Friday Fiction – The Wisdom of Horses

So, Friday Fictioneers got some publicity this week! I’m looking forward to seeing some shiny new faces among the posters … as well as the rugged old ones of course. My story is below the picture, and I LOVE constructive criticism, so please do be honest about what you like and don’t like.

Photo copyright belongs to Erin Leary, master of the good ship FF is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and other stories can be found through her site.


The Wisdom of Horses

I watched the two of them, nose-to-nose across the fence. Do they envy? I wondered. Does the bay wish for her neighbour’s grassier slopes; the chestnut ache for a foal of her own?

Do they both watch the trailers and suspect their kin of going to better places? When they hear “market” or “knackers”, do they imagine greener fields and juicier apples? When racing news drifts out of the pickup, do they dream of taller studs, or long themselves for rosettes and applause?

Or do they just stand, nose-to-nose, enjoying the fields and the sunshine, the grass and the company?


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

45 responses to “Friday Fiction – The Wisdom of Horses

  1. Oh, I loved this one…Very poetic.

  2. This reminds me a little of the American poet Carl Sandburg. He wrote prose as well and is one of America’s popular 20th century writers. Look him up! Highly recommended reading. I did a reader’s theater of his works in college and it stayed with me ever since. VERY nice work, this week!

  3. Dear Jennifer,

    I cannot help but admire the way you climbed inside the minds of horses in your piece this week. The part of me that knows horses wants to ask you whether the echo in there bothered you, but the charitable soul in me thinks, perhaps she got it right. Horses are beautiful creatures and I like your hopeful musings on theirs.



    • The echo, Doug? I think we as humans (myself VERY MUCH included) are apt to assume the grass is greener for other folks, ignoring that they feel the same about us.
      I don’t know about horses, but I hope they are wiser.

  4. The fascinating detachment of horses captured well there Jennifer. I wonder about them too.

  5. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    Okay, here comes the kind and constructive criticism, darling — you’ve written a lovely piece — full of already sharp-edged social commentary — I think you dull it a bit with that last sentence, which states your point too obviously to my mind. I would have gone with another musing – or perhaps phrase it in such a way that you are facetiously asking if they could ever possibly be happy or content to just stand nose to nose in the sunshine.
    Just my two cents’ worth.

    • Ooh, Helena! How dare you question my writing? It’s perfect just the way it is!
      When I first wrote this, I actually had an extra line at the end – something like “Are they perhaps the wisest of us all?” but I cut it because I thought it laid the point on far too thick. It’s interesting that even without it, you still think I’ve overplayed my hand.
      There’s actually another story behind this – the story of the woman who is narrating this piece. I might write it one day; she says these things because she has got herself into a pretty sorry situation through her lack of equine wisdom. I feel like that last line is right for her, but I take your point and more importantly, I thank you for taking the time to make it.

  6. Oh I sincerely hope the horses has way more sense than humans.. (except on the grass thing).. food foes food foes food foes … is what I think what any horse with sense would think…

  7. Jen, I love the seamless metaphor you presented so equinely here. (SpellCheck does NOT like “equinely.”) I love horses and they are quite a lot like people in many ways. There are cliques, bullies, “new kids in the corral”, friends, foes, love of food, those who are always trying to hide or escape. As for their dreams, I think that probably varies by horse but are sure to include food, no matter which side of the fence it’s on. I hope the dreams of the horse of the day, California Chrome, are of Triple Crown gold as I’d love to see him win the whole shebang.


    • I must admit I know little-nothing about horses, but I think we have a lot to learn from animals, not least the art of doing nothing. Hope your horse comes home!

  8. Creative Brevity

    This is beautiful.

  9. Really lovely! I reread it after seeing Helena ‘s comment, but I have to say I love the last paragraph just as it is 🙂

  10. Dear Jenn,

    I for one could find no fault in this. I loved the narrator’s musing about horses and have the feeling that there’s much turmoil in her own life. (Of course I could be wrong.) When I’m feeling stressed (often during the present season) I also find myself musing about animals and what might be going on in their heads.

    Nice one.



    • I think you’re right about the narrator, Rochelle; she is learning like the rest of us.
      I hope the animals bring you much relief – I find just spending time with them often helps me to slow my mind down and think more clearly. Perhaps their wisdom is rubbing off…

  11. Jenn, I enjoyed the story. I don’t know much about horses. My dad took me riding one time and it scared me. That big powerful animal was completely in control and I didn’t like the feeling. Dad must have sensed how I felt because he never took me again. I’d probably enjoy one on the other side of a fense. I also think that animals are probably smarter than we think. Well done. 🙂 —Susan

  12. I usually dislike questions in these short pieces, but since the whole thing is one big question, and I find it works wonderfully.

    • Hurrah! It’s always nice to hear when something works for someone who doesn’t normally like it. I feel that way about poetry – usually can’t stand it, so when I like a poem, I consider it to be a high compliment!!

  13. As a horse person, as a writer… love this, Jennifer! Really evocative and beautifully written.

  14. Great piece of musing, contemplation here. That’s what the countryside does to you. Lovely.

  15. Funny enough, I was thinking about envy this morning and wondering the very same thing: is it only humans who envy? I hope it is, because it’s a sad, draining and negative emotion. And I think your horses know better than to waste their time on that kind of rubbish 🙂

  16. While riding horses as a child, I never wondered if they “thought” anything. As an older person, I know realize animals have different personalities whether they be cat, dog, bird or horse. Final thought: loved this piece.

  17. I wonder about things like this sometimes, what the internal life of an animal might be, especially one as intelligent and sensitive as a horse. I’m glad though, that when they hear the word “knackers” they are blissfully ignorant of the meaning.

  18. I frequently wonder watching my dog curl up and sleep during the day as to why they call it a “dog’s life”. Equine creatures I believe just horse around.

  19. What a great reminder to let it be. I think horses enjoy the moment in a way we rarely can.

  20. It’s just lovely, Jenn.

    I had to read it a couple of times to get the metaphor. I had missed its title. I read it a couple of times more to understand the metaphor. Every time I read the same few words, the story seemed to improve. That’s wonderful. 🙂

  21. I wonder if they do envy, but probably just enjoy the good weather and company. Excellent story. Very poetic. Lucy

  22. You’d thing the latter, but there might be a bit of field envy involved. 🙂

  23. Dee

    I really liked this story Jen and don’t think I would alter a thing.
    Although I take Helena’s point, the story really is about the narrator and her state of mind – unsure, indecisive…
    I always enjoy your writing, today is no exception.

  24. Dear Jennifer, I think they enjoy each others company most and the scenery and the calm. Very pleasant surroundings! Great story! Nan 🙂

  25. I thought this was a perfect rendition of a human musing on the fate of horses – which can be quite nasty. I have to agree with you in your last sentence, for horses live to enjoy, moving from shade tree to sunshine, tastier grass to sweet water. However, they do envy other horses, which is why the pecking order is so strictly enforced. I am a horse watcher…

  26. Love this! My first inclination this week was a story line of Horses racing the fence line. Nicely done.

  27. When horses are the topic of musing, everything seems so clear, doesn’t it? Perhaps we should all turn that perspective around on ourselves for a moment.

    Lovely thoughts, Jennifer.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  28. I read your comment to Helena and now I am curious about the woman who wonders about horses.

  29. Yes, this certainly had a poetic quality to it. I hope the horses don’t worry, that they just enjoy the present for what it is.

  30. When life is complicated it helps to imagine a more uncomplicated view, such as that of a contented animal. You have captured that nicely here. After reading your story I find myself thinking of a poem I learned as a child but which stayed with me, ‘lLeisure’ by W.H. Davies

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