After a few days, the anxiety in John, Steven and the hands caused by the raid by the Sherriff began to ease off and things returned to normal at the ranch. Everyone missed the special herd of horses but they knew the horses were safer where they were for now until the Sherriff gave up trying to prove that John and his men were involved in the disappearance of the deputy Sherriff now the new gelding.
The Horse Trainer who was housing the herd and training the new gelding texted with updates once a week and the messages were coded so that the Sherriff who was most likely monitoring all communications on the ranch would have difficulty decoding what was being sent. John was pleased with the apparent progress that the gelding was making and it seemed to have grown to accept that it was now and would remain a horse.
The gelding who still had not been named woke up in its stall and lay there as usual worrying about what would happen during the day. It had come to realize that rescue was very unlikely now that it and the herd had been moved from the ranch where it had been taken and turned into a horse. It heard the door of the stable rumble open and the lights in the stable turned on. The rest of the horses in the stable scrambled to their hooves and moved to the stall doors. The stable not only house the 5 horses sent by John from his ranch but it also housed the stock being trained for sale so there were 14 horses in total housed in the stables.
The gelding and its herd mate Thor who had been gelded when it failed as a stallion were the only geldings in the stables. Beside Cimarron who was the stallion of its herd there were 3 other stallions and the remainder of the horses were mares. It stood waiting for the cowboys to begin their morning routine with the herd. The horses would be fed and watered, then they would work on letting the horses shit and clean them up. Once the horses were finally groomed, the working day would begin. The horses with the exception of the gelding were used as working horses pulling pairs or singles, work carts. Cimarron been started its training as a riding horse, so it was put into its saddle and led out for its usual workout in the corral.
The gelding was led out and encouraged with whips as usual to move quickly and obey. The gelding had gotten used to the welts and pain caused by the whips but it also knew it had no choice so it obeyed and tried its best to learn what it was being trained to do. Today it was led over to a large work wagon where it was put into a heavy horse collar and then it was hitched to the wagon tree. Once it was harnessed in place, Thor was led over and was soon harnessed to the wagon. The gelding knew it was being trained to work in a pair. The cowboys climbed up into the seat on the wagon and soon the reins slapped down on the horses who dug their rear hooves in and worked to get the heavy wagon moving. The horses heavy muscular thighs which were now like those found on a body builder or competition racing cyclist due to all the heavy work they did pulling wagons and equipment were soon able to get the wagon moving smoothly and the day was spent pulling the wagon and its load around the ranch.
As each day wore on the gelding gradually realized that it was losing touch with who it had been and that it felt it was growing to accept that it was a horse. It felt normal now to be fully harnessed with a bit in its mouth, blinders on to keep it focussed and feel its heavy tail swishing from its ass. One morning, it was led out after its morning feed, and found itself standing by the hitching post and tied to it while its harness was removed. The hooves remained securely on its body and the cowboys stood by and one was cradling an assault rifle to insure it behaved when the harness securing its front hooves was removed.
Another cowboy began scrubbing its body and shampooing its hair. Once that was done, the cowboy took a pair of heavy clippers and removed all the hair from the sides of its head leaving a wide strip of hair running down the middle of its head. Over the time it had been a horse it had been wearing a mane which had been clipped to its head harness, now the cowboys had shaped its own hair to grow into its mane. It shook its head, knowing better to try and speak now that the bit had been removed for its grooming. After the grooming had been completed, the harness and its tail was put back on it felt normal again. It shook its head causing its harness to jingle and it was led back to its stall.
John and Steven after about 6 months sat down one evening after dinner and discussed what they had to do next. They talked through the night and finally decided what they had to do. That morning, they sat down with the hands and told them that they had decided that they were going to sell the ranch and relocate to a new ranch. Everything would be moved including the dungeon equipment from the barn.
That afternoon, John contacted a specialist real estate firm and arranged to list the ranch for sale and for them to locate a new ranch in the area where he had decided to relocate to. The sale process began and after several months, John had closed on the new ranch and the real estate agent had found a buyer for the existing property.
The move began and under the cover of night, the trucks came and left from the ranch with the equipment, tools, personal effects, furniture etc. from the ranch. The final move was done with the herd of cattle. The large pure bred angus herd was the most valuable asset so a fleet of trucks came to truck the 400 head to the new ranch. This was done in daylight for safety of the stock and the cowboys.
As the final part of the herd was being loaded onto trucks, the Sherriff arrived to find John, Steven and the hands loading the final truck as it moved off for the new ranch. The Sherriff demanded to know what was going on and what did they think they were doing. John looked at the Sherriff and told him that the ranch had been sold, and they were leaving. The Sherriff threatened to arrest them on the spot and John laughed at him and told him that he had nothing on them and they were leaving. John and his men got into their trucks and left the ranch.
The next day, the route to the new ranch took them by the Horse Trainers property so they pulled in to check on the herd and to check on the progress for themselves of the gelding. They pulled into the yard and got out. The trainer and his men welcomed them and told them that the horses were out working but would be back soon so they were welcome to stay for lunch. About 30 minutes later, the sounds of heavy wagons came and they saw the wagons coming into the yard pulled by the horses. The last wagon in was pulled by Thor and the gelding.
The 2 horses seemed to work well in harness together and John and his men were impressed with the progress that the gelding had made. They watched as the wagon pulled up beside them and smiled as Thor snickered and showed its obvious excitement in seeing its owner and his men. The gelding turned its head and stared at John and then it snickered and nodded its head. This surprised John and Steven as the last time they had seen the gelding was when it was loaded onto the truck over 9 months before. It was obvious to them that the gelding had accepted what it was and would remain. The horse was in excellent shape and its massive thighs, and upper body showed that the hard work on the ranch pulling the work wagons had done wonders for its body.
John turned to the trainer and asked him if the gelding would fetch a good price if it was put up for auction. The gelding heard this and it got agitated and stomped its hooves shaking its head in agitation on hearing that it might be sold and taken away from its herd. It had over that last several months grown very close to Thor who had encouraged it with nudges and nuzzles to become a strong working horse and to accept that it was meant to be a horse. John startled by the gelding’s reaction moved over to it and grabbed its bridle and held its head while he stroked its head and nose to calm it down. Once the gelding had calmed down and had begun to nuzzle John, he realized that the gelding had grown into a strong and content horse.
John and his men moved away from the horses and John arranged for the herd to be trucked to the new ranch.
After settling into the new ranch and setting up the equipment and building the new play space in one of the barns, it was time for the herd to arrive. The day the herd arrived was warm and sunny and the truck pulled into the yard, and soon the horses were unloaded. The final horse was led out of the truck by John and it was the gelding. The strong gelding walked smoothly and evenly on its hooves now, and it nodded and snickered to indicate that it was happy to be back with its owner and his men. The heavy black leather harness it wore shone on the light mocha coloured coat of the gelding. The horses were walked around the yard to work the kinks out of them from the trip.
The horses were led into their new stable and the last one to enter was the gelding. It was led over to its new stall and on the door of the stall was a new name plate. John looked at his gelding and told it while rubbing its head that it had earned a name. The gelding nodded its head and stamped its hooves in excitement as it read the name it had been given. The gelding had been named Sherriff.
Sherriff was lead into its stall and its lead unclipped from its bridle, and John turned and left the stall closing the stall door and bolting it. Sherriff turned and moved quickly to the door and whinnied and John came back over and smiled at the horse. He took a carrot and fed it to Sherriff while rubbing its head and ears. John smiled as he saw the shivers of pleasure run through his horse.
John turned and left the stable. Sherriff stood quietly and then looked down at its body and saw its hooves, and harness and it felt contented. It no longer had to worry about anything but doing what it was told to do and working hard. In return, it knew it would be treated with kindness and fed and groomed properly. It nodded its head and felt its mane swishing on its skin and was happy as it knew that it was looking more like a horse now that it had its own mane. It had grown used to having limited used of its front legs. Hopefully, it would soon earn the privilege of having its front legs free like Cimarron, the mares and its team mate Thor.
Those horses had shown that they had earned the trust to have their front legs loose from the harness. It knew it had to continue to please and work hard and hopefully it would show that it had earned the trust of its owner. It looked down at its front hooves, the shoes on its hooves shining softly in the light of the stable and tried to raise them but the heavy harness was fastened tightly and it could raise them only about 4 inches. It had grown used to the restriction and it nodded its head. It thought about its new name and it smiled knowing what it meant, it was a gift to acknowledge its old life but that life was gone and replaced with its life as a horse. It was happy and content in the stable. It moved to the door and looked to the left and staring back at him was Thor who nodded and whinnied to acknowledge Sherriff. The two horses stomped their hooves and whinnied in contentment.
Thanks to Rubrpig for this story!