hadn't the slightest idea what to do with it. But it would look fabulous.

Maxie decided to make a maximum impression on the dowdy neighbors, and as she mounted Simba she gleefully decided to do a fast thunder run down the rail between the two arenas.Her bright new whip tapped Simba in a particularly sensitive spot as she put her foot in the stirrup. Maxie was distracted by the picture she had in her mind and wasn't paying enough attention. Simba flinched, jumped up in the air and promptly ran away with Maxie clinging for dear life, half on and half off her horse.

"Here, now!" called a gravelly voice.

Katie looked toward the end of the neighboring arena, where Maxie (who was actually holding on quite well) and Simba were heading at mach speed. A wiry old man with a cigarette somehow adhering to his drooping lower lip stepped forward - he'd been weeding the day lilies planted around the outside of the ring.

Simba slid to a surprised stop, and Maxie fell to the ground with an unceremonious thud. Her new whip had caught on something and broken in two.The old fellow quietly caught up a snorting Simba while Maxie, cheeks burning, brushed shredded tire arena footing from her pants. As he calmly led the horse to his young owner, Katie overheard him snort, spit and deliver a few pithy remarks to her fashionable neighbor.

Maxie looked over at Katie with an embarrassed grin. "Hi, I'm Maxie" she said, leading Simba over to the fence. Firefly stood quietly as Katie introduced herself. Katie couldn't help but smile at Maxie's humbler attitude and sense of fun.

Maxie took another look at Firefly and said "that looks like a horse I've seen before!"
"Really? Are you sure? There are lot of plain bay mares on the circuit," Katie was skeptical, but hopeful."I'm almost positive I've seen her before," Maxie replied, "I recognize the white spot on her left haunch, the one that looks like a little firefly bug." Katie was truly surprised at this; no one else had noticed the small collection of Bird catcher spots. Maybe she did know her!"Do you remember where you saw her before? Any information you have would be great," she smiled.
"Was her owner a very snooty woman?""Well, she wasn't exactly NICE," she replied, pulling a face.Maxie giggled, and stopped, blushing, when the old man walked by with a handful of weeds. The girls watched him stalk toward the manure pile."Who is he?" whispered Katie."Some cowboy type guy, Dad just hired him for cleaning stalls, grooming, feeding, and maintenance... that kind of thing.""Huh. Well, anyway, I call her Firefly. She's registered Appendix, very fast from what I can tell... Hey, where'd you get that headstall? It's.... sparkly. And I think that our horses could use a drink!"Maxie looked back at her sweaty gelding. "OK, I get the point.... I was just really excited to get him, and ride him, you know? But I think your mare might be almost as good, if she's the one I'm thinking of..." "What do you mean, ALMOST?"Just then, the two horses touched noses, squealed and farted. The girls dissolved into giggles while the old cowboy, unnoticed, squinted intently at Firefly.The "Old Man" as some referred to him, had forgotten more about horses than, a lot of so called experts ever knew. The work he had hired on to do was his own choice. Not caused by any type of hard luck story.He knew that people have short memories and most often see what they want to see and this served him very well in what he had chosen to do with his golden years.

The girls led their horses off for a drink, giggling. They disappeared behind the barn and the cowboy tilted his hat back and chewed intently on a sweet stem of alfalfa. That little bay mare seemed awful familiar. Looked just like the filly out of his old favorite mare, Lady. A thoroughbred mare he had picked up for a song at the local track and turned out to be one of his best roping mares. She was smart, competitive with huge burst of speed and well-known by the local rodeo crowd for her habit of biting him in the boot if he happened to miss the calf.
A wry smile lit his face.

He had bred her to his old red quarter horse stallion. He had called his stud simply "King," out of Wimpy, one of the famous King Ranch studs. The old guy had pretty bad arthritis toward the end, but he was a well-behaved fellow, and on the warm summer afternoons when he would nicker at the gate and toss his head in anticipation, the cowboy would saddle him up and take a leisurely ride to the local diner for a cup of coffee. King seemed to enjoy the outing and the cowboy, well he always enjoyed showing him off.It did him good to see the mare. The last time he had seen her had been at the auction, along with the other 30 head of horses he bred, raised and trained himself and lost to the gavel in one painful afternoon. A few years of depressed meat prices combined with the death of his ranch partner brother, and the bank had come calling. He lost them all, his horses, his land and his pride.

That night, Katie remembered, was the first night she dreamt about Firefly. In her dream, the mare was prancing into an arena, and then she burst brilliantly through the start gate, and turned a blistering time in on the barrels.

The old man had a restless night as well. They years after he lost the ranch had been tough and he spent more time than he cared to remember - and thankfully he didn't remember much - getting tossed out of bars and thrown into jail. The worst part was thinking of his horses and how he let them down. Especially the young ones like the little mare the girl was calling "Firefly." She would have had her whole life ahead of her when he sent her to auction and he had figured she would have made him a fine working cow horse, not to mention a hell of a competitor just like her dam.

In the morning, dream still tucked safely in her pocket, Katie walked out to the barn to feed. As she turned into the hay room, she nearly ran into the old man from next door.
"Excuse me," he said.

"What are you doing here? Are the horses okay?"

He had gone out to the barn early that morning just to see to make sure the mare was real. He stood in the rising morning light and saw again the familiar muscled lines of his old stud, and the deep girth and kind eye of her dam. It kind of felt like finding a lost-long child, seeing one of the last of his line of horses.

Katie had startled him from his reverie with her abrupt appearance.

"They're up," he grumbled, as Katie rushed by him into the barn. He never was much for chit-chat.

The old man took one last glance around the barn. Nice place, he thought. Not fancy like his workplace next door, but everything was orderly and the horses had the unmistakable bloom of good health and grooming. He turned to leave... and ran into Katie's father."Do I know you?" he asked, calmly, with a very firm edge, but a little quizzically, as if he did indeed recognize the dried up cowboy.

Sam looked at The Old Man, and realized he did recognize him from that auction years ago. He had himself sold a horse that same day and watched from a distance with a great deal of sympathy as the Old Man sold horse after horse to the crowd.

After chatting about the weather for a few minutes, Sam asked, "Well, I could be needing a bit of help around here, keeping things maintained and the horses fed and such. You interested?" as he thought the Old Man looked more than capable. The Old Man replied simply "Sure. When do I start, and what’s the pay?"They agreed on $400 a week, and shook hands. The Old Man was outwardly non-emotional, but inwardly he was happy to be around his Lady's daughter again. He thought that the mare had found a fellow kindred soul in Sam's daughter, but Katie didn't really have any idea what she had in that mare. He'd have to show her what the mare was bred to do without offending her dad or her. He thought then of the foal in Firefly's belly. He thought he knew a bit of the stud, the palomino located some miles up the road. He'd seen the stud in some of the rodeos, and while not exactly impressed with the horse, knew the horse was decent enough. He'd have to make sure he was with the mare when she foaled. As he was walking down the barn out to the pasture, he happened to look up at Firefly, who was standing at the fence watching him as if she knew he was thinking about her. He gently rubbed her between her eyes, and really started to look at her then. He noticed the subtle signs that her time was closer than he'd realized. Much closer. Well, she's ready to foal tonight, he realized with the same familiar joy and anticipation that was always mixed with a healthy dose of worry. No matter how many mares' he'd watched have their foals, there was always that chance of something going wrong. As he stood there musing and rubbing the mare's forehead, the sun was dropping down below the horizon, casting shades of gold, red, orange, and a multitude of colors never named over the ranch. Night was coming quickly with the promises of what was to come.

As the Old Man wandered off towards the neighboring ranch he called home, the sun shone warm upon his face. He had just secured himself a steady supplement to his income for his honest work. Things were starting to look up in his world again. As he neared the fence and property line, his old dog ran up to greet him. He smiled broadly as he said to his dog, "Well, maybe now things will finally start to come back around."

As he stood there musing and rubbing the mare's forehead, Katie walked up and softly said, "Isn't she beautiful?" The Old man looked at Katie with tears in his eyes and told her how lucky Firefly was to have her. Katie told The Old Man how Firefly came into her life and how Katie was the lucky one.

They stood there in thoughtful silence watching her graze and swishing at flies.
Sam's mind wandered back to when Firefly was born. Lady had an uneventful pregnancy but her delivery was anything but uneventful, it became a very touch and go situation. There had been a very real possibility that both Lady and her foal wouldn’t make it.Lady had started her labor out normally, and progressed very quickly. As her contractions got closer and closer together, she started to push the foal out of her body... but something was very wrong. The foals legs were bent backwards at the knees, and no matter how hard she pushed, she would never be able to get the baby out on her own.The Old Man had been forced to manually move both forelegs into the correct position for the filly to be born, a very tricky and difficult maneuver. He had almost lost both the mare and the foal, but his quick actions had allowed the foal to be put into the correct birthing position. It wasn't very soon after that Lady had a brand new filly lying by her side. He had named the little filly Duchess, but the little girl's name of Firefly fit the bay mare as well.

13 comments:

Karen V said...

As the days and weeks passed, the old man, at the time, not quite so old, watch the fillies and colts run and play, and develop into fine weanlings. Although he never tried to play favorites and loved all his horses, the little bay filly he called Duchess stood out above the others.

Duchess, though bred similarly to the rest, had better conformation. She was more agile, more elegant, her trot more floaty. To watch her move was to watch the very definition of elegance and finess. She move naturally off her hind-end, and when standing quiet and looking around, always stood "square."

She was the dreamer's dream come true. The natural talent possessed by this filly was not something that happened often, and though trainers drilled their charges endlessly and the horses tried very hard to please, there was that "something", that "X" factor that could not be taught or trained. The horse either had it, or it didn't.

Duchess (or rather Firefly) had "it".

Karen V said...

FIRST! (LOL!)

fernvalley01 said...

I so wish I could add something , but I am not of the calibre of the rest of you , It is turning into a lovely story , and I hope one day you will be reading the published version to your little girls

LizBeth said...

As Sam started working with his "kids" through the late summer and fall, Duchess's natural talent started to show more and more.

She was always the first to catch on to whatever was being taught to her, and her personality was calm and quiet with none of the blow ups so common in young horses.

She weaned off of Lady without a glance backwards, almost as if she was anxious to prove she was a big horse.

LizBeth said...

*I'm SOOOO tempted to take this and finish it out myself lol.* I have a ton of ideas running through my head right now for it.

JohnieRotten said...

LizBeth

Go ahead and post what you have that is what this is about!

I also have a lot of ideas, but I am waiting to see where you all take it.

SFTS said...

Well done thus far. :) Carry on!!

blueheron said...

Here is a link to a pdf file.
When the story is complete, I'll do a final one.

KAtie and Firefly pt 1

Dena said...

We need to name the old man's dog.
I am thinking Buck or Dodger.

Karen V said...

Here are my thoughts:

(1) The richy rich neighbors were introduced to bring in the old man and his dog.

(2) The old man is having a flashback - which in turn is giving us insight on Firefly's early life.

From here, we need to expand on Firefly's early life. Eventually, the "living hell" the old man goes through needs to come up, thus ending the flashback. (Firefly is around 6 at this point?) Then there needs to be another character introduced that will remember Firefly through from 6 - 12. Then the evil witch buys Firefly, bringing us back to the beginning, where Katie takes her.

I notice that Katie went from riding Firefly to Firefly being close to delivery. Seems like there's a big chunk missing. Perhaps "Katie" can talk to the old man while petting his dog, telling him of what she did with Firefly before they decided to breed her.

Thoughts?

PrairieFarmer said...

And to add to the story line thoughts...
I've been thinking perhaps Katie might have be having some "teenager - knows it all" issues, and be rather dismissive of the "old" man. And not be to receptive to his help until he steps in to help Firefly during her delivery? At which point, we learn his name?

Padraigin_WA said...

just a minor thing here, JR. second or third paragraph into the story: I don't think any horse, no matter how flexible her joints are, can reach a fly on her flank and flick it off with her hind hoof! Her forebelly maybe, but def. not her flank.
(for the record, it was me who authored that- what was I thinking?.... do horses do yoga?...)

ZooKeeper said...

Continuity problem? In the last paragraph The Old Man is referred to as Sam...Sam is Katie's dad...right?

Then in comments...Sam is picked up as The Old Man again...

Sorry.

I'm one of those folks who drives people crazy with continuity stuff in books and movies...grin.

Great story though and I love how its being added to by readers.

ZK