“Four things greater than all things are,
Women and Horses and Power and War.”
The flames started with a whisper and a promise of bigger things. It licked the edges of the wall before moving as swiftly as a rumor to the straw bedding in the stall of the quarter horse mare. The chaff was food for the gods as the fire moved with the agility of a feather dancer around the mare’s ankles, causing her to prance as if she were competing in a show. But this was no show. Her steel horseshoes grew hot, and there was no relief except to keep moving. She felt the heaviness of her baby weighing her down. Her nostrils flared giving the smoke a grand opening to her lungs. She threw her backside against the wood door. It did not budge. Desperate to get she and her unborn baby out of the barn, the mare reared up and drove both hooves into the door’s midsection and it splintered in half, leaving just enough room for her to leap over the door.
Miguel, her trainer, found her running from one end of the barn to the other trying to find a way out. Her flank was dripping with sweat. Foam oozed between her teeth and dropped onto the cement walkway. Miguel led her to safety, pulling bits of burning straw out of her tail. The cries of three other horses bounced off the rafters. The trainer ran back to rescue them. The mare drank a whole bucket of water and watched the roof of the barn burn.
“It’s okay.” Miguel said when he had gotten all the horses out of harms’ way. He was trying to assure her that everything would be okay, but it was not okay. He left her and the other horses alone in the pasture, where there was only a shadow of a moon. The clouds blended with the smoke, hiding the stars. The three other mares, stood silently, sleeping. But she had no time to rest. She would drop her foal right here in the grass.