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Submitted by: Karen Murdock
Lukas stood in his stall. It was his home at the racetrack since arriving from the breeder s farm when he was only fifteen months old. It was the stall he came back to after his hard morning work-outs to hang his head and rest before they came to run him again. It was the only place he felt peaceful now gone were the pastures of his first carefree year spent running free in the sunshine with his mother and friends. It was small and made of old dark wood and it sat in the middle of a huge L-shaped barn at the track complex. Lukas could look out his door and see rows of wood stalls with many other horses.
The other horses didn t like Lukas, and Lukas no longer tried to be friends with them. Shy and sensitive, he had accepted that he was different and tried to stay out of their way. Out on the track he was bullied and pushed a lot Get out of the way, Red! they d snort at him as they raced by him. Narrowly missing teeth and hooves, Lukas was always the slowest horse in every race. Running in circles for no reason did not interest him at all. He couldn t wait to be back in his stall safe and sound where he could dream of pastures again. His only friend was his groom, Pablo, who tried to protect him when he could, It s all right, Red; just do your best.
The trainer s only keeping the top three from tomorrow s race! Lukas overheard his neighbors warning each other through the stall walls. Maybe they ll get rid of Lukas once and for all! He heard from a distant stall and then laughing. Lukas, still tired from the morning run, shuddered and tried to rest knowing it would be hard to do well tomorrow. His left leg had started hurting weeks ago and now it was even worse he squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to think about the pain or what not being in the top finishers would mean.
To keep his mind off his sore leg, Lukas imagined being able to explore all the things he had glimpsed in the short walks to the racetrack and back. The world seemed so interesting and busy what could be going on out there? What would it be like to wander freely and enjoy the sunshine? He d heard that some animals got to have families who loved them and gave them a real home maybe this could happen to him as long as he tried his best.
Morning came too soon for Lukas. By now his leg was throbbing, and the other horses snickered at him knowing that he would soon be gone. The race, Lukas third and final try at the starting gate, amounted to another last place finish. After the race, the barn manager strode down the aisle yelling at the grooms to get the losers out of the barn because he was calling in the auction trucks, Get em out by nightfall I m not feeding them another day! There was scrambling everywhere as grooms, pony riders and fans rushed to secure a place for the fortunate few horses that would be spared.
Lukas gulped nervously whatever an auction was, it could only be worse than this. When Lukas had watched the auction trucks loaded in the past there was a dreadful sense of fear, and those horses never came back or were heard from again. Pablo had disappeared for a few hours, and when he returned it was with great relief that Lukas heard, Don t worry, Red, we got lucky and found you a home they ll be picking you up in the morning. The owners and jockeys had long since left the track grounds together, either to celebrate victories or console one another over losses. Trainers were already arranging the next shipments of hopefuls young horses fresh from outlying farms.
They re here, please don t go! horses wailed to each other. The auction haulers had arrived two dirty men got out of the truck and put on thick gloves. Lukas couldn t bear to watch as he heard his barn mates being loaded into the auction truck. Even though the other horses had been mean to him, he felt sorry for them as he heard them hit and shoved into the tight trailer while the remaining horses called out for them in worry and grief. Lukas neighbor was next I m only two years old take Lukas instead! he cried. Whack! A few tripped and fell, only to be hit while down, Get up! the haulers shouted at panicked horses who staggered up the ramp now slippery with sweat, blood and manure. Come back! the remaining horses pleaded while kicking and pawing. The doom in the eyes of the auction horses was unbearable to Lukas and the screaming and banging was deafening. Lukas shivered with terror and cringed with every squeal of pain. As he waited for the truck to fill, Lukas wondered where he was going tomorrow he had no idea what to expect. What will happen to me now? He d always tried to do what he was told and now here he was all by himself with no one to care about him. As he squeezed his eyes together to avoid watching the horror before him, he felt overwhelmed with fear and loneliness.
About the Author: Copyright 2011 Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse, who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. Owner of
. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit the horses.