Once upon a time, just before dawn on a Spring morning, when the stars were beginning to fade and the moon was in the West, a Connemara mare gave birth to a beautiful foal. The foal was as dark as black chocolate, with lighter rings around his eyes and a few white hairs on his forehead. Before he was four months old, he was brilliant white, except for a scattering of dark brown freckles in his face. His name was Starburst.
Starburst grew up in a big herd of horses. There were lots of other foals to play with and they had great fun running and chasing each other. Some of them were colts too, and when he got a bit older they played at being stallions, rearing and trying to bite each other. His mother and the other mares were always nearby, but as time went on Starburst needed her less and less. He was always in the company of horses and they taught him what it meant to be a horse. He was part of the herd and that made him feel safe.
The herd roamed free in a large limestone area. It was rough land and there were no big meadows, but there was always enough to eat. There was grass and herbs, hawthorn and hazel trees and lots of other plants and shrubs and Starburst learned all he needed to know about his environment by following the other horses. He learned where to go to find water and shelter and he learned which plants not to eat. When it was winter he grew a big woolly coat and he followed the horses to where the hay would be waiting. He was part of the herd and that made him feel safe.
When Starburst got older, he and the other colts were separated from the rest of the herd. They fought and lived and played together and Starburst became strong and powerful. The colts explored their territory. When the sun shone they stretched themselves out to enjoy the heat. When the weather was bad they would look for shelter under some trees. They found places to roll in the mud. Starburst enjoyed the wind in his mane and the sun and the rain on his back. Starburst often took the lead, but the colts all looked out for each other and that made him feel safe.
For the first four years of his life, Starburst lived a free and carefree life. But then things changed. Humans came and he was taken for training. He wasn’t too bothered, because he had come to trust humans, and as they didn’t hurt him he accepted what they did to him and learned to carry a human on his back. They didn’t bring him back to the herd, but he lived in a field with two other horses. The field was big and open and he had company and so he felt safe.
Time passed and then one day, a woman came to buy him and she took him away. The woman put him in a stable, put a rug on him and locked him up. Starburst didn’t understand and he panicked and tried to run away, but there was nowhere to run. He tried to fight the stable, but the walls were stronger than he. He fought the blanket, but when he won and it was broken he got a new one and after that, he always wore a rug. Starburst hasn’t felt the wind in his mane or the sun and rain on his back again. He got shod and has never felt his feet again. When he was finally brought outside, he tried to run, but he almost immediately ran into an electric fence. There was still nowhere to run. Starburst knew there were other horses, he could hear them and see them, but he could never touch them and be with them. He was alone. He has never felt safe again.