The Bay Colt Learns to Mind
HE span of Bays were talking together in their
stalls, and the other Horses were
listening. That was one trouble with living in
the barn, you could not say anything
"I am worried about the
"Well," said his aunt, "you know he is teething, and that may be the reason."
"That is no excuse," said his mother sternly. "He has been teething ever since he was five days old, and he will not cut his last tooth for three years yet. I don't call it goodness to keep from cribbing when you don't want to crib, and the time to stop is now. Besides, if he waits until he has all his teeth, he won't be able to break himself of the habit when he does try."
"That is so," said his aunt, "and he will ruin his teeth, too."
"Pooh!" exclaimed the Bay Colt, who had heard what they were saying. "I can stop whenever I want to, and they're my own teeth, anyway. It isn't anybody's else business if I do ruin them."
"There!" said his mother to his aunt, "you see what I mean. That is just the way he talks all the time. Now what would you do?"
"Let him alone," snorted the Dappled Gray. "Let him alone, and he will get some Horse sense after he has been broken. He'll have a hard time of it, but he'll come out all right."
The Bay Colt kicked against the side of the stall, he was so vexed. "I'll thank you to let me alone," said he. "I don't see why everybody tells me what I ought to do. Guess I know a thing or two."
"I'll tell you why," said the Dappled Gray, in a
voice that sounded as though he
were trying very hard not to lose his temper. "It
is because you are young and we
like you, and we can save you trouble if you mind
what we tell you. I had lost the
black pits in my front teeth before you were born,
and when a Horse has lived long
enough to lose the black pits from his teeth, he
knows a good deal. You don't know
The Bay Colt tossed his head and did not answer.
When he was led out to drink, the
For a few days after this, the Bay Colt had a very
good time. Nobody gave him any
advice, and even when he gnawed at the edge of the
manger, his mother did not seem
to notice it. After he found that she
anything, he didn't gnaw, or
crib, so much. He was such a foolish and contrary
young fellow that when people
told him not to do a thing, he always wanted to do
that thing worse than
anything else in the world. His cousin, the
The Bay Colt was very fond of his cousin, but he
did like to tease her, and once in
the fall, before they came to stay in the barn, he
called her a
"I don't care," said her cousin. "I'm going
anyway, and you can stay at home if you
The next morning the Bay Colt was in the pasture
again. The farmer and his man had
found him far away and led him back. "I had a
fine time," he said to his cousin,
"and I don't feel a bit mean. I'm going again
The next morning when the Gray Colt saw him, he
had a queer wooden thing around his
neck, and fastened to this was a pole that stuck
out ahead of him. It tired his
neck and bothered him when he wanted to run. If
he had tried to jump the fence, it
would have thrown him down. When the
The Gray Colt was too polite to say anything about
his wearing the poke, and she
talked about the grass, the sky, the trees, and
everything else she could think of.
Once she was about to speak of the fence, and then
she remembered and stopped short.
"It's too bad," whinnied the Gray Colt. "I'm very sorry for you."
"And what do you think?" said the
"I heard the
This was all in the fall, before the cold weather
had sent them to live in the barn,
and while the
You know there are some Colts who learn obedience easily, and there are others who have one hard struggle to stop jumping, and another to stop cribbing, and another to stop kicking, and so on, all through their Colthood. The older Horses are sorry for them and try to help them, for they know that neither Colt nor Horse can really enjoy life until he is trying to do right. To be sure, people sometimes do wrong even then, but if they will take advice and keep on trying they are certain to turn out well.
And now, when the Bay Colt seemed to have forgotten the lesson he had in the fall, and after he had told the other Horses to let him alone, very strange things began to happen. The farmer took him from his stall and made him open his mouth. Then a piece of iron was slipped into it, which lay on top of his tongue and fitted into the place on each side of his jaw where there were no teeth. Long lines were fastened to this iron on either side, and when he tossed his head and sidled around, these lines were gently pulled by the farmer and the iron bit pressed down his tongue.
The farmer was very kind, but the Bay Colt did not
want the bit in his mouth, so he
acted as ugly as he knew how, and kicked, and
snapped with his jaws open, and tried
to run. The farmer did not grow angry or cross,
yet whenever the
He missed the Gray Colt from her usual place, but soon she came in with one of the farmer's men. She had been driven for the first time also.
"Hallo!" said he. "Have you had a bit in your mouth too? Wasn't it dreadful? I am so angry that my hoofs fairly tingle to hit that farmer."
"It was hard," said the Gray Colt, "but the man who drove me was very kind and let me rest often. He patted me, too, and that helped me to be brave. My mother says we won't mind the bit at all after we are used to it."
"Well," said the Bay Colt, "I'm never going to be
used to it. I won't stand it, and
that's all there is about it." He stamped his
hoofs and looked very important.
Two-year-olds often look quite as important as
ten-year-olds, and they feel much
more so. The
When he said that he would not stand it to be
driven, a queer little sound ran
through the stalls. It was like the wind passing
over a wheatfield, and was caused
by the older Horses taking a long breath and
whispering to themselves. The
The next day both Colts were driven again, and the
next day, and the next, and the
next. By this time the
When the Gray Colt learned to walk steadily and turn as her driver wished, she was allowed to draw a light log through the furrows of a field. This tired her, but it made her very proud, and she arched her neck and took the daintiest of steps. It was not necessary that the log should be drawn over the field; still, she did not know this, and thought it was real work, when it was done only to teach her to pull. The man who was driving her patted her neck and held her nose in his hand. When he stopped to eat an apple, he gave her the core, and she thought she had never tasted anything so good. As she went back to her stall, she called to the Horses near, "I have been working. I have drawn a log all around a field."
The Blind Horse spoke softly to her. "You will have a happy life, my dear, because you are a willing worker."
Although the Bay Colt didn't say anything, he
thought a great deal, and about many
things. While he was thinking he
crib, but the noise of his biting
teeth on the wood startled him, and he shook his
head and whispered to himself, "I
will never crib again." When he ate his supper,
his sore mouth hurt him, but he
"You deserve it," he said to
himself. "It wouldn't have been sore if
you had been steady like your cousin."
The Dappled Gray had noticed how suddenly he
stopped cribbing, and so watched him
for a few days. He saw that the
"Perfect," answered the Bay Colt. "Did you notice the last furrow we turned? Can you do any better than that? If I had jumped, it would have been crooked instead of straight; and if I had stopped, it would not be done yet."
"Good furrow! Wonderful furrow!" answered the
Dappled Gray. "Always knew you'd be
a good worker when you got down to it. You are
one of us now, one of the working
Horses. Glad of it.
"Do you like being grown up?" said the Bay Colt's mother to him.
"Like it?" he answered with a laugh. "I'm so proud that I don't know what to do. I wouldn't go back to the old life of all play for anything in the world. And my little cousin made me see my mistakes. Was there ever another Colt as foolish as I?"
"A great many of them," said his mother. "More than you would guess. They kick and bite and try to run because they cannot always have their own way; and then, when they have tried the farmer's way, and begin to pay for his care of them, they find it very much better than the life of all play. Colts will be Colts."