At first Patricia didn't believe the two nearly hysterical
girls. All the Rosewood horses had been sold at auction.
Perhaps someone had tried to hide a horse after the stable
had closed? She recalled chasing off one of the old Rosewood
grooms she caught living in one of the stalls. His ominous
parting words "I'll be back to collect what's mine"
had given her a bad feeling. She had warned all the new
employees to keep an eye out for him and any mischief
he might be up to.
thoughts of the mystery of ownership left her head when
Patricia peered into the stall. The poor creature huddling
in the dark was no more than a heap of bones. The young
horse tossed her head in warning, clacking her teeth.
She took a weak, stumbling step forward and nearly collapsed.
stepped back from the stall fighting to control her emotions.
She looked at Katrina and Samantha. The girls clutched
each other, desperation and fear on their faces.
Prescott," Samantha pleaded. "You've got to
do something. You have to help her."
Patricia took a deep, calming breath and pulled her cell
phone from her pocket. She dialed the veterinarian she
had recently engaged to help with the stable. After briefly
explaining the emergency, she flipped the phone closed.
on his way," Patricia said, then turned from the
girls before she lost control of her emotions and quite
possibly her stomach.
Wells arrived within the hour and was led to Destiny's
stall. He had never seen an abuse case so severe. The
filly, about a year old, was nearly starved to death.
She had numerous open sores covering her body, clearly
from a previous beating, and she was lame in her right
he said. "Who did this? Where did this horse come
have no idea, Arthur," Patricia replied, anxiously
placing a hand to her face. "The stable was to have
been cleared. The auction was nearly three months ago.
I guess no one thought to open every stall door!"
stepped forward, placing a hand on Dr. Wells' arm to get
his attention. "Please, Doctor," she said. "Please,
can you help her?"
Wells turned to the young girl who had first escaped his
attention. Looking down into her dark, saddened eyes tore
at his heart. This was going to complicate things if he
had to euthanize the horse.
try young lady," he replied. "But, she is very,
very ill. We may not be able to save her. Sometimes the
kindest thing is to let them go."
eyes burned with the effort to control her tears. "But,
you'll try?" she whispered. "She's lasted this
long. She deserves a chance."
Wells turned to Patricia. "She's going to require
around the clock care, Patricia. She's in such bad shape.
I don't want to move her. Are you prepared to provide
face looked stricken. The opening of the stable was less
than two weeks away and she was already behind schedule.
Working night and day, she might just make it. Where would
she find the time to nurse this sick horse back to health?
stepped forward and spoke for the first time. "We'll
do it," she said. Samantha's agreement showed in
wait a minute you two," Patricia said. "This
isn't a sick goldfish. This animal is suffering. It will
require an enormous effort night and day. What will your
not sure what my parents will say, Mrs. Prescott,"
said Katrina honestly. "But I know they will have
to lock me in my room to keep me from coming down here
to take care of her."
too," agreed Samantha with determination. "We
found her and we want to care for her."
OK," Patricia relented, throwing her hands up, the
strain evident in her voice. "We'll work out the
Wells sighed deeply and ran his hand over his face. "Alright,"
he said. "If you want to help, go find me some blankets,
a bucket of warm water and a halter. Then get a clean
stall prepared. We need to move her out of this filth."
eyed Dr. Wells suspiciously wondering if he was just finding
an excuse to get them to leave. Patricia put her hand
on Katrina's shoulder.
along girls," she said. "Grab the barrow and
we'll get some bedding. I'll search the tack room and
office for clean blankets."
Wells watched Patricia and the two girls go, then peered
back into the stall. Though weak, the filly watched his
every move. He had no doubt, given the opportunity, she
would try to exact a little revenge. Considering her current
state he understood her feelings completely. It ceased
to amaze him how casually some people inflicted cruelty
on the animals in their care.
waved as Dr. Wells drove away under the Rosewood archway.
One of the gates leaned sadly at odd angles. Patricia
added one more note to her endless mental "to-do"
list. With a sigh she looked over the instructions left
by the veterinarian. Fortunately the filly was not badly
injured, just desperately malnourished. Prognosis on the
wounds was good, though some would scar. The future of
her ankle was not clear. When her strength returned, Dr.
Wells would x-ray and look for damage. What Patricia worried
about the most was the filly's attitude toward people.
Even in her weakened condition Patricia could see the
fear and mistrust in the horse. As she recovered she could
become dangerous, which brought her thoughts back to her
two new helpers.
sat outside the Rosewood office, her head in her hands
in exhaustion. Samantha was inside talking to her parents
on the phone. The girls had worked tirelessly and followed
all of the veterinarian's instructions. They proved themselves
quite capable and very dedicated, but Patricia still worried.
It would take an enormous effort to win the filly's trust.
Working with troubled horses was not for novices. At least
the horse had finally relaxed a little as Samantha and
Katrina gently removed the filth from her coat.
the girls could reach her, teach her not to fear people,
though Patricia had no idea what she would do with the
horse after she recovered. She had no papers or identification.
The horse was clearly a Thoroughbred, probably one of
the Rosewood crop from last year. The girls were bound
to get attached
problem at a time," Patricia muttered herself. "Lets
see if she recovers first."
you say something, Mrs. Prescott?" Samantha asked
as she exited the office.
Patricia's focus snapped back to the moment. "Oh,
no," she said. "Sorry, just talking to myself,
I'm afraid. And since we'll be spending so much time together,
how about you call me Patricia from now on?"
Patricia." Samantha said.
that we are all on a chummy first name basis, what did
your parents say?" Patricia asked.
insisted on coming down to speak with you," Samantha
sighed. "She's not too happy, but I think she understands."
yours?" Patricia asked as she turned to Katrina.
said Katrina. "I had to work on father a bit, but
I can usually talk him into something if I really want
to and Mum usually follows."
took a good look at both girls. "I believe you two
could talk a tiger out of his stripes. You should both
come with warning labels to protect the unsuspecting public."
eye's twinkled, and Samantha covered her mouth to conceal
Patricia said arching an eyebrow as she looked at the
veterinarian's instructions, "With this schedule
from Dr. Wells, none of us will be getting much sleep."
understand," said Katrina with determination. "We
haven't changed our minds."
then," said Patricia. "Lets go make another
batch of mash while we wait for your parents. We've got
another feeding in thirty minutes and you two need to
learn how to do this on your own."
looked to Samantha, a silent agreement passing between
them. They were determined to see this through.