Girls Horse Club Blog

Int*l Horse: The Lady of Shilot

Published by • Mar 27th, 2010 • Category: Fiction, March for Wild Horses
by Jonannah, age 14 Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | Epilogue

Part 1

The Nevada sun beat down on Leigh’s back. It was a super hot day and she thought she must be crazy to take this hike. But the words still rang through her ears. “Have you ever seen a wild horse?” Her cousin, Christy, had asked her. Leigh had just smiled and shrugged, “No, never.”

Leigh was visiting her uncle’s family in Nevada. She was from Minnesota and had never seen a wild horse. “Oh, Leigh! You have to!”

She just laughed at Christy’s anxiousness. “Whatever for?”

“Oh, they’re beautiful. It’s a must!”

She laughed it off then. But the words had haunted her the whole night. Now she felt like she HAD to see at least one wild horse while she was in Nevada.

“Where are they Christy?” Leigh had burst into her room early the next morning.

Christy sat up and leaned on her elbows. “I thought you didn’t care?” Christy raised a brow, quizzically.

Leigh sighed in frustration. “Whatever. Just take me there!”

Christy looked Leigh up and down. Leigh wore a plaid orange button up shirt with riffles along the button line, hot orange riding pants, and black riding boots.

Christy pushed back the covers and swung her legs around. “Just let me get dressed. Nice outfit by the way,” Christy said, giggling.

Leigh rolled her eyes and leaned against the door frame. She watched as her cousin quickly pulled on a bright pink short sleeved v-neck shirt, skinny jeans, and cowgirl boots. “I’m ready, let’s go.”

The girls ran outside. “Close enough to walk, or should we ride?” Leigh questioned, hoping they would ride.

Christy started walking toward the stables. “We ride most of the way, then hike the rest.”

Leigh tacked up Lady quickly, and Christy mounted Fairlight. They rode off, the morning air chilly.

And that’s how Leigh got into this situation, why she was taking this hike. They had left Lady and Fairlight at the post not far from the location. Christy took the lead and Leigh walked slowly behind. “Hurry up slow poke!” Christy shouted. Leigh just smiled and jogged up to stand next to her cousin.

“Are we almost there?”

Christy smiled widely and pulled Leigh’s arm in the direction she wanted to go. They ran over to a small cliff overlooking a wide, open space. “Look at it, Leigh. Isn’t it gorgeous?” She tugged on her cousin’s arm.

Leigh’s breath was taken away from her at the sight that she was looking over. There were at least a dozen horses roaming free. They were magnificent and free, you could see it in their eyes. “Yes, Chris, it’s gorgeous,” she replied, soflty.

One horse stood out from the rest. Actually, she was off from the others and close, really close. How strange. But she was beautiful — night sky black, with a sprinkling of white, making her look like the midnight sky. “She looks like a lady,” Leigh commented, pointing at the horse. She stood with an elegance and confidence. She knew she was special.

“Shall we name her Lady?” Christy asked.

Leigh laughed lightly. “No, of course not. We have one, who is very much not a lady.”

“The Lady of Shilot?” Christy suggested, smiling.

“No.” Leigh stopped to think. “Talitha. It means ‘little girl’. Talitha is a special name for a special horse.”

“I guess she’s unofficially ours now.”

“No, she still belongs to the wild. I don’t think anyone should own her. Of course, God always will. But no human should lay a hand on her. She is beautiful though. She’s not ours, we just gave her a name.”

Christy smiled at her cousin. What a strange way of thinking. “I like that.”

Leigh nodded. So did she.

Part 2

Leigh gripped the reins in her hand. She was riding Lady again, and Lady was being especially unladylike today. Leigh was going to visit the wild horses one last time before going back to Minnesota. Nevada really was the land of the wild horses, and she was glad she got to witness the freedom of these horses.

She stopped at the cliff and dismounted. She looked over the beautiful land again, taking it all in. It was so magnificent. She squinted against the sun, trying to find Talitha. Talitha had always come unusually close whenever Leigh rode past here. It was if she wanted to enter Leigh’s world and leave the wild side behind. But Leigh knew she was better off where she was. Talitha was so playful and free. She loved skipping around and she would even jump small logs and branches and such for fun. She was so smart.

Leigh realized she had been looking for a long while, but she still hadn’t found Talitha. Where was she? Leigh’s stomach was swallowed by fear. Suddenly, she knew where Talitha was. She quickly mounted Lady and rode off once more.

There was a ranch not so far. They had obviously taken some wild horses from their natural environment. And the worst part — they were cruelly mistreated. She rode in that direction, determined to save Talitha from a horrible fate.

* * * * * * * * * *

Leigh rode up to the gate of the ranch. It was open and she rode through it. A teenage boy, about 18, came up to her and held the reins as she dismounted. “Can I help you?” he asked. He had a shock of blond hair and was at least six foot two.

“Yes, can I talk to… Someone?”

The boy looked utterly confused. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I need to talk to someone. “Leigh said in frustration, practically biting his head off.

The boy laughed. “Well, you can try me.”

Leigh raise an eyebrow, “I could, but then I’d have to kill you.”

The boy smiled. “I wouldn’t want that, nor would you. How about you just trust me.”

Leigh nodded, still keeping a straight face. “Well, there’s these wild horses and there’s this one …”

The boy held up a hand, “Say no more. I know what you mean.”

Leigh’s face showed doubt. How could he possibly know? He tied Lady’s reins to a post and offered his arm to Leigh. “Follow me.”

Leigh took his arm hesitantly. “By the way, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Leigh Fleming.”

He smiled, “Nice to meet you, Leigh Fleming. I’m Caleb Johnston.”

She nodded, “What are you going to show me Caleb?”

They entered the stables and Caleb turned on a light. “You’ll see, be patient.”

Leigh fell silent and slipped her arm out of his. Caleb led her to a stall that had the name plate “The Lady of Shilot” on it. Oh, the irony of it.

Leigh looked in to see Talitha. She put her hands on her hips and turned to Caleb. “Please. Explain.”

Caleb looked down. “Well, the ranch found her one day standing off from the rest and the hands caught her easily and brought her back here. They’ve had her for a year. I didn’t work here then and am glad. Horses here aren’t treated the way I’m used to.

“Why did I see her out with the other horses?”

Caleb shrugged. “She’s prone to escape. Loves to jump, silly as it is. And the fence ain’t that high. She was gone and can be gone for days at a time.”

Leigh looked in on Talitha again. “Looks sorta glum,” she commented. Talitha’s head hung low and she looked the exact opposite of her usual playful self.

“Yeah, loves being out. But can’t risk her runnin’ away again.”

Leigh nodded and looked at Caleb thoughtfully. “Caleb.”

He looked at her, obviously surprised, “Yeah?”

“You want her out of here, don’t you?”

He nodded, still confused.

“Then help me get her out of here. I know where she can go. She’ll be safe and loved there. You just need to help me buy her and get her adopted.”

Caleb laughed. “But how? The ranch hates and loves the horses all at the same time.”

“Well,” Leigh smiled mysteriously, “We’ll bring out the hate more. Here’s what we do…”

Part 3

It had worked, crazy as it was. The ranch owner woke up to a completely messed up yard. Someway, Caleb had convinced him that Talitha had done it and she was once again gone. Caleb said his boss, Brent, would totally fall for it, crazy as it was. But it worked, crazily, it did.

The story was that Talitha went crazy and was running across the yard, and the hands and Talitha messed it up while the chase was going on.

Near the ranch, I was holding Talitha. I knew this was wrong and I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone. But I decided to choose the lesser of two evils.

Later that day, I came with my cousin Christy and my Uncle Andrew. Andrew made an agreement with Brent. The disheveled ranch owner wanted nothing to do with Talitha. So, my uncle bought The Lady of Shilot at a very low price. She was officially Talitha now.

The real story was, well, we were planning this. To mess up the yard and blame The Lady, but only to save her, mind you. But Talitha played a great part. She really did escape again, and the other hands — minus Caleb — had made a pretty bad mess. We had just added to it… a little.

I had caught The Lady easily and Brent gave in from there.

Now Uncle Andrew and I were drawing up the paperwork for her to be adopted. I didn’t feel it was right that she should be mine. She would be loved in these stables.

Just before taking Talitha away, I approached Caleb. “Caleb.” He smiled when he saw me standing there. “Thank you so much. I owe you a ton.”

“You don’t owe me anything. I’m happy for the opportunity to save an amazing horse… and meet and amazing young lady.”

I smiled brightly and took his offered arm. “My uncle is offering you a job. It’s nothing more than a second chance farm. But I know you’ll like it.”

Caleb turned and grasped my shoulders. He looked into my face. We stared at each other for what seemed forever. Why hadn’t I met him sooner? Now I was going back to Minnesota on Sunday.

He pulled me close into a tight embrace. “You’re a special girl, Leigh. I’m glad I got to spend the week with you.”

I pulled away and smiled. “Take care of Lady and Fairlight and… yourself. You know I’ll come back to Nevada someday.”

Epilogue

I visited Talitha so many times, although I didn’t get to go back to Nevada for another five years at age 23. But three years after my summer in Nevada, when I was 21, Caleb came to me. We got married the next summer.

We went together to visit Talitha. She looked so happy and we were happy. The wild horse was still unowned. She was loved here, but God still owned her. He owned all the wild horses. Happy and free.

As part of March for Wild Horses, young authors were invited to submit a story about an American Mustang “character” who represents the story of many horses taken off public land and held until they’re adopted, or worse. Authors were encouraged to research the history of wild horses in the US along with what’s happening today, then create a fictional character based on fact.

The original intent was for GHC to “adopt” one of these characters into our stables. After careful thought, LeadMare has decided there’s no reason to contain and domesticate the healthy, free-hearted mustangs in these stories when there’s more than enough public land to sustain them.

These characters are fictional, but in the spirit of March for Wild Horses they will remain free as a symbol of our hope for the Mustangs.

7 Nickers »

  1. That was an awesome story except (this is constructive criticism by the way) that it’s in several different persons-‘I’ and ‘Leigh’ (i don’t know what you call them in writer lingo), and I think the reader might get a little confused about that. Just wanted to let ya know! :)

  2. Thanks for the constructive criticism!! But I don’t really remember but I think I did that on purpose. I wanted the conclusion to be a little more personal. So I switched from 3rd person to 1st person. I hope it isn’t too confusing for everyone!

    And I wish I knew about your decision earlier, LeadMare! Lol :) I was feeling a little boxed in, having to have The Lady be adopted by the stables. I wish she could have been set free instead of adopted. But oh well. Its no biggie. :) Thanks for publishing it LeadMare! And I hope you all enjoy it!

  3. Yay! Happy ending! Love those! lol. I love the names for Talitha. The Lady of Shilot. Love it! lol anyway keep it up! (P.S. I love the part in the end where you said God owns all the wild horses. So true!)

  4. Talitha sounds like a beautiful horse! I really love how you said that the mustangs, although loved and cared for, aren’t actually owned by us. For me, it kind of made me look beyond the mustangs and see that ALL horses possess a spirit and freedom we can never own. Wonderful job!

    It’s great how these mustangs won’t be adopted and are allowed to roam free. In the end I think it embodies what we’re trying to communicate more than adopting them into the stables can. Go LeadMare!

  5. Jonannah and Madelaina, I fully intended to adopt one or more of the mustangs featured in the Int*l Horse stories, but after reading the stories I knew what I had to do. Thanks for your support.

    We all appreciate the heart that went into your stories, and I assure you they will be honored in the stables — but in a way that’s distinct from the domesticated horses.

    Thanks for stepping up to participate in March for Wild Horses!

  6. I really liked this story.Great job Johannah!~LD

  7. Wow, lovely story!! I like how you mentioned God owning the horses, too :] Talitha sounds like she has beautiful markings, and I would love to see her!! Keep up the wonderful storytelling!