Sample – The Stable Games Part 3: The Stable Games



Six days.  Dusk rarely counted days anymore, as each was utterly the same and wholly unique.  When she woke, she would be bathed by Mistress or one of her servants, then she would be re-fitted into her hooves, armbinder, harness and bridle, the bit snugly but painlessly parting her teeth.  Once done, she would be led out of the barn by the reins clipped to her bridle and she would be given free room to run or guided to one of the events for which she had been trained.  When the day’s work was done, she would be led back to the stall where she and Moonshadow were fed, brushed and cleaned, then retired for the night.

There were long stretches of solitude, with only Moonshadow to keep her company, but she never felt boredom.  She found peace in the quiet, and she would anticipate the day to come and wonder what deviations it might hold.  Now that the main event was nearing, and Mistress Elena did not restrain herself from mentioning The Stable Games or her role in it, Dusk felt a creeping energy invade her thoughts.  He mind, broken and barely recognizable as that of Lily, focused on her pride.  She was, as she had been taught, an excellent pony and soon others would be aware of how perfect a pony she was.

Today, it had been Mistress Elena herself to clean her, which always resulted in a slower bath as Mistress’ hands roamed and caressed the body of her prize pony.  Dusk felt a wave of affection for Mistress in these moments, and her urge to perform for her only grew.

She would be run through her paces today in preparation for the Games.  Later, Moonshadow would join them for carting and practice in synchronizing their movements, such as when they bowed in greeting.  It took practice for them to extend their right legs, then bow low and rise again at the same instant.  The ponies’ tendency for supporting one another eased the training and they were already quite impressively in tune with one another.

The first event would be the barrel race, and Dusk was least interested in the event, though she was quite good at it.  It was simple… three barrels placed in a rough triangle, each one twenty meters from the other.  At the base of the pyramid the barrels formed, a line was drawn.  The event began when the pony crossed this line and ended the same way.

Dusk stood back from the line and waited, one hoof dug into the tough sod under her, the other light on the ground, ready to push forward.  Her tongue tickled the rubber bit in her mouth, a nervous habit she’d developed while she waited for the sound that would release her.

Mistress Elena, who had said less than a dozen words to her this morning (which wasn’t unusual, nor needed – Dusk did not bother with speech of her own or others’), raised her training whip and snapped it.  The report sent Dusk in motion and she was over the line at full speed, aiming right for the first barrel.  She rounded it from the far side, then pointed toward the barrel across from her, perpendicular to the starting line.  This one she circled even more quickly, now aligned with the far side of the barrel at the top of the pyramid.  Once rounded, her gait shifted from the careful navigation around the barrels to a sprint, her head leaning forward ass her hooves propelled her faster and faster until she was bounding over the finish line where she stopped, panting, sweat trickling down her bare legs and pooling where the straps of her bridle criss-crossed her face.

Mistress checked the watch she kept and her face lit with pleasure.

“Half a second faster than yesterday, my pony.  A full second faster than any pony in Games history.”

Mistress approached, removing a cored apple slice from the plastic container she kept with her for reward.  She loosened Dusk’s bit until it hung from one side, freeing the pony’s mouth.  It never occurred to Dusk to speak, to scream, to yell.  That was not how ponies behaved.  Dusk merely leaned forward and took the apple slice into her mouth, chewing and feeling cool juice slip over her lips and run down her chin.  It was sweet and chilled and delicious.  When her bit was returned, it was on to the next practice field, trotting happily behind her owner, savoring the excitement inside her as the thought of being more than a pony consumed her.  Soon, Dusk believed, she would be a prize pony.

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