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The Breed Master of Atlantic Stud
The morning is approaching fast, with a hint of light appearing in the cloudy sky. I don’t want to get up this morning, my bed is so comfortable and light, and still nurtures me further to stay and rest. I lay my head back down on the softness afforded to me, and I close my eyes to dream again.
The heather is of vibrant lilac and purple colour’s dotted over the heath, and the rain is but mizzle falling to the ground. I can hear the sound of footsteps and look on in anticipation of someone that I may know. Jessie is at the top of the hill, and is being followed by Toby, and Marcus. Filing in behind are Majesty, Pilgrim and Dusty. I can see them clearly coming down from the pasture to share a bucket full of comforting bran mash and oats. Lady, my breed mistress is nowhere to be seen, she is heavily in foal with my progeny and I am anxious to seek her out and show her my loyalty.
I can hear the mistress approaching, and the familiar scraping sound of the feed scoop entering the metal food bin where the oats are kept fresh, before being bruised and left overnight to steep for our breakfast meal. I sniff, but all I can smell is oats, so with two almighty blows I cause the herd to stand to attention and wait while I focus on the scent of Lady. I am alarmed now; the herd are hurrying into the lower pasture and I look on with frustration and concern. I am the breed master for the Atlantic herd, and Lady is carrying my most prized foal to be born to date.
I stand and whinny expecting a reply from Lady, but all is not well. The geldings are pacing the perimeter fence at the top field, whilst the youngsters, with no care in the world are bullying their way to the field managers. Old Duke, a dark grey gelding of thoroughbred breeding is pawing the ground and anxiously calling for my attention. The mistress hears him and calls him for his meal, but he will not move. I kick my stable door and look back at my sweet smelling white wood bedding, torn between returning to sleep and saving my mare. I kick again, insisting that the mistress lets me out and I gallop like the wind, head down to the ground in the snake position until the perimeter fence is in sight.
Stopping just short of Duke, I blow in recognition of his friendship and ask “Duke of the throughbred herd, why are you so uneasy, have you news of my breed mistress?” Duke lifts his head and blows back to me, bowing in respect of my status as breed stallion of the herd. “Sire,” he says, “beyond the heath, approaching the copse you will find Lady foaling, but the wolves that rest in the trees have caught the sense of her struggle and are approaching fast. I am big and strong, let me follow you and I can help you to guide Lady home?” Behind me I hear another approach, and turn to see Snowdrop the smallest member of the herd. “Sire,” he anxiously paws the ground in front of him, “I am the smallest and the fastest gelding in the herd, I am a fiercesome warrior, swift and agile, I beg of you to let me come along to save Lady, I can drive the wolves away and stand guard at the entrance to the copse?” I give Snowdrop a gentle nip on his neck for his consideration, and I know that truly this little Shetland pony is the bravest horse in the herd.Running at great speed and beauty is Arable, the breed mistress to the Arabian herd, “Sire I shall follow you and together we will bring Lady and her foal home safely; come Sire for my intelligence tells me that we do not have long.”
I turn on my heels and raise my fore limbs to the sky, the sun is just showing red like the fire in my eyes, and with a glance behind me to my army of followers, let out such a bellow to warn the wolves that I am on my way.
The thunder of hooves behind me spurs me on, faster and faster I gallop, stretching out my limbs to cover the ground whilst my heart beats fast in the confines of my chest; over the top field and down towards the copse. Sliding to a stop, I can hear my mare’s whinneys of panic and I can smell the horrendous dark and foreboding stench of blood.Snowdrop charges past my right flank, his head down in the snake position ready to fight.I take a faint moment to nod in appreciation as he thunders past. Duke is ahead of me now and I appreciate his speed as he covers the ground past my left flank, speeding down to the front of the copse. Arable is at my side, the smell of her sweet breath momentarily stirs my senses and I stand in awe of her beauty, “Come sire, you attack at the front and I will protect Lady and your foal,” her eyes are gleaming with determination and together we run with the wind to where my Lady lays breathing heavily, her flanks covered in sweat.
Faster and faster I run, blowing my arrival as a warning to the circling wolves.I can see their formation now.They too have caught the smell of blood, they approach slowly; heads to the ground and shoulders raised ready to pounce.
Lady whinny’s in recognition of my arrival, and I can see the fear in her wide open eyes as she struggles to give birth to my heir. “I am here Lady; do not panic as some of the best in the herd are here with me,” Duke has ground to a halt in front of the lead wolf and paws the ground in anger, but the wolf still approaches. “Snowdrop,” he blows, “cover my front,” and with the agility of a gazelle he turns on his forelimbs to attack with his back hooves. He catches the lead wolf under his chin and lifts him feet into the air and back against a tree. There is a crunch of bones as the wolf raises to his feet, his eyes filled with anger, when suddenly from the back of the tree appears Snowdrop, teeth bared and grabs the wolf by the scruff of his neck dragging him forward to where I am standing.
Face to face I stare deep into the wolf’s eyes as he convulses to the ground in front of me, “Call off your bitches’ wolf master before my herd and I kill you all,” the wolf moans as if in mimickery of my presence. I place my foot over his head and say again “Call off your bitches’ if you want to survive, leave my pastures or we will kill you. Stamp you into the ground where you stand.”I look around me and to my amazement the wolves are retracing their footsteps backwards, being herded by Duke and Snowdrop. “I will be generous towards you tonight, you have done no harm to my breed mistress so I will allow you to live, but you must leave our copse now, and this is your last warning.” The wolf master growls slowly to his pack and one by one they start to leave the copse. He stands in front of me, and bows his head lowering his eyes to gaze upon the ground. “You have won today breed master of the Atlantic Herd, but there will be another time for us to meet and you will not be so lucky.” I stand and look over to Lady and nicker with joy as my son takes his first steps in the world of man. He is strong in form and covered with spots, such big spots as to insure another generation of Appaloosas at Applegate Farm. With his power and beauty, Atlantic Stud will once again secure the show trophies and prize money in the future.