The Horse That Knew What He Wanted

There was a horse. There was a small white horse. He was small and young. He was with his mother in a pasture. The horse and his mother were in a pasture in western Pennsylvania. There were children who played with the horse. The children loved the small white horse. Who were the children? We don’t know. It’s a story that only the horse knew. It’s a mystery.

The small white horse grew. He grew and grew. He became a big grey horse. He was strong. He was a strong horse and he was a calm horse. He learned to work. He learned to work hard. He worked in the fields. The children brushed the horse. There was a man who fed the horse and worked with the horse. The children loved the big grey horse and he loved the children. He was happy.

Something happened one day. What happened? We don’t know. It’s a story that only the horse knew. It’s a mystery. Something bad happened. For many days the big grey horse was not in his pasture. For days no one fed him. For many days no one brushed him. For many days he was hungry and sad. There were no children to love him and brush him and feed him..

Someone put the big grey horse in a truck. Who put him in the truck? We don’t know. It’s a story that no one told. There were other horses in the truck. The truck traveled up and down hills and the horses were frightened. It was cold and it was snowing. After a long time, the truck stopped. A man put a halter on the big grey horse. He looked at the horse. The horse was tired and hungry. He was not clean. He was dirty. He was not a horse for riding and jumping. He was a horse for working in fields. The man shook his head. “Poor horse,” he said.

The man put the horse in a box with other horses. They were not friendly horses. They were frightened horses. The box was in a big barn. It was an auction barn. There were many horses in the auction barn.

There were big horses and little horses. There were young horses and old horses. There were ponies and big working horses. There were many beautiful horses. The big grey horse was not beautiful. He was hungry and tired and very, very dirty. His ribs were thin. You could see his ribs.

There were many people in the big barn. The people were looking at the horses. The people were looking for horses to buy. The people wanted to buy horses. Some people were looking for ponies. Some people were looking for working horses. Some people were looking for horses for riding and horses for jumping. Some people were looking for a champion. No one was looking for a big grey horse that was dirty and tired and very hungry.

The people had money. They bought ponies. They bought riding horses. They bought working horses and jumping horses. Some people had a lot of money. They bought beautiful horses. They wanted to buy champions.

No one bought the big grey horse. He looked too sad and too tired. He didn’t look like a champion. He looked hungry.

It was night. The people went home with their new horses. They were happy. All the people went home, but there was a man who did not go home. He had a big truck. He didn’t want a riding horse or a jumping horse. He didn’t want a champion or a working horse. He wanted horses for his factory. The man had a big factory. His factory made food for dogs. He bought all the old horses, all the tired horses. He made dog food with horses that were not beautiful.

The man bought all the horses that no one wanted. No one wanted the big grey horse. The man bought the tired, dirty horse. He put all the tired, dirty, hungry horses in his truck. They were not beautiful. They were not champions. They were sad, frightened horses. They were going to die in the dog food factory. The men in the dog food factory were going to kill them. The tired, dirty, hungry horses were going to be killed in the dog food factory. The big grey horse was going to be killed. The truck driver looked at the horses in his truck. He was sad. “Poor horses,” he said.

An old car stopped beside the big barn. A young man got out. He was young and handsome and he had blond hair. His name was Harry de Leyer. Harry was Dutch. He came from The Netherlands. He had come to the barn to buy a horse, but he was not happy. He was too late. He was too late to buy a horse. He looked at the big barn. All the people had gone home. All the horses had gone. The auction was finished. The auction barn was empty. The only horses were the sad, frightened horses in the big truck. The only horses were the horses that were going to the dog food factory. Harry was very disappointed.

“My car stopped on the road,” he told the truck driver. “I had to change a tire in the snow. Now I’m late. I’m too late. The auction is finished.”

“Bad luck,” said the driver.

“I have come a long way,” said Harry. “And it’s a long way back to my home in New York. Could I look at the horses in your truck? Maybe there’s a horse I can use.”

The truck driver shook his head. “No,” he said. “No one wants these horses,” he said. “These are not champion horses. These are tired old horses. They are going to be killed at the factory. They are dog food.”

“I need a lesson horse,” said Harry. “I need a good healthy horse. I need a quiet horse for lessons. I teach girls to ride. I don’t need a champion. I don’t need a beautiful horse. I need a calm lesson horse.”

“These horses are not calm,” said the driver. “They are frightened and nervous. Listen. But you can look at them.”

Harry looked at the horses. They were not happy. They didn’t like the truck. They didn’t like being put in a strange truck with strange horses. Their ears were back. They were frightened and angry. Their tails moved quickly. Their feet tapped the floor and made a lot of noise. Their eyes were white.

Then Harry saw the big grey horse. He was not frightened. He was quiet and calm. He looked at Harry. His eyes were not white with fear. His eyes were calm. He looked at Harry and he closed one eye. He winked at Harry.

“I want to see the big grey horse,” said Harry.

“He’s not a lesson horse,” said the driver. “He’s a working horse, a plough horse. See the marks on his chest. He has harness marks. He pulled a heavy plough. He worked on a farm. He’s a working farm horse, a plough horse. He’s not a horse for rich girls who need riding lessons.”

Harry looked at the big grey horse. He saw a strong horse with a big chest, a horse with good legs. He saw a calm horse who was not frightened. He looked at the big grey horse’s eyes. The horse looked at Harry. This was a horse who liked people. This was not a stupid horse. This was a horse who knew what he wanted.

“I can teach him,” said Harry. “I’m a riding instructor. I teach rich girls to ride horses and I can teach this horse to carry girls on his back. How much do you want for him?”

“The factory paid sixty dollars each for these horses that no one wants. Give me seventy dollars and for ten dollars more I’ll take him to your home. It’s not far from the factory.”

Harry looked at the horse again. He was thin, but other horses on the wagon were much thinner. Harry thought he looked like a healthy horse who had had some bad times. What had happened to the horse? No one knew. It was a mystery. But the horse still liked people, so Harry thought he had not been abused. Harry thought he deserved a second chance.

“Here’s eighty dollars,” he said, and gave the money to the driver. Then he smiled. Harry liked a bargain. Eighty dollars for a strong horse with good legs, a calm horse that liked people, was a bargain. Harry shook hands with the truck driver. It was a deal.


a pasture – un pré (päturage)

a barn – un étable/ une grange

to brush – brosser

to feed, fed – nourrir

hills – collines

a halter – un licol

fields – champs

barn – grange, bâtiment d’écurie

auction – vente aux enchères

ribs – côtes

tire – pneu

healthy – en bonne santé

disappointed – déçu

to wink – faire un clin d’oeil

to plough – tirer une charrue

a plough – une charrue

a plough horse – un cheval de trait

a chest – une poitrine

to deserve – mériter

a bargain – une bonne affaire

a deal – un marché conclu

There are 3 comments

  1. Sabrina Janczak

    Beautiful Judy! Loved reading it. Plus anything having to do with horses reminds me of you.
    I hope you and your student continue with the story or writing other stories.
    What an amazing way to acquire a language.

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