Once upon a time long ago there lived a little horse. He wasn’t very large, but he was spirited and shiny, all black and beautiful.
He had been born in a big meadow in the spring six years before and he was happy with his mother as they played and gamboled in the lush grass. In the winters the farmer who owned them put them into a big roomy stall with lots of hay and water and he sometimes took them outside in the snow to give them exercise.
When the little horse got older he noticed his mother seemed to become wary of him and so did the farmer and they began to back away as he approached them. He didn’t know what was wrong but when he went to the big pond in the meadow to get a drink he noticed his reflection was odd; he didn’t seem to be black and shiny anymore. On that sunny day the horse looking back at him from the pond’s reflection was golden with a creamy white mane and tail. It’s not that he didn’t like what he saw; he just couldn’t understand it. But he tossed his mane, snorted and galloped away toward his mother who surprisingly wheeled away from him. He was sad about that but ate a lot of that good grass and felt better. He heard the farmer leaning on the fence say, “Palomino?” in a questioning way as he stared at the little horse.
The next day he went to the pond again to drink and this time a pure snow-white horse looked back at him. He jumped away and again ran toward his mother who shied away from him.
Each day the little horse went to the pond, more and more afraid of what he might see in his reflection. One day he was chestnut brown with white legs and a white stripe from his ears to his nose but he didn’t jerk up and run this time. He stared down at the chestnut colored horse staring back, shook his head, whickered and trotted off.
The next week he looked into the glimmering pond water and saw a dappled grey horse looking back with a black mane and tail. He tossed his head up, looked across the field at his mother and snorted when she ran off.
The little horse was beginning to stay thirsty rather than see all those horse colors in the pond’s reflection but eventually he had to go for a drink and again, he saw another horse in the reflection, this time, white and covered with grey spots and he heard the farmer, while scratching his head say, “how did that little guy turn into an Appaloosa overnight?” and he stood still in the sunlight, looked way over at his mother who was backing away, and he saw now the other horses in the field were running away from him also.
The summer days passed and the little horse became mustard colored with a shiny black name and tail, and then one day he had big brown and white spots and he heard the farmer say the word “Pinto.” What was happening? Why was it happening? He heard the farmer use new words every day as he cantered past; red and silver, roan, paint, dun and blue, and the farmer sounded more and more confused. He also heard the man say words like, “TV” and “movies,” and “the news” and “make a fortune” but he did not know anything about all that.
The little horse realized he could not please the farmer or even his own mother because he just could not keep his color the way they wanted it or even the way he wanted it so he decided to just forget about the problem and to gallop around the pasture happily and eat a lot of that good thick grass and if people and other horses did not like his looks, it would no longer matter to him. He could only be a little horse. It’s what he was best at. So when he drank every day at the pond he closed his eyes until one day weeks later he did look and he was shiny black again and he stayed that way for the rest of his life, because black, just like all the other colors, is beautiful.
©2016 LC Van Savage