The reek of manure and rain water mixed together made Ally Clearwater’s stomach heave. She stepped carefully through the sludge that was like paste on the ground from last night’s rainfall. She was at a Livestock sale yard and everything was so muddy she felt sorry for the animals in the small pens.
Warmth spread on her shoulder and she turned to see her father’s hand clenched firmly there.
“Don’t slip over, Puss.” His deep voice rang out loud and she could see his breath in the cool air. Her father had come up with the nickname Puss years ago when he had found her fast asleep with six little kittens snuggling into her. Ever since he called her it when feeling affectionate or playful.
“So,” Her dad went on “We are going to take a look around but the most we can afford today would be four.”
Ally nodded and slid out of her father’s grasp before heading towards the pens. Her family owned a Horse rescue shelter about an hour’s drive from the sales yard. They lived in a large old country house that her great grandfather built with his own hands many years ago. Her grandfather also built the barn beside it along with putting up all the fencing throughout the acres they owned. The rescue gave horses a second chance when they had lost all hope and were about to be slaughtered. Ally and her family saved them, re-habilitated them before finding them homes where they would be loved forever. It was one of the best feelings in the world to fully help a horse that was a day away from slaughter, Ally thought.
Shaking herself back to present she made her way through the mud to the first of the pens. Dodging through the crowd she spotted a thin appaloosa standing listlessly in the first pen. His ribs were showing on his body but by the colour of him she knew he would sell for a fair price. She walked past the next one where an aged grey stood quietly staring at the crowds with calmness. Ally thought the mare had probably been through the sale yards a few times before. The mud made her boots feel heavy as she moved on to the next pen, a bay foal lay sleepily by its mother’s side. It was obvious that it took over the fathers colouring as the mare was a burnt buckskin.
Ally walked down the muddy aisle and looked through all the pen fences. There was everything from tiny Shetlands to a massive thick Clydesdale. She had no idea what her and her father should bid on today. As much as she’d love to take them all home, none so far had clicked that needed her immediate help. Most of them would hopefully be sold to loving homes.
She glided carefully down the next aisle of pens. She stopped for a moment beside a pen where a young chestnut stood, his eyes looking warily at her. Gripping the slick edges of the pen she looked closer at him. He would be no more then five and his ribs stuck out slightly, his tail swishing as he got more agitated from her standing there. She pulled out her notepad and pen from the back of her jeans and scribbled the number of the pen on it. Hopefully both her and her father could bid on this one and make him a new rescue. She knew there was a high chance no one would bid on him because of his age and how sensitive he seemed. Ally began making her way down the aisle once more before stopping dead.
A horse lay on the ground, the sludge covering his legs and all over his body. His ribs stuck out so bad it was almost painful to look at and you could hear the wheezing noise he made every time he took a breath. The look in his eyes showed no hope. She knew straight away that she’d found the one. This was the horse Ally needed to save.