About the novel: Outgrown Horses tells the story of Brent, a 20-year-old semi-closeted gay man who saves horses from slaughter at auction, and his relationships with Rusty, a disabled man whose therapy includes horseback riding, Lewis, Rusty’s 13-year-old son who idolizes Brent, and Daniel, a top notch show jumper succumbing to the shady world in the horse show circuit. When Brent starts training Sam, a dangerous horse with grand prix potential, he begins to confront his feelings about Daniel and question Daniel’s motives when he suggests Brent sell Sam to a horse dealer.
It was well into March when Rusty found the horse of his dreams.
An hour past the gorge and millions of corn stalks later, nestled a shit hole of a farm. Blown tires littered the ground, animals ran loose; the water buckets were fly infested, and the hay was old and mildewed. They wouldn’t have stopped were it not for a tiny sign on the side of the road: FOR SALE: HORSES. Rusty wanted to drive past, repulsed by the conditions, but Juneifer said they might as well stop and see. She was getting tired of searching. They turned up the tiny road.
A mangy dog with bur-mottled fur barked toward a once blue farmhouse and the door opened. A man around forty walked out, dressed in a white undershirt, oil-stained blue jeans, and ratty boots. “Can I help you?”
“Sign said you had some horses for sale?” Juneifer asked. Rusty stayed in the truck.
“Horse. Just one. Sold the others. But he’s the best horse you’ll set your eyes on. You won’t wanna leave without him. He’s in the field. Lemme get him.” He took off toward the back of the house. Juneifer opened the truck door and the ramp lowered with Rusty’s wheelchair.
“Don’t get your hopes up…” Juneifer murmured as the man lead the horse around the back of the house toward them. She stared at the animal, mortified.
The man had returned with a fat pony. The pony’s fur must have been at least three inches thick over his enormous, probably wormy, belly. It was clumped with dirt. His mane hung below the underside of his neck, knotted wildly on both sides of the crest. His hooves were overgrown, curled and cracking, in desperate need of a farrier. His overgrown fetlocks were twisted, and his tail touched the ground but looked thin and raggy. “This is a special one. Old circus pony.”
“This one?” Juneifer said. “Is he even a pony?” She put her hand on his withers to gauge his height.
“He’s a large. 14.2 hands, sticked him myself,” the man argued. Juneifer frowned and stepped away. Desperately, the owner added, “He does tricks. Walks on two feet, bows, skips, great with children.”
“If he’s that great, why isn’t he sold? You said the others were sold.”
“Color. The kids always want the white and black ponies. Especially if they’re black and white. Never the bays or chestnuts.”
“Is he sound?”
“Never been lame a day in his life. Here, look,” the man said, trying to jog. The pony didn’t want to trot next to him, and walked lazily. The man yanked at the lead rope to get him forward, and the pony dropped his head to the ground and snatched a mouthful of grass. He yanked again, and, finally, the pony conceded. His trot was smooth and even, tail whipping to swat flies off his body. Juneifer squatted on the ground when the man turned around to trot back and see if he tracked straight or she could see any signs of him being off, even though she didn’t know horses the way she knew cattle. He indeed looked sound and healthy despite the poor care.
“What’s his name?”
Juneifer and the owner seemed startled by Rusty’s question, but the man rebounded quickly. “Sprinkles.”
“I told you, he was a circus pony. Great with kids. Best pony you’ll get. You got kids?”
“One. Teenager,” Juneifer replied as she walked around the other side of Sprinkles and tried to assess his physique. Rusty rolled his wheelchair to the pony, hand extended to touch his muzzle, whiskers long and bristling.
“Hey Sprinkles,” he called. The pony looked him in the eye before licking his hand and then cheek like a dog. His upper lip tugged upward to smell Rusty before he mouthed his hair and smeared green froth into it.
Rusty asked, “How much?”
Rusty was won over without seeing a single trick and, four-hundred-and-fifty bucks later, had a bill of sale scribbled on a napkin with rainbow party balloons in hand. He was so excited about his pony that he rode in the back of the trailer next to him for the three hours home.
Mia Siegert is an MFA student at Goddard College studying long fiction. Siegert received honorable mention in fiction for the 2009 Montclair State University English Department Awards. Siegert has studied with Rebecca Brown, Douglas A. Martin, Judy Troy, and David Galef. She has been a drama editor for Goddard’s literary press, The Pitkin Review.