Never Again, Sourpuss.

by Evie Hallitt
(United Kingdom)

There would never again be a horse as tired as Rusty Harper. T
he dappled grey mare was nicknamed Sourpuss because she would constantly nip at people as they secured the harness.

Her twelve year old body was so tired and stiff from racing up and down street cobbled, laming herself.
She was filled up with medicine to numb the lameness, but once she had a week or so of rest with no medicine, she was fifty times worse than before.
Disguising lameness, or trying to ignore it, is a complex and stupid thing to do. Old Rusty Harper, driven by Graham Hallite, was never the same horse after eight years with Graham.

This is the story of Rusty's life.

A skewbald stallion named Ali and a light grey mare named Jengagem were once put together in a field by an inexperience groom named Jonathan Smith.
Little thirteen year old Jonny had thought that Jengagem was a stallion as she had just spent a penny and it very much looked like she was a whole stallion. With two hours of being together, Ali's stallion nature got the better of his polite nature and the two purebred horses ended up mating.

With ten months of her pregnancy, Jengagem had been scanned. The foal she would be giving birth to in a month would be a filly, smaller than normal, but still a strong, fit filly.

Jonathan had been scolded severely by Master John and then had been dismissed. The mistake of putting the top class showjumper Jengagem with the eventing stallion Ali was a very silly thing to do. Even an inexperience groom like Jonathan should know a gelding from a stallion and a stallion from a mare. Of course, he should know what all of these words mean.

Soon a stumbling, dappled grey filly was born into a rusty, straw bedded stable with a heavy metal door.

The timing was very bad-a storm was raging outside and lightning crashed like amber flashing scars through the navy sky. Thunder rumbled and shook the ground like a giant's foot was stamping up and down right next to the barn.

The filly was named Rusty because of her stable.
Rusty was soon released into the fields with all the other foals. They played races and Rusty, with her great competition heritage, won every time, earning respect from the older foals bit by bit.

Soon, however, the older foals grew into yearlings and Rusty never saw her friends again. If she did, she didn't recognise the sturdy, chunky horses. She had known them as long legged, unsure foals.

When Rusty was four, she was advertised in Horse & Hound. She was snapped up by Graham Harper as quickly as a frog snaps a fly into his mouth. Graham rode the just broken in mare with apparent kindness but beneath the fake, honey dripping voice that he put on to make sure Master John sold his special Rusty to him, there was a tough, whipping side to the driver.

At the ripe age of five, when Rusty should have been in her prime, she was bleeding on her rump from merciless whipping and her mouth was scratched from Graham jabbing her in the mouth with the bit. It was through no fault of her own that she became bad tempered and bit people when they were doing up her harness. She hated being a driving horse. Her breeding was too good to be spoilt.

By the age of nine or ten, Rusty was so weak Graham Harper and his terrified, bullied wife Julie discussed putting a bullet through her head. Even though Rusty was being put through so much pain every day that dying would seem like a godsend, she was determined not to give up and let people believe accidental foals were a mess. She made sure she was full of beans for the next few weeks.

Soon, at the seniority of eleven, Rusty was broken down. Every time her harness was taken off, she collasped to the ground from her knees and slept through the night. In the morning, she was pulled up and set off to work again. Some of the kinder grooms did not know how she coped without thier titbits of apple and carrot.

At twelve years old, Rusty was taken to Master John's daughter, Leya. Leya cuddled the old, dappled grey mare and cradled her bony head. The blonde haired girl stroked her silky but thin neck and sighed in depression as she realised how her father's filly had been broken by cruelty.
Soon Rusty was nursed and pampered by everybody.
She died at the grand old age of fifteen.

Goodbye, Sourpuss.

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