And really, isn't it all one big soap opera? *intense look into the camera during my close-up*
Title: The Edge of Neight, aka Stallioncrest 1/8
Rating: PG/All Audiences/No goats, they're assholes.
Summary: Things are peaceful at the ranch until a good-for-nothing show horse joins the herd and destroys the plans already laid in place. Or is he there to free an untamed heart? *whinny*
Feedback: Yes, please! It's like a nosebag full of delicious oats, or a Not-A-Carrot.
Warnings: DID I MENTION THIS WAS A (clean) SOAP OPERA ABOUT HORSES? There will be: comas! Deserted Islands! Evil twins! Cold,cruel stares as the camera fades to black! Intense looks! Burros! Tears. Tears coursing down my face as I laughed myself sick writing this. Here's to hoping you laugh, too. And note: I'm making fun of tropes that exist in soap operas, including, er, racial stereotypes to put it bluntly. The short bus version: I'm making fun of their blatant racism/stupidity, capice?
The Edge Of Neight
click the title to listen to the theme song!
Fancy trotted to the fence, tossing her majestic golden mane into the sunlight. She knew she looked beautiful in the fading light of day with her chestnut coat gleaming and her freshly combed mane and tail ruffling in the breeze. She hoped the shiny glint would attract a certain somehorse to realizing that she was out of her corral, and all alone at that. But for all the prancing and whinnying she did, no one came to see her, to touch noses and be off like the wind, racing along the fence with her until her limbs were trembly, her mouth filled with foam, and her haunches soaked with sweat.
But a filly could dream and, it seemed, dream was all Fancy could do these days at the Star W Double T Walking F Rocking U Flying C Circle K Ranch in the heart of Kentucky. (Branding was a real bitch.)
Fancy rested her hoof on the bottom rung of the split-rail fence and dreamed. Dreamed of being out and away from the WTFUCK Ranch, maybe making the Kentucky race circuit, but mostly she dreamed about Skidoodle, the handsome colt that Hank, the ranch hand with the thick Maine accent, had brought to the Ranch earlier that day. Skidoodle was a glorious Appaloosa with a mottled ashen-grey body, an unknown and heavily rumored background, and eyes full of mischief. When Hank had pulled him out of his trailer after they arrived from his mysterious pre-ranch life, Fancy raced to the fence of her corral, ears forward and whickered softly at the beautiful sight. She thought that Skidoodle gave a little hop and kick just for her benefit as he made his way down his ramp. She had hoped they would be introduced later today, but it wasn't to be, apparently.
She whickered to herself, tail swishing, and kicked at a clump of sawdust. The sound of hooves brought her out of her reverie.
"WHEEEEEE HEE hee heee. Pbbbbblllt. There you are! I've been galloping all over for you!"
"Oh. Hello, Mother."
It was Top O'The Line, the once proud and be-ribboned mare that heralded back to the glory days of the Star W Double T Walking F Rocking U Flying C Circle K Ranch. Cool dark eyes that betrayed nothing, a gorgeous auburn coat that shined in the sun, and healthy white teeth that belied her age. In a word, she was magnificent.
Top O'The Line reared up on her back legs and pawed at the air.
"It simply won't do for you to be moping around like this. Now, come with me for a good grooming. I want you to try out the new seven-hold rosette braid that's all the rage in the latest Eventing magazines. Have you practiced your jumps?"
"Mother, I've told you, I don't want to be an Eventer."
"WHEEEEEEE HEEEE hee heee! Nonsense. You'll be a jumper like I was a jumper and my dam before me and her dam before her. And one day you'll be put to foal with Ransom Paycheck and raise a filly or colt all on your own."
"Never!" With a toss of her gorgeous sun-kissed mane, Fancy was off to the far side of the arena, tears running down her long face. She'd never let Ransom Paycheck mount her, never!
A cloud moved over the sun and darkened the landscape. As silent as the grave, the mighty Frisian stallion Ransom Paycheck stepped forward from his private arena and flicked his ears forward and back, pawing at the ground. He'd been admiring the young and feisty Fancy as she put on her display for the brash newcomer. Pity that Skidoodle didn't realize that he would be gelded soon; Ransom Paycheck would see to it. And then headstrong Fancy, along with the sweet and gentle pony Clover and that wild, lusty, black-maned Stormy would be his. All his.
He could wait. But not for long.
Hank rolled the wheelbarrow with their special oats and vitamins into the mares' stable for the early morning feeding, but it seemed that Fancy only picked at her grains. Clover lifted her sweet, furry nose from her slop bucket, and showed her teeth out of concern.
"What's the matter, Fancy? Did you graze already?"
Fancy tossed her wheaten mane and walked agitated circles in her stall. "I just can't eat. I can't sleep, I can't do anything until I meet that dashing Skidoodle. Have you heard anything about him?"
Clover finished the mouthful she was chewing and looked over her shoulder and bobbed her head. "I have. Oh, Fancy, you'll never guess! He's from a circus! A real show pony! Except that he's not a pony. I heard Hank telling Gringo that Skidoodle had been treated poorly and had attempted running away!"
Both horses whinnied at the thought. Running away? That was madness! Who would comb the burrs out of your tail? Where would your oats and sugar cubes come from? Running away, goodness!
Just then, Gringo the Burro sauntered by with a loud heehaw! Fancy took the opportunity to find out more.
"Gringo, is it true what they say? That Skidoodle was a real circus horse?"
"Oh, sí, sí. Este hombre es un muy mal caballo. He no gonna like eet here. Unless..."
The fillies were practically breathless. "Unless what?"
Gringo looked off at something far away with a hint of sadness in his eyes. But he was merely a donkey, so he never was asked why he looked so triste. "Unless they can break he espíritu. Only then can he call thees place he home. He gonna haff to shange."
Fancy's amber eyes flashed and her tail swished. She'd never let that happen! Never!
Clover stepped in place in nervousness at the electricity coming off her friend. Her nervousness doubled when Hank came back through the barn with Justin Time on a lead. Justin Time was a tawny buckskin colt, three years old with a good humor about him and amazing moves on the arena floor. He'd never look at a silly mottled pony like her with anything other than brotherly affection, but she had hope that one day he'd see. One day... She buried her head in the trough, her brown forelock hiding her eyes.
"Hey girls, how's the hay this morning?"
Clover piped up cheerfully, shaking her head back to clear her eyes of hair, "Just fine, Justin! Really green today. I think Hank's spoiling us with all of this alfalfa. I'll be swaybacked from my huge belly if I keep eating like this, ha ha!" She clearly had a case of hoof-in-mouth disease. Now Justin would never think of her as a beautiful mare to mount! Justin was kind, though, and whickered gently at her.
"Boy, I can't wait until I get back to my stall if it's that good, Clover!" Just then, the impetuous and strong-willed Dressage mare with the glossiest black coat this side of Araby stepped forward and nudged at the trough with her nose. Stormy was a most beautiful thoroughbred, with a fiery temper and a cold black heart to match her looks. Justin Time pulled on his lead and tried to touch noses with the black beauty, but she would have none of it and nipped at the blonde colt.
"As if I could ever want the likes of you. You're not stallion enough for me, colt."
Justin laid his ears back and whinnied. "You'll get tired of the bad boys soon enough, Stormy. And when you do, I'll be waiting."
Clover thought to herself as she looked on wistfully at the tableau, "You'll get tired of bad girls soon enough, Justin, and when you do, I'll be waiting."
Hank tugged on the lead. "Ayuh, I'm waiting heyah, Hoss." Justin followed and kicked at the barn door on the way out. Stormy whickered a laugh and tossed her mane. "I've got my eyes set on that new fire bolt, Skidoodle."
Fancy fretted and turned away before Stormy could see the tears wetting her whiskey colored eyes. She'd show that mean black wench who would end up the victor with all the spoils. Then Stormy would see. They'd all see!
Top O'The Line finished her run with four jumps, two of them with big water hazards, and was now looking forward to a good brushing and nosebag of fermented barley. Her rider held the reins loosely, knowing that Top O'The Line was a lady first and foremost and would never race back to her stall. They passed Ransom Paycheck as he made his way out to the course and stopped to catch up.
"Looking good out there, ma'am."
Top O'The Line tossed her coppery mane at the insult. "Ma'am? I've got enough fire in me yet, you cruel bastard!"
They stared daggers at one another before Ransom Paycheck broke off in a satisfied whinny. "I bet you do. I bet your little girl does, too. When are you going to talk some sense into her?" He growled, "I won't wait forever."
Top O'The Line stepped gingerly at the cold fire in Ransom's words, yet lowered her thick lashes becomingly. "If you get tired of waiting, you know where my stall is." With a toss of her fiery auburn mane, she turned her haunches to the stallion and made her way elegantly to her crossties. She could feel his hard black eyes on her every move, just how she liked it. If that fool of a daughter wouldn't mate with the stud of the Ranch, she sure wouldn't let the opportunity pass her by.
Skidoodle champed at his bit, liking the taste of the metal. It had been custom-fit to his mouth unlike the ones that he'd been forced to wear in the Circus. He missed his show-mates Apple Dapple and Road Hard, but he sure wouldn't miss the cruel Ringmaster that whipped him nightly. Skidoodle had fought back, pawing and screaming every time the minging Ringmaster had put his long, cruel whip to him, but after being lashed repeatedly until he thought that he would either die or go mad, Skidoodle had bided his time by playing the compliant horse act.
He was anything but compliant.
Skidoodle came from a long line of performers. His great-grandsire had been one of the famous diving horses, and his sire had been the lead show horse in the Ringley Brothers' circus. They were beautiful, and they were proud. Having to endure a whip and cruel behavior had about done Skidoodle in; he thought about running away and joining the Merchant Marines as a pack horse, but he was easily sea sick, so that was out. He thought about signing up for this fool war the country had gotten themselves into, after all, the calvary was a noble profession. But dammit, he had principles and wouldn't support the war.
And then one day, an old man with a kind face and a Maine accent showed up and offered to buy him to put him out to stud if he couldn't be trained to jump.
"Oh, he'll jump. He'll jump for you or I'll know the reason why."
Skidoodle whinnied at the cruelty in his master's voice. He'd jump for no man. Not any more. Not this horse.
When his trailer first pulled in to the Star W Double T Walking F Rocking U Flying C Circle K Ranch, he thought he had finally arrived at heaven's pasture. When he saw the chestnut filly with the sun-drenched mane flying across the far meadow without a care in the world, he knew he was there. The man that bought him was a hired hand named Hank and seemed a decent sort. He didn't whip or scold and had given Skidoodle the best food he'd ever eaten. But Skidoodle was a proud stallion, and he'd be damned if anyone saddled him.
If there was going to be riding, he would be the one doing it.
It had been a long time since a filly had caught his eye. He shook out his splendid charcoal mane, sniffed the air to catch the mysterious mare's scent and trotted off in pursuit. He stopped up short when an meticulously groomed auburn mare cut off his path, whinnying angrily in a thick southern accent.
"WHEEEEEEEEE HEEEEE heeeeee, pbbbblllt! And just where do you think you're going?"
"I beg your pardon, ma'am, but ye’ve banjaxed my walkin’."
"You can take your slick European talk and shove it up your tailhead. That's my daughter you're headed for, and I'll be Cheval for the French before I let the likes of you near her. You have no pedigree, no ribbons... You're nothing but a lowly carnival horse. I'm ashamed you're even allowed on this property."
Skidoodle snorted in his rage. "Are you calling me a good fer nothin’ Mick?" No horse would talk to him like he was nothing. No horse! He'd make that sweet filly his if it was the last thing he ever did!
Top O'The Line must have sensed his thoughts because she cut in front of him again and nodded her head towards the large black stallion pacing the fence line a few yards from where they stood.
"That's who my daughter is betrothed to. You'd do well to stay clear of him. Ransom Paycheck is this ranch's stud and won't stand for you laying a hoof on what's his. He'll have your guts for garters."
"I'm not afraid of some cross-dressing, washed-up horse. No horse will e’er talk to me like that, no horse! I may come from a good Catholic potato farm in Ireland, poor, but proud, and I may have been sold to a traveling American circus owned by a minging Pikey, and that circus may have just happened to pass through Kentucky, and I may have no pedigree to speak of, but I have one thing you can’t take away from me."
"Oh? And what's that?"
"Your lassie’s bonnie eyes on me like a peasant on soda bread."
Skidoodle gave a slow smile. Top O'The Line bared her teeth. And in the distance, Fancy's mane flashed like buttery daffodils dancing on the wind. Back in the dark corner of her stall, the glossy ebony Stormy plotted to be rid of that silly-hearted Fancy once and for all. And in a pasture miles away from everyone else, furry-faced Clover nibbled on some flowers, dreaming of her tanned Justin Time. Justin Time, meanwhile, paced in his corral thinking of ways to make Stormy notice him as more than a young colt barely away from his mother. And all alone on a hilltop stood Gringo the Burro, hee-hawing to no one about a mule he thought was dead and had loved dearly.
And in a dilapidated barn at the edge of the property where the colts and fillies weren't allowed, a feeble kick against a locked stall door went unnoticed.
~The Saga Continues!
(If you don't know what Dressage is, here's a video. I swear, one of the announcers is Alan Rickman...)