Chapter 9

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When I woke up, I didn't know where I was. Then I remembered. Pepper had spooked at a herd of deer and bolted. I had fallen off of him. At least I knew how to get back home. I stood up, and immediately felt a terrible pain in my right ankle. "Ow," I cried. I sucked it up and looked around. Boy it was dark out here. Oh no! Where's Pepper? "Pepper!" I yelled. "Pepper?" I knew he was long gone. He was running faster than a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby! What if he got hurt? What if he tripped and fell and hurt himself? He wouldn't be able to be adopted and it would be all my fault! If I stayed on the main trail, maybe this wouldn't have happened! I took another look around and faced the truth. I had no idea where I was. "I'm soo dumb," I muttered to myself. I looked left and right, and decided to head to the left, even though my ankle hurt REALLY bad.

I had walked for what felt like a quarter mile, even though I know it's not, when I heard a neigh. "Pepper?" I asked to myself. No, that's not what Pepper's neigh sounded like. But where had I heard that neigh? It's so familiar, it's on the tip of my tongue. I heard the neigh again. "Cowboy!" I said. Right when I said that, Cowboy came galloping up to me. "Easy boy," I said to him. He snorted and breathed hard. "It's okay boy," I said to him. He was very anxious. "What's wrong boy? How did you get out? The fence is about 5 feet high," I said to him. He nudged my hand and started walking a very particular path through the woods. "Wait up boy!" I called to him. He stopped and looked back at me.

I started limping up to him. "Ouch," I said as I walked over to him. I don't know how much longer I could walk like this. There is obviously something wrong with my ankle. But I had to get home. I slowly started walking towards Cowboy. I heard Cowboy give a little squeal. He trotted up to me, and nudged me again. When I still walked very slow, Cowboy stood right in my way. "C'mon boy, we have to get home."

The next thing I saw was Cowboy kneeled down on his front legs. He looked at me, than he touched his back with his nose. He was telling me to get on his back. "I'm probably gonna regret doing this," I said. I slowly put my right leg over his back, then I sat on his back. When I got on his back, he stood up and took off at a lightning speed gallop. I held onto his long main as he galloped and weaved through trees. He could be a really good pole bending pony! He never lost his balance. I had no idea where he was taking me, but I trusted him. Trust goes two-ways, he trusts me, now it's my turn to trust him. He seemed to know where he was going, so I just held on and tried to be one with him. His gallop is very smooth, it's like riding a wave. Even though my ankle hurts, I lost Pepper, and I'm going to be in HUGE trouble when I get home, I smiled. This was so much fun!

All of the sudden we emerged into the big meadow. I finally know where I am, thanks to Cowboy. "Whoa, boy," I said. Cowboy slowed to a trot, then a walk. "Thank you Cowboy, thank you so so much!" I said to him. I stroked his neck and it was hot and sweaty. I could also feel him breathing hard as he walked towards the barn.

We arrived home, Mom came running out from the barn. I slid off of Cowboy's back, and opened up his pen. He walked in and went straight to his water bucket. I followed him to make sure he didn't drink too much after a hard run like that. He took a few sips, than started walking around his pen. I limped over to my Mom, and she gave me a big hug. "Oh, sweety are you okay? What happened? Pepper came galloping up without you and I knew something was wrong. I was just about to saddle up Missy and go look for you," Mom said. "I'm fine, except my ankle really hurts. Pepper and I were on a trail that I made up, and we have been going on it for years, but a herd of deer ran right in front of us and he bolted. I fell off of him and blacked out for a little while, then I got up and realized my ankle hurt. I started walking though, but I didn't know where I was, and all of the sudden Cowboy came galloping up to me! I don't know how he got out, but he let me get on him and he took me here!" I said really fast. "I saw Cowboy get out,"Mom said. "You did? Why didn't you stop him?" "He jumped over the fence of his pen. I tried to stop him but he was galloping too fast." "Oh," I said. "How about you lead Cowboy around to cool him out, then come inside." Mom suggested. "That sounds great, but it really hurts to walk,"I said. "Oh, yeah, sorry. Can you at least put his halter on so I can lead him around?" "Yeah sure. I'll stay and watch you, too," I said, and with that, I got his halter and went in his pen and caught him. I handed the lead rope to Mom, and she took it. At first, Cowboy wouldn't move, but eventually he started to follow my Mom, and learned that she was okay. He even got a few treats for being such a good boy!

Once he was cooled out, we went inside and I wrapped my ankle. My Mom thinks it's just sprained, so it's not too serious. She called the doctor and I'm getting it X-rayed tomorrow. At least I'll miss school! Unfortunately, I won't be able to ride for a while.

"It's getting late Mel, time for bed!" Mom said. I went upstairs, got ready for bed, and snuggled under the covers, thinking about what happened today. I couldn't believe Cowboy jumped the fence and galloped to me! I knew we had a bond from the very first night I was with him. I think it's weird though how he didn't like anybody else except me. Now he sorta likes Mom, but he's still a little spooky around her. At least he trusts me, and I'm not going to let him down, ever.

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