Seven is the number of years I serve my owner, trotting, walking, loping, quiet, and gentle. I carry her children, husband, friends, neighbors. I have plenty of hay, horse friends, and time to myself. Green pastures, blue skies, I am at peace.
Six is the number of months I carry on in pain after falling. I do it for her, anything for her. She is impatient with me. I try hard to keep up, but the pain slows me down. Every step hurts. No one wants to ride me, a new horse arrives to carry on in my place. I do not know this word: “useless.”
Five is the number of hours I stand in the small pen at the auction. I hurt, I do not know these horses, I do not know these people. I’m far from my pasture. I search for comfort, switching weight off my painful leg, the people notice. I do not know this word: “lame.”
Four is the number of times my value is calculated by my weight. I don’t understand their words but I can read their eyes. Hard stares. I try to be invisible, but they see me. I do not know this word: “slaughter.”
Three is the number of sniffs I take of your face through the pen before deciding you are kind and safe. I like your eyes, they are soft. I like your hands they are gentle. Please don’t leave me here. I try to pick my feet up for you, it hurts. I try hard. I rest my muzzle in your hand.
Two is the number of minutes it takes for me to pass through another pen. I am scared, I am trapped, I am alone, people are shouting, it hurts to walk. A man is talking, his voice echo’s all around me, there are so many people watching me, hard stares. Suddenly it’s over. I do not know this word: “sold.”
One is the number of hours it takes before I walk onto a trailer. I am alone, I am scared, it is moving. The door opens, I hold my breath and brace at the light. It’s you!! I stand still and breathe slow. Kind hands, soft words, I’m not afraid now. I do not know this word: “rescued.”
Two is the number of xrays the vet takes while I stand quietly for you, anything for you. Many days have passed. I have energy now, my pain is less. I like my new pasture, I like my new stall, I like my new hay. I don’t know why we have a vet but I stand still for his visits. So many visits. I do not know this word: “rehabilitation.”
Three is the number of months before the pain is all the way gone. I am relaxed with you, we start to ride together. I’m afraid the pain will come back, but you are gentle, so I try. I try hard for you, anything for you.
Four is the number of weeks I learn a new way of riding. Another person rides me every day. I’m becoming strong, I understand my lessons, I am proud to work, I feel you are happy with me, visiting me and learning together. I do not know this word: “training.”
Five is the number of years I work hard for you. We travel to shows, we work cows, we ride with friends. We do hundreds and hundreds of miles together. You trust me and I trust you, I give you everything I have, everything for you, anything for you. I memorize your rhythm, your looks, your moods. I know when to be wild and when to be still. We are a team.
Six is the number of minutes I try to hide the pain after a fall, but you see through me. I stand for the vet, still as a stone. The pain leaves but I sense your sadness. I remember a word from before when I had pain, “useless”, but you never say that word. You no longer ride me but I see you every day, for carrots and treats and long walks. I relax again, you will not abandon me. This is a new way of being together. I do not know this word: “retired.”
Seven is the number of breaths I take in your arms. It has been many years, we have grown old and wise and slow together. I lay down like so many times before but could not rise. You came right away. I tried for you, but I could not stand. You say its ok, sink down next to me. I breathe slow. You are very close, holding my head, weeping, I feel your sadness so I put my muzzle in your hand one last time to comfort you, anything for you. I breathe out. Green pastures, blue skies, I am at peace. I know this word: “loved.”