The vet slept outside his stall that night. While Honor himself slept only a few hours, she seemed to sleep the entire night through. Having her there was a constant comfort for him, and somehow, he trusted her more than Taylor. He wondered, as horses will, what she was called.
Dawn came slowly, but did arrive, and with it came Tessa, back from wherever she had slept. She took notice of the vet dozing in the aisleway, but did nothing, choosing to instead begin her feeding of the other Thoroughbreds in the stalls. She weighed and poured grain into buckets, and sectioned off two bales of hay. Then she moved to the stalls, feeding each horse.
Honor looked at each horse- chestnuts, grays, blacks and then himself, a bay. When Tessa passed, he let out a whinney, hoping that she would bring him at least some fresh water. Through the night he had dropped bits of grain and pieces of hay into it, and now it was nearly impossible to drink. But she ignored him, skipping his stall altogether.
He swished his tail, annoyed. Turning, he walked to the back of his stall, gazing out the covered window, waiting for food and water. He stood for quite some time, listening to Tessa feeding and watering all the horses but him, and occasionally hearing a bird or two outside. Finally, the vet seemed to wake.
“Uh…” she moaned, stretching. “Tessa, what time is it?” She began to stand up, then glanced at her wrist.
“Tessa!” she shouted, spooking Honor. He jumped slightly, then whipped around to look for the source of the noise. She turned, saw that she had frightened him, and opened the stall door.
“Sorry, boy. I didn’t mean to scare you there,” she explained, stroking his nose. Tessa came over and said, “I didn’t feed him. And you guys have to be out by tonight.”
“I know, I know. And thanks a lot, you couldn’t have changed his water?” She sounded at the least bit angry.
“You’re not paying me to feed him, in fact, you’re not paying me at all. So no.”
The vet sighed, and reached for the water bucket.
“Listen, Mandy, I’m sorry you got fired and you’re stuck with a horse that you can’t really afford to have now, but unless you start paying board, I can’t let you stay.”
“I know, Tessa, it was pure luck that you had an empty stall today, and I will definitely be out by this afternoon. But will it be okay for me to leave Honor in here while I get my trailer over here? If I leave now, I’ll get back here in about hour. Maybe an hour and a half.” Honor listened, vaguely recognizing the word trailer, which was synonomus with moving, or leaving. And he finally knew the vet’s name- Mandy, Tessa had called her.
“That’s fine. You should probably feed him before you go though,” she mentioned, starting to leave already.
“I know. I’ll only give him a flake of hay though, and some grain- I’ll save another flake for the ride over, is that ok? And thank you, Tessa. Have your dad send me a bill, or just tell him to take it out of his next vet bill.” Mandy sounded a little more confident, more sure of what she was doing this morning, and her steady voice certainly comforted Honor.
“Okay, I’ll be sure to tell him. You get going- I’ll change his water and give him what- a half scoop of the protein mix? And a flake of hay.”
“Yeah, that’s perfect, thank you so much. I’ll be back soon- bye Honor,” she called to him, latching the stall door and leaving the bucket in the aisle. She blew Honor a kiss, which he found an odd gesture. He wasn’t even sure what it meant, but she seemed overly happy in doing so.
Tessa waited until Mandy had left, then took the bucket out to the spigot, where Honor could hear running water. This made him desperately thirsty, and he started to whinney until she returned.
“Relax, spazzo,” she said, opening the door. He rushed at her, and she rewarded him with a smack to the nose. Jolting backwards, he let her put the bucket down. Then, gulping a mouthful, he watched her as she prepared a flake of hay and a pan of grain. He ate and ate, filling his stomach and making him hyper. He wanted to run, or at least be turned out so he could walk around. But this was a racetrack, and such a place was far away.
Munching on hay kept him busy for the hour and half Mandy was gone. In that hour, he had drank much of his water, and his hay was nearly gone. Many horses were being tacked up for training or riding, and Honor felt anxious for his next time to run. Surely that’s what Mandy and himself would be doing together?
Finally, Mandy arrived. Before departure, she mucked his stall and cleaned out the pan and bucket, then swept out all the loose hay. Honor hovered around her while she did this, pacing and swinging his head about. Every time she caught him doing so, she would grab his halter and intone, “NO.” He wondered why- at least he was keeping himself occupied.
“Alright,” she said after the stall was spick and span. “We’d better get going, right?” If Honor had understood, he would’ve agreed, most definitely. But for now, he just waited as she hooked a lead rope to his halter and led him out of the stall. Tessa appeared outside.
“Took you long enough,” she commented as they walked past.
“I was cleaning out the stall, thanks very much, so you wouldn’t have to. I left the bucket and the pan in there, but I washed them both out,” Mandy explained, making Honor halt. He did not appreciate this. There was a whole world out there, and he was too full of energy to stand around.
“Oh. Thanks. Well, you’d better get going. My dad said he’d rather take the money out of the next vet bill, if that’s okay.”
“Sure, that’s fine. You’re right though, we should get going. It’s a good fourty-five minutes to my house, and it looks like rain.” The humans both looked at the sky, and Honor sniffed at the air. It certainly smelled like rain.
They said a few more words, Honor impatiently waiting, and then Mandy led him to the trailer. Remembering the ride here, he shook in fright. She noticed and tried to calm him.
“It’s okay, boy. Don’t worry, I’ll take the ride nice and easy.” As kind as her words were, they did next to nothing for his nerves. She got into the trailer and tugged on the lead.
“Come on,” she called. He stood stock still. Wouldn’t it be better, he thought, to simply stay here? Mandy reached for the hay in the manger, and waved it in front of him, just out of his reach. Honor began to doubt his fears- after all, there was hay in the trailer. How bad could it truly be?
Wabam, giant block of text. It feels so good to be writing again!