Chapter 6: Liberty
I was quite happy in my new place, and if there was one thing that I missed
it must not be thought I was discontented; all who had to do with me
were good and I had a light airy stable and the best of food.
What more could I want? Why, liberty! For three years and a half of my life
I had had all the liberty I could wish for; but now, week after week,
month after month, and no doubt year after year, I must stand up in a stable
night and day except when I am wanted, and then I must be
just as steady and quiet as any old horse who has worked twenty years.
Straps here and straps there, a bit in my mouth, and blinkers over my eyes.
Now, I am not complaining, for I know it must be so. I only mean to say
that for a young horse full of strength and spirits,
who has been used to some large field or plain where he can fling up his head
and toss up his tail and gallop away at full speed, then round and back again
with a snort to his companions -- I say it is hard never to have
a bit more liberty to do as you like. Sometimes, when I have had
less exercise than usual, I have felt so full of life and spring
that when John has taken me out to exercise I really could not keep quiet;
do what I would, it seemed as if I must jump, or dance, or prance,
and many a good shake I know I must have given him, especially at the first;
but he was always good and patient.
"Steady, steady, my boy," he would say; "wait a bit,
and we will have a good swing, and soon get the tickle out of your feet."
Then as soon as we were out of the village, he would give me a few miles
at a spanking trot, and then bring me back as fresh as before,
only clear of the fidgets, as he called them. Spirited horses,
when not enough exercised, are often called skittish, when it is only play;
and some grooms will punish them, but our John did not;
he knew it was only high spirits. Still, he had his own ways
of making me understand by the tone of his voice or the touch of the rein.
If he was very serious and quite determined, I always knew it by his voice,
and that had more power with me than anything else,
for I was very fond of him.