Soft as Velvet

Velvet old truck

Sepia faded soft, her head turned in my direction. Tail in mid-swish, one ear towards me. Old truck rusting away behind her. Now I look again. Was the truck abandoned, or had I driven it there? Is that the old International?

You can’t tell she’s pregnant, can you? She’s three years old, my first horse. When the colt came the following April it was a surprise. I had told my non-horsey parents I thought she was pregnant, but what does a 15 old girl know?

She came from a ranch that owned the Morgan stallion that was her daddy. Her mom was Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred, they said. She was sorrel and had a few darker spots on her sides. The rancher had called them her “velvet spots” and Velvet she became.

She stumbled and fell one day while I was riding her at a gallop through the place where the barrels were set up. The neighbor’s daughter saw me walking home through the Wyoming summer grasses as she drove by on I-25. Sandra picked me up and drove me home. I gripped my right shoulder and gritted my teeth.

Velvet was already home, and Bonus was there to greet her. The neighbors unsaddled her and put her back in with her colt while my parents drove me to the hospital. They had just gotten home from a shopping trip in Casper and it would be a 40 mile return trip to take me. “Now we have to go all the way back to Casper!” exclaimed mom. I got in the backseat and removed my hard contacts lenses since I feared I may pass out.

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