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Author's Note: I did not set out to write a novella. I knew where the story ended but I let the characters pick the path that led there. In the process I have become very fond of these characters. I hope you enjoy them as well.
Jennifer met the end of the semester with mixed emotions. She had enjoyed her first year of college, being away from home and living in the dorms had been great. She also enjoyed school. She had been disciplined, worked hard and maintained her grades. That didn't mean she had not had fun. After all, college was not supposed to be all work. She had been lucky as well with her roommate. They had gotten along well from the moment they met. Abigail Johnson, Abby to her friends, which included Jen, was also a freshman, but a lot more outgoing than Jennifer. Jen did not consider herself to be shy, but this was the first time she had lived away from home. It was the first time that she did not have to check in with someone and get permission for the things that she did. That gave her a feeling of freedom, but it came with a twinge of guilt whenever she stepped outside what had been deemed to be the expected boundaries.
Abby liked to party. More so than Jen; Jen knew that because of Abby she was partying a lot more than she would have if she were here alone. While she felt a little guilty about this, on another level she was pleased with the result. The two of them were a formidable pair. They were both tall just under 5' 10" and very well endowed, shapely hips and narrow waists. They both had light brown hair cut to just below their shoulders. Their hair color had been close from the time they met, but they had taken to utilizing the same color hue and style. The effect was to make them virtually indistinguishable from behind. Over time their makeup style became similar and they even began to dress alike.
Whenever they walked into a club they always attracted attention, Jen loved that. When clubbing, which was almost every weekend, they tended to stick together. But this meant that Jen had not established any real relationships with any of the men at school. She certainly dated, but more often than not it would be her and Abby together going to the clubs, dancing, and leaving together sometimes with men, but more often not. This was good. She really did not want a committed relationship at this point in her life. She was here to get her education, and have a good time along the way. Relationships and all the things that came with them could wait for later.
She had not had to work during the school year. Her scholarship and some money she had saved during high school along with a small stipend from her parents had been enough. The problem was her savings were supposed to be enough for at least two if not three years and they were almost gone. But, she told herself, she had three months to work and to rebuild her reserve. If she could get a decent job over the summer she figured she could assemble at least enough to get through Christmas. It would however mean a severe limitation on partying next year. But that should not be a problem, she assumed she and Abby would go their separate ways. She did not have any great expectations that her friendship with Abby would turn into one of those life time relationships. After all, it was highly unlikely that they would be roommates again next year, and if that did not occur, after a summer apart they would likely see their relationship change to no more than casual friends. She thought about that and felt a twinge of loss at the prospect.
But right now her challenge was finding a job, and not just any job. She needed a good one. It appeared that she would have to go home and see if she could land on her parents for the summer, that way her overhead would disappeared. That is how she was able to save the money in the first place. The prospect of the loss of freedom associated with moving home was less than welcome, but she did not see what other alternative she had. She did not want to drop out of school to try to earn money. She knew that the odds of returning under that situation were de minimis. She did not look forward to the call to her parents telling them that she was coming. She had put it off about as long as she could. It would probably have to happen today.
She had applied for a number of jobs locally, but nothing that would pay enough to justify staying had emerged, so it looked like home it was. She had a copy of the want ads from her home town paper and had circled a number of possibilities, but it was not encouraging. But, she was a girl with determination. She would spend the first week at home hitting the pavement.
Jen had packed all her belongings, as had Abby, they had to leave their room by week's end. With the exception of a suitcase with the things she needed all the time and her lap top she had arranged to put everything else in storage. She had no furniture, so it was just clothes, books, a CD player and a small TV.
The door opened and Abby dashed in. Her smile, which was always infectious, was much larger than normal. She was holding something in her hand which she was waiving about. "Are you sitting down?" She could clearly see that Jen was sitting on her bed. "I have it, I have it, I have it!" The paper in her hand again waived around like she was appearing at death row on the day of execution with a gubernatorial pardon.
"Slow down. What are you talking about?"
"How would you like to spend the summer at a luxurious resort off the coast of Mexico with room and board provided and still earn $1,000 per week?" That question might as well be rhetorical. She would like to earn $1,000 per week. She would be thrilled to do it at some resort that included room and board. The darkness that had been creeping over Jen was washing away. Abby's enthusiasm always seemed to pass to Jen. That is one of the things that Jen really loved about their relationship. Jen could be a bit morose at times, but it never lasted long with Abby around.
"Of course I would love that. What is the catch and what are the chances of that happening?"
"Well, no catch, and right now about 99%."
"What? What do you mean? Where, when, how can you be so sure?" Jen actually found herself bouncing up and down on the bed.
"The resort is very exclusive. It is called 'Exotic Fantasy'. It is on an island and you can only get there by private aircraft or private boat. It is like a theme park only it is a theme fantasy resort." She held up a brochure with pictures of beautiful people enjoying drinks in lush surroundings. Jen could tell just be looking that it was a very expensive place that catered to only the wealthiest of clientele. She only hoped that some day she would be able to afford to go to such a place.
"Jobs can't be easy to get there." Jen had started to get excited, but reality was setting in, there must be thousands of people like her and Abby that would apply for what had to be a very limited pool of jobs.
"I already submitted our names, pictures, and background information. I didn't tell you because I figured there was no way in hell that we would get accepted. But . . ." She held up an e-mail. "We are both accepted subject only to a final interview tomorrow in Los Angeles. We have a flight this morning to LA." Abby was once again jumping up and down as she waived the e-mail. "I know I shouldn't have submitted your name without your approval, but I thought it was like the lottery. What chance was there anyway? I didn't see any harm."
"This Morning? We have to fly to Los Angeles this Morning?"
"Yes, if you want the job we will have to leave for the airport in about an hour. But, we are both all packed. The storage company is coming to get our stuff. We don't have anything we have to reschedule. I can't think of a single reason we can't just go to the airport and go to LA."
"Well . . ." Abby always had the ability to convince Jen. There had to be something wrong with this, but Jen could not think of what it might be. It was not like she had some other great prospect she would be turning down. She and Abby would be together. And with room and board included she should be able to save virtually all of the money she was paid. She was sure Abby was underestimating the difficulty of the job. Jen had done the waitress thing at the Country Club back home, she knew how demanding and difficult rich people could be, and this place had to cater to the richest of the rich. She could see Abby thinking that this would be a great place to meet a very rich prospect. She did not think that was realistic, but even at face value it was hard to turn down. She had not yet called her parents to tell them she was coming home for the summer so she had no commitment there. She was going to do that today. What the hell. "Ok, let's do it!"
Within an hour Jen found herself in a cab on the way to the airport with Abby. Her stomach was knotted and she did not know if it was anticipation or concern. This just all seemed too good to be true, and in Jen's world things that seemed too good to be true almost always were too good to be true, but, her and Abby working at some fancy resort in Mexico. Summer resort work was always one of the gold rings for college students, but they usually didn't pay very well. This one paid top dollar. She let her misgivings go and started to get into the moment.
Everything was going smoothly. The e-tickets were there at the airport all she had to do was present her driver's license and get her boarding pass. They had even pre-paid for one bag. Very efficient she thought. As she and Abby were boarding the plane she thought about the fact that this itinerary did not have a return. If something went wrong she would have to contact her parents and ask them to rescue her from LA. Actually the ticket was to Long Beach, not LA. If she got stuck her parents would not be happy, but they would at least get her home, so that was not too great a risk. And besides, since the resort was flying them out to California, if for some reason she did not get the job they should at least make sure she got home. She could picture Abby raising hell until they did. The picture in her mind made her smile.
It was too late for second thoughts, the plane had left the gate and she was on her way. But then she looked over at Abby sitting next to her and let her enthusiasm spread. After takeoff, as she leaned back and for the first time since Abby's announcement got a chance to catch her breath she realized that other than the fact that they were eventually going to Mexico and that they were to be well paid she knew almost nothing about this job.
"Abby, you never said. What are we going to be doing at this resort? Are we waitressing? Do we have to rely upon tips to make the weekly amount?"
"That is the fun part, and how I got us in. Because we look so much alike I signed us up as a matched pair of pony girls. We wear fun costumes and prance around in parades and at parties. It is kind of like the theme characters at Disneyland and Universal Studios. We pull a cart like a little chariot in races against other teams." She fished out the brochure and showed Jen a picture of two very tall girls next to a small cart that had large bicycle type wheels on each side of a small platform that still looked large enough for two people to stand on. The cart part had a curved front and sides with an open back. Two bars extended from the front of the cart each one of which ended in what looked like a forked portion to allow two people to pull it from the front.
The two girls had their hair in pony tails up high on their heads. They wore a harness of white leather that circled their neck with a wide collar; they had bands across their chest above and below their breasts, a wider belt around their waist and straps up and over each shoulder. Below the waist belt the harness extended down and appeared to disappear between their legs. They had on high boots that went all the way to the knee. The bottom of the boot looked like it might extend at the foot to form a platform of some type. Although it was hard to make out the detail each of them had some type of head harness that circled the forehead, around the head near the mouth, and appeared to extend up and over the top of the head. From behind the head harness a large feathery blue plume extended upward at least two feet. It appeared that there were reins running from the head harness back over their shoulders. Under the harness they appeared to be wearing a light cotton shirt and shorts.
The effect of the complete outfit was very sexy and Jen couldn't help but wonder how she would look in it. The waist belt accentuated the girls' waists. That's good for Jen and Abby; they both had very trim waists. The girls' legs looked very long. She couldn't tell for sure, but the boots seemed to extend the length of their legs. She could not see the heel, but it looked like these boots would have at least a 4" heal if not more. That would be a bit complicated to run in, but as long as the competition wore the same boots that would be ok. Both she and Abby were in great shape. They worked out together a lot and both liked to run. The thought of pulling a cart in a race did not bother Jen, although she did not think she liked the look of the head harness thing or the idea of the reins. It might be a bit humiliating to be connected to something like that and have to pull someone else in front of a crowd of people. "But, I guess that is why it pays so well." She thought. The two girls in the picture looked very similar. She could see how she and Abby had gotten an advantage in that regard. No wonder Abby had put them both in for the job. It appeared that the job requirements needed a pair.
Jen felt a twinge of apprehension as she looked again at the picture, she felt a small knot of worry deep in her stomach, but Abby seemed so excited, and she was on her way. She wondered if she would have backed out if she had been given more time to think about this. Maybe, but that was academic now. She was going to at least give it the 'good old college try'. It was pretty obvious that if she got cold feet it would kill it for Abby too. She did not want to do that to her friend. And, she reminded herself, she really needed the money.
The plane landed at the Long Beach airport. For an area as large as Los Angeles it was small airport, but still serviced by commercial flights. Jen thought it would be hot, but she had never been to California before so she really did not know what to expect. As Jen and Abby left the secure area of the airport and headed for baggage claim they saw an individual holding a sign with their names on it. They identified themselves and were told that a car was waiting for them. The person even took their luggage claims and collected their bags, placing them in the trunk of the car. It was not a large limousine, but it was a big black town car, and there was a cooler with water and sodas in the back. This was certainly more than the treatment Jen had expected. She was beginning to feel like a celebrity. Since it was already early evening Jen expected that they would go to a hotel, but instead the car drove into the harbor area of the city, passed through a series of gates, and eventually ended up at a warehouse that was next to a pier.
As they pulled up and the car stopped they were greeted by a tall woman with jet black hair elegantly dressed in a grey business suit but with knee length black boots over stiletto heels. She wore a white shirt with ruffles down the front and a tight collar at the neck. They made introductions and shook hands. She told them not to worry about their bags the driver would make sure they got to their destination and they (Jen and Abby) should come with her. She gestured toward the building behind her. With that she turned and walked across the pier and through the door. They followed. This was clearly someone who expected her directions to be followed. Jen's first impression was she would be a very precise and demanding boss, but given the exclusive nature of the resort she would have been surprised at anything other than good organization, a well trained staff, and high expectations. She was ok with that. She had always set high expectations and goals for herself and felt she could easily measure up.
They were led into a locker room. Each of them were given a lock and directed to a locker.
"This will be your locker for the short time you are here. Inside you will find a sports bra, a cotton shirt, white cotton panties, shorts and flip flops. Please put everything else in the locker including your purse, any make-up and cell phones. There are no pockets in the pants so you cannot carry anything out of this room. If you need to make a call it will have to be when you have been given a break. There is an envelope for your jewelry. ALL jewelry must be put in the envelope. Then seal it, write your name on the outside and put it in your locker. There is a squeegee to put your hair in a pony tail. It should be high on the head in back. When you are done and changed write your name on the tag connected to your key and drop it in the lock box by the door. A staff member will collect and hold the keys. If you need something you will have to coordinate with staff after being given a break. When you are done report to the assignment desk out the door and down the hall to you left. You will be expected in fifteen minutes." She didn't even wait to see if they had any questions just turned and exited the room.
The banks of lockers could accommodate about a hundred individual lockers. Jen could see that about a third had locks on them. Jen quickly followed the directions she had been given. Only as she sealed up the envelope with her watch, rings, necklace and earrings did she realize she would be leaving this room with nothing of hers. She had not called her parents or anyone else to tell them where she was going. Before she turned off her phone she picked it up to try to give them a quick call. The phone indicated that there was no service. It had to be the metal in the building. She would have to go outside later when she got a break and call them. She turned off the phone and locked it along with all her clothing, her purse, and her jewelry in the locker. As the lock on the door clicked shut a slight shiver ran through Jen, but she shook it off. As directed she wrote her name on the tag of the key and dropped it in the lockbox by the door. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of someone else holding the key to her locker where her things were, but it was done now and there would have been no way to get the key back.
She waited a few minutes for Abby to finish and then the two of them left the locker room together and walked up the hall until they came to a door with a sign that said "Assignments". Pushing the door open revealed a small room with doors on either side in addition to the door through which they had entered. Inside was a desk with a woman seated behind it. She had a clip board on the desk. As the girls entered she looked up and asked their names. She ran her pen up the page on the clip board and put checks next to something, presumably their names. Then she punched a button on her phone and advised someone that numbers 135 and 136 were available for their trainers. Jen was surprised that they were not directed to sit down, but within no more than two minutes two women entered the room. They were both dressed in similar looking attire with khaki shirts and Jodhpur pants with brown knee length riding boots. They were only of average height at about 5'5" and 5'6" respectively. Both appeared trim and in good shape.
On one of the trainer's direction Jen and Abby followed them through one of the side doors. This led to a new corridor with doors along the sides; Abby and her trainer disappeared through one door and then Jen and her trainer entered the next. Jen was surprised that neither of these girls had introduced themselves, shaken hands, or engaged in any of the normal formalities of social meeting. They had entered a small room, nothing more than a large dressing room. There were a set of cabinets against one wall and a bench against another.
The trainer picked up her clipboard and seemed to be inspecting a form. She then went to the cabinets and removed a set of boots similar to the ones Jen had seen on the girl in the picture from the brochure. She handed them to Jen and told her to put them on. Jen immediately saw that the bottom of the boot ended in what looked like a flared hoof and then arched back up; it even had a horseshoe at the bottom. She would be standing on her toes when she put these on. There was no heel, but if there had been it would have been at least 5". They did not look comfortable and Jen thought "these are not going to be easy to work in." She turned them about in her hands examining the boot. The inside was soft leather and they had padding in the area around the toe. At least she would not be on the end of her toe as with ballet shoes. Jen had learned ballet, but had never enjoyed nor become proficient at toe. She thought of protesting, but then decided she might as well give it a try. She had promised herself she would try. It looked like the boots were well engineered; maybe they were not as uncomfortable as they looked.
Jen sat on the bench and pulled the first boot onto her foot and leg. The fit was snug, but not uncomfortable. Of course she had not tried to stand on it yet. After she laced up the boot she noticed it had a strap that buckled around the ankle and another at the top of the boot just below the knee. She buckled these straps noticing that each strap had a small metal loop on the back of the leg. She briefly wondered at the purpose of these.
The trainer signaled for her to stand and turn around. She did. The boots felt a bit wobbly, but the expanded surface on the hoof part of the boot combined with the very tight support it provided on her foot and leg made standing on them much easier than she had expected. "Very well designed." She thought to herself. She could learn to run in these things. She could win races. Even though she was standing on her toes it was not that bad. Of course she had only stood this way for a few minutes. How would they be over time?
She then heard the sound of the trainer working with what sounded like a stack of straps. She was pretty sure this was the body harness she had seen in the picture. It has looked very sexy in the picture, but suddenly the idea of all those straps wrapped around her body was a bit oppressive. She almost said no, but instead bit her lip and focused ahead on the wall in front of her. She wasn't going to give in this easily. She knew this was very important to Abby.
Jen felt the harness pulled around in front of her from behind. She was instructed to raise her arms, which she did. The trainer first attached a collar around her neck. It was quite wide, maybe 2½ inches. It buckled at the back of her neck. The rest of the harness hung down in front of her from a center strap that joined all of the body straps down to the waist. She could feel that there was something additional to the harness in back, but she could not see it. Next the trainer buckled the strap over and then under her breasts. They did not buckle together, but instead each fed to a buckle on something on her back. It felt like the back portion of the harness was wider than the small strap that ran down the front of her. Following the upper straps there was the waist belt. This was about 4" wide and unlike the other straps had two straps that wrapped around the back and finally buckled in the front. The trainer walked around in front of Jen and reached down between her legs and drew up another portion of the harness. Jen glanced down and saw what looked like a leather triangle emerging from between her legs. It buckled in two places to the belt in front.
None of the straps were very tight, but they did accentuate her body nicely. Jen was surprised that the room did not have a mirror so she could more easily see how it all looked. Jen was a little surprised when the trainer moved to her right side and she felt a strap wrapped around her upper arm just above the elbow and buckled. She repeated this on the left side. Jen's arms had been strapped to her side. She didn't think she liked this very much and started to turn her arms in the straps, but before she could test the limits of the straps she felt the trainer take each of her wrists behind her and fold them up across the arm of the other. Then a large strap, at least 2" was pulled up over her now joined arms and buckled to the back of the harness. Her arms were effectively held behind her. She could move her hands about, but could not lower them because of the wrist/arm strap. The strap was not tight, but she could not pull her arms out because of the elbow straps.
As Jen was starting to squirm at the unexpected binding of her arms the trainer was back with the head harness. "Stop squirming." The command was sharp and Jen froze in place. The harness was placed over her head. One strap ran around her forehead just above her eyes. A strap from that went over the middle of her head splitting at the crown into two straps down the back. They then intersected the forehead strap behind her head and extended down to behind her head. A strap ran from the crown of her head down both sides of her head under her chin where the ends crossed and then buckled into the collar on both sides of her neck.
If asked Jen would tell that she was beginning to feel fear. Even a sense of panic was starting to build inside her, but for some strange reason she found herself frozen in place as the trainer continued with the bridle. She was instructed to open her mouth and felt the bit to the bridle placed into her mouth. At each corner of her mouth was a ring which was on a strap that passed through a loop on the strap that circled her head from the crown to her chin. This strap continued around behind her head and buckled at the back of her head just above her neck. Because it was not connected to the strap around her head it could be independently tightened without regard to the head strap, yet because it passed through loops on both sides it was held in place just behind the corners of her mouth. Connected to the rings was a dowel covered with rubber to make it pliable, but certainly not soft. From the center of the dowel pointed inward was a plate about an inch and a half in length. When the bit was placed in her mouth the plate pushed down on Jen's tongue. The dowel was connected with links to the circles in the bridle, but the ends of the dowel itself, without rubber covering extended through the two rings. They each then had a short raised bar to which reins could be attached. The effect would be that when someone pulled on the reins it would not only pull the dowel deeper into the mouth, but would rotate the plate down on the wearer's tongue.
Quickly the trainer adjusted the straps and pulled them tight. Ok, Jen really hated this. It was not comfortable at all. It held her mouth open with her teeth biting down on the rubber covering of the dowel. There were no reins attached so the plate was just floating in her mouth, and although it was not long enough to create a gag reflex, she could not get her tongue around or over it. She tried to say. "I don't like this." It sounded nothing like what she had said. She shook her head from side to side to try to dislodge or loosen the bit in her mouth. It fit perfectly and moved with her head as she shook. She found herself snorting through her nose as she did this.
This drew an almost affectionate pat from the trainer to her shoulder. "Nice pony, we are almost done getting you ready then we will work on some training." The trainer had returned her attention to the harness and was tightening all of the straps. Jen responded by shaking her body back and forth a couple of times, but the trainer paid no attention and continued to tighten first one then another until all of the straps felt much tighter than before. Then Jen heard the sound of locks clicking. As she looked down at the two buckles she could see in front of her she saw that each buckle had a hole in the hasp for a padlock. The trainer locked all the buckles in place. Why on earth would she do that? Why had they taken her hands away? Jen's anxiety was at a very high level. She knew Abby would be really angry with her, but she did not think she was going to be able to go through with this. It had gotten too over the top for her. She again tried to tell the trainer to stop. Nothing intelligible came out. She shook her head, body and even stomped her foot. "Very good, you are really getting the equine character." Said the trainer as she again stroked and patted Jen. Jen stopped in frustration. She would just have to wait until a break to make her complaints known. She wondered how long they would space breaks. She thought employers had to give a break at least every two or three hours. She could handle that.
Jen could not see what was going on behind her, in fact the collar and head harness made it very difficult to turn her head. But something was lifted up over her hands and arms and again strapped and buckled to the back and sides of the harness. She felt around with her hands and realized that her arms and hands were now not only strapped to her sides and back but encased in leather. She no longer had hands. She tried to remember if she had seen the girls' hands in the picture on the brochure. How were they supposed to pull the cart with no hands?
After a quick check the trainer seemed satisfied with her work. She clipped a lead line to one side of the bit in Jen's mouth and giving her a click click with her tongue directed her out the door and back into the corridor. Jen stumbled after her trying to get the feel of the strange boots. After reaching the end of the corridor they existed into a large open area inside the warehouse.
The trainer picked up something from just outside the door and led Jen over to a circular paddock. Jen could see several other similar looking circular areas. In three of them she saw other pony girls dressed in the same way she was. The trainer stood in the middle of the paddock with the pony moving around her in a circle, the radius of the circle was controlled by the amount of lead on the lead line given by the trainer. In the trainer's other hand was a buggy type whip. It extended up about 6' then had 3 to 4 feet of line on the end. The trainer would snap it near the back of the pony to emphasize commands. "Oh God". Thought Jen, but then she heard the snap of her trainer's whip; she felt the pop in the air but there was no bite. It had not connected to her flesh.
"Move in a circle. Lift legs high with each step." Ok, at least they didn't hit you with it. More of the spectacle, she was beginning to feel like a pony. She was certainly being treated like one. She started to circle around the trainer lifting her legs with each step. She could see how important practice in these boots would be. They were a lot easier to stand on than to walk in. She was not looking very graceful. The trainer kept giving her correction, most commands punctuated with the snap of the whip so close to her skin that a wave of fear surged through her with every pop. The trainer was very good with that whip. Jen was hoping her aim would stay as good. She did not want to feel the bite of the whip against her skin. Even though she was not actually being hit it did encourage her to try harder and all thought of needing to get out of this outfit melted into determination to do a good job.
Jen wondered how Abby was doing. She tried to look around to see her, but it was very hard to do. She had to keep her head turned toward the right as she circled right because of the lead line. If she shifted her head, or wobbled too much she felt the hard downward pressure of the bit against her tongue and the bite of the rubber at the corners of her mouth. She really hated that bit. She also hated not being able to communicate anything. They should have at least given her some signals that she could use to convey her message to the trainer. If they asked for any input after she quit she would make that suggestion. She wasn't really a pony, after all, although she felt a little like one right now.
Her thoughts went back to Abby. Jen figured in some ways she would be doing much better than Jen. She doubted that the discomfort would be a big factor with her, but she was such a strong willed person. The idea of not having any control, not being able to communicate in any way would probably be driving her crazy. Unless she quit already, Jen just could not see Abby letting her hands be restrained. She was wondering why she had. It had just been done so quickly and so matter of fact like it was just the most normal natural thing that she had been restrained before she could even think to protest.
The training was tiring, but not horrible. She was getting much better at walking in the boots. She had even been able to pick up the pace and trot in them although that was very tiring and having her hands locked across her back made it very much more difficult. She was used to using her hands and arms when she ran and now she not only had to contend with running on her toes but without the normal balance created by her arms. But, she was getting the knack of it. She wondered how much longer before they took a break. Her watch was in the locker and there was no clock she could see in the warehouse so she had no idea how long they had been at it. Although she was less sure she would just quit when they took their break she was pretty sure that if she was going to stay she was going to demand that her arms be left free. She was getting use to the bridle and bit, and she could see the importance of that to the outfit, but they did not need to take away her arms.
It had to have been longer than three hours. Jen was very tired. The constant walking and trotting on the boots had caused her toes to start to hurt. Her legs were sore and she wanted to sit down very badly. Then she heard a short blast on a horn. Her trainer stopped her circling and again clicking with her tongue started to guide Jen out of the paddock. "Thank God." She thought. She really needed to sit down. She was being guided back in the direction from where they came into the warehouse, but not toward the door they had entered. She briefly wondered how she was going to get back to her phone in just a break time, and then decided that might have to wait for a longer break or until after she quit. Right now she just needed to sit down and take the pressure off her poor toes.
As they got closer to a door in the interior warehouse wall Jen noticed four other pony girls all standing next to each other to one side of the door. Two of them were similarly dressed to her the other two were naked under the harness. As they turned and shifted back and forth Jen could see their rather ample breasts swing back and forth. It appeared that large breasts were also a selection criteria for pony girls. She wondered why the team was naked. She certainly hoped they would not ask her and Abby to go sans clothing. She believed Abby would have no problem with it, but it was not for her. Just one more thing she would not agree to. It seemed even more unlikely that when she presented her conditions they would keep her on. Abby would be very disappointed, she was sure of that, and Jen was sorry she would be missing out on the income and the parties at the exotic resort, but she did have her limits.
Jen was also wondering why the other teams were still standing. There was a bench only about 8 feet from where they were yet they were all standing very close together. In fact their bodies were touching. Then she stopped in horror. In front of the girls was a hitching post and the lead line from each of the girls was tied to the crossbeam on the hitching post with only about 4' of slack. None of them could get to the bench. As she stopped her lead line tightened and her trainer roughly pulled her forward until she was positioned at one end of the post. The lead line then, like the other four was tied to the post. Then the trainer knelt down and connected a short 6" hobble line between the loops on the cuffs around Jen's ankles. Having completed that action the trainer walked through the door into what Jen could see was a break room for the employees. This was break time. Jen looked down and saw that all of the other ponies were similarly hobbled.
They could not keep her restrained through break time. They could not make her stand here like this. She needed to sit down. She needed to get her hands free. In fact, she needed to get out of this place. She now knew that she had had enough. This was the last straw. She wondered where Abby was. Then she saw her being pulled across the floor, pulled, because she was clearly being uncooperative. She would stop (dig in her heels as if she had any) then be jerked forward by her lead line taking another three or four steps to keep from falling forward and then stop again. Loud snorting sounds were escaping from her mouth and nose. It looked like Abby was of the same mind as Jen. They needed to get the hell out of here. This job was just not worth it.
She was hoping Abby would end up next to her so they could try to communicate, but instead she was pulled up to the far end of the hitching post and secured there in the same fashion as the rest of the ponies. As Abby pulled and twisted Jen could see her from behind. She was shocked to see brilliant red lines on her flanks and thighs. Her trainer either had much poorer aim than Jen's or she had intentionally put the whip to Abby. No wonder she was resisting. Jen would not have put up with being whipped for two seconds. Jen tried to pull away from the bar. The lead line brought her up short. It had only been wrapped around the bar a couple of time and then loosely looped back through itself, but she could not pull it free on the rough wooden surface of the bar. If she had hands she could have reached over and released it. But she had no hands. She remembered the times she had gone ridding. She remembered the horses standing at the hitching post with the reins loosely draped over the bar. All six pony girls here were held to the bar. Since none of them had hands they could not help themselves or one another. And all of them wore bridles and bits in their mouths so they could not use their mouths. There was nothing any of them could do but stand here waiting for the trainers to finish their break and then return to the training.
Jen looked at the other two teams standing at the rail. It was easy to determine the teams since one team was naked. She could see marks on the flanks and buttocks of the naked team, but they did not appear fresh. Neither naked pony seemed particularly upset by what was occurring. They just stood there slowly moving back and forth and occasionally chewing at the bit in their mouth. Maybe they had been here longer and had accepted this practice. "Whatever floats you boat." Not Jen, and from what she could see clearly not Abby. Whenever this ended for the day they were out of here.
The other team seemed much more like her and Abby. One of the girls had a look of wild desperation in her eyes. Jen could tell that she was continuing to test the strength and hold of the restraints that held her arms, moving them back and forth and up and down. She could not move to the side because she was sandwiched in between her team mate and one of the naked ponies. Every time the naked girl moved such that their bodies touched the girl would jerk herself away. It was like she was afraid she was going to catch the nakedness. She would back away from the post and pull at the lead line then slowly move forward to take the pressure off her mouth. The other girl in this team seemed lost in thought. Her eyes were puffy and red. She had clearly been crying. It looked to Jen like another team that wanted nothing more to do with this job. It was pretty clear that at least two of the three teams planned on getting the hell out of here. Jen wondered how many teams they had to try out to find one who would accept this craziness. No wonder they paid so much. But it was not enough.
Jen looked around the inside of the warehouse and tried to figure out how she was going to tell the trainer that she quit. All of the pony trainers seemed to be enjoying themselves in the break room while their steeds stood milling at the hitching post. From the look of Abby, resistance alone was not going to communicate the message, and may well just draw undesired results. Jen considered trying to scratch a message in the dirt, but she had little room to move, especially with her ankles hobbled, so that seemed unlikely. She would try once again to speak her mind and signal to remove the bit from her mouth so she could talk.
A sound caught her attention and another door further away from the break room opened. A staff member dressed in leather jeans and a vest over a white shirt emerged holding a small gold colored chain. Jen could hear sounds from beyond the doorway and then saw a girl shuffle from the door. She was dressed only in a gossamer top that although covering her breasts did not hide any detail of them from sight, including the rings behind each nipple. She wore similar gossamer harem pants. They obviously had no crotch because the golden chain went directly to the crotch of the girl. As the holder of the chain gave it another pull prompting the girl forward Jen could see what looked like a ring through what must have been the girl's clitoris and to which the chain was attached. Jen could not believe what she was seeing. A shudder coursed through her. The girl was desperately trying to keep up, but it was not easy. She had a large gold colored collar around her neck, a gold colored belt around her waist and similar colored cuffs at her knees and ankles. A hobble chain of about 12" ran between her ankle cuffs. From the middle of the hobble a chain extended upwards lifting and actually shortening the reach of the hobble chain. This chain went up behind the girls back. Her hands and arms were not visible but her shoulders appeared to be pulled back.
As this girl moved through the doorway Jen saw that another chain ran from the back of her collar in a slightly downward direction which very quickly exposed a second girl connected by a ring in her clitoris thus tethering her to the collar of the first girl. She was similarly attired and chained. As they moved out and across the floor the coffle eventually became six girls each one connected by a ring through her delicate flesh to the collar of the girl in front. Soon Jen could see that each girl also had cuffs at her elbows and wrists. The elbow cuffs were joined with less than 3" of cold chain and the wrists cuffs were locked together with the chain from the hobble attached to the wrists. The movement was jerky as it moved back through the coffle and Jen could tell that it was creating substantial discomfort for each of these girls, increasing as they found their place further back in the coffle.
As Jen stared and her mouth opened the fog of her denial dropped away. She didn't need to figure out a way to tell the trainer she wanted out. They already knew that. She and Abby, and most likely the other four girls standing together had been tricked. They had been tricked and they had been captured. They were in trouble, a lot of trouble. It was no longer a matter of communicating and expecting it to be honored. Now it was a matter of escape. Her stomach hurt and she thought she was going to throw up, but she knew if she did she could potentially choke, so she swallowed and did her best to get control over her fear. She had not even called anyone to tell them where she was. Not a sole on earth knew she was across the country, let alone that she was standing with her arms and feet restrained being trained to be an involuntary pony girl.
She tried to look over at her arms as she poked her fingers at the sheath that had been pulled up and fastened over her arms and hands. She actually found a small space where she could see the tip of one finger extending maybe a quarter of an inch. That was not going to help much. She looked again at the other ponies. The two clearly more experienced ponies seemed indifferent to their nudity as well as to the distress of the others around them. One of them would occasionally look over at the other girls with a somewhat knowing, they will learn look. Neither of them even paid attention as the coffle of chained slave girls was pulled across the floor and out the door on the far side of the warehouse. Jen did note when the door was open that it went to the outside. That might be useful information later, when she figured out a way to get free of her restraints. It was so frustrating that she was being held in place by something as simple as a single line attached to her bridle.
The girl next to Jen had also watched the parade of chained girls exit the room. After taking a quick look around the room she moved forward and Jen watched as she used the ends of her bit to try to catch and loosen the line wrapped around the hitching post. She paused to look up at Jen then continued. Jen liked the idea and moved forward to try the same. But the cinch on her line was behind the pole and lower down. There was no way she could get any leverage at all. On the other hand, the girl next to her seemed to be making some progress. Jen could see some slack in the line, but when the girl backed up she might gain a few inches but it would tighten the line forcing her to move forward and start all over again. Jen tried to say "I'll help you." But even Jen couldn't understand what she had said. So she just moved her harnessed head over to where the girl's line was wrapped and started to work on it. She tried to signal with her head for the girl to pull back and take up the slack as Jen created it. She figured out the signal and moved back putting some, but not heavy pressure on the line. It was actually working. They had increased her distance from the pole from the four feet at which she was at first tied to almost eight feet. Only another foot or so and the line should pull completely free. There was a sharp burning pain on Jen's thigh.
Jen was so engrossed in what she was doing that she had not noticed the return of the trainers. This time the whip had made contact with her skin and it set to rest her thought that she did not want to feel it. Now that she had felt it she really didn't want to feel it again. She immediately stopped what she was doing and straightened up.
"Some very clever ponies it seems." Her trainer said to the trainer for the other girl. Meanwhile the other girl shrank back to the length of the lead as her trainer unwrapped the balance of it from the pole. She pulled the girl over to the side not even bothering to release her hobble. This almost made her fall over, but she managed to quickly shuffle to the desired spot. The trainer then produced a pair of hospital scissors and began to cut away the clothing of the girl. She cut the shorts up both sides then pulled and tugged them out from under the rather tight fitting belt and crotch strap. She used the same approach to the cotton shirt and sports bra cutting from the bottom up to a strap, then pulling the shirt up above the strap to reveal the cut area and then continuing until she had emerged at her arm. Then she cut the outer sleeve from end to the neck. At this point she was again able to yank the clothing free. All of the ruined clothing went into a pile on the ground.
Jen heard angry huffs and suppressed screams as she looked over to see the same process being employed on Abby. Abby was fighting for all she was worth, but the resistance was little more than symbolic restrained as she was. Before long her perfectly formed breasts were fully exposed and her crotch was protected only by the wide leather strap of the harness. The skin of her flanks was now fully exposed all the way to her belt. Jen didn't bother to fight as she felt the hands of her trainer strip away her clothes leaving her also naked but for her harness and restraints.
Jen's trainer connected a chain about 5" in length between the loops at the top of her boots, just below her knees and then removed the hobble. Jen thought of trying to kick her, but could see little to gain from it, besides the new knee hobble pretty well removed that option. The trainer then released her lead from the pole. But before pulling Jen away she reached out and grabbed one of her breasts. She squeezed it lightly then ran her finger over the nipple. "Let's go get these ringed shall we?" She turned and started to pull on Jen's lead.
"Ringed?" They were going to pierce her. Jen had not even pierced her ears until she was in High School. Even then she couldn't sleep for two days before because she was so frightened. She didn't want anything else pierced. She especially didn't want her nipples pierced. "NO!" She screamed into her bit and she shook her head back and forth.
The trainer actually laughed. "Oh, you will look so pretty with nice rings there. Besides we need something to attach your bells to. Come on." She gave a firm tug on the line and Jen started to move forward after her. Now, for the first time since this started, she could feel tears in her eyes she knew that there was nothing she could do to stop what was about to happen to her.
They entered through the door the slave coffle had exited. Around the room were a series of cubicles. Each had equipment of some kind. Jen was pulled forward into one that had a padded frame. Using her lead line her trainer pulled her forward until she made contact with the frame. A padded concave bar met her neck, another crossed her chest above her breasts, a third just below them, and the forth at her waist. Each bar had a strap that was wrapped around Jen's body and fastened on the other side holding her tight to the frame yet exposing most of her body. The hobble chain was removed and two concave plates were positioned against each of her thighs and buckled in three places from just below her buttocks to just above her knees. Another curved bar extending up with two small bars from the neck bar accepted Jen's forehead which was then strapped in place holding her head firmly in place. She heard the trainer behind her and then felt small chains attached to her ankles and fastened to rings in the floor. She was as close to motionless as she could ever imagine being.
To her horror the trainer then removed the front portion of the belt that, after the removal of her shorts, was the only thing covering what she considered to be the most private part of her body. When the trainer then examined her sex she felt herself flush with embarrassment and tried to voice her protest. "You just relax; I'll get a groom in here to clean you up." With that, leaving her sex exposed the trainer left. Jen was facing into the cubicle so she could not see what was going on behind her. She was thankful that she was not faced the other direction so that everyone who came in could see her. She did not know what else was happening in other parts of the room, but it sounded like other ponies were being brought in and fastened in their own cubicles. Jen twisted and pulled at the new restraints, but every belt held she was tightly held. There was nothing she could do but stand there and wait for whatever it was they were going to do to her.
Jen heard what sounded like a heavy bucket of water being put down close behind her. She could hear the slosh of the water, but because she could not turn her head she could not see who had arrived. She assumed it was the "groom" the trainer had spoken of. The groom reached between her legs and finished removing the part of the harness that up until a moment ago had covered her sex. It seemed to disappear, being removed from the back of her belt as well. Now her naked rear was fully exposed as well. The groom used a washing mitt to dip into the bucket and then wash Jen's exposed skin, which was quite frankly most of her. She paid special attention between Jen's legs even intruding up into her anal and vaginal cavity a short distance. This made Jen squeal and squirm, but she could do nothing to escape the hands.
Then the groom came around in front of her and knelt down. The groom was a small, young girl, not well developed, perhaps eighteen, but a young looking eighteen. She was completely naked except for a metal collar that seemed permanently attached to her neck, a similar metal belt and cuffs at her wrists and ankles. Her wrists were joined by a chain that fed through a loop in the front of her belt. Her ankles similarly were chained. The cuffs and chains looked utilitarian. They were not the fancy restraints she had seen earlier on the slave girl coffle. It appeared to Jen that this girl had been in chains for some time because she seemed oblivious to them as if they were normal attire. She did not look up at Jen although Jen tried to make sounds to get her attention. Instead she focused on the task at hand, which was to lather shaving cream on Jen's small triangle of hair between her legs and then go to work with a razor. When she was finished all of the hair had been removed. She cleaned up with the wash mitt and then walked around behind her again. She then wiped Jen down with a soft towel.
Jen's hair was in a pony tail that extended from high on her head. The groom opened the pony tail and without removing the bridle or bit did her best to comb out Jen's hair before putting it back in the pony tail. The groom was not gagged, but she never said a word to Jen the entire time she worked. Even though Jen tried to get her attention she did not acknowledge in any way, she did not even make eye contact. When she was done she collected her supplies and was gone.
Once again Jen was left standing helplessly wondering what would be next. She knew, but could not bring herself to think about that. She had expected a very Goth looking person heavily tattooed to arrive. Instead a smart looking blonde wearing a white smock and carrying a tray of instruments walked up in front of her and put the tray down on a table. She then came over to Jen and inspected each of her breasts, squeezing them, poking at the nipples and taking each of them between her thumb and finger. Then she took a device doctors used to look in your ears and nose and looked up each of Jen's nasal passages. When she was done she held her nose between her fingers and moved it back and forth looking in this time without the aid of any instrument. Finally she got down on a knee and poked and prodded at Jen's vagina. Jen felt her take each of her labia in her hands, squeeze them and pull them out one by one. Jen could feel her fingers on her clitoris. This made her jump. Nobody but Jen had ever touched this part of her body, and she always felt guilty when she did, but it was all just matter of business for this woman.
The inspection completed the woman took a cotton swab, poured something on to it and cleansed each of Jen's nipples. Jen watched in horror then as she picked up something that looked like medical forceps. Using one hand to collect and compress the flesh of Jen's breast at and just behind the nipple she attached the forceps locking then down so that it held Jen's right nipple. The woman then picked up a needle that to Jen at this point looked huge and pushed it through the breast in between the forceps open ends. Jen had expected excruciating pain. It hurt, but not nearly as bad as she had expected. The woman carefully checked the location of the entry and exit hole and then deciding she was satisfied removed the forceps and pulled about a 1" ring through the nipple. Jen had been ringed. Without pausing to even admire her work she then went to work on the other breast. To Jen's surprise this one hurt much more than the other. She was not sure why that was, but it caused her to scream out.
As the woman stepped back Jen now had rings in both nipples. She was so thankful that that was over, but the woman was not picking up her things and leaving. Instead she had picked up another tool that looked like the kind of punch that is used in leather work. Jen screamed into her bit as she realized what was about to happen. She tried to twist her head from side to side. She tried to pull her head back, but it was held tight. The tool was inserted into her nose so that it embraced the septum from each side. Jen could hear the sound of the cartilage give way as the woman punched a hole. This had not hurt a lot, but it was mortifying. She then took another type of tool and connected small metal grommets into the hole in her septum from each side. This would keep the hole open and make it stronger. No ring was attached at this time.
Jen remembered the other inspection conducted by this woman and started to wail. Without the slightest notice the woman returned with her forceps and needles and went to work between Jen's legs. Jen's head was held up so she could not see what was going on, but she could feel it. When the woman was done Jen had three rings on each labia and one behind her clitoris. Only then did the woman collect her tools and leave. Jen had been in such shock at what was happening to her that she had hardly felt these last seven piercings. She was not even exactly sure how many times she had been pierced down there, but she knew it was more than a couple.
Jen's mind was reeling. What had happened? She did not know what time it was, but it has been less than a full day since she and Abby showed up for their new 'fun filled summer job'. She could never even have imagined something like this happening to her. Damn Abby and her impulsiveness. She had gotten then in some dicey situations before, but she had also always been able to talk them out of things. Jen did not think that was going to work this time. With this damn bridle and bit they could not even talk. She worked the bit with her tongue. The flat bar, almost a brank, was the most bothersome. She could push it up with her tongue so long as no one was pulling on her reins, but it was always there and interfered with any intelligible effort to speak.
Jen was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she did not realize that the groom was back. She felt the belts that held her to the frame being removed. The groom replaced the hobble at her knees and then helped her stand up free of the frame. She carefully checked each strap of the harness to make sure it was properly in place. She had not replaced the portion that ran between Jen's legs and she did not do it now. Instead she turned Jen around so she was facing back into the room and then to Jen's horror clipped a lead to Jen's clit ring. Free from the frame Jen could now look down and see what had been done to her. But just as she was trying to see each detail she saw the line go tight and felt the jerk on her clitoris. She almost fell over jumping forward to relieve the sudden pressure. That hurt. It hurt a lot. It also felt so invasive. This was as personal a part of her body as she could think of and these people had put a ring through it and now, apparently, intended to lead her around by it. How could anyone do this to her? How could anyone do this to anyone? But the more immediate concern was that they had, and she was absolutely compelled to quickly shuffle along behind the small girl who was pulling her forward by her most personal region. While her ankles were free she was hobbled at the knees with a five inch line. This made keeping pace difficult. It also made her progress jerky which caused the line to pull and jerk on her most tender and private part. She did not look ahead, but concentrated instead on that damn line doing her best to keep up with it.
After a distance Jen became aware that they were heading down a corridor that had gates about shoulder high on each side. She could sense movement behind some of the gates. The groom stopped at a gate and swung it open. Jen looked around and realized they were in a stable. A stable? Really? This pony thing was really getting out of hand. But when the line jerked at her clitoris she jumped forward in obedience entering her stall. The groom positioned her in the middle of the stall, turned her to face the gate and then clipped a line from each side of her collar to each side of the stall. The lines were anchored low enough on the wall and sufficiently slack to allow her to stand, sit or even lie on the floor, but not to reach either the front, back or either side of the stall. The floor of the stall was concert with a light covering of straw. The walls were too high to see if there was anyone in either stall next to her. She did not see anyone in the stall across, but if they were not standing she would not have seen them. Near Jen on the floor was a pan of water. If Jen knelt she could reach it with her head. Next to that pan was another filled with bite sized pellets of some sort. Jen assumed these were food. Jen was relieved when the groom removed the bridle and bit and hung them on a hook near the front of her stall. Then the groom left, closing and latching the gate. The gate did not have a lock on it, but that didn't matter. Even if Jen was not reined to the sides of the stall she would not have been able to open the stall. Jen resisted saying anything to the groom as she finished her work and left. As before, the groom never even bothered to look into Jen's face.
Jen was very thirsty and a bit hungry. She got to her knees and did her best to suck up water from the bowl. Then she turned her attention to taking some food pellets in her mouth and eating them. They were pretty much flavorless but they helped assuage the hunger pangs. When she was done she knelt there on the floor. She needed to figure out a way to get out of here. Her arms were still strapped and encased behind her. She tried to pull at each one in turn, but there was no movement. She tried to move her hands inside the covering, but she could not find anything with her fingers that could be manipulated in anyway. Without someone else's assistance she did not see how she was going to get her arms free. Never-the-less, if she could get free of the reins and somehow get the door open she could still walk. The hobble had been removed. She followed the lines from her collar over to each wall with her eyes. They were only secured around a cleat and tied off. If she could get to one, without the bit in her mouth she could use her teeth to free it. She tried to move toward the wall. She got within about 12 inches of the cleat before the line from the other wall stopped her progress. By turning her body sidewise she could just brush the cleat with her encased lower arms, but not enough to cause any of the line to loosen. She tried the opposite wall with the same result. They seemed to know just how long to make the line.
She went back to the middle of the stall and knelt down. She was convinced that they were going to leave her here until morning. Even with a little straw the floor did not look very comfortable, but right now her need was to go to the bathroom. They had not given her a bathroom break the entire time she had been here and right now she really needed to pee. She expected at least a bucket of some sort for this purpose, but there was nothing like that in the stall. She was not going to be able to make it until morning. After she had held about as long as she could she realized that like a real pony she was expected to just go in her stall. The straw wasn't there for her comfort. It was there to soak up her waste. But she wasn't a real pony. She could not sleep standing up. She was going to have to lie on the floor and she didn't want to lie in her own waste. She finally moved as far back and to one side as she good, spread her legs and let it go. She was not accustomed to peeing standing up so a good amount ended up running down the inside of her legs, but there was nothing she could do about that. She was just happy that she had only had to pee, at least for now.
Jen heard sounds outside her stall. She quickly stood and did her best to look over the stall door. She was just in time to see another groom go by leading another pony. It was Abby. Jen could only see her head, and only for a brief moment, but it was definitely her. Her movements were jerky and she heard squeals telling her that the groom was jerking on the lead chain. Abby was throwing her head back and forth. It sounded like she was taken into the stall next to Jen. After what seemed like a long time Jen saw the groom walk back up the corridor. She waited for several minutes thereafter to make sure she was gone.
"Abby?" She called out, not loudly, but enough to be heard. Nothing.
"Abby, is that you?" She tried again.
"Jen?" Came the response from her right.
"Abby, are you alright?"
"I am so sorry for getting us into this. I tried to resist them, but they put the whip to me. I could only take it for a short time and then I gave in. I must have really made them mad because they put rings in my sex. They even pierced my clitoris. I can't believe that did that."
"They did the same to me. I think it is just part of what they do."
"We have to get out of here. Can you help me? My arms are completely useless."
"No, I am helpless too. They even have me leashed to the walls of the stall. I tried to release the lines but without luck." Jen responded.
"My God, what are we going to do? I don't think they have any intention of letting us go. We are still in the US now, but what happens if they get us to some island in a foreign country? I think they have a ship in the harbor. If they get us on that ship I think we are in big trouble."
How much more trouble can we be in Jen thought in response, but kept the thought to herself. "We are going to have to keep alert and watch for an opening. If someone can get free and get help these people will go to jail forever for this."
"I need to try to get some rest and think." Jen agreed with this assessment from Abby and said no more. She knelt back down and tried to find a comfortable dry position on the hard floor. Her arms and shoulders ached from being restricted for so many hours. She attempted to shift her arms and pull at them within the limits of her restraints but found no relief from the dull aching. But, she was very tired and at some point in spite of the hard concrete floor, the ache in her arms and shoulders, and waves of fear, panic and near despair that would wash over her she drifted off.
There were noises, the sound of movement and voices, undistinguishable, but voices. It was light. Natural light replaced the electric glow of the night. Jen struggled up to a sitting position and looked at her surroundings. She could see a mark on the floor where her body had been. It was just one of many other marks and stains. She could see the soiled straw where she had relieved herself the night before. The side walls of the stall were wood, painted, very obviously, a long time ago, in a dark grayish color, or maybe it had just become gray with age. There were signs of many years of use and wear. The wood had not been fully protected from insect damage and perhaps the hoofs of earlier occupants with longer and much stronger legs. The surrounding prospect was even drearier than it had appeared when she was ensconced here.
Her water dish was empty and about two thirds of the food product that had been in the other dish was gone. She only vaguely remembered eating and drinking, but she must have. That was good. She was hungry, but the food did not look inviting enough to cause her to return to it. She was thirsty, but there was little she could do about that.
She looked at the stall gate. It cleared the floor at the bottom by at least a foot, but there was nothing to be seen there. It was rounded at the top being slightly higher in the middle than at the bottom. From where she sat the top looked very high, but she already knew that standing it was just below her eye level. It opened out so that the hinges and the latch were on the outside, out of view, and clearly beyond her reach if she could even get to them. It was sturdy, three two by fours horizontal, two vertical and two more forming an X across the center. Signs of wear to the top and upper braces did not make it look any less sturdy. It was the same dismal gray as the walls. Her bridle and bit hung from a hook by the gate.
She looked down at herself. She was a complete disaster. Her hair was matted and disheveled; dirt from the floor covered her legs and torso; crusted spots on her inner thighs and legs gave evidence to the conditions under which she had been forced to perform normal bodily functions. She needed a hot bath she needed to get her arms back. The pain had stopped, but as soon as she started to move around and work her way up to a sitting position the ache was back. Then there was the frustration of not being able to use her hands. She twisted and pulled and shook her arms and upper body nothing it was just as unforgiving as the day before. She had no arms, no hands. She looked to her right and left at the leashes attached to cleats on the walls. She pulled against the leases first one then the other. The clips attached to her collar were not coming loose and neither were the lines from the cleats. She was still helplessly held.
She wanted to call out to Abby and see how she had survived the night but thought better of calling attention to herself. She didn't want to be where she was, but she didn't want to be back under the control or the trainer either. What other horrific things would they do next?
There was a sound at her gate. The bolt on the outside was being slid out of place. Then the door was opened. She looked into the open space with as defiant a look as she could muster in her otherwise pathetic appearance. It was the little blonde groom with her bucket and cleaning glove. Jen's attempt at a stern look faded. This poor girl was just there to perform her required tasks and would probably be punished if she failed in any way. Jen did not want that to happen. Besides, even a sponge bath was inviting right now. Jen had always been fastidious about her personal hygiene. She had gone camping with friends a couple of times and hated the grimy feeling the morning after sleeping in the woods, especially when she knew that no bath or shower was available. But this was worse. The feeling of grim was similar but the sense of helplessness that accompanied along with the feeling of having been abused and degraded was so much more significant. Without prompting she stood and waited for the groom to wash away the dirt and grime from her night. It actually felt good, even when the gloved hand touched and even seemed to explore parts of Jen's body that she did not normally let others touch.
The groom was careful to work around Jen's harness loosening and lifting the straps one way and then the other to make sure the skin below was cleaned. She removed the outer sleeve covering her arms so she could wash there, but to Jen's great disappointment she did not release the straps holding Jen's arms and wrists. Instead she checked these to make sure they were tight enough but not cutting her circulation. She dried Jen's body with large towels. After cleaning her body she signaled with touches on Jen's shoulders to kneel. Jen did and the groom went to work on her hair. She used the bucket to wet, shampoo, and rinse, then worked with large towels to dry. Her attention never stopped until she felt it was dry enough to start to apply a brush carefully working the full length of every part of it. Finally she gathered it together and pulled it into a pony tail high on the back of Jen's head.
The groom pulled out a plastic bottle of water and held it to Jen's lips. Jen anxiously drank. As she drank she realized just how thirsty she was. She finished most of a bottle of water before it was taken from her lips. Then the groom opened a small kit and began applying make-up to Jen's face and upper body. There was no mirror so she could not see, but her impression was that the make-up was understated designed to enhance her natural look. This was the only time that the groom looked into Jen's face and even then in reality she looked at her face more than looked into her face. There was no sense of human contact. Jen might as well have been a pot that was being painted.
Through this entire process Jen did not say a word and neither did the groom. Without uttering a sound, the groom had communicated that it would not be appropriate or acceptable for Jen to speak so she did not. But even the opportunity was soon gone. The groom fetched the bridle from the hook on the wall and carefully strapped it over Jen's head, adjusting and tightening the straps until she was satisfied. The bit was still in place and was returned to her mouth as soon as the bridle was placed over her head. Jen did not want that hated thing back in her mouth, but she knew there was no choice so she opened her mouth and received it. As she felt the metal of the plate on her tongue she decided she was not going to agree and was not going to have that thing in her mouth. She wildly shook her head back and forth and up and down while pushing at the bit with her tongue. Of course, once in place there was no changing her mind. She quickly gave up on any resistance. The bridle and bit would stay in place until THEY decided to remove it, or by some miracle she retrieved the use of her hands. That later seemed very unlikely. Now she wished she had tried to talk to Abby this morning. She hoped she would at least see her.
After giving Jen a final check over, checking, tightening, and adjusting the straps of her harness, replacing the cover over her arms, and checking and even spotting her make-up the groom opened another box she had brought with her and Jen heard the tinkling of a bell. The groom withdrew two small silver closed bells, like the kind seen on sleighs at the holidays. Each was about three quarters of an inch in diameter. There must have been a small clip on the end because the groom was able to clip one to each ring in each breast. Jen did not like this. It felt degrading. She looked down at the two bells adorning her ample breasts and did not want them there at all. If her hands had been free she would have pulled them off, but that was not an option. Involuntarily she shook her breasts back and forth trying to dislodge them. This evoked a musical ringing from each bell but neither released its grip or showed any sign of doing so. Jen could not remove the bells. She stomped her foot in frustration and snorted. The trainers would have laughed at these machinations, but the little groom paid no notice. Instead she returned to the box and withdrew a somewhat larger bell tied to a blue ribbon with two ends extending about eight inches each. The groom knelt down and Jen could feel her feeding the ribbons up through the new rings on each labia. After she had fed it through all three rings on each side she brought the ends together and tied a nice neat bow. Jen could feel the weight of the bells on her breasts, but only barely. This bell was heavier and pulled on a part of her body that should not have anything pulling on it. She could also feel the bell itself resting against the top of her legs as she stood there. As much as she wanted the bells removed from her breasts this one was really over the top. She stood perfectly still staring down at it as if she could will it to vanish. Instead as she focused on her anatomy where her legs met the hand of the groom came forward with yet another bell, this one about the size of the small ones on her breasts and before she could even turn or twist clipped it to the ring at her clitoris. As with her breasts the weight was not significant, but the idea of having her sex belled was a blow to her sense of dignity.
Jen wondered what was happening in the stall next door. She assumed, correctly as it turned out, that the same thing was happening to Abby. She felt sorry for the groom assigned that task. She was sure that there would have been at least kicks and heroic struggles interestingly she had heard no sign of commotion. Maybe it was yet to come. Then she heard the tinkle of bells and watched as another groom led Abby down the hallway past the door to her stall. Four bells tinkled and chimed as Abby docilely followed the single rein attached to her bit walking behind her groom. As if that were a signal to Jen's groom the reins attached to her collar were unclipped and a new rein was clipped to the ring on her bridle. The groom turned and walked into the hallway between the stalls given the rein a light tug. No more was needed, Jen walked forward, following. She was on an ankle hobble so she had to shuffle along but she did her best to keep up. The shuffling motion created extra jerks and twists that kept her bells chiming. She could see and hear Abby shuffling along not too far ahead.
They exited through a door into the arena. They were each led back toward the hitching post near the employee break area. One other team, the tall, perhaps more experienced blonde ponies, already waited patiently at the bar. As Jen and Abby shuffled toward the post accompanied by the sounds of their bells one of the tall ponies turned and looked at them. Jen saw a smile creep across this pony's face as Jen noticed that they were not belled as she and her partner were. Obviously, even another subdued creature found these adornments demeaning. As she was pulled up and secured to the post next to the smiling pony Jen wanted very much to do something to show her anger. She considered kicking or even biting her, but with her feet hobbled and her mouth bridled neither option was available. All she could do was stare back defiantly.
Before she could give it more thought she realized that her trainer had arrived and was in the process of removing her rein from the post. Abby's trainer had arrived as well and the two of them were led away from the hitching post toward a sulky of some kind. A single seat was set low on a metal frame base over two wire wheels. The seating area was not enclosed consisting primarily of the seat itself with a low back and two plates one level to the ground and the other set at an upward angle obviously providing a place for the rider to place their feet. To the right of the seat one of the dreaded buggy whips extended vertically, its handle held in a pipe converted to a holder. The sight of the whip caused Jen's stomach to tighten. A single bar protruded forward from below the seat and foot area and then split into two U shaped yokes that now rested on the ground.
Jen was led to the right side, Abby to the left. Each of them was lined up next to each other near the forward part of the two yokes. The trainers then lifted the bar so that a yoke arm came up on each side of each girl. The arms of the yoke had some movement and Jen's trainer quickly attached a bracket on the inside of each yoke arm to each side of Jen's waist harness. She could feel only a slight downward pressure from the weight of the sulky, but there was no one in the seat yet. She wondered what the addition of a rider would add to the weight. In fact, as Jen would later learn the seat could be adjusted forward or back over the axle to bring the balance of the yoke almost completely even. A single light chain from the apex of the yoke was then brought forward and clipped to the back of Jen's collar. It did not seem to limit her ability to lean forward. Only then was the hobble chain between her ankles removed. The trainer then attached a second rein to the other side of Jen's bit and brought both reins back placing them across a bar just above the foot area and in front of the seat in the sulky. As soon as Abby's trainer finished attaching her to the sulky's yoke she added the second rein, brought it back to the seat area and then climbed into the seat. Jen's trainer worked with a dial on the side of the seat observing the yoke arms until she was comfortable that near perfect balance had been obtained.
Jen felt the slack in the reins tighten then loosen somewhat. It was obvious that the trainer had picked up the reins. If she turned her head in either direction the rein from the other side tightened pulling down on the extension of the bit and putting pressure on her tongue. She looked forward and waited for the signal she knew was coming to move forward. She only hoped it did not come in the form of the bite of the buggy whip. It did not. She felt the reins go up and slap down on her shoulders; this was accompanied by a clicking sound the trainer made with her mouth. Jen knew this meant to go. She leaned forward to begin pulling the sulky, but Abby had not started at the same time the effect was to jerk Abby forward and jerk Jen back. Then Abby started to move forward, but Jen's motion had been stopped reversing the process that had just happened. It was more difficult than Jen thought it would be. The sulky lurched and jerked pitching and yawing from side to side as the two of them tried to coordinate their efforts. The sulky was moving, but very slowly. Jen heard the whoosh; she knew the sound and tightened as she heard the pop, but it was accompanied by a squeal from Abby, who had been the recipient. Jen redoubled her efforts and leaned forward trying to pull harder. She leaned too far and the chain at the back of her neck ran out of slack and jerked her back. She missed a step and almost tumbled. The sulky lurched to the right. There was another whoosh and this time the snap and the bite happened simultaneously. It caught her high on her buttocks on the right flank. It hurt, it hurt a lot.
Jen eased off a bit and tried to look to her left to get in sync with Abby. Abby in turn was doing the same thing. Slowly they began to find a rhythm between them and the jerks and lurches became fewer in number. Just as the movement began to feel more natural Jen felt a pull on the right rein. It turned her head to the right and she naturally followed the direction turning her movement and the sulky direction until the pressure on the right rein was let up. With that she straightened away. They had turned about 90 degrees and it had been much smoother than she had expected. Because the turn was to the right Abby had had to move more quickly to match pace with the turn, but she had realized the need and adjusted her pace. Only twice during the execution of the turn had Jen felt herself jerked to one side or the other. The first, a jerk to the right, was because she had tried to turn too sharply. She realized she needed to keep in mind Abby's ability to make the larger arc. The second, now to the left, was when Jen over adjusted and slowed her pace too much. Not bad for a first turn she thought to herself. She was actually proud of their performance.
They were now moving across the narrow part of the room and Jen knew they would have to make another turn soon. She began to anticipate starting to move toward her right. This got her a yank on the left rein and a more persuasive reminder in the form of a strike of the buggy whip on her left flank. She straightened their course back to the left. She would turn when she was signaled to turn and not before. It was not her job to decide where to go. But almost immediately there was a pull on the right rein. It was more the application of pressure and she matched the intensity of the pull turning slowly. There was plenty of room to execute the turn before getting to the wall and this turn was smoother than the last.
As they straightened out Jen realized that she and Abby needed to match their gait and actions for this to work smoothly. She tried to glance down at the movement of Abby's legs and feet, but that did not work very well. Jen became more aware of the discordant cacophony of the bells adorning the bodies of the two girl ponies. She picked and focused on the sound of the larger bell, its ring deeper than the other smaller bells. It rang with the completion of the forward movement of each girl's thigh. Jen concentrated on bringing the sounds of her bell into sync with Abby's. She noticed that as the sounds of the two large bells became one the movement of the sulky smoothed and with the reduction in conflict speed began to increase. Soon there was, with rare exceptions, only the sound of one of the larger bells. This also brought the ringing of the smaller bells into rhythm. Jen's and Abby's build was very similar. Thus, as their legs came into rhythm the bouncing of their breasts also began to match giving a more concordant sound to the smaller bells. The sound was now pleasant.
As they began to near the end of the straightaway with a wall in front of them Jen once again found that she was drifting to her right the way they would be forced to turn. She was rewarded again with the snap of the whip to her rear. She corrected with a jerk that interrupted the now synchronized movement causing Abby to jerk back the other direction before they once again found the rhythm, only then to be signaled to execute the right turn Jen had been anticipating. This 90 degree turn was sharper than the two before and not very smooth, but they were able to complete the turn and straighten out without over correction.
Even though they were now on a short leg (crossing the narrow part of the room) Jen held her line perfectly straight until the trainer signaled by use of the reins that it was time to execute the next turn. This turn was much smoother and Jen's flesh was not rewarded with a visit from the tip of the whip.
As they straightened out and began down the long stretch Jen focused again on the sounds of the bells. Little sounds that she had not sensed before began to immerge. She became convinced she could tell the difference between Abby's left leg and right leg movement. She looked down to confirm and it was correct. Either she could tell the difference or she was just lucky. In either event she was able to match her gait with Abby. This brought the tinkle of the breast bells into closer sync. These bells were not heavy, but the effect of them bouncing on the rings through Jen's nipples had an erotic quality to it. This brought Jen's attention to the small bell bouncing on the ring at her clitoris. As they moved up the long stretch of the building and maintained a fairly constant pace this movement began to have an effect of Jen. Her attention focused increasingly on the three small bells each now manipulating a sensitive part of her body. Her nipples had hardened. She wished she could touch herself. She had forgotten that her arms were not available. All she could do was try to enjoy and get the most from the movement of these bells each bouncing on its respective ring through a tender region of her flesh. The tingling feeling was now running throughout her body and she did not want it to stop, in fact she had almost closed her eyes in any event she had lost tract of the fact that she was tethered to a sulky that she was now pulling around the confines of what was probably an old warehouse.
Jen's reverie was interrupted by a sound to her right. She glanced over to see another sulky like the one she and Abby were pulling moving up even to them. Harnessed to the yoke of this sulky were the two tall blonde ponies. The one on the left, closest to Jen, gave her a bit of a smirk as they pulled ahead and then past Jen and Abby. But then they were into where they had turned before. The other sulky held its position before turning causing Jen and Abby to actually slow and move in behind them before they could execute the turn their trainer was now signaling.
As they came out of the turn Jen was close enough to the back of the other sulky to almost reach out and touch the rider if she had arms and hands to reach out with that is. But the other sulky was moving away from them. Even in the short leg before the next turn the leading sulky picked up another 5 foot distance. But by the time they executed and came out of the turn and back into the straightaway the other sulky was almost 20 feet ahead. Jen's trainer seemed to find this positioning unacceptable. She shook the reins up and down urging them on. There was the popping sound of the whip taking only air, then there was the snapping sound of the whip taking flesh and Jen knew that another red strip would show on her flank. But the trainer did not stop. Back and forth she commenced to lay the whip onto the two ponies pulling her sulky. Even though Jen was feeling winded from the distance she had pulled so far she leaned forward and increased the pace. Abby, obviously anxious to be relieved of the pain to her exposed flesh matched her gait.
The other sulky was in front, but they began to close the distance. At the urging of her trainer's use of the reins Jen did not make any change of direction on her own anymore Jen moved slightly to the right and began to come up on the inside of the other sulky and team. As they went into the turn Jen and Abby were even with the rider of the other sulky, still a good length behind the other team, but their inside position brought them almost even as both teams came out of the turn. Jen was panting deeply now. The gentile sensuous ride of before forgotten, replaced by the need to pass this other team. Jen did not know why it was so important to her, but it was, besides, she did not like them. She did not like their superior air they were ponies just like her and Abby. She did not like the condescending looks they had no position to talk. She did not like their hoity attitude they had not been belled, they had not even always been hobbled at the hitching post. But Jen had learned to love her bells. She was proud of them and she needed to show that she and Abby were better. Better right now meant faster and smoother. But the other team was very good. They were very tall, maybe only a couple of inches over Jen and Abby, but with very long legs and each of their strides added about 4-6 inches to the strides of Jen and Abby. They were also very strong. Jen could see the muscles in their legs, flanks, and back working as they ran. Neither seemed at all winded (although Jen suspected that they had started a lap behind her and Abby). And, they were clearly more experienced. Although Abby and Jen had learned to work together they had certainly not perfected it and as they tried to pick up speed they would pitch and yaw losing precious speed and energy. Somehow the other team moved effortlessly. It was as if each of the two knew exactly what the other was going to do at all times. There movement was fluid, in fact it was beautiful.
As the other team pulled ahead Jen's trainer once again lay on the whip but Jen and Abby had nothing more to give. They tried to push forward. They tried to even further increase the pace, but the opposite was happening, the pace was beginning to slow and even the encouragement of the bite of the whip did not change that. By the time they reached the end of the straightaway and were signaled into the first leg of the turn the other team had already completed the turn. By the time they exited the second half of the turn the other team was 40 to 50 feet ahead. The other team did not appear to be slowing or losing stride. If anything they were even further catching their rhythm and increasing their speed. Jen knew they could never catch them. She had been breathing heavily, but suddenly she was having trouble getting a breath, she could not go on. She slowed to a walk and then stopped. Abby had tried at first to jerk her forward by applying pressure to her side of the yoke, but when one half of the team stopped the entire team stopped. The trainer could easily diagnose the problem and worked the whip only on Jen until Jen started to move forward again, slowly, only at a walk, but when she did the whipping stopped. Jen realized that the trainer knew she could not go on, but needed her to walk it out.
As she walked slowly forward with her head down panting for breath the other sulky and team flew by on their right. This time the other ponies did not even look at them but their smugness dripped from their posture. Jen felt humiliated. They had been soundly beaten by the other team. Jen wondered how long they had been a team. How long would it take her and Abby to perform so smoothly, if ever? After all, this was just their second day of training. Certainly they would get better, a lot better.
But, wait a minute. She didn't want to get better. She didn't want to be here at all. These people had tricked her, they had taken her freedom; they had degraded and dehumanized her. They were determined to turn her into a pony. She had only agreed to play the role of a pony, not become one forever. She needed to stop focusing on being a good pony and start to think about how she was going to get out of this place.
Now moving at a walk around the inside of the building Jen was able to take a better look at her surroundings. She knew that if she was going to escape she needed to start planning, and a good plan required as much information on her surroundings as she could put together. The structure they were in was large. It clearly had once been a warehouse. Judging from the peak of the roof the open area that they were now in covered the entire length of the building and about two thirds of the width. The open area inside would fit a football field with some additional room on all four sides. There was probably a concrete floor, but it was fully covered with a sod or dirt layer. The outer portion was a track, the one she was pulling the sulky around. It was wide enough for two or three sulkies. Inside the ellipse of the track were a number of circular paddocks and several square pens. She had been in one of the paddocks during her training on the first day here. They were defined by the markings on the ground but did not have any sort of fence around them. Two of the paddocks were occupied by ponies working with trainers. It looked like these two ponies were a team. Jen did not know how long they had been here, but they both were doing a good job of lifting their legs high as the trotted around the radius proscribed by the length of the rein the trainer was holding. One of the paddocks had a small tower in the center. From the tower two poles extended about 10 feet in each direction parallel to the ground.
The pens were each enclosed by railed fences. Each pen had a gate on one side. They were all empty at this time. The top rail was about five feet off the ground, high enough to discourage and hold most animals that could not climb. Grimly she realized that at this time that category included both her and Abby.
The three walls of the large room that she believed to be exterior all had windows, but in every case they were high up, at least 15 feet off the ground. They let in light so you could tell if it was day or night and the general conditions outside, but it afforded no view from outside, nor did it help in determining what the outside was like. The long wall that is the one she thinks she entered through when she arrived had large overhead type doors that looked as if they would open to 12 to 14 feet. They all had metal doors that could be wound up with a chain on one end. In every case the door was closed and the chain was padlocked in place. Several of these doors had another smaller door build into them, but each of these were closed and clearly held closed by a padlock. Near the middle of this wall was a single metal door. She was pretty sure this door opened into the parking area on the dock that she had seen when she arrived. She tried to picture it in her mind and wished she had paid better attention. The door was closed and although there were glass panes in the upper half they were frosted and appeared to be imbedded with wire. She did not expect that they would easily break out. She did not know if the door was locked but she did note that it had a deadbolt and the inside of the deadbolt was not a knob, but instead called for a key. She suspected that the outside was also keyed. Shouldn't a building like this have fire exits? She certainly could see none in the three walls to the exterior. Nor, were there the familiar exit signs that pointed to the required means of emergency escape in the case of a fire. She doubted that this place received many fire marshal inspections. She doubted that anyone in government even knew that there were people in here. When used for the purpose it was build the overhead doors would have been left open and the inside would have been stacked with cargo coming or going over the sea. That would have been in the days before everything moved in containers.
The interior wall appeared to have a small office with a door and a window at the far end. Then there was a long expanse with the single door that she knew led to the stables and other rooms inside and near it another overhead door, also closed and padlocked. Next was an employee break area. It had a door and three large windows. She could see that there were tables and chairs and vending machines on the inside. Just like the break area in most any business. Directly in front of the windows to the break room was the hitching post so that trainers could secure their ponies, take a break, and still be able to see them. Proceeding further down the wall there was a metal stair case that led up to a balcony above the area of the break room. At the top of the stairs there was a door with windows next to it. Further down the wall there was a series of large bay type windows four of them to be exact. They were obviously for a second floor area and would provide a very good view of the entire interior area. A full set of heavy drapes blocked any look at what might be seen behind.
Jen did not find her inspection of the building to be particularly encouraging. One door to the outside probably locked; one door to an area on the second floor, not a good alternative for an escape from the building; and the door that led to the interior one third of the building including work rooms and the stables. Certainly there were other doors from that part of the building to the outside. She would have to be very vigilant. Her and Abby's escape she was determined that it had to be both of them required them to first obtain freedom of movement, a condition she had not been in since shortly after her arrival, and then they would need to escape this building. She was hopeful that the first challenge would be a matter of someone making a mistake. But she had no idea how she was going to exploit it if and when it happened. She also had no idea how much time they had. She was sure that whatever window of opportunity may exist, it would not be a large one. She doubted they had more than a matter of days or a week at the most before they would be loaded on the ship. As hard as this place was to escape she expected escaping from a ship at sea would be infinitely more difficult. She did not want to consider the prospects once she was delivered to some foreign destination. She would then have to escape not only her bonds and enclosing structures, but whatever corrupt nation or principality in which she found herself. She had read stories of modern day slavery and expected that in such places law enforcement would be more likely to return an escaping slave to their owner than help them obtain freedom. No, they had to figure out how to do it now.
Walking slowly around the track had been easy and allowed her to retreat into her thoughts, but it was to end. The trainer must have believed that the rest was over and it was time to trot or run again. The reins were snapped and the whip popped in the air behind her flesh. Abby received the message as well and the two of them began to move forward very close to the same timing. The sulky pitched just a bit to the left but Abby picked up the pace and they straightened out. As they started to move into a run the trainer applied a backward pressure on the reins and they slowed to a trot. Using the pop of the whip and pressure on the reins the trainer adjusted the pace until she was happy with the gait. Then she eased up on the reins and let them continue forward. It was obvious that she wanted them to maintain this pace. The hardest part was making the turn. It had actually been easier at a run. Now they found themselves slowing too much and receiving a reminder that did not just pop the air but found flesh. On the backstretch Jen felt they found the pace perfectly evidenced by the coordinated sound of the bells clinking together. The next turn was easier but still less than perfect and Abby's squeal testified that she had felt the whip. Jen had not. This was not a hard pace to maintain and the trainer had them lap the track three times. As they came around the turn into the inside straightaway for the third lap the trainer snapped the reins and gave vocal encouragement in the form of something that sounded like: "Yeeha". Jen and Abby, although tired from the trotting, knew what was required and broke into a run. They sensed that there was a finish line some place in the eye of the trainer, but trainers don't share such things with their steeds. Jen only hopped she could hold the pace until the predetermined line had been crossed. But it was Abby that seemed to be having a more difficult time. Jen had heard her panting, but now she seemed to be gasping for breath. Jen expected her to stop, even fall, at any moment.
Then there was a gentle pull on the reins. They had crossed the line, but the pull, while firm was not sharp and Jen did not think it meant stop, or even walk, she moved back to the trot pace. The sulky lurched to the left as Abby had apparently decided to walk. There was a snap, a squeal and a return of the sulky to a straight direction as Abby returned to a trot. Jen had interpreted the signal correctly. While she may not have liked having to trot, just dropping from the run was enough for her to start to get her breath, and apparently the same for Abby, who although breathing heavily and loudly was no longer gasping and was holding the pace. The trainer kept them at a trot through the bottom turns and up the entire backstretch and then around the top turns before applying another pull on the reins signaling that they could now go to a walk. It was very welcome. As they pulled up in front of the employee break area the trainer turned them to the right and then signaled a stop with a backward pull on the reins. The sulky was at an angle near the front of the break area, but on the other side of the door from the hitching post.
The trainer went to a box near the wall and withdrew two plastic water bottles. Opening the bottle she fed one to Abby and the other to Jen. It was difficult to drink with the bit still in her mouth and a lot of water ran out dripping down her breasts and onto the ground, but Jen was very thirsty and the water tasted very good. When each of them had finished the water from a bottle the trainer discarded the now empty bottles gave Jen a pat on the flank and walked into the break room leaving Jen and Abby standing hitched to the sulky. They had been hobbled, but their reins had been wrapped around a bar on the sulky itself so it appeared they had some movement. Hesitantly Jen took a small step forward. There was a lot of resistance. The sulky had been easy to pull before, but now it was not. She took another step, joined by Abby who was watching Jen as Jen looked back at the sulky. The wheels drug forward in the dirt but did not turn. The trainer had obviously set a hand break on the sulky. They could drag it about, but there seemed no purpose in doing that so she stopped and stood still. Her legs ached and she was afraid she was going to cramp so she moved them back and forth as best she could within the confines of her hobble trying to relax the muscles.
The two ponies from the paddock were brought over by their trainers and hitched to the post. They were watered in the same fashion as Jen and Abby, with the same efficacy. You would think they could at least take out the bit for this. Jen was pretty sure she recognized one of them as the pony that had tried to escape from the post the day before. While both had visible signs of the correction of the whip the one Jen recognized was a virtual mass of welts. She did not try to get loose today. She just stood there with her head down quietly crying. Her face was streaked with tears. Jen did not know to what degree they were the result of the whipping and to what degree the degradation and desperation of their situation. Jen felt a quiver run through her body. While Jen did pretty well when her mind was focused on the task at hand moments like this made her stomach knot with fear.
Then the other sulky, the one that had so soundly beaten them in the little mock race pulled up and stopped between Jen and Abby and the hitching post. Neither pony even seemed to be breathing hard. Their trainer followed the same pattern of watering them, but almost none of it escaped. When she was done she patted each of them on the flank and slipped something from her pocket into each mouth. Jen could not tell what it was, but it was white in color. It was clearly a reward and she could see the self assured pair triumphantly enjoying their treat and their recognition. Once again they were not hobbled. Why bother, these preening little peacocks looked as though they could not be happier. Jen hated them. She wanted another go at them. Right now, as much as she wanted to get out of this place she wanted to beat them even more. She wondered what the outcome of another race would be. Maybe tomorrow, but she also realized that both she and Abby were going to be very sore tomorrow even if they were not pushed for the rest of the day, unlikely that, she thought.
It seemed like the ponies were left waiting outside the break area for a very long time, but eventually Jen's and Abby's trainers came out together. While Abby's trainer removed the hobbles from each of them Jen's trainer climbed into the sulky made a quick adjustment of the seat, and then took the reins. Then she gave a slight pull to the right and a brief shake on the reins indicating that they should go. Jen began to angle back toward the track with Abby matching her movement. They were guided back to the left causing them to straighten out onto the track. Then with another shake of the reins the trainer indicated they should increase their speed. Very close to simultaneously they moved up to the trot speed they had learned during the morning. Within seconds the sound of the bells indicated that they had fallen into a matching gait. When they were in step pulling the sulky was very easy. It was as if it weighed almost nothing even though the combined weight of the sulky and its rider must have been a couple of hundred pounds.
The trot was only maintained for a short period before the trainer signaled for them to slow to a walk, then, soon back to a trot and even up to a run. They lapped around the track several times practicing changing pace. Run to trot was the roughest and always seemed to be accompanied by some pitching and yawing of the sulky before the two of them were able to match the timing of the transition. This became the focal point of their training for another full lap. At one point Jen heard a noise behind her while they were in a trot and the team who had beaten them earlier came by in full run. Jen wanted to catch them and beat them, she found herself beginning to lurch and pull forward to increase the pace, but a snap of the whip on her buttocks and pressure on her reins communicated that there would not be a race now. For now they were to practice changing gaits. Before being allowed to run again they were even pulled to a walk. By the time they went back to a trot and then to a run the other team was well away from them. But, they were getting the feel of things and transitions were becoming smoother. Then they were put in a trot and held at that pace for a complete lap of the track. The team that Jen now perceived as her arch rivals came by again at a run lapping them. But this time Jen held the pace perfectly. It appeared that the other team was doing full laps at a run but what irritated Jen most is that they did not even appear to be winded while she and Abby were breathing heavily and she was not sure how long she could even hold this pace.
As they came around the far turns and started down the straightaway near the building interior Jen could see Abby's trainer waiting in the track ahead. As they got closer they were brought to a walk and then a stop in front of her. She stepped forward and took Abby's reins in her hand, then without letting them go she released Abby from the yoke of the sulky. Jen's trainer exited the sulky, came to the front and repeated the process with Jen putting the yoke of the sulky back onto the ground. They were both watered again, and then with Abby's trainer walking in front leading Abby and Jen's trainer following with Jen in trail they walked toward the paddock that Jen had seen with the tower affair in the center. The Tower was only 8 to 10 feet tall and Jen could see that the poles extending from it could be adjusted to change their height from the ground. Abby and Jen were each led to one of the poles and faced toward the end so that they each faced in a counter-clockwise direction in the circle of the paddock. There was a metal ring in the end of the pole and Jen's trainer pulled both of Jen's reins forward and attached them to the ring giving her only about 2 feet of lead between her head and the pole. Although Abby was on the far side of the paddock and was separated from Abby by the tower it appeared that the same thing was happening on that end as well.
When the trainers had finished their work they moved out of the paddock and Jen heard a motor come on. The pole in front of her started to move forward and she was compelled to follow as is subscribed a circle. The pace was slow, a walk. Jen wondered what the purpose of this training was. They had been doing fine walking on the track. Jen's trainer was walking at her side and kept hitting the back of her thighs with the firm part of the whip as she stepped forward. It made no sense and Jen just kept walking in the circle. The trainer said nothing to her. If she wanted her to do something why not just tell her. She was very tired and this was silly. The trainer did not seem happy. She walked away and soon the device stopped turning. Jen looked over toward Abby and tried to shrug, but she could not get a clear view of her. The trainer had gone over to a box near one side of the paddock and was talking with the other trainer.
In a minute the trainer returned holding some type of small metal frame. She brought it around in front of Jen and attached arms of the frame to each side of her belt. Then holding it level to the ground so that the frame extended in front of Jen by about 20 inches she connected two lines from the forward corners to each side of Jen's collar. The frame was made up of two bars connected to her belt, these spread outward to a bar in front. Below the front bar a very light plastic looking bar connected with a number of loose wires so that it hung below the front bar. At the center of the front bar was a black plastic box only about an inch thick, 3 inches to one side and 4 to the other. It had a number of knobs and lights. Right now there was a green light lit. The trainer then took three wires from the box, each one with an alligator clip on the end and clipped each of them to the rings at Jen's nipples and the ring at her clitoris. Jen did not know what they were for, but she was pretty sure she was not going to like it. When the trainer seemed satisfied she pushed a button on the box and the light turned from green to red. Then she adjusted a knob and pushed another button. There was a sharp electrical shock that suddenly surged through Jen's nipples and clitoris. Jen was caught completely by surprise and she shrieked and jumped. She was right, she did not like this. She did not like it at all and she did not want any more of it. But what was it for? What did they want?
"What do you want me to do?" Jen tried to say through the bit, but if the trainer understood her query she ignored it, she gently patted Jen's flank and walked back away from her. A squeal from the other side of the tower told her that Abby had been similarly attired.
Then the tower device started up again. Jen, caught by surprise, stumbled forward. As her foot hit the ground the shock surged through her sensitive body parts, then the next foot and a similar shock. But before her third step the trainer used the tip of the whip to touch upward on the extension below the forward bar no shock. Jen go the idea with her next step she lifted her knee to touch the bar again no shock. If she lifted her leg high enough with each step there were be no shock. If she was short as she was with the fifth step there was a shock. For God's sake, all they had to do was tell her to lift her legs with each step they did not need this torture device. But it was not easy. In order to reach the bar she needed to raise her knee with each step so that her upper leg was roughly parallel with the ground. Not so easy. Her legs were already tired. It seemed like they weighed a hundred pounds each. But she really had no choice; every time she missed the bar she got a shock. And the pole kept pulling her forward. Once she had tried to stop. The pole did not look that strong, but it was stronger than her. There was about a half a second while her reins tightened then she was jerked forward as the bit pulled painfully in her mouth. She had to stumble forward in a series of short steps to catch her balance. This, of course, was rewarded with a series of shocks as each foot hit the ground. She was not sure how the device read her footfalls, but it did not miss a one. She would not try that again.
As she moved around in circles following the pole in front of her and lifting her knees as high as she could her trainer walked next to her. Now the trainer began tapping the top of her knee when she raised it. Abby assumed this meant she was raising her knee too high, but she wanted to make sure she hit the bar to prevent the shock. If that meant raising her leg too high, so be it. The trainer reached forward to the black box and flipped a small switch. This time, when Abbys knee hit and lifted the bar, there was a terrific shock to her clitoris. Damn it, that wasn't fair. Her next knee fell short and her nipples received the shock when her foot hit the ground. The next leg touched the bar put barely lifted it from its position. That was the ticket no shock. Abby had to focus on controlling the lift of her leg. She did not know what the tolerance was on the height of the lift, but it was not much. The frequency of shocks, both to her clitoris and to her nipples increased dramatically as she worked to control the exact step and range. Her legs felt like they were going to fail her at any minute, but she kept going and her rhythm was getting better. There were still shocks, but now very few.
It seemed like forever before the device was shut down. Jen could only stand in place and pant to get her breath. Mercifully her trainer removed the torturous training device and returned it to the box at the side of the paddock from which it had come. Jen was then removed from the pole and led to one of the pens. The trainer opened the gate, guided her inside, attached her hobble, removed her reins and then closed and latched the gate. Naturally the gate latched on the outside. She was soon joined by Abby. Abby looked completely exhausted. She headed straight for what looked like a bale of hay and fell down on it. Jen followed over and sat down next to her. She leaned her head on Abby's leg. It was the first time they had touched since they got here. It was the most freedom they had had since they were first secured in their pony attire. It was the first time they were not actually attached to something and could actually reach each other. Was this a chance?
Jen carefully examined the hobble. It had a clip on each end that fastened to the ring on her ankles, but the clip was in the fashion of a part of the fastening ring that had to be pulled up the ring before it could be removed from the ring. A simple task with the use of a hand, but without hands it was an impenetrable barrier. But, even hobbled she could walk. If she could get to the door could she get outside? She knew they were near a port. How far would she have to go to find help? She could see the door to the outside, but right now she was locked in a stupid animal pen. Under normal circumstances she could have been over the side in about 3 seconds. She got up and went to one of the fences. There was not enough space in between the logs to squeeze through. It was either over the top or out the gate. The top of the fence was about even with her chin. She wondered if she could use her chin for leverage on the top and then work her way up the inside with her feet. She pushed against the fence and lifted her foot as high as it would go. Her toe came even with the middle of the first log. To get any purchase she would need to get a foot on top of that log. That was about 6 inches more than her hobble would allow. She thought of trying to jump against it and then wiggle up, but without arms to hold on with she would just fall back inside. Climbing seemed unlikely.
Jen moved to the gate. The top was a little lower than the fence, up to her neck; she could put her head over the top. Both the hinges and the latch were on the outside. She pushed against it with her body. It was sturdy. Not going anywhere. She looked over the top and saw the latch. Not a latch, but a bolt almost two feet below the top of the gate. It had been slid into a receiving metal loop on the gate post but then the handle of the bolt itself was lowered down over a flange. It allowed a padlock to be used to lock the gate, but there was no padlock. Didn't really matter, if she was on the bolt side of the gate she could try to use her mouth and head to lift the bolt and then move it so that it disengaged. From her side of the gate there might as well have been a padlock on it. She could not reach it let alone manipulate it in any way. She felt frustrated and helpless. She could look around the inside of the building, but until someone decided to open the gate she was just a penned pony. She was not going anywhere. She twisted and pulled at her arms and hands. She had not done that in a long time. Maybe something had loosened. Maybe there would be some slack she had not found before. Maybe she would be able to get a hand out and find escape. There was nothing. She was just as well held as when the restraints were buckled onto her arms. She thought back about that now. She had just stood there as they had buckled the straps over her upper arms and then she had not even attempted to resist when her arms were lifted and strapped behind her back. Why had she not fought back? If only she could do that over. She would fight like a wildcat to keep her freedom. But she had not fought. She had stood there reaction less while her freedom was removed and she was converted to an animal possession. She kicked the gate. With the limited movement allowed by the hobble it didn't even make a mark on the door.
Jen returned to where Abby was lying on the ground. Maybe she could use her mouth to release Abby's arms. She could see that the pouch that covered her arms had four buckles, two at the top and one on each side. She could not see how it attached at the bottom. The closest buckle to her was the one at Abby's left back on the upper portion of the pouch. Jen knelt down and tried to maneuver the strap with her mouth and tongue. But with the bit in her mouth she could not use her teeth together and it was difficult to even get her tongue out of her mouth very far. She tried to open the buckle but was not even able to get the strap end out of the loop after the buckle. How would she ever apply enough upward pressure to open the buckle four times before attempting to release the hands and arms? But then Abby, perhaps curious about what was going on rolled over facing Jen.
Jen said: "I was trying to undo you." But Abby only shook her head in frustration; she clearly had no idea what Jen had tried to communicate. Just then the gate opened and two more ponies were led into the pen, hobbled, and left. Jen heard the sound of the bolt closing on the outside of the pen. It was the other two newer arrivals. Again, they were a matched pair. They were shorter than Jen and Abby and both had brown hair. While they had fairly ample breasts neither of these two seemed in very good shape. Jen considered herself well conditioned and today's workout had just about killed her. These two must be really suffering. One of them stood by the gate just staring at Jen and Abby. The other one was rapidly looking about as if hoping to find some means of escape of someone to help. The remains of make-up was completely smeared and her face was wet from crying. Her breath was labored. She tried to say something but Jen had no idea what and really was not of a mind for trying to figure it out. Instead she just turned her head away from them and lay down next to Abby. It felt good just to get some rest.
Jen's rest was disturbed by the sound of the gate opening. Wondering if her nemesis team was arriving she looked to the door. It was a single trainer. She walked over to Jen and Abby and signaled for them to get up by pulling on their bridles. They did. When they were both on their feet she attached a light line about 6 feet long to Abby's bit. Turning Jen so that her back was to Abby she brought the line over her shoulder and attached the other end to Jen's bit. Then she attached another line to Jen's bit and positioned the next of the pen's occupants to receive it over her shoulder from behind to the bit, all on the right sides of their heads. With the process repeated until they made up a string of four ponies. Jen did not like her position in the string. She would have rather been on the front or back. Where she was she was subject to being pulled from the front and the back. But there was little she could do but stand in line and wait. She assumed the trainer would now remove their hobbles, but that was not to happen. Instead she heard the sound of a line moving and a snort from the front pony of the string as she began to shuffle forward, this in turn connected with the second, Jen, not wanting to be jerked forward, prepared herself to move forward as soon as she saw the line tighten. It did not completely save her because Abby had not anticipated as well and as Jen moved forward the line from Abby to Jen pulled her back causing a jerk from in front before letting her move forward. Jen did not think she could have invented anything to make her feel more humiliated than what she felt shuffling across the field in a string of hobbled ponies to the interior door.
As they were brought through the door four grooms waited. Jen wondered if the grooms were not allowed outside in the training area. She did not think she had seen a groom out there. Mercifully the grooms replaced their reins and after they were removed from the string took each tired pony to its stall. In her stall Jen was faced toward the front and then fastened to the two walls in the same fashion as the night before but now with her back to the gate. As before Jen's bit and bridle were removed and hung from their hook. Before washing her down her groom removed her boots, and massaged her feet, calves and legs. This felt very good, but she could tell she would be sore and stiff tomorrow. That fact might make tomorrow a very difficult day. With a bucket of water and a hand mitt the groom carefully washed away the days sweat and grim from Jen's body. The groom did not put the boots back on Jen's feet. Instead, after rubbing her with an ointment she carefully wrapped her feet and legs all the way to her knees in soft white cotton. Then she turned Jen around facing the door, reconnected the lines to the wall and left.
Jen could see her water and feed bowl on the floor. She realized that she had had nothing to eat all day and that she was very hungry. She usually ate two to three meals a day. As she dropped to her knees and leaned forward into the bowl she doubted there would be anything left of the food today, no matter what it tasted like. Actually it was not awful. Cut into bit sized squares she could easily eat without the use of hands. The squares had a slight maple taste as if syrup had been used in its preparation. They were moist but not messy. Halfway through the bowl Jen transferred to her water bowl and drank for what seemed like a long time. She wanted to rest, she wanted to sleep, but her hunger had not been satisfied and she returned instead to her food. This time she stayed with it until it was gone.
As the night before she needed to empty her bladder. She had seen several other ponies do it out on the track when they were just standing, but she had not, and did not want to relieve herself in front of others. She wondered how long that feeling would last. Here she was squatting only a few feet from where she would sleep. At least if she did it out there she wouldn't have to worry about accidentally rolling in her mess. Moving within the confines of her reins she managed to keep the puddle at distance from where she planned to sleep. This night she did not even check the reach of the reins. She was pretty sure she could not get to them and even if she could she could not get out of the stall.
After she settled onto the ground she softly called out to Abby. "Abby, how are you doing?"
"Very tired and sore." Came the response.
"Any thoughts on how we can get out of here?" Jen asked hopefully.
"I'm afraid they've got us good. I am so sorry for getting you into this Jen."
"Don't give up. We will figure out something. This is the twenty first century they can't get away with this. Even if we can't get out someone will find out. We will be rescued. I am sure of it."
"I certainly hope you are right. I don't want to spend the rest of my days as a pony. I never much liked horses in the first place. I don't want to be one."
"Indeed indeed." Was all Jen could think to add. They both stopped talking and were very quickly asleep.
The morning, daily, and evening routine for the next two days followed closely the events of this first full day as a pony. She and Abby were awakened by their groom who washed them and saw to their tack before delivering them to the trainer.
The daily training had a morning and afternoon session. There were breaks as one might expect including what appeared to be a lunch break, but ponies did not get to enjoy these. They were watered at breaks (and other times if a trainer felt appropriate) but when the trainers went to the break room ponies were left either hitched to a sulky or reined to the hitching post, almost always hobbled. They would be worked as individuals on the paddocks or the circular trainer with a lead line. They would be connected either as individuals or a team to a sulky. They were taught maintaining proper form, moving at different gait, transition from gait to gait, developing speed in the run, synchronizing with another pony, and understanding and obeying commands both verbal and through the reins. They learned how to raise their knees to just the right height when walking. There was no question of not doing what was commanded. Jen had given some thought to just refusing to obey, but she knew her flesh would succumb to the pain they would inflict upon her long before they gave up their expectations. Her only real option was compliance whether she liked it or not.
On the third full day Jen found herself again in the paddock with the circular bar. She had trained in this paddock the day before and as she was connected to the rotating pole she had been terrified that the trainer would use the electrical training device, but to Jen's relief she had not. As a result she was not overly apprehensive when she was connected to the moving bar this day. But when the trainer walked to the box holding the dreaded device Jen panicked. She twisted and pulled at the lines connecting her bit to the bar. She tried to scream "NO" and other protestations but it sounded more like snorting. Before going to the box the trainer had connected Jen's hobble and this action had become so normal that she gave it no second thought until right now. She tried to kick with her feet but only threatened to lose her balance.
As the trainer approached her with the device she tried her best to twist away, to jump up and down, and to do anything to keep that thing from being attached to her. The trainer set it on the ground for a moment, gently took hold of the left side strap of Jen's bridle and with the other hand stroked her hair while making soothing sounds. The attitude of the trainer helped and Jen started to feel herself calming. Soon she was no longer jumping and twisting. She was looking into the eyes of her trainer and felt some comfort from those warm grey eyes. The eyes said Jen should trust her. The eyes said she would look out for Jen. Their eye lock continued for a time before the trainer, without breaking eye contact reached down and picked up the device, swung it into place and quickly connected it to Jen. It was in place and connected before it even registered with Jen. Once again Jen jumped and twisted shaking her body to dislodge this evil thing from her person. The trainer stood for a few moments letting Jen work through her fear. Finally Jen realized that there was nothing she could do to get it off. She stopped jumping about. It then took only a couple of seconds for the trainer to finish connecting the hated wires, activate the electrical box, and check it (of course) with a shot of electricity through Jen's nipples and clitoris.
In the end it was not quite as bad as Jen had remembered or she had gotten a lot better at achieving proper form. She was shocked, but not a great deal and it did not seem to hurt as much as the first day. Had she become more resistant to the pain or had the trainer turned down the juice? Jen did not know which, but happily accepted either. Still, she never wanted to endure this thing again, but knowing that she could not prevent its use if the trainer saw fit she vowed to make sure that her leg positions at the walk were nothing less than perfect all of the time.
At the end of each day they returned to their stall to be met by their groom who would then carefully care for them removing and/or loosening their tack and cleaning away the accumulated grim of the day. The evening wash was only a light wash, their primary cleaning was done in the morning, but the evening routine included massaging their legs and shoulders. Jen found herself looking forward to that. She had been sore the second full day, she was feeling sore and a little stiff this third full day, and she was fearful she would be even stiffer tomorrow. They were only fed at night; the food looked the same, brownish grey cubes, but it seemed to have slightly different flavors from day to day. She was glad there was at least some variety. She was always hungry enough after a full day of training with no food to wolf down whatever they gave her.
Jen had tried to initiate some conversation with her groom but had stopped when she was shushed. She would talk to Abby each evening, just to make sure she was there and they were together. It was never for long as they were always tired and fell asleep quickly. Occasionally she thought she heard soft crying on the other side of the wall, but she never commented on it. They avoided talking about their life before although they both assured the other they were going to figure a way to escape. Big hopes, but Jen had not been able to develop anything that even felt like a plan. The security seemed very good. She was not going to be able to get out of her restraints, her stall, or the building by herself. She did not know where that help was going to come from, but she knew she had to be ready for any opportunity. She tried to convince herself that if she waited and was patient something would come along. She had to keep her spirits up and be ready.
It was morning. Jen could hear sounds around her and then her stall door was opened. Her groom entered and Jen was shocked to see a series of bright red stripes marking the back of her thighs and her buttocks. The stripes were raised welts, bright red on the edges, dark red on the center line of each welt, and spotted with purple marks that rose even above the welts. Jen sat up.
"For God sake, what have they done to you?" Exclaimed Jen.
"I can't talk to you, you are a pony. I am not allowed to talk to ponies. Ponies don't talk." The groom looked into her face. It was the first time their eyes had met. Jen saw tears forming in the corners of large green eyes. Jen had not noticed before, but the groom's eyes were large, a light green that almost looked florescent, but soft and warm at least they were today.
"They can't do that to you. Why on earth were you beaten?" Jen continued ignoring the admonition not to engage in conversation.
"My stalls didn't pass inspection. I received 10 strokes of the cane. It hurts a lot, especially the next day, but it could have been a lot worse. I have seen slaves receive 40 or 50 strokes." The groom seemed to have forgotten her admonition. Maybe there was something in the tone of Jen's voice that drew her out.
"It's not right to have slaves and it's certainly not right to beat people. They should be arrested." Jen stared back into the grooms eyes and added: "How long have you been here?"
The grooms eyes closed and her head dipped. "It is hard to gage time, but I think I have been here about four weeks. It is not fair; I don't want to be here. I am not a prized pony like you; I didn't agree to come here; I was taken against my will and am held as a slave in this horrible place."
"I assure you I don't want to be here either. My roommate and I thought we were coming to work at a resort. We did not know we were going to be captured, restrained and treated as animals."
"But you came here willingly. You signed a contract."
"That is true, but we were tricked. We thought it was a job. I have been trying to get away, but how can I when my arms are secured and I am always leashed and locked up?" Jen paused and made sure she had the groom's full attention. "Look, if we work together maybe we can escape."
"Do you see this collar around my neck? It has a GPS device so they always know where I am. Even worse, it is somehow electrified. If I step outside the areas in which I am allowed it will send out an alarm and disable me with electricity. They locked it on and then they soldered the key hole. I am a slave and I can't do anything about it. I must obey them to avoid punishment. At night I am locked in a cage with the other slaves unless I have some night duties. I have to do whatever they want no matter how disgusting or degrading and if I am not completely pleasing it is very bad."
"How did you get here? Did they trick you as well?"
"Well in a way. A couple of months ago I received an e-mail that I had been qualified for some financial assistance for my sophomore year. That was great news, I thought. I was getting by, but just barely. With study and my job I had no time for any social life and was only getting about 5 hours sleep a night. I of course responded that I did want the assistance. I was given an appointment time at an office building downtown."
"It was a bit strange, because I arrived about 15 minutes early. There was a buzzer on the door and when I rang it I was told that I was early and I should come back in 15 minutes. I thought I heard some strange sounds in the background, but I didn't give it more than a quick second thought. I went to the coffee shop downstairs in the building, had a cup of coffee, and was back at the door in exactly 15 minutes, right on the dot of my appointment. This time when I buzzed the door opened. I entered a reception area. Once more I thought it was odd; there were at least three chairs in the reception area but they had not allowed me to come in and wait when I was early. The receptionist asked to see my student ID, and then she pushed a button on her desk. The only other door in the room opened and a tall muscular blond woman came out. She introduced herself to me and asked me to follow her into the next room."
"Like the reception area this was a room with no windows. There were NO chairs in this room. There was a table against the wall and another woman was waiting inside. She was brunette, not as tall as the other woman, but she also looked like a fitness freak. Both of them had better muscle definition than any boy I have ever dated. They told me they needed to take a picture. I was told to take off my jacket and my boots so they could get a measurement of height. That seemed a strange request for financial assistance, but there was a strip on the wall marked with heights in inches. I don't know why that made it seem alright, but it did. I felt like I was getting my mug shot taken, but I did what they said. One of them stood next to me and posed me first facing the camera and then, the profile shot. The brunette turned me for the profile so that my back was to her. As soon as the shot was snapped she said to hold still and she reached out and took both of my wrists. The table was just ahead of where I was standing. She pushed me forward with her body while she held my wrists causing me to go face down on the table. I tried to scream, but before I could get much of a sound out the blonde had her hand across my face and was pushing something into my mouth. I tried to twist my head around, but it did no good. It felt like soft cloth in my mouth. But then there was something else held over the outside of my mouth and lips and I felt something being fastened behind my head. When she let go I tried to spit the cloth out of my mouth but it was being held in place by something. I tried to break free of the grip of the other woman, but she was way too strong. After my mouth was covered the blonde came over behind me and started to wrap rope around my elbows while the brunette continued to hold my wrists. She had not pulled my elbows right together, but close enough to be uncomfortable. I don't know how many times she wrapped the rope around them, but when she finally tied off the knot my arms were all but useless. They let me go for a second and I tried to reach whatever was covering my mouth, but with my elbows tied behind me I could not reach my mouth. I decided I needed to get out of there and I lurched toward the door, but they caught me before I got there. This time the blonde stood behind me holding me by the arm while the brunette produced a large set of shears and started to cut away my clothing. I tried to scream and twist but it didn't even slow them down. It was only a matter of minutes before I was completely naked. To say I was terrified is an understatement. I could not understand how something like this could be happening."
"After they had removed my clothing the brunette held me from in front while the blonde returned to the ropes. She tied another rope to the ropes at my elbows, ran this around my chest under my breasts a couple of times, then a couple of times above the breasts, and then after she had tied another knot between my elbows she ran the rope over my shoulder, and down to the ropes above and below my breasts. She cinched those ropes together and then returned the rope over the other my shoulder to be secured at my elbows. I knew I was finished and pretty much gave up fighting at that point. I tried to beg and plead, but my mouth was stuffed and very little sound came out, none of it recognizable. But they were not done with me. They tied my wrists, and then they tied my knees and my ankles. Then holding me by either side they hopped me to the other door in the room.
One of them opened the door and my legs went week. It was a carpeted room with no furniture that I could see, but lying on the floor near each wall were three other girls. Each of them was lying on her stomach with her legs pulled up to her hands. I could see that ropes attached their ankles in that position. None of them could see me. They each had a black leather hood fully covering their face. There were some rings attached to each of the three walls and each of the girls had a rope from her neck to a ring in the wall she was next to. Even as small as the room was and with all three vertical to the wall they were attached to even their legs would not touch. There was nothing any girl could do to try to help any of the others. We were all on our own. They were all holding perfectly still and there was no sound from any of them other than their breathing.
I saw an unoccupied ring in the fourth wall and knew what was for me. But first they produced a black leather hood just like the other girls were wearing. It had no eye holes, two nostril holes and a zipper at the mouth. But for the fact that there were no eye holes it looked like something I had seen on horror movies worn by the evil killer. I knew its function for me would be quite different. They removed whatever was covering my mouth, but did not remove the material that had been stuffed in there. Quickly before I could spit anything out of my mouth they pulled the hood over my head. As they pulled it on I could tell that it had padding at the eyes, the mouth, and at the ears. It was tight, and seemed to have laces that pulled it even tighter."
"I was laid on the floor and to my horror felt something being pushed into me in front. I had used a vibrator on myself before, but I had never had anything pushed inside me before. But then they rolled me onto my stomach and I felt something invading my rectum. I did try to fight back at that, but with one of them sitting on my legs and the other across my back it was useless. They even made it worse by laughing. After whatever they had inserted was in one of them tied another rope around my wrists and pulled it between my legs and up to the ropes between my breasts holding whatever they had inserted tightly in place. It seemed like they were doing something with some wires, bringing them forward from these two devices up, under the ropes at my breasts and plugging them into something in the hood. Then the hood's mouth was unzipped and the packing in my mouth removed and then it was re-zipped."
"I suggest you stay quiet and hear what we tell you." One of them told me.
"'What are you . . . 'I started to say when the most horrible shock ran through my pussy and ass."
"I told you not to speak." Said the voice. "You will learn to be an obedient slave in time, but it may be a painful trip. The hood has a sound activator connected to the electrodes we inserted in you. Surrounding sounds will not set them off unless they are quit loud, but almost any sound you utter will. The louder your sound the greater she shock. It allows us to leave your mouth unpacked and reduce the chance of your choking to death. Dead slaves are not worth much. You and your friends here are now slaves. You are being sold to fill a contract. What your tasks will be as slaves is completely up to your new masters and mistresses, but you will do whatever it is they tell you to do. From this day forward your only mission in life is to please every whim, desire, and directive of your owners. Nod your head if you understand."
"I understood, but I did not accept it. I shook my head back and forth as hard as I could."
There was a laugh then: "You will my dear. Believe me you will."
"With that I felt a rope circle my neck and knew I was being fastened to the ring. Then I felt a rope attached to the cinch at my ankles. My legs were folded up and one of the women leaned on them while the other tied the new rope off at my elbows. The effect was that my feet were pushed up against my hands, which were in turn pulled down into my ass. When they finally got off of me I tried to twist and pull at the ropes, but I could not reach anything and they were very tight. I thought I heard the door close and assumed we were alone. I knew that there were three other girls in the room, but I could not see them; I could not touch them so I could not try to help them; they could not help me; and they were not saying anything of course, neither was I."
"I don't know how long we were left there like that. I have never been tied up before well, not tied up like that before but it seemed like a very long time. Eventually I heard sounds in the room. I felt hands lifting me from the floor and putting me in some kind of container. The lifting and moving had no impact on the voice activator in my hood, but as they were putting me in the container they brushed the front of my hood against the side and a sharp shock hit me. I responded with a squeal that gave me another shock. I was still hogtied as they put me in what I was sure was a shipping container and even fastened additional straps across my body to hold me inside. I was terribly uncomfortable and did not want to stay in that position, I tried to jerk and pull at the ropes as they secured me, but it did no good. I would stay hogtied. And although I was not gagged, I would stay quiet. And I did stay hogtied until they got me here. And I stayed quiet, for the most part. I found that even twisting about could get me shocked if I started to breath to heavily. Again, I don't know how long it took. I did doze off a little, and I could tell there was movement, but I don't even know how far they took me. I don't even know where we are. I am not allowed outside."
Jen was surprised at the detail of the description. It seemed that once the groom started talking she couldn't stop reliving the experience. After a brief pause Jen answered: "We are in Southern California."
"Oh my God. They took me clear across the country."
"But it is worse. They are planning to take us to some island resort. I think it is in another country. If they get us there I think we are in BIG trouble." Jen looked carefully at the little groom as she spoke. She needed very much to enlist her help.
Her eyes got big again. "That makes some of what I have heard make sense. I was wondering where the other parts of the facility that I was hearing about were." She started to cry again. "I don't like being a slave. I want my life back. This has been just so horrible."
"We have to escape before they take us to that island." Jen looked into her face to make her point.
"I told you I can't. If I even step outside my assigned area alarms will go off and I will be disabled." She started sobbing. "We are doomed."
"Maybe not, if I can get out of here I can go for help, bring the authorities and have these maniacs arrested. I can't do it alone, but you can help me. Undo my arms and help me get out of here."
"I can remove the pouch on your arms, but the individual straps underneath are locked. I don't have a key for that. And I don't know the way out. I only know the areas I am allowed to be in. I have some idea where the way out might be, but I don't know who or what might be nearby. Their punishment is very severe and mercilessly applied. I am too afraid of them." She turned her head away from Jen and dropped her chin. "It is useless."
"These locks can't be very big. Maybe we can break them off. Do you have access to any tools?"
"Not really. There are three locks on your arms under the pouch. And there are locks on many of the buckles of the harness."
"We don't need to take the harness off, just free my hands."
"Ok, I'll try, but we can't do it now. There will be too many people around right now. Let's get you ready for the day and I will see if I can find something to break the locks at the end of the day when I am suppose to be putting you to rest. Then after everyone goes to sleep you can sneak out."
"That is a good plan." Jen admitted. Then the groom set to completing the morning's tasks. They had been talking without working for a while so she had to hurry. As a result they talked very little as they finished preparations. Jen knew this plan was risky, but she knew she had to take a chance. She wondered if she should try to take Abby with her or go alone. Once she was free she could try to release Abby. Or she could just try to get out and get help. She would cross that bridge when she got there. First she had to get herself free.
When she was ready the groom attached the reins and led her out of the stable as if nothing had transpired between them. Jen had wanted to give a final word of encouragement before they left the stall but the bridle and bit was now in place and she was no longer able to talk. Her stomach knotted with the feeling of helplessness. Her legs were very sore from the days before and as she had expected she was stiff.
Jen's trainer was waiting at the door; she took the reins from the groom and led Jen out into the field. She was led over to one of the single yoke sulkies. It took her trainer only a matter of minutes to attach her to the sulky, jump into the seat, and cluck and rein her to start. Jen moved out at a walk, even though her muscles were stiff and did not want to respond she forced herself to carefully raise her knees parallel to the ground with each step. She worried whether she was doing it correctly. Then, to her relief, she was moved up to a trot and held at that speed through the end turns and up the back stretch, she felt impaired by the stiffness of her muscles, but they also seemed to be relaxing and loosening up as she moved forward. Jen had been belled again this morning and the bells sounded different with only a single pony, but the sensation of the three small bells on her nipples and clitoris bouncing while at the trot seemed even more sensual than before. She wondered if it was possible for her to trot herself to orgasm. Unfortunately she did not get a chance to find out. As they closed on the far turns the trainer signaled her to increase to a run. Jen picked up the pace. Even though there was more weight to pull with only a single pony Jen did not find it difficult and the fact she did not have to coordinate with another pony helped.
As they came back to the break area Jen could see Abby hitched to a similar sulky just starting out. It appeared that she was having a difficult time. Even though they were well behind her Jen could see that she was not lifting her legs high enough on the walk and actually seemed to be wobbling back and forth. Jen knew the trainer would not be happy. Jen, on the other hand found that the lap she had just done under the control of her trainer had been just what she needed to loosen her muscles. Then she was brought to a stop. It had been fine while she was moving, but stopped she felt the pain and stiffness rush back into her legs. She hoped they would get going again soon.
To Jen's surprise her trainer got out of the sulky and walked up to her, stroked her breast, flank, and head. Then she held up something that appeared to be white rubber. It looked to be about six inches wide. There was a triangular shaped hole in one end which the trainer put over Jen's nose. Then she flipped the rest of it back over Jen's head. The effect was that Jen's eyes were completely covered from the top of her forehead down to just above her mouth. Because the rubber molded to her face over her bridle Jen could see nothing, not even a hint of light coming up from below. Jen did not like this. She shook her head back and forth trying to dislodge the covering, but it was formed to her head. Like so much else that they did to her it was out of her control. She would be without sight until her trainer decided to give it back. She felt disoriented. She was confused, she couldn't imagine why the trainer had done this to her.
Then she heard the clucking noise made by her trainer when she wanted Jen to start moving. She also felt the shaking on the reins. Certainly she was kidding. She was not expected to pull the sulky blindly. But the snap of the buggy whip against her flank spoke to the contrary. Jen began to walk, pulling the sulky behind her and lifting her knees in the fashion she had been trained to perform. A slight pull to the right on the reins adjusted her direction. She must have overcorrected because there was a slight pull to the left. What did they expect if she could not see where she was going? This was absurd. But then there was the snapping up and down of the reins. "Trot? Really?" Jen said to herself. The message was made clearer with another snap of the whip and another red mark to decorate her back end. Trot she did.
The track was level and she had been around it many times, but she also knew there was a wall up ahead somewhere. Would the trainer let her trot head-on into it? She doubted that she would. Was this an exercise in trust? How could she trust people who had tricked her and taken away her liberty? If they were capable of that what else were they capable of? On the other hand, what real choice did she have? Her buttocks and thighs were already speckled with small red welts from corrections made by her trainer and that was when she was trying, and being compliant. She remembered the red and purple stripes she had seen on the groom this morning she suddenly realized that she didn't even know the grooms name. This place objectified them all. That had been punishment. She did not want punishment. So she trotted. She had been 'wool gathering'. She must be getting very close to the wall. She felt herself slowing down in anticipation of running out of track. The trainer sensed it too and two snaps of the whip, one to each buttock reminded her who was in charge. If they wanted her to hit the wall she would have to hit the wall. This really sucked. The reins were being pulled to the left, it was fairly sharp the wall must be close she followed the signal. She must have over executed the turn because there was a right pressure on the reins. She corrected. But, most important she had not broken her gait. "Pretty good trick without being able to see." She congratulated herself.
The next leg of the turn onto the back stretch was much more gentle and she followed the pressure that was applied to the reins. This time there was no correction at the end of the turn. Again she was proud of herself. She hated not being able to see, but she had to admit that she was becoming much more sensitive and in tune with the signals of the trainer. In her mind she visualized the track. She could sense the desire of the trainer. Her movements were perfectly tuned to the reins. The slightest pressure to the left side caused an almost indistinguishable adjustment to the left. Her trotting gait was perfect. She could hear it from the bells and of course she could feel it. She had reacted to the shaking of the bells before, but with her sight taken away everything was amplified. Just as she could feel the minutest pressure from the movement of the reins she could feel every bit of movement at her nipples and clitoris. She was not sure she had ever felt anything quite as pleasurable before. All she could think about was the gentle massaging of her nipples and clitoris. Without her eyes her body had taken over. It was responding to the movement of the reins without her thinking about it; but more importantly to her right now, it was responding to the sexual stimulation of the bouncing bells. She was going to cum. She was actually going to climax from trotting with bells bobbing up and down on her sensitive body parts. Well, why not? She had brought herself to climax by using her hands on those same body parts, having it happen to her without the use of her own hands only seemed to enhance the feeling. Then it was on her. Ripples ran from her sex down her legs all the way to her toes and up her body to her head. But she didn't break stride and that helped the rush of pleasure to continue to surge through her with each bounce and step. She was sure anyone watching would have seen the shudder course through her body, but she did not care. It was the best she had felt since she came here.
She had lost track of how far she had gone or even where exactly she was on the track. She knew she was on a long stretch, but not which one. She did not even know how many laps she had made. She remembered making at least three complete turns, had there been more? There was the shake of the reins, not a signal to turn or adjust. The trainer was calling for her to run. No question. She did not even have to think and interpret the signal. Her body reacted without question. She was running, blindly trusting in the direction from the two leather straps one attached to each side of the bit in her mouth. And it felt good. She wasn't even winded. She felt like she could do this all day. She didn't care where the wall was. She and her trainer were one. They would not hit the wall. They ran, they turned at pace, they ran some more. She heard other sounds, other ponies and their sulkies. They were passing others. No one passed them.
The signal was to move to a walk and then a few steps later to stop. If felt effortless Jen stood proudly. Even though her eyes were still covered she could feel other eyes on her. Certainly they were all marveling at her performance. "Top that!" She thought. There was something at her lips. It was a water bottle, she was being watered. She eagerly took it in. It seemed that most went into her mouth and down her throat almost nothing dripped. She wondered if Abby had done the same exercise and how she had fared. She wished she could see what was going on, and then, if by force of her mental desire, the eye covering was removed. She was standing near the hitching post. She looked around for her nemeses team. She hoped they had been able to see her performance. They were hitched together to a double yoke sulky to her right. They had seen her. One of them was looking away from her trying to maintain her smug continence, but she would glance over at Jen from time to time, a maneuver that broke the previous aloofness. The other pony was looking at her. Jen had expected some sign of acceptance or respect, but what she saw instead was almost anger. That was even better. Jen smiled and gave her pony tail a proud toss.
The other pony team was to her left. It appeared that their trainers had just unhitched them from a sulky. One of the trainers had a hold of the reins to both ponies and was pulling them toward the pen. Jen could only see the backs of the ponies, but the trainer's face did not look happy and both ponies showed, in addition to the normal speckling of red marks from the buggy whip, a series of parallel red stripes like the one Jen had seen on her groom that morning. Not as many as the groom had worn, Jen tried to count and decided there were five. They had been punished for something. That answered the question of whether ponies would be caned as punishment. Obviously they would.
But where was Abby? Jen shifted around and then she saw her up near the back turn. She was connected to a single yoke sulky like Jen, but to Jen's surprise she was not wearing a blindfold. But there was something else. She was wearing one of the step training rigs, the ones that shocked your nipples and clitoris if your knees were not lifted just right. Jen could tell from the look on her face that it was not going well. Jen's moment of self satisfaction waned as Abby's face contorted with obvious pain. They really needed to get out of here. Jen's stomach lurched as she thought about tonight. She knew it was going to come at a great risk. If she succeeded she could save herself, Abby, and her co-conspirator groom as well as all the other ponies, slaves and other captives. If she failed? If the groom got ten strokes of the cane for dirty stalls what punishment would attempting to escape bring? She couldn't think about that. She might lose her nerve.
Abby was pulled to a stop next to Jen. Her face was streaked with tears. She kept her legs very still to keep from triggering the training device she still wore. She gave Jen a pleading look, but there was nothing Jen could do to help her. She tried to give her a consoling understanding look, but it was hard to be very emotive with your head strapped in a bridle and your mouth clamped around a bit. Tonight she thought. Tonight I WILL get us out of here.
Abby's trainer did not look happy. She hobbled Abby before removing the training device. Jen realized that she had not been hobbled. Then Abby's trainer released her from the sulky, and taking her reins pulled her toward the pen which now held the other two ponies. The pace she demanded was much too fast for a hobbled pony and Abby struggled to keep up almost falling several times before they arrived at the pen.
Jen's attention was then drawn to the door that leads into the interior area. It opened and a person who must be an overseer exited leading a coffle of six girls. They were all naked except for their metal collar, belt, and cuffs. Wrist chains had been pulled tight to a ring at the front of the belt. Ankles were chained with about a foot between the cuffs, but from the center of the ankle chain another light chain extended up. It did not reach all the way to the belt, but instead was fastened to the ring at the clitoris of each girl. It held the leg chain just above parallel with the ground. This meant that a step to the full limits of the chain would pull down on the wearer's tender part. Some type of gag, it looked like a black ball, was in the mouth of each girl and connected around the head with a similar black strap that was buckled at the back of the head. The girls were chained from neck to neck forming a single line. Jen recognized her groom as the third girl in the coffle. What was going on? The coffle was led to the other pen in the central area, and the girls were left linked together even after being locked inside. Jen did not think any of them could have climbed out even if they were not connected together.
Within a minute or two a second coffle of females, also six in number, exited the doorway and were brought to the pen. They were chained the same as the prior group. Something was happening. To Jen's surprise there was then a third group. This group was made up of young men. They all seemed fit and most were attractive, even with their faces somewhat contorted with a similar gag to that worn by the girls. Jen would have accepted a date with almost any of them. They were accompanied by two overseers. The male slaves were also naked and had collars and waist belts. The collar and belt were a bit more substantial than those worn by the women. Their wrists, also adorned with metal cuffs were locked to the belt behind their back. Their ankles were also chained with about a foot of length, the center of the chain also had another chain extending upward a more substantial chain than worn by the girls. This chain ended at the testicles where it connected to a metal band about an inch wide circling the scrotum above the testicles, but below the penis. Jen also noticed that the arc of the leg chain was held quite a bit higher for the men. A step of more than two thirds of the chain length would pull down on their testicles already stretched by the chain and weight of the metal band. One overseer led the coffle while another walked next to them with a small quirk similar to a riding crop. Every now and then she would deliver a blow to the flank or rear of one of the men. Another difference is that there were only five men in this coffle. Both the prior groups each had six.
After the men were locked in the pen with the twelve female slaves the overseers walked back through the open door to the interior but did not close it behind them. In less than a minute they were back. This time they were rolling a flat trolley like the ones used at lawn and garden stores to accommodate potted purchases. Lying face down on the trolley was another male. Like the others his wrists were locked behind his back, but his legs were folded up and a wide leather belt kept them in that position. The chain between his ankle cuffs was also pulled up and appeared to be locked at the ring in the back of his belt where his wrists were locked. Jen could not see his face. His head was completely covered in a black leather hood. Jen could see wires extending from the bottom of the hood and disappearing under his chest as he lay on the trolley. He appeared to be holding very still and several grunts when the trolley bounced convinced Jen that he was wearing a silence hood of the type that had been described by the groom. She wondered what he had done to deserve such harsh treatment. As they rolled him up to the edge of the pen holding the other slaves Jen could see the mixture of curiosity and fear in the other slaves. They would look at him furtively and quickly turning away as if seeing something forbidden. The trolley was left outside the pen, a short distance from the gate. The additional security of the pen was not really necessary.
Jen's trainer had returned. She patted Jen affectionately on the flank, released her from the sulky, and led her over to the pen where Abby had been taken. She was left inside the pen without being hobbled. Abby looked at her and then turned away. Jen hoped she was not angry with her. They were very quickly joined by the last pony team. They also were not hobbled. There seemed to be a class structure among ponies. The favored and the not favored. Jen had moved up, but Abby had not. What did that mean for them as a team? Jen had been trained as an individual today. She didn't know why, but the thought of being separated from Abby, from her team was frightening. Abby needed to step up her game. She couldn't let the team be separated. - - - My God, this place was getting in her head. What they needed to do was get the hell out of here. She looked over the top of her pen toward the pen containing the others, the slaves. What was happening? She and the groom had a plan for tonight. Would they still be able to execute it?
Jen heard a deep metallic clanking sound to the right of the pen. It was near the direction of the door she assumed went outside. And, in confirmation, light was starting to stream in. They were rolling up one of the metal overhead doors. So much for her plan, they were leaving this place.
One of the trainers entered the pen. While another held the door the first clipped a line to First Abby's collar then to the collar of one of the underperforming ponies, then a line from that pony's collar to the other underperforming pony. Another line was connected to the front of that pony's collar and the trainer started leading the three ponies out of the pen. All three were still hobbled with the short pony hobble. This length hobble was really not designed for walking so they stumbled and shuffled behind the trainer. For the moment Jen was happy to not be in that string of ponies and more so, to not be hobbled, but the fact that she and Abby had been separated raised her anxiety about the future. There was something about having Abby nearby that had helped Jen feel a little better in some of the dark moments. She wondered if that would happen again. Jen could only pray that they would not be separated.
Jen's angle on the now open door was not sufficient to see where the ponies were taken after they left the building. It appeared as if they were going straight, but up to where her view was blocked by the sides of the door Jen saw what looked like asphalt parking area, then concrete and pillars and then the ocean. She thought the concrete area was a pier; she thought there had been a ship there when they arrived, a freighter, but she had not paid attention and she could not remember any detail of how it looked. She could not see it now if it was even there.
The male slave hogtied and held in the silence hood was rolled out the door followed one by one with coffles of the other slaves. As the last of the slaves from the other pen were being removed a trainer returned to Jen's pen. She clipped the remaining three ponies together by their collars to form a string. Jen was in the center between her two opponents. They did not seem happy about being separated. Jen would have gladly traded places, but unlike event seating she had no choice but to be where they put her. The middle was also a lousy place to be. If the pony ahead sped up you got jerked from in front. If the pony behind was slow you got pulled back. Yes, she would happily have traded places with either of them. They were led from the pen.
When they cleared the door Jen could see where they were going. It was a ship, an old style freighter that was more than just a flat deck upon which to stack container. The hull was dark red trimmed in Black but white at the rail. The superstructure was the color of grey that white paint becomes after years of exposure to the elements. It looked to be the length of just over a football field maybe 350 feet. The front half deck of the vessel appeared flat except for a crane with two arms that reached up from a point midway between the superstructure and the forecastle. One of these cranes was lifting containers (the smaller type, not the type that turn into container trucks) up from the dock and lowering them into what must be the hold. The superstructure rose at midpoint in the ship to a height of four decks, the top clearly being the bridge. A single stack rose from about 40 feet behind the bridge. Behind the stack there was a deck with two lifeboats visible on this, the port side which was the side in view. That deck then extended almost all the way to the aft of the ship where it ended leaving just 20-30 feet from the aft where it then stepped down to the next deck which ran to where the aft gently curved to the sea. The two rear decks looked like great places to relax on the ocean and enjoy the night sky. Jen doubted she would be enjoying that experience.
But what most caught her eye were the lifeboats. Maybe there was a way off the boat. How difficult was it to lower a lifeboat into the water? For safety reasons there had to be a way to do it right from the lifeboat station. Did the ship have to be stopped? Maybe not. Maybe a new plan could be hatched around the boats as a means of escape. She would still have to free her arms and of course escape from wherever they held her, but maybe her groom would still be game.
There was a gang plank from the dock just forward of the superstructure. One of the coffles of slaves was in the process of climbing toward the main deck. Several others were held by their overseers at the base of the plank waiting their turn. Jen looked around wildly. If someone saw this scene they would certainly be concerned and call the harbor police to investigate. There must also be dock officials that would check the manifest and cargo before they were allowed to sail. She wondered how they would be listed on the manifest. Passengers or livestock, perhaps they would not even be listed. Jen looked around to see if anyone could see them. They were masked from the harbor by the ship itself. The building they had left masked the view from inland and warehouses seemed to obscure most of the view up and down the dock. Jen could see a sailboat perhaps a half mile from the bow of their ship, but she could barely make out forms on board. No person on the sailboat would be able to see that bound human cargo was being loaded into this ship. Jen gave a thought to calling out, but with the bit in her mouth and trainers standing only a few feet away that seemed like a good way to lose status, gain punishment stripes, while achieving no real chance of rescue. She watched the sailboat tack away from them until it finally disappeared beyond the view allowed by the bow of their ship.
There was a tug at Jen's collar. The first pony in the string had started to move and it was her turn to respond. She followed and the third pony sensing the movement fell into line without a jerk on the line that joined her to Jen. The gang plank was not too steep, but it must have been a challenge for the slaves and other ponies negotiating the climb with hobbled ankles. It was nice for the moment to be in a more elite group. As they moved onto the fore deck and toward a set of double doors in the middle front of the superstructure she said to herself: "Presidential Suite please." She chuckled. Boy would she like a bed, even a cot. "Not likely. How on earth does livestock travel on water anyway?" As they reached the doors she could see a ramp that headed down to below the first deck. As they reached the end of the ramp another ramp continued down to the next deck. They passed a passageway that opened to the left and right onto the first lower deck, but half doors were closed channeling all traffic on the ramp onward toward the next lower deck. From the looks and smell they were not the first livestock to have made this trip. She pictured real horses being led down to what she was now sure would be a livestock holding area below. She could not see what had happened to the slave coffle ahead, including her groom. Were they also down on this level?
At the bottom of the second ramp two doors opened into what was clearly the livestock area. It felt like the ship' hull must be curving in at this point. She had estimated the beam of the ship as about 50 feet when they entered the deck above. The area they were in now seemed closer to 40-45 feet across. Maybe there was a double hull. She did not like the idea of being below the water line. Most of her friends had seen the movie Titanic as a romance, for Jen it was Jaws revisited. She did not like water. Her parents had forced her to sail, so she had learned all the terms and all the things to do, but she did not like it. She already knew she was not going to like this. And she knew ships were slow. This was one of those combination cargo passenger ships. It could do maybe 15 knots (about 17 miles an hour) in good seas, slower if they hit storms. She didn't want to think about storms.
The horse stalls were to starboard and aft. Three stalls, each about 5 feet wide and 8 9 feet long faced forward from the aft bulkhead. There was a space of 6 feet and then three more stalls faced aft opposite the other three stalls. This configuration repeated itself with another six stalls as you moved forward on the starboard side. Each stall was made of metal that was solid on all three walls to a height of about 8 feet. From there to the ceiling another four feet all of the interior walls were topped by iron bars set about six inches apart. This was designed for air circulation. Each stall had a gate with a height of about five feet. The inside walls of the stalls were padded, obviously to provide some protection to livestock in rough seas. Water and food troughs were built into the wall next to the gate for water and into the gate itself for food. They could be serviced without opening the stall door. The opening at the end of each bank of stalls also had an iron gate. This gate had a height of 8 feet. It was made of iron bars and could be closed and locked from the outside. Above the gate was a grill of more bars. The six stalls in each bank were like prison cells when the outer door was closed and locked.
To port there were a series of pens that extended about 16 feet from the port bulkhead. The walls of the pens were three feet high but wire mesh extended up from the top of the pen to the ceiling. Jen knew from the smell when they entered the livestock area, but now she could see. There were sheep in both pens. Well, the ship had to use its capacity. It was a bit short because there were only six ponies and they had room for up to twelve. She wondered if any four footed equine occupants might join them before they left. She sort of hoped not, the smell of the sheep was enough. Add in a rough sea and this could be a very miserable trip. There was an air exchange system build into the aft bulkhead between the horse stalls and the sheep pens. It sucked air from the livestock area and vented it out to the rear of the ship. She did not see where the fresh air came in, but hoped there was something. They were two decks down, clearly below the water line. The only thing below them would be the engines. That was likely to make this area pretty damn hot when the engines were running. It was also going to be very noisy. Not exactly the Presidential Suite.
Jen could hear movement in the three stalls against the aft bulkhead and she was relieved when she and the other ponies with her were installed in the three facing stalls. In keeping with her position in the string she was placed in the middle stall. This meant that the top of her stall was open to all four sides (except for the iron bars, of course). Once placed in the stall the end of the line from her collar was attached to a ring near the gate. It was about six feet long so she could navigate most of her stall, all but about the last two feet at the back. Her bridle and bit were removed and as before hung from a hook on the wall of the stall near the gate. As the trainers finished securing their steeds they closed and latched the gates and finally exited the stall area closing and locking the outside gate. She was locked in the bowels of a ship destined for some unknown location to serve as a pony girl. She wondered which stall contained Abby. She wondered where her groom was. Would the grooms be released to take care of the ponies? If not, who? The escape plan for the evening was a bust, but maybe there was a chance before the ship left. Once at sea it would be very difficult. How long did they have?
There was water in the water trough, but no food. It looked like there was an automatic valve that kept the water at a level of about one third full, consistent with allowing for the rolling and pitching of the ship. This was fine for four hoof varieties with their long noses, but proved a challenge for the two footed variety. Jen had to turn her head sidewise and then lower it down into the trough. But almost as soon as she drank the water would be replaced. It was warm and smelled of oil and metal. But she drank anyway. It was wet and refreshing, but tasted metallic with a slight rusty taste. She did not know where they were going, but she assumed they would be on this ship for a long time.
There was no port hole down here. So there was no light from outside from which to gage the time. Jen figured it had been about noon when they boarded. At least three or four hours had gone by since she had been secured in her stall, but she was learning that time in confinement is almost impossible to keep track of. Without an outside reference you can only rely upon the routine of those who provide for you. On the ship there was not yet a routine so there was nothing to use as a standard. Jen was one of those people who are very time conscious. She would usually even check her watch during a movie even the ones she liked. It was almost a compulsion. As far as she knew her watch was still in the locker back in the building they had left. It was unlikely she would ever see her watch again. And unless she could get out of here she may never have need for a watch again. Now, she only went where she was directed to go at the time she was directed to go there. She had certainly learned that in her few days of training. Had it only been a few days of training? It certainly seemed like a lot longer. She did not know how long the ponies on either side of her had trained, but she was sure it was quite a bit longer. She was catching up, but they had a polish she still lacked. Most frightening was that they had an acceptance, almost an enjoyment, of their role as a pony. That would never be Jen. Escape was still her number one priority and the only way this story could end.
Escape would not come now. The ponies remained tethered and locked in their stable for what seemed a very long time. Jen figured it must be getting dark, but with no view to the outside she could not tell. Even the exhaust fan did not seem to open directly to the outside. It must have to vent upward for a distance due to their deck's low position in the ship. Then Jen heard a rumbling and the floor started to vibrate. The engines had come on and were slowly turning. The ship did not seem to be moving so they must still be at the dock, but departure now seemed eminent. Jen wondered: "Where they were going; how long would it take; and what would be waiting for them when they got there?"
It was about another hour when the pitch of the engines below started to increase and the ship started to move forward. Jen knew it would travel slowly until it put the harbor area behind it and entered one of the shipping lanes, but which one? The destination was supposed to be some sort of resort so North seemed unlikely. West toward Hawaii or other pacific islands or south toward Mexico made more sense, but as long as she was locked up below she would have no idea. As the ship moved slowly out to sea Jen and the other ponies remained where they were. It is probable that all of the human cargo would be kept secure until the ship was well at sea and fully underway. Jen correctly guessed that it would be a couple of hours.
Jen was not sure where Abby was, but she was certainly in one of the stalls across from her. Standing with her head at the top of her stall gate she spoke in a loud whisper. "Abby, are you there?"
"I am here Jen." Came the voice from what seemed to be directly across. Jen looked to the stall across from her to make out the head of her roommate that had appeared at the gate. Jen was happy to see her and smiled in spite of their mutual difficulties.
"You thought maybe she would be at the Captain's table." The voice followed by a laugh came from Jen's right. There was a corresponding laugh from her left.
Jen had had it with those two. "I am sorry, but I don't get it. You two prance around like this is a picnic parade and after the award for best costume is given out, to you of course, we will all be going home. Unless I am very mistaken you came here like us thinking this was a job. We would pretend to be ponies during the day like characters in any theme park, and after work like NOW we would be in the bar drinking or in our dorms partying."
"Don't get your tail in a twist." Came the answer, again from her right. They have had us for two weeks. That is long enough to go through disbelief, then hope, then despair, and finally acceptance. Look around. Can you use your hands . . . or even your arms? NO. Can you even get out of your stall? NO. If you could get out of your stall could you get past the locked gate over there? NO. If you resist and fight them it can be very unpleasant. Have you ever been caned? It is not like some sorority paddling. They strap you over a bar so the flesh on your thighs and buttocks is pulled tight. Then they take their time, waiting with each stroke for the impact of the stroke delivered to be fully appreciated and the dread and anticipation of the next stroke to build. I cried. Then I begged. Finally I just yelled: 'Do it God damn it, just do it.' That only got me an extra stroke. So, since you can't get away and you can't change your condition, you might as well accept it."
"It is not so bad being a pony." It was the voice from the left. "The poor grooms have to get up at the crack of dawn. They have to care, clean and water us. They even have to brush our teeth. They have to clean our tack and out stalls. They have other duties during the day when we are training, cleaning up after all of the other staff. And they don't get to their cells until after they have made sure that we are properly cared for. We are valued and prized. They are punished for the slightest infraction. Others are pleasure slaves. They are sold or assigned to a mistress or master and have to do everything for them even anticipating their slightest whim or desire. We at least have our pride and some individuality. We are not supposed to be able to talk, but I always believed horses could talk if they wanted to, they just didn't find people worthy conversationalists." She giggled. "I have always loved horses, so I really don't mind being one. And . . . I am really good at it. Our team is fast. There are races at the resort. My trainer thinks we can be champions. I have heard her talking to the other trainers about it. You can stand by and watch us in the winner's circle."
"You can't give up. We have to try to escape." Jen was frustrated with their acceptance of the situation.
"Well, you do as you do and let us know just how it works for you." It was the pony on the right again.
"Maybe they are right." It was Abby.
"I don't want to be a pony . . . or a slave. I want to go home." It was a sobbing voice from across and to the right of Jen. The words stopped, but the sobbing continued unabated.
There was a noise in the room outside the stable area and all the ponies went quiet. Jen stared over the top of her gate. A trainer unlocked the stable area and the grooms entered, each carrying their cleaning buckets.
"It's about time." Said the pony on Jen's left in a voice probably too low for the trainer or grooms to hear, or if heard understood.
"What a piece of work." Jen thought.
Under the watchful eyes of the trainer the grooms performed their functions cleaning their charges. They removed their boots and massaged their legs. Then filled up the feeding trough from sacks they obtained from the outer area. The feed had not changed. The pony to Jen's right may enjoy being a pony, and Jen had to admit it had its moments, but the food was clearly not one of them. She enjoyed many different cuisines; horse stable was not one of them.
When the grooms had finished and left them the lights in the room were turned down, but not off. For some reason the conversation among the ponies did not start up again and the only sounds were occasional movement from one of the stalls and an occasional bah of the sheep who shared the livestock area. Jen tried to find a comfortable position and sleep. She was very tired. Plans for escape would have to wait until tomorrow.
It looked like there would be a routine. If she could trust it she could mark days. The grooms were there to wake them and prepare them. Jen wanted to talk to her groom, but all of the grooms were there and the quarters were very close. When Jen started to say something the groom shot her a quick panicky look. She did not finish and stayed quiet. Maybe there would be a chance later. Jen doubted much in the way of training could happen in the confines of the ship, but she also doubted the trainers would want them to go without any exercise. This was likely to be a long journey.
Every morning the ponies would be wiped down with moist cloths; any remnants of their toilet activity cleaned; their bodies were oiled; their hair was undone, brushed, and carefully put back into a pony tail; their teeth were cleaned; their body rings and harness straps and buckles were cleaned and polished; and their boots, bridle and bit were once again fastened to their heads. Their hooves with metal shoes on the bottom were covered with a rubber sack that held tightly to the hooves with elastic and provided better traction on the metal floors of the ship. The entire process took a couple of hours. They were ready for inspection, training or even a show. Each day there would be an inspection. The ponies were taken from their stalls and lined up in the hallway across from the sheep pens. One or more trainers would then carefully examine each of them making marks on a clipboard as the grooms stood nervously behind. Occasionally a groom would be brought forward and shown some defect in their work. This always evoked fearful, even sobbing manifestations of sorrow and intent to do better.
After inspection the ponies were connected together either in teams of two or strings of three. They were then led up the ramps to the forward deck of the ship. This area was about 150 feet long and 45 - 50 feet wide. In the center was the crane shaft, its two arms positioned parallel to the deck and in line with the length of the ship. Fore and aft of the crane were two hatch covers. They were quite large and sealed closed against the sea and weather. On the forward port and starboard sides a solid rail extended up about four feet, it was open for about six inches at the bottom to let water rushing over the deck out. The last 30 feet of rail on each side was open bars. The prow was raised and had a small foredeck set about 8 feet above the deck they were on. Near vertical stair/ladders accessed it on either side.
For at least two hours every day the ponies would be walked around the exterior of the deck. Emphasis would be on form and leg height. Normally one trainer would lead a string while another trainer with a riding crop would walk along side and make corrections. Much of the time this forward deck rose and fell with its travel across the waves and occasionally pitched to one side or the other. Ocean spray often splashed over the side rails further distracting them from their task. It was much more difficult to maintain a proper position and step under these conditions, but a snap of the riding crop expressed that no special consideration was given for this challenge.
Jen wondered where they were. When they were on deck she tried to look around for clues. The sun was high in the sky but seemed to be slightly off the port side, but what did that really mean? She didn't know what time it was, but that could mean they were heading south. She occasionally saw gulls and other birds. Bird populations would be higher if they were closer to shore and not in the middle of the ocean at least she thought that was right, couldn't exactly Google an answer. But if that were right then they were probable heading south. South made a lot of sense. She tried to search the horizon looking for land. She saw nothing, although she did think the cloud formations were heavier to port. Occasionally she would see another ship, usually large container or tanker ships but they never passed very close. A destination in Mexico seemed a lot more likely. That would be a good place for a resort, even a secret resort.
Jen had not forgotten her planning to escape. It made a big difference if they were heading south or in the middle of the ocean. If she could get her arms loose; if she could get out of the stable; if she could get to a boat and get it into the water, she could head east. If they were on a southern course the coast of Mexico would be within reach. If they were in the middle of the ocean she didn't want to think about that. She looked around for lifeboats. She could see none. It appeared they were on the passenger deck which was out of view from here. She did not know how to get to the passenger deck. She had only seen this work deck and the passage to the livestock area below. Counting up four decks on the superstructure, including the bridge, from the livestock area she would need to go up five decks to get to the boats. But she was willing to give it a try. But first she needed to get her groom's courage and determination back up. She needed her groom to free her from the arm restraints. Jen had tried every means of twisting, pulling, rubbing and manipulation that the wearer could undertake. The device was well engineered. Jen was convinced that no occupant could free themselves.
Her biggest immediate problem, however, was how closely they were all being watched. There seemed to be no opportunity when the grooms were not being watched by at least one trainer standing so close that Jen and the groom dare not talk. And once the grooms were finished and left the stable area the trainer closed and locked the iron door. Even if Jen's groom freed her arms she would still be locked in.
Four days out they hit a storm. Jen could feel the pitching and shifting of the ship even before the grooms appeared for the morning preparation. Jen assumed that they would stay below, but they did not. In strings of three the ponies were each given one side of the deck. A safety line ran from the bulkhead they exited to the bulkhead of the foredeck at the bow. Each pony was attached to the line with a short line and a snap hook. As Jen came out on deck she observed the bow of the ship rising and falling, it looked like an amusement park ride. It was very difficult to move up the pitching deck and every time the bow dropped they were splashed with water. After several times up and down the line and as Jen neared the bow a huge wave washed across the bow and smashed into them. Jen and the two ponies tethered to her were immediately washed off their feet. Without arms the ponies could not grab on to anything to keep from being washed into the sea, only the safety line held them as they were washed into a pile near the bulkhead of the superstructure. Jen was gasping from a combination of inhaled water and sheer terror. As the trainers got them back to their feet she assumed they would now be taken below. They were not. They stayed on deck moving up and down the safety line on their side of the deck until the trainers determined they had had enough exercise. Jen learned how to anticipate when a wave would wash across the deck and how to lean forward to mitigate its impact. Still she was frequently knocked over by the power of the water. She was utterly exhausted when they were finally allowed to leave the deck and return to the relative comfort of their stalls two decks below.
Normally when the ponies went on deck the grooms first cleaned out the stalls and then cleaned and cared for the sheep. After the ponies were returned from their exercise the grooms would make any corrections to their gear and appearance, attach their reins to the side walls, lock them in their stalls, and go off to do whatever else they were required to do. The grooms would not reappear until time for the evening rituals of grooming and feeding. This meant that for the rest of the day the ponies would just stand in their stalls and wait. With the shortened reins they could not even sit. It angered Jen that they were required to just stand and to wear the bridle and bit throughout the day. They would talk a little in the evening after they had been cleaned, feed, watered and prepared for evening rest, but Jen had long ago stopped trying to talk with the bit in her mouth. Not only was it almost impossible to understand what she was saying she found the very effort dehumanizing.
The storm lasted for only two days. On the next day, their sixth at sea, there was a change in the routine. The deck exercise seemed to go on for a bit longer than before, but when they were returned to their stalls they were not cleaned and prepped like normal. Instead they were put through the routine for evening rest; washing, massaging, oiling, and even feeding. This was very strange; it could not be much past the middle of the day.
After the grooms had left and the ponies were all safely locked in their stable Jen noticed a change in the engines below them. They were slowing. It felt like they were coming into a harbor. Had they reached their destination? If they had gone south as Jen suspected they should be someplace in southern Mexico. That did make sense. But if this was their destination why had the grooms prepared them for rest, even removing their boots? Whatever was happening, it was unlikely that they would be off loaded today.
It was infuriating being locked below with no view to the outside, no information on what was happening, and only speculation as to what was next. Jen was a planner. She had never been a take it as it comes sort of person. If she had an appointment she was always there on time, or even a few minutes ahead of time. She would worry about being late so much that if she had to drive across town she might leave early and then have coffee near her destination. She was use to having full control of her life, granted her school schedule dictated where she had to be, but that was by her choice. And, although she never did, if she wanted to skip a class she could, that was her choice. As a pony not only was she not consulted about what was to be done to her, she was not even told in advance.
They were definitely docking. Jen even heard boat whistles. Eventually the engines slowed even more and then came to a stop. Jen had not realized just how loud the engine sounds were. At first it was as if they were in a vacuum with no sound at all, then sounds started to return. Jen heard the water against the hull; then she heard the sheep moving and bleating; then for once it was not Jen who opened the conversation among the ponies. "Do you think this is the resort?" The voice came from across and to the left.
"I don't know." Answered Jen. "It seems like we have been prepared for a stay below, not for leaving the ship, so maybe not."
"Where are we? Why are we here then?" The anxiety of the speaker was betrayed by a quiver in the voice.
"Based upon the time at sea I would guess we are in Mexico; it could be Hawaii, but I don't think we could get there this fast." Jen shared what she had been thinking. "Also, listen!" Jen added after a brief pause. "Hear all those sounds. Other ships moving, truck sounds, just general noises. This has to be a pretty busy port area. Not exactly the place for a resort staffed with slaves or even a place to unload strings of slaves not even in Mexico. I am guessing that we will stay safely locked up down here, and the other slaves including our grooms will be kept secure until we are once again safely out to sea. I don't think this is the place."
"What are we here for then?"
"Probably to pick up something or someone. Since they are not in the habit of sharing with us, we may never know. If only we could be discovered down here. What does it sound like if you kick the hull?"
"I'll try." Came a voice from across and next to the port side. There was a dull thudding sound.
"I could barely hear that over here." Came the voice from Jen's right.
"The walls are all padded, I guess to protect us from injury, but it completely deadens any sound. I really kicked it hard."
"So much for that great escape plan. Any more wonderful ideas?" It was again the pony to Jen's right.
She was really getting to her wits end with these two would be purebreds. They could 'drink the cool aid' if they so choose, but she would not. Jen did not intent to live the rest of her life as a horse. Jen retreated to the back of her stall and flopped down on the floor. Once again she tried to go over her options. What options? Unless something presented itself there would be no escape from the ship. Only the trainers had the key to the stable area so even if her groom could help her out of her arm binder she would still be trapped. Every time they left the stable they were tethered together in a string of ponies and watched by several trainers. She couldn't even talk to her groom because the space was too confined and there was always a trainer nearby.
They must have been in port for longer than 24 hours because two trainers came and refilled their food troughs. They took no notice or made any attempt at any of the other care that the ponies had come to expect from their grooms. Jen's mouth felt gritty. She was sure her teeth must have a cover of fuzz. Her hair felt matted and tangled. Her stall smelled from where she had urinated thank heavens that is all it was, but she could tell from the smell that some other ponies had not so confined their toilet function. Jen's entire body was grimy with sweat and dust. It was hot in the stable, and even though the exhaust fan continued to run Jen was dripping sweat. The stall had not been cleaned and the stupid sheep stirred up dust, so if she sat or lay down she ended up with a coat of dust on her sweat covered body. It all dried to a dirty crust only to be interrupted by rivulets of more sweat. She was sure the inside of the arm pouch must be filling up with her sweat.
She had never been left in this condition before. Her body was supposed to be cleaned at least twice a day, sometimes it was cleaned three. Her hair was brushed every day, usually several times a day. Her legs, thighs and feet were supposed to be massaged every evening. She had had a cramp in her lower leg and had hobbled around the inside of her stall trying to walk it off. Her body was supposed to be oiled. Her skin, which had started to look smooth and rich, was crusted with filth, for God sake. This was certainly no way to treat a future champion. She kicked her gate, stomped her foot, and petulantly sat down in the opposite corner from the one she had decided to use for her sanitary needs.
After what had seemed like forever Jen heard the sound of the metallic clanking of engines. Finally, they were getting underway. "What day of the week was it?" She wondered. She and Abby had traveled on a Monday. They had been held at the warehouse for four days or was it five? It had taken about a week to get here. They had been in port for probably a day and a half although it certainly seemed like much more. She had been gone 12 or 13 days, maybe even two weeks. It must be the weekend. Her friends must have wondered where she was last weekend. They should really be wondering now that she was not in touch for another weekend. They may have thought she went home. She had talked to several about doing that, but, they would have expected her to at least text. Her phone was probably filled with messages and texts. Her phone that she had last seen in a locker in California almost two weeks ago. Her phone that she would never see again. Ponies didn't have phones. Ponies didn't text or call their friends. The only way she would see any of her friends again was if one of them ended up as a guest at the resort. . . .
Jen was hitched to a single yoke sulky, but not the type used for racing. This sulky had a larger more comfortable seat that could easily hold two passengers. Her leather harness gleamed in the bright sun. It was studded with jewels and the fixtures were of pure gold. Her body was the color of a perfectly cooked waffle, but far more delicious looking. Her white boots were perfectly polished all the way down to the black hoof portion, which also gleamed. Jen stood proudly next to the hitching post by a garden of flowers in front of a clearly five star hotel. Her sulky was approached by two young women. As they got closer Jen recognized Louise Broderick as one of them. She was dressed in white cotton shorts, a halter top and a fine expensive looking lace jacket. Her hair was done perfectly and she was wearing gold earrings, necklaces and bracelets. As always Louise looked classy. At her side was a small Asian girl wearing only a shear halter and panties. She wore golden cuffs at her neck, wrists, waist, and ankles. The wrist and ankle chains provided a great deal of movement, and Louise held a leash that terminated at the collar.
As they got next to the sulky Louise looked over at Jen. Jen shook her head back and forth and tried to say "Louise". But it sounded more like grunting. Louise smiled and walked over to her. Jen could not turn to face her because she was hitched to the sulky. She turned her head as best she could to look at her old friend standing to her side.
"So this is what became of you." Louise stroked her head and shoulder as she spoke. "We were all very curious when you just seemed to disappear. I really did think you would stay and finish college with us, but I can see that this must have some basic animal appeal. Louise gave her a slap on the butt and then climbed into the sulky. "Hurry up slave." Louise pulled on the leash and the young slave clambered in next to her.
"No. Please help me." Jen tried to say to Louise, but she could not even turn her head sufficiently to see her friend in the seat behind.
"Hurry up pony; we need to get to the track." Jen felt the reins snap at her back.
She tried to look back and speak to her friend. Nothing intelligible came out.
"I said hurry up pony." The buggy whip snapped painfully on Jen's flank. She turned her head forward and started to pull the sulky.
Then her eyes opened. Dreaming! It had been a dream. Of course, she had been thinking about her friends and what they would think. She got back up, lowered her head into the trough, and drank some water. The ship wasn't back to full speed but the whump whump from below told her that the props were turning and they were moving. It also seemed to Jen that the temperature in the livestock area was at least 15 degrees cooler when the ship was moving even though there was no opening to the outside that she could see.
Finally the grooms came. It took much longer than normal to wash them down, brush their hair, clean their leather and ready them for the day ahead. Jen had never been so happy to see her groom. When she was close to her she even gave her an affectionate nuzzle with her head and shoulder. Her groom looked her in the face, smiled and patted her head. Somehow it all felt right. With some impatient comments from the trainer the grooms hurried to finish their task. Today the outfit had an addition. A piece of reinforced leather was attached to the back of Jen's waist strap. It curved slightly from her waist ending at her tailbone. In the end of this new addition was a beautiful tail, about two and a half feet long. It was clearly made of real hair and looked expensive. It had been died to the same brown as the hair on Jen's head. Jen looked behind her as she attempted to flick it back and forth by shaking her rear. That would take practice.
It was a nice day on deck. The sea was smooth and the combination of moving around the deck and the warm sun on her skin felt marvelous. Jen filled her lungs greedily with the fresh air around her. Jen noticed that the sun was slightly to port, but more aft than before. Were they moving south west? Jen found that lifting her knees and prancing today felt wonderful. She felt beautiful. She was sad when the trainers finally signaled that it was time to leave the deck and return below. Even though they had been up there longer than normal Jen was still sorry to leave. She did not want to return to the fetid confines of her stall. She even resisted a bit outside the doors to the ramp, stopping rather than continue down, but the jerk of the led line pulled her forward and through the doors out of the precious sun.
Once again they were spot cleaned and prepared. Jen resigned herself to standing in her stall facing the gate for the rest of the day. But very shortly her and Abbey's grooms and a trainer returned. She and Abby were brought out of their stalls. After a quick inspection and some directed adjustments by the grooms the trainer took their reins and led them from the livestock area. The grooms followed behind. They did not go up the ramp to the deck, the only parts of the ship they had seen thus far. Instead they were led through a series of corridors and up a series of steps until they exited a door onto another deck. Jen quickly determined that it was the deck that sat to the rear of the bridge above what must be the passenger cabins. At the far end there was a pool with deck chairs surrounding it. It was the deck with the lifeboats. Up close they were much larger than Jen had thought they would be. The deck was not uninhabited, there were a number of people relaxing on lounges and sunning themselves. They must have had some prior experience with this whole scene because they paid no attention to the new arrivals.
Near the bulkhead forward of the deck a buffet table had been set up. Jen had forgotten how much she missed the adventures of food. She had been eating her pony feed now for two weeks. She saw platters of ripe fruit, salads, soft looking rolls that smelled as if they had just left the oven, Shrimp on ice, and even a side of beef ready to be sliced for the diners. Jen wondered what she and Abbey were doing here. She was pretty sure it was not to enjoy the feast. Jen would have loved to have dived into the food. Even without her arms, even with the bit, she would figure out a way to get some of it. But she was being held by her reins and knew she was as close to the food as she was going to get.
Abby and Jen were taken to one side of the table. She saw an iron bar along the bulkhead. She and Abby were then turned away from the bar; their reins were brought over their shoulders and attached to the bar. They had about three feet of slack, but it kept them at the end of the table where the line of diners would pass them as they came to the table. The trainer then produced four large plumes. Two were attached to the upper harness area at the shoulders of each of pony. The groom then came forward, made a final check and correction of their leather, snapped a hobble on each of them and then left through the door they had entered from. "Lovely . . . part of the dιcor." Thought Jen.
It did give Jen a good view of the lifeboats. And if she could remember how they came she could get back here assuming she could get free of her armbinder and the stalls. The lifeboats were big, about 25 feet long. They were covered with canvas covers, but it looked like they were not open but had some structure above the hull that even had windows. Each was held by two cranes that were tipped back so the boat could rest on a mount on the deck rail of the ship. When activated the cranes would tilt forward holding the boats over the edge of the ship where they could then be lowered into the water. Jen saw what looked like a control panel on one end of one crane. It had a panel that was closed so she could not get any more information. It did not look easy, but it did appear that if she could get this far she had a chance. "Fat chance of that." She thought to herself. Then she turned and looked at the rest of her surroundings.
At least it was something new. The deck area was really quite nice. Young slave girls straight out of an Arabian Nights tale saw to the drink needs of the guests. Jen guessed that these guests had been the reason for the stop. They had picked up guests destined for the resort. That probably meant it was not too far away. As nice as these surrounding were this ship, by passenger standards, was small and Spartan. These people looked like they were accustomed to luxury. This would get old for them in a hurry, no more than a couple of days.
Jen and Abby were positioned at the beginning of the buffet table. They were an attraction for those waiting in line for food. As the guests came by most would stop and inspect the two ponies brought out for their pleasure. A middle aged man and a young woman, about Jen's age, were the first. "They are just magnificent." The young woman said as she reached out and stroked Jen's breast. Jen jerked away and shook herself back and forth. The effect was to jingle her nipple bells, which had been put on for this occasion. "Very spirited isn't she." The young woman said as she demonstrated her control by giving Jen's breast a firm squeeze. Jen thought of kicking her, but hobbled that was not an available option. Jen glared at her, but it was completely ignored. The couple moved on.
A young, but very well, and expensively groomed man was inspecting Abby. "I hear they are very happy with this group. There are some real potential challengers." Jen's posture improved with this statement. She knew who thought they were the potential challengers, but she was going to show them.
"What a wonderfully match pair they are." Jen glanced at Abby. They did look a lot alike. Same height, same build, same general coloring; and with the work of the grooms over the last two weeks they looked even more alike. "Do you think we can rent them for a carriage ride to our special place?" A young woman was snuggling up against an expensively clad 30'sh man.
"I think they are designated as racing ponies, but I do have a few connections. I bet I could arrange it." Her companion was stroking Jen's breasts even giving each nipple bell a bounce.
Jen watched as the man looked over to the Trainer who was standing nearby. "These are very nice ponies. What are their names?"
"Willow and Misty Night." Replied the trainer.
"What!" Thought Jen. "Now we don't even have our own names. . . I wonder which I am."
"Thanks, it appears you have done a very good job with them." The man reached over and stroked Jen's breast as he spoke.
"What's with all this breast touching?" She thought to herself. Yes she had great breasts. And judging from what she could see on Abby these outfits really showed them off, but you didn't just touch other people's breasts. Well, she didn't. Apparently here it was different, or maybe it was just different with ponies. At any rate, after the first couple of tries she gave up trying to shake them off. Nobody seemed the least bit discouraged by the sound of her little bells tinkling in protest.
"Do you think they will be available for rental when we get to the Island?" The man asked the trainer.
"I don't know. I guess to some degree that will depend upon which stable picks them up. It is unlikely before they are processed and sold." The trainer replied. Jen tried to process what she had just heard. Island they were being taken to an island. That would certainly raise serious complications to any escape plans. And they were to be sold. It should not have been a surprise, but just hearing the words brought home the permanency of their situation.
Another young woman was paying attention to Abby. "Such a nice pony." She said as she stroked her head. Abby actually leaned her head in toward the stroke. Then the woman took something from her purse and put it into Abby's mouth. Then she gave Abby another affectionate pat and moved toward the food giving Jen only a slight glance. Jen looked back toward Abby and watched as she used her tongue to maneuver whatever she had been given to a place in her mouth where she could suck on it. It was a similar act to what Jen had seen one of the trainers do with another pony back at the warehouse. Abby seemed pleased as she continued to suck on her treat. With a bit in your mouth chewing was nearly impossible.
All of the guests had passed them by, collected heaping portions of wonderful looking food and headed out to tables where they were eating. Willow and Misty Night, two ponies, stood near the buffet table throughout the early evening as the guests visited the food table. As the sun finally disappeared to starboard, the deck succumbed to soft lighting. There was music and some of the guests danced, but mostly they sat and enjoyed cocktails. The ponies stood silently watching these creatures from another world enjoy themselves.
Serving slaves came and removed what was left of the food. Jen eyed each platter as it retreated. She was very hungry but she knew she would not be enjoying any of this great looking food. She would be fed in her stall, retrieving her food from a trough; and while it was designed for high nutrition and to meet her needs it would never be on the menu of any restaurant that she would have gone to as a person. With the removal of the food came the removal of the ponies. The trainer released their reins from the bar and led them back into the bowels of the ship and their stable. Jen tried to pay attention to the route, just in case, but had to admit it was a bit confusing especially when you are clomping along behind someone who is leading you on a leash.
When they reached the stable area their grooms were waiting outside the locked door. The trainer unlocked the door and Jen and Abby were led to their stalls for evening preparation. Even though there had been no real exertion standing on the deck they had been in the sun much of the time. The groom wiped and oiled Jen's body, and massaged her shoulders, thighs, legs, and feet. Before she left she checked Jen's water and provided her daily food allotment. When she had gone Jen put her head in the food trough and sniffed her food. Usually by feeding time she was so hungry that the aroma that wafted from the food trough when it was filled was very inviting. Tonight it was forcing the aroma from the banquet table upstairs out of her nose. Jen was very hungry, but she didn't eat right away. She went to the corner of her stall, sat on the floor with her head against the wall and softly cried.
Then she did something she had not done in many days, she jerked and tugged at her hands and arms and twisted her upper body from side to side trying to release the hold of the straps and pouch. Nothing gave, nothing loosened. It had now been two weeks since she had had arms or hands. She had adjusted to this condition. Her shoulders no longer ached. When she sat or lay on the floor she used her legs, thighs, and upper body. Coming from a lying or sitting position to sitting or standing was done by shifting her weight and rolling. If she slipped she did not even try to put out an arm to catch herself. She had no arms. If her nose itched she rubbed it against something. If a bug landed on her body she had learned how to flex the muscles and flesh in a shudder to shake it away. The reflex had become second nature now.
She was still hopeful that her arms were not gone forever somehow she would find a way to release them. She knew if that happened she would need her arms and hands to work. As a result she had worked out an exercise of opening and closing her hands and isometrically pushing down and then up and then out with her arms. At first she had done it every night. For the last four nights she had not, but tonight she returned to the exercise. She prayed that it would be enough to keep her muscles from atrophying. She prayed even harder that she would find out whether that was the case, and before long. Jen did not share with the other ponies what she was thinking or what she had learned that day. For once she did not feel like talking.
The next afternoon the trainer took the pony pair who seemed perfectly happy with their lot. She wondered what they had been named. If she were asked she would suggest "Perky" and "Clueless". She could just imagine them beaming under the attention of the guests, presenting their breasts and bodies for any and every touch. She dreaded being regaled with the tales of their prowess. She was sure they would not be able to resist talking about how charming they were and how everyone just loved them. But it didn't happen that way. They were returned, in Jen's estimation, quite a bit later than she and Jen had been. They were both very quiet and it took the grooms quite a long time to get them ready for rest. Later that night as Jen laid near the starboard wall of her stall she thought she heard sniffles and a few sobbing sounds coming from just the other side of the wall. "Are you all right?" Jen whispered. The sounds stopped. Jen listened for a while longer there was no response. Then she fell asleep.
The next two days fell back into a fairly normal routine. Weather was nice; there was only a slight breeze and some mist on deck. Late in the second day the engines betrayed a change, recognized by Jen as the probable arrival at a port. "Was this the Island? What Island? Where?" Jen thought. They had travelled another four days from the last port. Assuming that port was some place in Mexico it was now likely that they had travelled another 1,000 to 1,400 miles south. That would probably mean Central America. Even though the prospects of what lay ahead, the thought of being held as a pony at the whim and control of others was daunting, Jen was ready to get off this ship. She truly hoped that this was their destination and not just another stop to pick up another load of spoiled passengers.
The ship came to a stop much quicker than it had the last time the engines had slowed. This must mean a much smaller harbor. Jen hated not being able to see out. She hated not being in control. She hated having to just stand in her stall and await others to come for her. But her emotions would not change the reality. She was a pony, and when they wanted the ponies they could come for them. Until then she had no choice but to stand and wait.
It was not long before they did come for them. Three trainers opened the stable, then one by one the stalls removing each pony and connecting them together in a single string. They were then led out and up the ramps to the work deck. As they exited onto the deck Jen could see the land to the port side. There were palm trees close by and behind the land rose in jungle covered hills. Hills might be to gentle a description. Although they did not rise to a great height they looked very rugged. On the bad side, it would be very difficult to travel over that terrain and through that jungle. On the positive side it would be very difficult to find anyone out there. If she could escape and make it to the jungle she could probably evade her captors for as long as she wanted. But to what end? If they were really on an island what good would it do to get away to the jungle? Could she really live in the jungle?
It was still light out, but the sun was descending. It must be early evening. As they were led up onto the gang plank Jen could see that the Ship was tied at a dock with its port side parallel to the land just as it had been back in Long Beach. The dock itself was not very wide and was bordered on the far side by a series of animal pens like the ones back in Long Beach and a building that looked like a warehouse, but much smaller than the one in which they have been held during and after her initial capture.
Between the dock and the pens was a paved road that extended to Jen's left. There was a town. There were buildings, all inland from the road. The dock did not continue more than a few hundred feed beyond the aft portion of the ship. Beyond the dock Jen could see that there was a beach. There were people on the beach. Some sitting in chairs, some just walking around, a couple had moved over closer to the dock area and were watching the unloading of the ship. Looking ahead at the pens Jen could see that the grooms and slaves had already been off loaded and confined to the pens. And now a string of pony girls, tails wagging in the breeze, arms bound behind them, connected by the neck one to another, were being walked down the ramp and toward an animal pen. The spectators looked on with some curiosity but no alarm, no disgust, no sympathy. Why would they. They were watching animals being unloaded. The animals appeared healthy and probably well cared for. They quickly lost interest in the sight and turned back toward their enjoyment of the white sandy beach.
The ponies were not put in a pen. They were brought past the pens and into the building. Just inside the door was a type of waiting area. There were actually couches against the walls, but the ponies were not allowed near them. On another wall there was a metal bar about 10 feet long extending about 6 inches from the wall at about three feet off the floor. The pony string was broken and each of the ponies was secured to the bar by reins that replaced the string line.
The trainers were only gone for a minute or two when they returned and selected Jen to go with them. She wished another pony had been chosen first, but this time it was her 'honor'. Jen was led through another door and into a smaller room. She was maneuvered forward toward what looked like a metal frame with cross beams at various points. The top bar, at about chin level, had two bars protruding upward. Jen was pulled forward toward the frame. She stopped and refused to go forward fighting the reins. A second trainer joined in and Jen's head was pushed between these bars so that her chin rested on the lower bar. They were all padded, as soon as her head was in place straps were buckled behind her head holding her in place. Two more bars hit her just above and below her breasts. She was pushed against those, but not fastened to them, at least not at this time. Another bar at her waist connected with a lock to the front ring in her waist band. Then her legs were secured to bars at her thighs, knees, and ankles. She was held against the frame with little ability to move.
She remembered the last time they had locked her in some frame. She didn't know what they intended to do to her now, but she did not want it. She pulled at her legs, but they were held tight. She tried to back out of the frame, but she was held firmly. She tried to twist her body, she was immobile. One of the trainers stepped forward and started to stroke the side of her head telling her "it will be ok, just relax." Jen didn't think it was going to be ok. None of this had been ok and there was no reason to think this would be any different. But, once again, the stroking had a calming effect, and after all, there was nothing she could do to stop whatever was going to happen.
After she was secured a person in a white coat approached her from in front. She could see something in the person's hand. She thought it was a tattoo gun, but she had never been tattooed so she was a little unsure. It was a tattoo gun. An assistant took a hold of Jen's lower lip and pulled it down. Then the person in the white coat started to tattoo her on the inside of her lip. They did not bother to remove her bridle or bit. In fact, it seemed to aid them by keeping her mouth open and more accessible. She had no idea why they would be placing a tattoo inside her mouth. No one would be able to see it there. Then she remembered that the registry number for horses is often tattooed inside the horse's mouth. She was being registered so that her proper owner could be easily determined.
The tattooing did not take long. Jen wondered what it was. A symbol of some kind, some combination of numbers and letters she assumed. She now had her own VIN number. Lovely. But they were not done with her. The person in the white coat left; but two other women dressed in khaki shirts and shorts entered the room.
They unbuckled and removed the pouch over her arms. Then to her surprise they unlocked and started to unbuckle the straps that had held her arms confined at her back for the last two weeks. As pleased as she was to be getting her arms back she was worried. Would they hurt? Would she be able to use them after all this time? But she was not completely released. The straps at her upper arms were released, but quickly replaced with some type of metal bar with a metal cuff on each end that encircled the upper arm just above the elbow. Only then were her wrists released. They were no longer held across her back. She remembered how unhappy she had been with herself for giving in so easily the last time her arms were secured. Maybe this was her chance. She straightened her arms bringing them down toward her sides, she was going to put up a fight, but her elbows were held firmly to the bar behind her. She had almost no range of motion and it took almost no effort for one of her new antagonists to fold her wrists back up to the bar that joined her elbows. The bar and her lower arms were then wrapped with what felt like cloth tape. The taping extended to and included wrapping her hands with the fingers placed around her elbows, then the wrapping continued up her upper arms for another four to five inches. Her arms had been free (not even completely free) for less than a minute.
After the tape was carefully smoothed and inspected, the first of these two new tormentors said to the other one: "You apply the epoxy Resin. I will go start on the next one." Then she left the room.
As directed the remaining individual went to work. Something was being smeared over Jen's taped arms. Jen tried to see what was going on, but with her head held between the two bars she could not turn and look back at all. She could feel the work progressing. "Epoxy Resin?" They were going to encase her arms in a cast. Epoxy was strong. And with her arms wrapped to the metal bar inside the cast she would have no chance of breaking it. She had been a creature without arms for over two weeks now. She had been trained to do without them. She had adjusted pretty well. It was almost as if she didn't need them. But that did not mean she didn't miss them. There was something about the idea of the cast covering her arms that seemed so permanent. It was becoming clear that, unless something else intervened, she was never to have arms again.
The chemical smell was very strong as wet material was wrapped around her arm bindings. It appeared that instead of the normal fiberglass or plaster soaked material strong industrial Epoxy had been substituted to make a stronger and more permanent cast. After a liberal wrap had been applied Jen was hobbled and removed from the frame. She was moved about ten feet, turned and positioned between two poles facing toward the wall, but with enough room for someone to move between her and the wall. She was connected to the two poles by short chains attached to metal rings that protruded from the new cast just above each elbow. The rings must be part of the metal bands because although Jen tried to pull and twist against them, they held fast. The worker then left to perform other tasks while Jen dried.
Jen knew that as the cast dried it would confine her arms and hands with only the room and space that could be created now. As soon as she was left alone she tried to twist and move her arms around to weaken the hold of the cast, perhaps to create some space inside, but she had virtually no movement. For the last two weeks she had regularly opened and closed her hands to keep the use of her fingers. She tried to wiggle her fingers to create some space for them, but they were held tight to her elbows and arms. As the epoxy dried the chance of any movement became just a memory. This new development very much complicated her prospects for escape.
Shortly Jen heard noises and turned to see one of the smaller, now very frightened, ponies brought in and led toward the frame by two trainers. Jen could only watch what was going on from the corner of her eye with her head fully turned because the action was behind her and the chains from her elbows did not allow her to turn her upper body. The new pony apparently saw Jen held with her arms now confined in a cast and must have tried to resist. She twisted and pulled, she cried and whined, she even let her legs collapse and tried to drop to the floor. It was all to no avail and she was quickly and efficiently strapped to the frame. It was then that Jen realized how much smaller than her this pony was. In order to place her in the frame the trainers had to adjust the chin bar down about half a foot. That would make her a full hand and a half shorter than Jen. Jen wasn't sure why she had thought of small pony's height in hands. Jen wondered if they would be measured in hands, and if so what would they consider to be the withers? She would guess the top of the shoulder or the nap of the neck. She remembered that she had been measured to the nap of the neck when she first arrived. Allowing about 10 inches for the head and neck would make Jen and Abby about 15 hands, a respectable height for a classy pony. The tall ponies had long legs, but also long necks, they would probably only be 15.2 if properly measured.
After the new pony was tattooed the khaki clad workers returned and went to work on her arms. After she was cast and moved to a drying frame to Jen's left they returned to Jen and applied another coat of material to her cast. This time instead of wrapping soaked fabric they actually spread the soft plaster like material over the entire cast area. As they were finishing the trainers returned with Abby. Abby moved without protest as they directed her forward and secured her to the frame. Jen thought to herself that they should have taken Abby before the last pony because now they had to adjust the chin bar back up to the height it had been for Jen. The plasterers had left, presumably to perform their tasks on the other ponies is the other room, but they were back shortly after Abby was tattooed and soon she joined Jen and the small pony in the drying frames.
After all three ponies had received the overlying coat to their arm casts a groom, not one Jen had seen before, came into the room and watered each pony. Then, one by one she removed the bridle and bit, hand fed the pony, then replaced the bridle and bit before moving on to the next pony. She was not hurried in her task and gentle and caring but all business. After the feeding, their bodies were cleaned, and then she left, turning off the light as she departed. Usually they had some movement, not this night. Three ponies stood side by side, hobbled and chained by the elbows. No chances were being taken that they might be able to bump against anything while the arm casts dried. The casts would dry overnight to a solid strong case holding the metal, bone and flesh below to single unmovable form.
Sleep was a challenge supported only by a bar and chains connected to her elbows with her arms behind her back, but she did get some. She wished she were in her stall. Jen never thought she would miss being able to lie on the concrete or metal floor of her stall, but right now she did.
Jen had more dozed than slept leaning backwards on the chain and metal bar with her legs held straight in front of her. Then letting her arms carry her weight as she shifted forewords to hang from her restraints. Her arms ached. Her legs were tired. It may have been the longest night of her life. She was never so happy to see the pre-dawn light. The advantage to not being held deep in the bowels of a ship is that the room, even without windows begins to betray dawn. It also appeared that although this was a resort and the guests were almost all asleep, staff, and in particular, slaves were up and working early to make sure everything was perfect for the pampered guests.
Three grooms arrived to see to the ponies. They were not the grooms who had taken care of them at the warehouse and on the ship. Jen missed her groom, but at this point she was thrilled to see anyone. The groom knocked on the cast testing its hardness in several places. Whether this was part of her task or only curiosity Jen would never know, and the groom didn't say. Instead she set to work unlocking and removing Jen's harness, collar, and boots. Then she removed the bridle and bit. Except for the cast covering her arms and the rings embedded in her breasts and between her legs Jen was completely naked. For a while then the routine was familiar. Jen was washed, her teeth were cleaned, her toe nails were clipped sanded and polished, and her hair was brushed.
After the bridle and bit had been removed Jen started to say something. She felt guilty that she had never learned the name of her prior groom so she asked: "What is your name?" That earned her a hard slap on her buttocks with no accompanying verbalization. The message was clear. She said nothing more.
After the groom was satisfied with the cleanliness of her filly she started to install an all new harness. Jen's last harness had been white leather. This one was silver. Most of it was leather, but the collar and the waist belt were metal over leather. Both of these closed with a locking clasp at the back. From the front of the collar a strap proceeded down all the way to the belt. From this strap a type of halter with two circular holes pulled over her chest. Her breasts were fed through the holes until they popped out. Then the halter was buckled into a strap that ran from the back of the collar to the belt behind her. The straps on the halter were adjusted, tightened and then locked in place. The halter provided about two inches of leather both above and below Jen's breasts as well as some leather between them. The holes were smaller than her breasts and the groom had taken each breast by the nipple and worked it through the hole making sure that all of the flesh of her breasts was outside the hole before tightening the back strap of the halter. Then to Jen's immense displeasure the groom went to each side of the halter with an allen wrench and began turning something imbedded in the halter. As she turned the wrench with one hand she held up Jen's breast on that side with the other hand. There was a cable of some sort build into each hole of the halter. As the groom turned the wrench the cable tightened reducing the circumference of the hole and compressing the flesh around the base of Jen's breast. Jen could only look down and watch as first her right and then her left breast swelled under the pressure at its base darkening as the flow of blood was restricted. Periodically the groom would flick her breast with her forefinger until she attained what she considered the correct firmness. Jen was very aware of the constriction. It didn't really hurt, at least not yet, but her breasts felt much more sensitive than normal.
She did not like this. Like so much else, she did not like it at all. Jen decided to complaint: "That is too tight." The flick of the finger went from the side of her breast to the nipple. Now that hurt. Jen howled in pain, but she got the point. She shut her mouth.
The new harness below her waist was also different. First bands were fastened around each upper thigh. From these bands a strap ran up each side to the waist belt. Another belt circled her hips. It was supported in the front with a strap that ran from the front of the waist to a ring held just above her sex. It was joined to each of the straps running up her flanks, and it fastened in the back into a flat plate to which her tail, removed from the old harness and installed here, had been attached. Another strap ran from the rear plate up to her waist belt. From the front ring two straps extended down each side of her sex to the inside of the straps around her upper thighs. Jen saw the connecters for the sulkies. There was a set at her waist as on the old harness, but there was also a set on the strap at the sides of her hips. Jen recognized that this would be a much better place to connect the sulkies. She would be able to put a lot more power into her actions with a sulky attached to this better point.
New boots and a new bridle and bit in matching silver leather completed the outfit. After a time the trainers entered the room. After a careful inspection of the three ponies reins were attached to the bit in each mouth and each pony in turn was released from their hobble and from the poles to which they had been secured. It was very frustrating to watch the trainer, with a single hand, unsnap the clip connected to Jen's elbows, the simple clip that had held her standing all night without relief. No effort at all, all you needed was hands. This simple act painfully underscored the degree to which Jen was dependent upon others for almost everything. Jen was tired and depressed. She really just wanted to collapse and get some rest, but she knew that was not going to happen.
They were led out of the building. The pens in front were now empty. Jen did not know where the slaves had been taken. The ship was still there. The cranes on the fore deck were now at work offloading materials from the hold of the ship. Jen watched as a crane lowered a pallet of material onto a low flat cart on the dock. Two male slaves, recognizable from their cuffs and iron collar were guiding the load onto the cart. Yoked to the front of the cart were two male work ponies. The ponies were similarly clad to Jen and her group except that the harness was heavy and utilitarian. But there was another significant difference that kept Jen's eyes locked on them. Unlike Jen; unlike the other new ponies; these work horses did not have their arms encased in a cast behind their backs. Jen wanted to get a better angle to make sure, but she knew without the better view, they did not have a cast on their arms because they had NO arms. A portion of their harness wrapped around the upper body just below their shoulders with straps crossing over the area where arms would extend it they were present. This upper harness was then connected back to the middle of the yoke so that these horses could put the weight of their upper body into pulling the load on their cart. They were utility beasts and clearly worked very hard. Jen had never been so happy to be a girl. Jen and Abby gave no resistance as they were turned away to their left and hitched to the yoke of a two pony sulky.
Although the site of the poor utility beasts still weighed on her mind Jen's attention moved instead to the road in front of her. The crack (in the air) and then snap (against flesh) of the buggy whip spurred them on. It had been well over a week since Jen had been hitched to a sulky, but she found herself walking with raised knees easily capturing the movement. To her left was the beach. Beautiful white sand extended about 100 yards to bright blue water with almost no wave action. Jen could see that they were in a natural harbor embraced by long arms of land on either side forming a crescent. It was now mid-morning and the beach was already attracting a fair number of swimmers and sun worshipers. They all seemed fairly young, many, particularly the women, were not much older than her. Although Jen and Abby received occasional glances it was obvious that, around here, there was nothing extraordinary about two mostly naked ponies pulling a sulky up the road.
On the right was an open air terrace of a restaurant. Vine covered trellises enclosed the non-sea side and extended over the top creating some protection from the tropical sun. Slave girls with golden cuffs, collars, and belts dressed in billowing diaphanous clothing that hid almost nothing of what lay below were setting tables and preparing to open for the lunch meal, still several hours away. Next to the terrace the sulky passed what appeared to be the interior portion of the restaurant. Most of the activity seemed to be focused on the outside seating.
After passing the restaurant the sulky was turned to the right in front of the next building. The ponies found themselves pulling the sulky up a brick road with stores and bars on the right and a town square type park to the left. It appeared that there was another row of stores, bars, and restaurants facing the square against a roadway that capped the square, and another on the far side. The square was large at least 1,000 feet on each side. There was a large gazebo in the center and paths winding between fountains and flower beds. It was really quite tranquil and lovely a very romantic settling. It appeared empty this morning.
Most of the stores were open. Most of the bars and restaurants were either still closed or in the process of opening. The climate here must be generally good Jen thought as she observed that the fronts of these commercial structures were designed to open almost fully to the street. Some guests could be seen in some of the stores interacting with clerks. The clerks all appeared to be free persons although every store had at least one slave standing or kneeling by the service counter or performing some task within the store. Most slaves had chains connecting their ankle cuffs, but with plenty of slack so as not to impair their duties. Very few had chained hands. The several that were kneeling were attached to the counter with a short chain from their collar. They held their hands in their lap and knelt motionless with their heads down. It must have been a trained position because they all looked the same.
The street was quite narrow. It would be very difficult for two automobiles to pass each other and in fact, Jen saw no automobiles. She did not even see road signs. Jen and Abby passed two hansom cabs parked by the side of the roadway in front of shops. Each had a team of two fillies. Their harnesses were black and each had a feathery plume extending from the back of her head. The cab was open with a seat for two passengers. There was a small platform for the driver to stand behind them. The cab had been built lightly, but there was still a great deal more weight than the simple sulky Jen and Abby were pulling. Jen was happy to see that the ponies did not seem disheartened or broken like the poor utility ponies that she had seen at the dock. They stood patiently waiting for passengers. One driver stood near his steeds brushing their hair and tails. Jen wondered if the cab drivers also performed the groom functions for their animals. Unless they could afford a slave it was likely. Jen was happy she was a racing pony. At least she hoped she was a racing pony. Could she and Abby end up driving hansom cabs for tourists around the town? "That was not going to happen!"
They were turned left at the top of the square but continued straight as they reached the far corner leaving the square. Once they had left the town square the commercial businesses quickly ended. As they left the last of these the driver signaled an increased pace and they were moved up to a trot. It actually felt good to be stretching her legs.
The road appeared to proceed straight and then gently turn to the right. The ground here was level with what looked like service buildings and even houses on either side. Where there townspeople here? What must they think of this place? Maybe they were just happy to be employees and not slaves. Maybe they even kept their own slaves. The more available slaves were the more people would vest themselves in the institution. But slavery was not legal anywhere. At least Jen thought it was not legal anywhere. The United Nations prohibited it. At least she thought they did. How did they keep the word from leaking out? Especially when it appeared that the slaves were not taken locally but were captured from other countries. People would care. If they knew people would care and they would stop this.
As they went into the turn at the end of the straight road they started moving inland. Jen could see a large structure ahead. It wasn't quite Belmont Park, but it was pretty nice. They were approaching from the ocean side. The grandstands were on the other side; built into the natural rise of the landscape. It looked like they could accommodate a lot of people. They would look out over the track with the sea behind, a beautiful setting. Below the track, on the ocean side, was what appeared to be a training area. On the far side, from where they were approaching, there were stables. It appeared they were build so that the open end would face the ocean, probably to take advantage of the sea breezes. They were far enough in so as to not be visible from and thus not to obscure any of the view of the ocean from the stands. Below the formal racing track, separated by a hedge and a road were training paddocks surrounded by training tracks. What Jen presumed to be equipment buildings were nearby. On the side where they approached, on an intersection of the road leading to the track and the other dividing the track and the training area there were several animal pens and a small warehouse or exhibit type building. Double doors opened to the pen area.
The sulky was brought to a stop next to the pens. Jen was detached from the sulky. A serious looking woman pulled back Jen's lip to look at her tattoo. She measured her height, but only from the ground to the nape of her neck. She checked her clipboard, made a check mark then she clipped a cardboard sign to Jen's nipple rings. It was invasive and Jen did not like it, but like everything else here she could do nothing about it. She was led into the pen and hobbled. As she was trying to figure out what the sign said she was joined by Abby who was hobbled and then clipped to Jen at the waist by a line of about four feet. Abby's sign said "Misty Night". Her sign was now clear. She was Willow. "Could have been worse", she told herself.
There were four other teams in pen. The irritating blond fillies from her ship where there. They were "Gullfaxi" and "Sleipnir". There was a team of Asian fillies who Jen had never seen before. Their hair was long and midnight black. It shined in the sun. Their breasts were small but well formed. Their bronze colored skin was smooth and well oiled. They were smaller, but they looked fit and strong. They were "Ikezuki" and "Chollima". Ikezuki looked at Willow. Her expression was confident; there was no hint of fear, desperation or even resignation. She even lowered her head, snorted and drug her right hoof in the ground. "Really?" thought Jen. "Get over it." Jen shook her head and looked away. This just got crazier and crazier all of the time. Jen looked at Abby. She was staring straight ahead into space seemingly not focused on anything.
The biggest surprise was a stud team. They were young like all the other ponies. It appeared 19-22 was the benchmark. They looked fit, but not muscular. They may be athletic, but, in their past life, they had not spent a great deal of time working out. They were dressed in similar fashion to the fillies except, or course, for the area between their legs. In the case of studs the end of the penis had been pierced and ringed. The penis was then pulled back and locked to a short chain extending from a band around the top of the scrotum. Willow was comforted by this later arrangement. She did not know what the policy on breeding was but she was certainly not comfortable with a couple of studs in a pen full of fillies. The studs were "Sir Excess" and "Rocinante". Willow laughed; she wondered if Rocinante appreciated his name. She wondered if he had engaged in some unachievable activity to earn him the name of Don Quixote's horse.
The last team in the pen was medium height, darker olive skin, and dark rich hair with warm brown eyes. Their breasts were not large but beautifully proportioned to their bodies. They had very small waists but well formed ample hips. They were very attractive and so similar in look that Willow wondered if they were twins. They were "Lucippe" and Euippe". Willow guessed it was Greek, but had no idea what it meant.
Willow heard the gate being opened. The last of the teams from the ship were led in. Unlike most of the others in the pen they looked down cast. They were already beaten. They were never going to make it as racing ponies. They were "Silver Spoon" and "Flying Tail". That confirmed it; Jen could definitely have done worse than Willow. She doubted these two had any future in these stables. They belonged on the street pulling a hansom cab, not here.
Some of the ponies had strong names. She recognized Gullfaxi from the Norse mythology class she had taken. The golden mane of the name sake worked. She had done pretty well in that class. Wasn't Sleipnir Odin's horse? She wondered if the names signaled how the ponies were valued by the owners. The Norse ponies (as she now thought of them) did not need any more to help their ego or confidence. She didn't know what Ikezuki and Chollima meant, but they sounded strong. (If she had taken a class on Asian history and mythology she might have learned that Ikezuki was the horse of the famous Shogun Yoritomo, the horse was well known for its swimming abilities also for biting. Chollima was the mythical Korean thousand mile horse, winged like Pegasus.)
A woman with dark shoulder length hair and a green shirt with the letters PPA on the back came into the pen with another older blond woman. The blond woman was holding a folder. The dark haired woman would grasp the reins of the pony then peel back her lip. She appeared to be looking from the tattoo on the inside of the lip to her clipboard. Some notations were made on the clipboard and Jen could see the blond woman looking at documents in the folder she held. The dark haired woman would then look over the skin of the pony using the reins to turn the pony one way and another. She used her fingers to touch several red marks on the flank and buttocks of the pony she was inspecting and once again made notations on the clipboard.
After looking at several other ponies the women came to Jen. Jen could now see the words "Pony Protective Association" on the dark haired woman's shirt. Her hand holding the clipboard also grasped Jen's reins. She didn't pull on them, but held them tightly while the other hand, also holding a pen, peeled back Jen's lip. The woman looked from Jen's lip to the clipboard and said: "registration matches." Then she looked over to the blond woman and asked: "Contract or wild capture?"
The woman flipped through papers in her folder and replied: "We have a signed contract."
"Like hell." Jen thought. That contract was not enforceable. "No way." She tried to say to the PPA woman but it just sounded like snorting. She shook her head back and forth in what she thought was a clear NO sign.
"Sssh" the woman said almost affectionately. She had released Jen's lip and stroked the side of her head a couple of times. She looked at Jen's flanks, legs, and buttocks. Other than a few almost healed red marks, none longer than an inch and a half and a large black bruise on her upper right leg where she had fallen when washed by the wave on the ship she was not marked. "You look like you have been well cared for." She turned again to the blond haired woman. "Any use restrictions under the contract?"
"None. Primary categorization is to the pony service but authority to transfer to another division at her owner's discretion subject only to PPA approval. Term is perpetual."
"That matches." Said the dark haired woman as she turned her attention back to Jen's mouth checking her teeth.
Jen was stunned. They were trying to hold her on the basis of the stupid contract she had signed. She hadn't read it. They had told her it was just a standard employment agreement. Jen twisted and shook her upper body. She looked at the PPA official and tried to say: "I did not agree to those things."
The woman let go of her chin as Jen shook and twisted. "I have never understood why someone would irrevocably give up their freedom. It is surprising how many, like this one, seem to have reconsidered the idea, but a deal is a deal." She looked into Jen's eyes. "Sorry little one, you made your bed, your papers are in order, and you are approved for sale. But we will always be here to make sure your treatment is humane."
Jen was completely dumbfounded. "Humane?" What part of this was humane? It was as if her legs were connected to the ground and not just to each other. She felt her stomach knot. She felt sick. She was afraid she was going to throw up. But she didn't.
One by one the teams were taken into the building. About 10 minutes later another was led away. Jen and Abby were the third team to enter through the double doors near the pens. Inside was a livestock show area. Through the doors a short corridor was created by gates opened to block access to either the right or the left. Straight ahead was a display area about twenty feet to a side. It was brightly lit. As they passed into the ring area the gates that had been opened were closed behind them creating a complete pen on all four sides except that on three sides the side of the pen was made up of a wooden wall of about four feet with another two feet of railing above. Behind the wall on each of these sides was what appeared to be about a three foot walkway and then bleachers that angled up for about ten rows. Stairs on either side and at the two corners gave access to the upper rows. There were about forty people in the bleachers. They were seated in small groups and appeared to be carefully examining the occupants of the display area. At this time that was only Willow and Misty Night, there was no sign of the prior teams. They must have been removed already.
In the arena with them was a single handler. Above on the walkway near the rail was a middle aged man with a microphone in his hand. He began speaking with: "Now available, lot 7. Standing at 15.1, an almost perfectly matched pair. Though not purported to be of the same blood one can only speculate if they come from the same sire. Speed and ability is largely untested, but both are strong and agile."
Jen did not like this. Like so much else here she did not like it at all. She was being objectified and sold. To make matters worse, as the auctioneer spoke about them the trainer had stepped up to Jen and put her hand around Jen's breast. Using her breast as a lever she turned Jen to the right and the left stroking her thigh with the other hand. Jen shook her upper body attempting, without success, to free her breast from the hand that gripped it. She stomped her foot within the limits of the hobble to show her displeasure with this experience. "And clearly spirited." Added the auctioneer.
Jen gave up and stood still. The bids had opened at $25,000, but they were moving up. As the bid crossed $40,000 Willow straightened her back and looked around the room. How high would they go? She didn't know what the standard was, but $40,000 was a lot of money.
The hammer dropped at $44,500. The handler in the arena opened a case and placed a sticker of a palm tree onto the cards that said Willow and Misty Night. Then they were led out another gate in the side of the arena. They were taken into another area of the building and hitched to a rail. There was only one other team there. Naturally it was the bitchy Norse ponies. Their name cards displayed a bright sun. As if on cue a trainer dressed in khaki with a sun emblem on the back of her shirt walked in, took the reins, and led the Norse ponies away. Jen and Abby were left alone. The symbol must mean the stable, Jen thought. Thank heavens she and Abby were going to a different stable than the Norse ponies. She hoped the palm tree stable was a good place. Twisting at her arms she thought: "we might be there a very long time."
She could hear some sounds from the arena, but could not see the team that was in there. Willow was anxious to see how the bidding compared on this new team in the arena but her attention was taken with the arrival of three figures. There was a man, middle aged, dark hair well groomed, wearing a white suit with an expensive shirt open at the collar. The crease in his pants hung perfectly straight without a wrinkle in sight. His leather shoes were clearly Italian, and very expensive. His cologne was musky, but at the same time subtle and not heavy. As he reached up and put his hand around her breast Willow could see perfectly manicured nails. His hands were as soft as cashmere gloves. She could not keep herself from looking into his face. His eyes were a dark green. She felt a stirring in her loins as she looked into a truly handsome face. She didn't know what she should do, so she just stood there and looked at him. She realized that she was drooling around her bit as a drop fell from her mouth and landed onto the back of his hand. She was mortified, but he did not jerk his hand away. He did not become angry with her. Instead he smiled and stroked her hair. It was not done as a means of wiping his hand although it had the same effect; instead it felt loving and affectionate. She did not want his hands to leave her body. She hoped that some of his scent might transfer to her so she would be able to sense the closeness of their bodies. In reality no portion of his body other than his hand had actually touched her but in her mind they were rolling naked, completely entwined. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and enjoyed the way the scent played through her nose and into her mouth.
Then he took a step over and lifted Misty Night's chin to look into her face. He was still smiling. Willow did not like this. She wanted him to return to her. She closed up the distance between her and Misty hoping he would turn his attention back to her, but he did not. Instead he turned to the two women who had come in with him. They were both dressed in the now familiar khaki shorts and shirts, except each of them had a palm tree emblazoned on the back of their shirts.
"The scouting reports on this one are very good." He said gesturing toward Willow. "The other one is pretty weak. But they are a magnificent pair. I don't want to break them up unless I absolutely have to. I think she has some potential for endurance even if she shows weak. I want training to focus primarily on preparation for the yearling two mile double harness run. That gives you less than ten weeks to get them ready. Can you do that?"
One of the trainers stepped forward and started touching the thigh muscles of both Willow and Misty. "There is pretty good muscle development. I think that should be enough time. Hopefully we will not have to spend too much time on conditioning. No matter how good a shape they were in before they will be a little out of shape after being confined on the ship for so long. They are a perfect parade pair. I recommend we spend some time making sure that their appearance in the parade is at least not embarrassing."
"Of course." He nodded his head. "But I really want that cup this year." Frank got the blond team. They are highly rated and will be tough competition. I don't know who is going to get the Asians, but I can't afford to buy another contender team so they will go to one of the other stables. I don't think any of the other yearlings pose any challenge at all."
"A race? A big important race. In less than two months. We can do this." Willow was thinking. She kept looking at him hoping he would look back at here. "We will work hard. We will win for you." She wanted to assure him that he had made the right decision in buying them. She nodded her head up and down and pushed herself toward him.
Her breast came into contact with his arm. He looked at her gesturing and nodding and attempts at communication. He wasn't annoyed at her intrusion, in fact he smiled again. She would do anything to get him to smile. He put his hand against the side of her head and neck and stroked down over her shoulder. "Nice pony, I know you won't disappoint me."
"I won't, I won't." She tried to say leaning her head toward his hand as best she could.
He handed her reins to one of the trainers and started to walk away. Then he turned and looked back at them. "We will win. You are free to use the whip at your discretion." Then he turned his back and left the room.
Willow watched him as he walked across the room hoping he would look back again, she watched until he had disappeared from view. As empty as she felt with his departure from her side, she still tingled from his touch. She wished she could put her hands in the places he had touched. She wanted more of his touch. She wanted to make him happy. She needed to make him happy. All she had to do was win. Well, they had to win. He said Misty was weak. That meant Misty had to step up. Willow remembered that Misty was having trouble their last day at the warehouse. She needed to do a lot better. Willow hoped that the trainers would not go light on her. She had been slaking. If she doesn't get it together they should lay the whip on her. He was smart enough to see that, he didn't want Willow held back by Misty. She wasn't going to be. She was going to win if she had to drag Misty and the sulky all the way around the track.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a pull on her reins. The hobble had been removed and she was guided toward a door that led out of the building. Once outside the building they moved in the direction of the stables passing between the training area on their left and the race track on their right. Misty's trainer walked ahead leading her by her reins. Willow's trainer followed behind. Misty appeared to balk and pull back a couple of times, but a jerk on the reins had the effect of moving her forward. When someone held your reins you went where they guided you. There was really no choice in the matter.
The road they followed ran along the back of the formal race track separated by an immaculately trimmed hedge about four feet high. Over the top of the hedge Willow could see that the formal track consistent with normal construction was made up of two tracks, one within the other. The outside track was dirt the inside grass. A white rail fence defined the interior circumference of each track. The outside track must be about a mile in length (a fairly normal length for horse race tracks) which would make the interior track 7/8th of a mile. Willow wondered if her four legged brothers and sisters might also run here. She had not seen any sign of them so far, but the grass track did not seem at all suitable for the equine inhabitants she knew to be here, including herself. She hoped she would not have to race on it. She knew it rained a lot in the tropics; maybe they used the grass if things were too muddy. There was no sign of rain now. Blue sky with not a cloud.
As they neared the stable buildings Willow could see that each one had a sign hanging from the eve visible from the approaching path. There were no words on the signs, only a symbol. One was a palm tree. That was obviously her new stable. Willow wondered if they were heading for their stalls now. It was early afternoon, but it was getting very hot and she would not mind getting out of the sun.
Instead of turning into the doorway of the stable the trainer guided them into another building next to the stable. It was a type of barn/equipment room. The walls were festooned with tack and gear. Around the inside of the room were various types of sulkies, chariots, and other carts both fancy and plain.
Clearly Willow and Misty were not headed to their stalls for rest. The signs connected to their nipple rings were finally removed and then each of them was hooked into the yoke of a single pony sulky. It looked like Misty was twisting away from the connections making it more difficult for her trainer to complete the task. Willow was pretty sure this obstructive behavior would not end well for Misty. Had she not heard what their new owner had said? Obviously he was right. Misty needed better motivation, and if the threat of the whip did not turn the trick maybe its kiss would. Willow was completely cooperative with her trainer and she finished the task first. If Willow had hands she would have gladly lifted and held the bars of the yoke while it was connected. She even had her bells again. In her mind her owner was standing next to her stroking her head and telling her how pleased he was with her. She was going to make that image come true. She sniffed the air her mind trying to recreate his scent. It had only a hint of cologne. Musky and rich not flowery at all, it was clearly masculine, the scent of a powerful potent dominant male. Just the memory made her knees weak.
Her trainer had mounted the sulky and signaled for her to leave the barn. It actually felt good to be back in harness. She moved into the walk that she had practiced on the deck of the ship. On reasonably level, non-pitching, ground it was easy to keep a pace and lift her legs high. The weight of the sulky seemed negligible. Only a slightly forward angle compensated for the drag at her hips. As they left the barn she was turned back onto the path they had just walked. Just ahead and to the right was the practice area. The major feature of the training area was a large track, about the same size as the dirt track in the formal stadium. Inside were two smaller tracks, also dirt, set end to end or oval to oval. There was no grass practice track. The interior tracks were closer in size to the track Willow had practiced on in the warehouse back in the United States. The outside track was much longer. Willow remembered that the big race, only a couple of months away, and that it was two miles. That would be about two laps of the big track. Her eyes circumnavigated the large track. That was a long way. In her training so far she had run no further than two laps of the small track. She could see that would be less than a full lap of the big track. She had only trotted four or five laps, and again of the short track. She felt her stomach knot. Suddenly she did not feel so confident. Jen was suddenly thinking that although she could probably jog two miles this was a race. A race hitched to some stupid cart with a passenger being pulled. This just wasn't right. They had no right to do this to her. The stupid protective association wouldn't even let her state her case. So was that the governmental oversight? It was catch-22 ponies could not speak so the paperwork and the statements of the humans governed. If the government sanctioned this it would make escape much more difficult. With a registration number tattooed in her mouth she could be easily caught and returned to her owners if she did get away.
As they turned onto the large training track, a snap of the reins and the crack of the whip signaled an increase in pace. Jen came out of her thoughts, focused on the task at hand and moved up to a trot. Had it really been almost two weeks since she did this before? It seemed so natural a movement. Suddenly Willow wasn't afraid of the length of the track. She could do this. She would do this. She needed to show her owner that he had made the right decision buying her, well them. She would make sure he was not disappointed. If Misty needed to be whipped, well that was just the way it was.
They trotted for two laps of the track (2 miles). The pace was good, it was smooth and steady. The clink of the bells gave witness to the gait. Willow's trainer worked on bringing her close to the rail. She didn't like being so close to the rail. She would start to drift away and be guided back in. A couple of times she thought the trainer was going to run her right into the rail but she always eased up just short of bringing her into contact.
Willow's breath was coming in deep heavy gasps after the two laps. She was surprised when instead of being brought to a walk she was signaled to run. There was a crack of the whip, still in the air, not on her flesh. She moved to the run gait she had learned. It was a run, not a sprint. It involved reaching out with her legs to cover as much distance as she could with each step. The lower connection point of the sulky became obvious as she ran. With its connection to her body adjacent to the point where her legs connected into her hips she could deliver maximum power to each step. She could lean into the movement using the small resistance from the sulky to keep her upright.
Willow was enjoying the feel of the run. She wondered if her owner were somewhere nearby. He certainly would not expect her to look so good and move so fast on her first day 'off the boat'. She was sure he would be pleased with her. They continued the run for a full lap. As the bells on her nipples and clitoris started to arouse her she thought of her owner. She pictured him in the sulky behind her enhancing her sensation through the gentle swinging of the bells as he guided her to a place where the two of them could be together alone. Her breath was coming faster, she didn't know how much was because of her arousal or just sheer exhaustion. The feeling from the bells gave way to an orgasm. As its waves washed over her she never broke stride, she never varied her gait. But as she neared the end of the lap Willow thought her lungs were going to explode. Her legs wanted to give out. Her legs were starting to cramp. Her body was screaming for her to stop, but she would not. He might be watching. She would not stop until she was signaled to stop or she dropped dead on the track.
There was the signal, slow, first to a trot, shortly thereafter to a walk. She was breathing heavily, no, she was panting, no, she was actually gasping. She tried to maintain her composure and keep her posture straight. It was a losing battle; she slumped forward as she struggled to fill her lungs with air. There was a cramp in her right calf. But she did not fall; she managed to keep walking, the cramp hurt. In another life she would have sat down and massaged it. Here all she could do was keep walking and try to walk it out. Walk or rather limp she did although her knees were certainly not meeting the required lift. But her trainer was cutting her some slack. There was no snap and bite of the whip. As she walked her breath started to return. The cramp started to ease and her limp went away. She started to feel better. She started to lift her knees again. They walked a complete lap of the track before returning to the paddock area near the entrance.
Her body was soaked in sweat. The wet tropical heat kept her from drying off. Her trainer tied her reins to a post, and then she walked back to Willow and watered her from a plastic bottle. Willow took the water effortlessly. The trainer gave her a pat and put something into her mouth. It was sweet and her taste buds exploded in ecstasy at the almost forgotten flavor. She had done a good job. She knew it and her trainer knew it. She was not sure what was sweeter, the syrupy flavor in her mouth or the stroke to her ego from her performance. She held her head up in pride, but also so as not to lose her prize as she worried it with her tongue enjoying each lick.
Her trainer moved off to talk to some other people. They had clipboards and a stop watch. Obviously they had been watching her performance, had he? Was he here? Willow searched all around he was not to be seen. Why was he not there? Didn't he want to see what she could do? There was a lot of training time before the race, but this was the first time she had run for him. And let there be no mistake she had run for him. She looked at the trainers huddles about 30 feet away. What did they think? Were they impressed with her? Would they tell him what a great job she had done? Certainly they would. And in time he would come. He would watch her. She would impress him. She would win for him. She knew it. But for that to really happen she needed Misty to perform too.
She looked around for Misty. She had not seen her on the large track. She had not passed her during her run, and certainly she had not been passed by her. Where was she? Then she saw her. She was on one of the small tracks. She was also hitched to a single pony sulky. She was trotting. The movement was not smooth. Willow could see the sulky yawing back and forth. And for a trot, which was easy to maintain with an almost upright posture, she seemed to be leaning forward. It wasn't necessary to lean forward for a trot, maybe a run, but not a trot. And the bounce of her breasts was too much to be explained by just the movement of the trot. Her head and neck were moving from side to side and from front to back. She was breathing heavily. Then to Willow's horror Misty's foot seemed to slip and she went face down on the track. The sulky bounced and stopped, but did not flip over. Misty and her trainer were quite a ways away, but Willow could make out the trainer shaking on the reins and encouraging Misty to rise. Nothing was happening. Willow saw the whip go back and then fall. Willow could hear the snap all the way to where she stood. Misty jumped, but did not move to get her feet under her. A second stroke, the sound of the snap arriving just after the action was observed. Willow could hear the cry from the downed pony. Her feet and legs were starting to move now. A third snap and another scream issued from the track.
"Give her a chance." Willow mumbled to no one. Lying on her stomach, connected at the hips to the yoke arms, with her arms uselessly held behind her back, Misty was having a very difficult time getting up. She was trying to get a knee under her to lift her body up but she kept slipping forward and falling back. Each failed attempt was greeted with another snap of the whip and another scream from poor Misty. Finally she got a knee even with her waist and was able to shift her weight over onto it. Then she was able to lift herself back up to a standing position. The beating stopped, but she was not allowed to catch her breath. Instantly the reins where shaken and Misty was required to start forward, first a walk, then a trot, and finally even a run, albeit a very slow run. Jen's heart was pounding for her friend. They had run her to exhaustion and then beaten her when she had fallen. As much as she wanted Misty to perform better this was really not fair.
Something wet touched her cheek. Jen looked up and noticed that the blue sky was completely gone. In its place thick dark grey clouds cast a deep shadow over everything. Where had those come from? And as quickly as the clouds arrived it started to rain, gentle at first, but quickly increasing. One of the trainers walked over to the sulky and threw a cover over the seat. Then the trainer moved under a protective wooden canopy with the other trainers. Jen was left hitched to the rail standing completely in the open. The rain fell on her and there was no protection. She looked around for some cover. There was a stand of trees not too far from her but far enough away to provide her with no cover. She had not been hobbled, but her reins were tied to the post. She tried to shy away from the rail but her reins would not budge. She stomped a foot which splashed in the puddle that was assembling around her feet, then she just stood and let the rain fall onto her and run down her body to the ground. At least it was warm, in fact once soaked, a very quick process, it started to feel very good. The only continuing problem was the water running into her eyes which underscored her inability to wipe it away.
As quickly as it came it was gone and within half an hour the sun was once again shining. Her skin dried quickly, but the leather straps and bands of her harness took longer. The wet leather was not comfortable against her skin, but there was little she could do about it. The edges of the harness that constricted her breasts now seemed to be cutting deeply into them. She tried to twist her body inside the harness it would not move. She shook back and forth to see if it would relieve the pain around her breasts it did not help. She tried to leverage against the attachments from the harness to the yoke of the sulky, but that did not work either. Everything was measured so precisely and connected so tightly to her form that it was if the straps were a part of her. She wondered if the water would loosen her arm cast. She tried to twist her arms inside the cast nothing. She tried to look back at it hoping to see its integrity compromised. She could only see the portion on her arms, but it was completely intact and from the appearance of the small beads of water left on its surface it was water resistant.
Jen knew it was only the middle of the afternoon, but she was very tired. She had not been able to sleep well anchored as she had been all night in a standing position. She had been sold at auction. She had been run for miles on a track. She had been left to stand in a tropical downpour. What would be next? Abby pulled her sulky up next to Jen. Her trainer got out and secured her reins to the rail a few feet away. Jen looked at the bright red marks on Abby's back, buttocks, and legs. There were a lot more of them than could be accounted for in the events of the fall that Jen had witnesses. The trainer must have been laying on the whip even before that. Abby's head drooped. She looked at Jen her eyes were glassy and distant. There was a pain there that made Jen gasp. Jen knew it was much deeper than just the reaction to the physical pain betrayed by the many marks on her body. She had never seen her friend look so despondent. The look of fear that she had seen in her on earlier occasions was gone. It was replaced instead with a something that felt like dark desperation. It was the look Jen expected from someone who had completely given up and was ready to take their own life. But even that road to escape was denied them. They absolutely had to get out of this place. Jen didn't know how, but she knew they needed to get away.
Jen hoped that she and Abby would be stabled close together so they could talk after their bits were removed. They had to come up with an escape plan. And, if nothing else at least she could try to provide some comfort to her friend. This was truly monstrous. Jen's thought returned to the PPA woman. "Humane . . . humane my ass." She would like to see that bitch hitched to a sulky while someone unmercifully whipped her ass. She wondered how humane she would think that was.
The trainer had returned. She removed the cover from the seat of the sulky. Shook away the water and carefully folding it put it away in a nearby cabinet. The sulky seat, unlike Jen, was dry and after retrieving the reins the trainer climbed inside. "Wouldn't want her to get her ass wet." Jen thought.
There was a pull to the right and a shake of the reins. Jen was exhausted, her hair was matted, her wet harness cut into her body, her legs felt like tree stumps rooted to the wet ground. There was another pull and shake on the reins. Jen looked over her right shoulder toward her trainer and glared; then she twisted her head straight forward lifting her chin in a deviant gesture as she snorted through her nose and mouth. Her legs remained planted. But then there was the snap and the bite of the whip. The fire seemed to run through her entire body. Her knees moved slightly but she recovered and held her pose. Then there was a second snap. Did they know different places to hit? This really hurt much more than the last strike. Reluctantly Jen stepped out to the right and started to walk. The track was wet and slippery. The sulky felt like it had gained at least 100 pounds. She didn't know if it was her tired condition or the muddy track, or a combination of both, but it seemed to take great effort even to move it forward.
She was guided toward one of the smaller tracks. Although still an effort the movement started to smooth but it was taking all she had just to move forward at this slow pace. Certainly her trainer was not going to expect more but she already knew the answer to that question. It came only a short distance into the small track. There was the shake and the signal to increase pace. Jen stepped up her pace, held the trot for about six steps, and returned to a walk. It just was not in her. The snapping pain delivered the message of who made the decisions. She tried again. She was having trouble controlling her legs; they felt like they were going to collapse. She was certain she was going to fall to the track in utter exhaustion. She remembered seeing Abby struggling in the dust to rise from her fall as the trainer put her to the whip. Fear surged through Jen's body and with it enough adrenalin to keep the trot.
Fortunately the trainer had some recognition of her condition. This session was not extreme. Although they trotted an entire lap it was a much smaller track and after each lap there was a lap of walking. And, somehow it became easier as they went on. When she was finally guided off the track and directed toward the stable area she could not have been happier. She only hoped that they did not stop until they reached the stables. She was not sure she could get her legs moving again once they stopped, even for a minute or two. She had never been so tired.
They did not stop until they had returned to the barn. There the trainer disconnected the sulky. Then the trainer gave her a quick visual check and handed her reins to a groom who had come into the barn. It was not the groom Jen had had in the warehouse and on the boat. It was not someone she had seen before. She had the look of the grooms, small in stature, she was naked except for metal cuffs locked on her wrists and ankles and a collar. But there were no chains connecting any of them and she appeared, unlike ponies, to have complete freedom of movement.
Jen was led toward the stable area. She forced her legs to move and stumbled forward behind the groom. She could not wait to get to her stall. The stable was a long building. An open corridor led up the center. One opening faced toward the sea so that the breeze from the bay would provide some cooling to the building. Alone each side of the corridor there were stalls. The first two were larger, about 18 feet wide and separated by a rail fence. Each had some type of frame standing in the center, the purpose evaded Jen. Then began the regular pony stalls. It looked like there were eight on each side. The stable could hold sixteen ponies. There were signs on the doors to a little more than half of the stalls. Most were carved wood, but Jen could see the cardboard sign 'Willow' up a head on the right. Happily, 'Misty Night' was on the next stall. They would be together.
The gate to her stall was opened and she was led inside. It was similar in size to Jen's first stall back at the warehouse. The stalls on the ship had been smaller and more cramped. The floor was concrete, the walls wood, and the feeding and watering troughs were connected to the wall just inside the gate. The water was self filling like the trough on the ship. That was nice. There were several hooks on the wall to accommodate tack, but they were set high enough that she would not accidentally knock into one and hurt herself or, of course be able to use it to aid in removing any gear. The gate to the stall was just over five feet and when closed was secured with a heavy bolt with a flange that had to be lifted as the bolt was slid to the closed position and then dropped over a metal loop that could be padlocked. The gate was wooden, but sturdy in construction. The stall was clean, reasonably comfortable, and secure. Each wall extended up about eight feet and then had about four feet of lattice extending to the ceiling. This allowed air to move freely thought the stable but provided no view from one stall to another.
Due to Jen's condition it took the groom a great deal of time to perform her evening tasks. She removed the bridle and bit; she produced a wrench and loosened the constrictions around Jen's breasts; and she removed Jen's boots. Her skin was washed and oiled. Her leather was cleaned and conditioned. Her hair was washed and brushed. Her leg muscles were carefully massaged. At first this was very painful, but Jen could quickly feel relief from the effort and began to enjoy it. Jen had tried to talk to the groom, but she had been shushed. She was just too tired to persist. Finally, satisfied with her work the groom filled the feed trough and left. Jen heard the rasping and then the clunk of the bolt on her door as it slid home confining her to her stall. She wanted to lie down and rest, but she knew once she did she was going to have a lot of trouble getting back up. She needed to eat first.
Jen wanted to talk to Abby, she wanted to see how she was holding up, but after eating she had curled up on the floor and almost instantly fallen into a deep sleep. Bird calls and sounds awakened her. Jungles are not quiet places and the stables were built on the very edge of the jungle. Jen did not know what time it was. There were no clocks she could see. The groom was back. It was the same groom, so maybe this was to be her groom. She missed her little groom from before. She wondered what had happened to her. Had she been sold at auction also? Was she bought by one of the stables or was she off to some other life on this strange island? Jen felt bad that she had not forced herself to stay awake and talk to Abby. She had looked so down and broken. Now it was too late and she would have to wait until the end of the day.
As Jen tried to move every muscles in her body complained. Every movement took twice the effort and was accompanied by extreme pain. This was going to be a very difficult day. The groom seemed to anticipate this. Before anything else her muscles were massaged and liniment was rubbed into them. Jen had to admit, this was working, the muscles were beginning to loosen up a bit but only a bit. This was still going to be a difficult day.
With her teeth cleaned, her hair brushed, her skin cleansed, and her leather polished she was beginning to feel better. Finally, the groom replaced her bridle and bit, tightened the constrictors that encircled her breasts (Jen could very well have done without this), attached her reins and led her out of the stable and toward the barn. She heard sounds from Abby's stall, but could only catch a glimpse of her and her groom over the top of Abby's gate as Jen and her groom passed by.
Seemingly recognizing the effects of the previous day's activity this was an easier day. Stiffness, knots and kinks were worked out slowly and once again Willow began to feel one with the sulky and the track. She recognized the importance of the training, the need to develop endurance for the race. They had trained hard, but the schedule was short and hard training was necessary. She had made a promise, not stated but a promise none-the-less, to him that she would prevail and that meant hard training. She was up to the task. Even when the rain came in the afternoon it did not darken her spirits. This time they were on the track trotting and the rain actually felt good as they continued their pace unabated by what Willow came to understand as a normal pattern of the weather in this place. It seemed like every morning was bright and sunny but every afternoon was visited by showers. When it rained it rained hard, but it never lasted for more than twenty or thirty minutes, the rain was warm and actually pretty refreshing, and although remaining humid the signs of the rain quickly disappeared.
That evening after they were groomed for the night Willow did get a chance to talk to Misty. But it did not go well. Willow found herself becoming upset. Willow could not understand Misty's attitude. Misty was obsessed with how she believed she was being mistreated, even though it was her own fault. She couldn't stop complaining and feeling sorry for herself.
"We have to work hard so we can be a team and win the race." Said Willow.
"What has happened to you? Are you crazy? I am not going to willingly submit to being owned and whipped." Misty retorted.
"This is here and now. We have been bought by a good stable. He didn't bring us here, but he spent a lot of money making us a part of his stable. He has confidence in us and he is putting resources behind us. He cares for us and we have to show him that we care and that we can do it."
There was no reply, only silence and the sounds of crying from the other side of the separator. Willow tried to talk to her a few more times, but Misty was no longer responding.
Over the week they continued training on the single pony sulky. Willow was fearful that Misty was being too resistant and that Willow's hope of them being a team was being undermined by Misty's bad attitude. Willow's endurance was clearly increasing. She could now easily follow a trot of several laps of the large track with three laps at a run and then go back to a walk as if she did this every day. Well, now she did do this every day.
It was halfway through the second lap of a run, on the far side of the track that Willow glanced across the field and saw. She could not be sure, but it looked like it has him. It seemed to take forever to make the turn and come onto the stretch that propelled her toward him, but as she did her hopes were confirmed. It was him, elegant in his white suit and perfectly pressed shirt. Standing next to him was a woman. She was clearly not staff, well coiffed blonde hair, dressed in a white lacy dress and protected by a parasol against the sun. Standing next to her, holding the parasol was a slave girl her wrists loosely linked with golden chains that were also loosely connected to her collar in front. There was sufficient length to the chains so as to not restrict almost any motion. It was more as if the chains were there to remind the wearing of her status.
As Willow and her trainer passed the stand area where he stood Willow saw one of the trainers with a stop watch. They were going to time this lap. She was going to make it a fast lap. She increased the pace, just a little. Her trainer noticed but did not make any effort to slow her. Instead she seemed to join in the idea that this would be a show lap. The trainer moved Willow close to the rail. They had practiced this; there was no more fear of stumbling or catching the sulky. The uprights holding the rail began to flash past. The sulky was moving very fast. After they had made the last turn and came onto the straightaway moving toward him she could see all eyes on her. But most important, she could see his eyes on her. He was smiling. She pulled in gasps of air and pushed with all she had into the last furlong. As they came across, the trainer signaled and Willow eased up just a little. Although they were now all behind her she could hear the woman clap her hands.
It took half way to the turn to reduce speed from the run to a trot and finally to a walk. Willow wished they could just turn around and go back to him, but she knew they would walk the entire balance of the lap, almost an entire mile at a walk before she would get back. She prayed he would wait. She had put everything into showing him how much she cared and how hard she had worked. Please let him wait for me. On the back stretch, she could finally see. He was still there. He was talking to the other trainers. The woman had moved over by the rail and was intently watching Willow. Willow, for her part, was strutting with her head held high, occasionally tossing her mane, as if leading a victory parade up the Via Appia. But soon she was past the center point and no longer able to see what she hoped was an appreciative audience.
As she came around the far corner and into the home stretch she could see that they were all still there. Certainly now they would wait. But he wasn't looking at her. He was still talking to the other trainers. She wanted him to look at her. She needed him to look at her. She needed to join eyes with him. She wanted his smile. She wanted to feel his touch. She needed him to recognize her.
She hoped they would not go by. She hoped that they would stop. But as they came closer Willow was fearful that her trainer would take her past them and continue on to some other task. Her heart began to sink, but she abided by every signal from her trainer. Then, there was the signal. Willow was guided right up to where he stood. And as they closed the last twenty feet he turned and looked at her. He smiled. You can't smile with a bit in your mouth, but joy exuded from every pore of Willow's body. She strutted right up to him and then stopped keeping her eyes locked in his. She wanted so much to touch him, but she did not want to soil his perfect suit with the glistening sweat that coated her body. She nodded her head and moved it from side to side hoping it would draw his touch. It did. He reached out and stroked her face. Electricity surged through her. It was the most heavenly touch she had ever felt. Then he reached into his pocket removed something and put it in her mouth. A reward, he had given her a reward. The sweetness of the treat was almost overwhelmed by the identification of the giver. He had recognized her. He had given her a treat. Even though he then went back to talking to the trainers (including Willow's who had now joined the small group) she was thrilled. In the fashion she was learning she held her chin high and used her tongue to keep the treat in her mouth, worry it with her tongue and collect and enjoy its sweetness.
Willow was lost in the enjoyment of her treat when she felt something. Her right breast was being stroked. In the surprise she dropped her head and turned quickly to the right. What was left of her treat fell from her mouth to the ground. She had lost his treat. She looked around and saw the remnants of the small white cube on the ground next to her feet. She was terrified that he might think she had spit it out or rejected his offering in some way. She would never do anything like that. She had been surprised and the surprise had caused her to lose her treat. Angrily she looked to her right and saw the woman that had come with him. The woman now had both hands on Willow's body. She was manipulating her breasts and playing her fingers over the nipples, flicking the rings in each of them. Today Willow was not belled. Willow recognized that the movement was supposed to be sensuous, but it did not feel sensuous to Willow. It had made her lose her treat. Had it been his hands she would have been in ecstasy, but they were not his hands. He owned her, not this woman, and Willow did not want this woman touching her. Especially out her in front of all of these people.
Willow had become use to people touching her breasts. The harness showed them off nicely and it seemed that the natural thing to do was to give them a squeeze. But this was more. This woman's touch was not meant to be an acknowledgment. Her actions were not meant to be just affectionate. Her actions were meant to be sexual. She was doing her best to arouse Willow. From her face she was doing a pretty good job of arousing herself. Willow twisted her upper body to pull her breasts from the woman's hands, but as she did one of the woman's hands moved to between Willow's legs. Her fingers were rubbing up and down over Willow's sex. A finger was starting to dart between her labia. The invading finger was now flicking the ring at her clitoris. Willow looked all around. Nobody seemed to notice how she was being invaded. He was still turned away from her talking to the trainers. If he noticed certainly he would stop this. Willow tried to say stop, but it sounded like nothing more than a snort.
He did turn his attention back to Willow, just as the woman withdrew her hand from between Willow's legs, although she continued to stoke her breast with the other hand. He walked over to Willow, put his hand to the side of her head and looked her straight in the eyes. He gave her a big smile, a couple of pats to the side of her head, and then he turned and walked down the path. As he turned to leave he took the hand of the woman guiding her to join him. Willow hated that woman. She had made her lose her treat, her treat from him, she had put her hands on Willow, but most importantly, she had left with him. He had taken her hand and she would certainly feel his touch. As best she could in the restrictions of the sulky yoke her eyes followed them. She wanted to go with him, but Willow could only watch as he walked away, holding the woman's hand.
Willow had a difficult time concentrating on her training for the rest of the day. She still performed well, but she knew there was more in her and she couldn't quite reach down and get it. How was she going to get his attention?
That night, back in her stall Misty tried to talk to her, but now Willow did not feel like talking and did not answer. She quietly ate and then tried to sleep. Usually she had no trouble getting to sleep, even with her arms permanently locked behind her, even on a concrete floor with only a light coat of straw, but this night her mind gnawed on the image of him walking away hand in hand with that woman, that horrid woman. Willow could not find any comfortable position.
Willow was tired the next morning, but a good morning of training seemed to make her feel better. At some point in the night she had decided that she was going to be the very best he had ever seen. She was going to make it impossible for him to not take notice of her. Her trainer seemed pleased with her and she even earned another treat, although it had not been delivered from the hand she so desired. The training for the rest of the week also went well.
Late on a following morning as it came close to the time they would usually take a break Willow noticed a two pony surrey coming up the path toward the rest area. Just as Willow was coming around the back turn and into the final stretch it stopped. Willow saw the woman the one that had been with him, the one who at touched her and made her lose her treat get out. Today the woman was dressed in tan shorts and a yellow halter top. Her feet were shod in high top boots with heavy socks folded down to the top of the boot. She wore a wide brimmed hat as if she were ready for a jungle expedition. Even though she was driving a two seat surrey there was no one else inside. Her slave girl had been made to run along behind, attached to the back of the surrey with a line that connected to her neck collar. Her wrist cuffs were fastened together and to a ring in the front of her belt. When the surrey stopped so did the slave girl. She stood there with her head down just to the rear of the surrey. Her mistress left her there as she hobbled both ponies and walked over to the rail in time to watch Willow come by as she closed for the clock on what had been a three mile run.
The run had been fast, not her fastest, but respectable. After they had past the rest area she was brought to a walk. Seeing the woman made her think of him. She wished he was here and not her. Maybe her arrival meant he was coming. She tried to look back over her shoulder to see if he was arriving from somewhere, but the action caused her to stray from her line and a corrective tug on her rein and crack of the whip in the air near her buttocks straightened her head. She went back to concentrating on her breathing, which she knew was an important part of her walk after the run.
She was not able to get a look back at the rest area until they had completed the stretch and come all the way through the turn. It seemed like forever. She was sure the arrival of the woman must mean he was coming and that as soon as she was around the corner and into the back stretch she would see him. But he wouldn't have been able to see her run. He would only have the reports from the others, including the woman. Willow was sure that she would not be kind in any evaluation she gave. As they turned into the back stretch and she was finally able to scan the far side of the track she saw no indication that anything had changed. He was not there.
She lost sight of them again after as she moved into the far end of the back stretch and did not get a good look at the people until she was in the back turn and the final stretch walking toward the rest area. Willow knew they would stop there so that her trainer could confer with the other training staff that manned that station. She carefully examined everyone who was there looking for him. Maybe he was nearby and she just hadn't seen him. There was another sulky from the Sun Stable stopped in the rest area and that trainer was conferring with other trainers and the evaluation team from the Sun Stable. There was the evaluation team from the Palm Tree Stable, her stable, talking and looking at their clip boards and there was the woman standing near them, close enough to hear the conversation, but apparently not a part of the conversation. He was not there.
Willow's trainer guided her to a stop in the usual spot. Willow glanced at the other pony resting there. It was Gullfaxi. She shot Willow a defiant look. Willow snorted and tossed her mane. They had not been allowed any type of competition in the training thus far. She could not wait to show this arrogant Norse pony what speed was. Gullfaxi responded by shaking her head and upper body and straightened to her full height. She wanted to make sure Willow realized that she was taller than her.
Willow's attention was pulled away by a touch to her breast. She looked to her side and saw that the woman had approached, and once again was putting her hands on Willows body. She was massaging and stroking her breasts and tweaking her nipples. Willow tried to shoot her a withering look, but it did no good. She tried to shake her upper body to pull her breasts free from the hands, but that did not work either. Then once again one of the hands descended to between her legs and started to play with the ring through her clitoris.
Willow heard a snort to her left. She looked over to see Gullfaxi looking on with mirth and satisfaction. Rather than empathizing with the plight of her fellow pony she was enjoying every moment of Willow's distress. Willow looked back at the woman with fire in her eyes. It is not easy to bite with a bit in your mouth. Your teeth do not meet because of the dowel portion that sits between them, but if you can get some flesh between the dowel and your teeth well; she did, just a bit of upper arm, but enough to make the woman squeal and jump away. This accompanied by a well placed kick to the woman's shin did the job. Thankfully they rarely saw the need to hobble the racing ponies during rests at this facility. And Willow was not now hobbled.
The woman massaged her arm and then her leg. She took a step toward willow, but then she stopped and back off. She looked over at the training staff; they were involved in their own business and had not seen anything. The woman removed the hobbles from her team and got back in her surrey, her slave still chained and leashed to the back jerked into motion as the woman cracked her whip and the surrey started to move. As she left she laid the whip to both ponies. Willow smiled knowing she was the pony she really wanted to whip. That would show her. "Keep your hands off the merchandise." She thought to herself.
The rest of the day's training went well and Willow returned to her stall that night with a sense of satisfaction. She gave only brief thought to the woman and then only with regrets that he had not been there to see her perform. She was able to get to sleep quickly. In her dreams she had won a big race. She was wearing a horseshoe of flowers around her neck and he was walking her proudly to the winner's circle as the crowd cheered.
Something was happening. Her body was being pulled. She opened her eyes and could see that there was somebody in her stall. She had been pulled around so that her back was near the end of the stall and now this person had just connected a line to the link at her right ankle and was securing it to a ring in the side of the stall. Willow tried to sit up but was jerked short in the effort. She had been pulled onto her back and her collar connected to a ring in the back of the stall. With her right leg held to the right side of the stall and her neck anchored to the back all she had was her left leg. Her assailant was attempting to get a hold on her left leg. Willow could see the line in her hand with which she intended to clip and secure that leg. There was no artificial light in the stables, but there was enough moonlight to clearly make out the position of this person. Willow let go with a vicious kick. Had it connected it would likely have changed the contest, there would have been a horse shoe mark that would have lasted for days, but it did not. The attacker grasped at her leg extended in the kick, but also failed to get a hold on it.
In this action Willow got a better look at her assailant. It was the woman who was becoming her personal tormentor. Now she really wanted to deliver a good kick. The woman moved to the far left side of the stall. With Willow's right leg secured and pulled to the right side of the stall she could not exert any power to the left side and the woman was able to move past the striking range of her hoof. From this position the woman was able to grab her upper left leg and then, in spite of the kicking and flailing of that leg, to work her way down the leg intending to clip the line to the ring at Willow's left ankle. Willow's legs were very powerful now and she was able to buck and shake the woman about, but eventually she succeeded in attaching the clip. The woman then fed the running end of the line through the ring on the left side of the stall. With that done, she began taking up slack. Willow fought back, but the woman would wait for her to twist or move and then collect the precious inches of slack given up by the movement. The woman was patient and Willow's strength was not insurmountable to sideways movement. The further her legs split the harder it became for Willow to use her strength to fight back. Finally, the woman was satisfied and the line was tied off. Willow was secured on her back with her neck linked to a ring in the end of the stall and her legs spread wide to each side. She was completely helpless.
The woman came up to her and with her face only a few feet from Willow's suddenly shoved something into her mouth. It was a wedge shaped gag. "You like to bite. Let's see you bite on that." She said as she secured it around Willow's head. Then stepping to Willow's side she produced an allen wrench and began tightening the constrictions in the harness around Willow's breasts. These were normally tightened to make her breasts firm, but the woman continued twisting beyond the normal setting. Willow watched as first her left and then her right breast grew dark as they became swollen with blood. The woman tested the tightness of each by flicking Willow's nipple with her finger. Only when Willow flinched from the pain did she finally stop tightening. Willow was afraid that her breast was going to burst under the extreme pressure.
Satisfied that her victim was ready the woman returned to the gate area and produced a ridding crop from a small bag she had obviously brought with her. Tapping the palm of her hand a few times she smiled as she approached and knelt down between Willow's extended legs.
"You may be his prize pony, but you will learn to respect your betters." The word "betters" was punctuated with a stroke of the crop to Willow's inside right thigh. Before the pain even finished shooting through her body the left thigh was struck. Willow looked down and even in the dim light of the stall could see a red mark evidencing each stroke. Then she began working up and down the inside of each thigh sometimes returning to hit the same spot previously struck. Willow howled into her gag and tried to twist out of range, but she was held tight and completely vulnerable to the attack.
"You are my property too, and if I want to touch something I will do it." With that comment the crop landed directly on her sex. "Do you understand?" This was also punctuated with a strike landing on Willow's clitoris.
Willow said nothing. She could say nothing; all she could do was shake her head back and forth trying to make the pain stop. Her eyes were open wide and must have looked wild to the woman. "I asked it you understood." Again the strike to the most tender part of Willow's flesh. The pain was extreme. If she was not gagged she would have pleaded for it to stop. All she could do was shake her head up and down. This did not prevent another hard strike to the same part of her anatomy.
"Ok, I trust you will be respectful in the future. But just to make sure you remember I am not going to ignore those wonderful breasts." The crop fell on her right breast. Tightened at the base to almost exploding Willow's breasts had become very sensitive. The pain was severe. Unlike anything she had ever felt, except maybe the attack on her vaginal area. There was nothing Willow could do to make it stop, and she knew that it would not stop until the woman was satisfied that the lesson had been learned. Willow could feel the tears in her eyes. She closed them not able to watch the fall of the crop on her tortured breasts. She thought she would lose consciousness under this attack, but she did not.
"I have decided not to be too severe with you this time. But I trust you will remember this lesson." This final admonition was punctuated with another swipe to her sexual region. But then it finally stopped. The woman's hand then went to Willows vagina and Willow felt fingers probing her insides. She withdrew the fingers and began to flick the ring at Willow's clitoris with her finger. "But don't worry. It will not be all pain. I know how to bring pleasure as well. But, as you will learn, that is something you will have to earn." With that she withdrew her hand, but once again provided a final reminder with a dead center hit to Willow's sex.
Willow lay back exhausted from the ordeal. The woman released the line from her collar, and then did the same with the two securing her legs. Willow pulled her legs up toward her chest and cried as the gag was removed from her mouth. As if to make her final point the woman massaged and caressed Willow's right breast, still tightly constricted and painful from the recent beating. Willow did not move. She lay quietly on her left side on the floor of her stall. She had been attacked and punished in her own stall. It was painful and it was humiliating. The woman gave her right nipple a painful twist and then she stood up and walked out of the stall. Jen could hear her humming some tune to herself as she left.
Jen was still crying an hour later when she looked toward the stall gate, light was coming in from the side. She looked again and noted that the gate was not closed and secure. About two inches of space showed between the edge of the stall gate and the frame where it was normally secured. The light was increasing, but it was still night. She got to her feet and walked to the gate. She carefully pushed against the door, it moved open a little further. Through the space she looked up the corridor of the stable. There was no sign of movement. The woman had forgotten to latch the stall when she finished her "lesson". Was this her chance? If she was going to do anything she needed to do it quickly. The grooms would be appearing before long. She pushed the gate all the way open and looked up the corridor in the other direction, still no sign of any movement. She stepped out into the corridor. She had never been here without being held by reins.
Jen looked to the gate on Abby's stall wondering if she should attempt to rescue her. She could see the heavy bolt closed and dropped over a hasp. There was nothing locking the bolt down, but she would not be able to slide it back to open the stall gate without first lifting it free of the hasp. "Abby are you awake?" She whispered.
"What just happened?" Abby asked. "It sounded awful."
"It was pretty bad, but she forgot to lock the gate and I am out. I am going to get you out too." With that Jen tried to use her tongue to get under the bolt and lift it up. It was too awkward and heavy for her tongue. She would raise it just a little and then it would slip off and fall back over the hasp. She knew she needed to get it into her mouth, but she could not seem to get a grip on it. Just then she heard sounds near the barn at the end of the stable. Someone was coming.
"Forget me. Just get out of her and get help." Abby directed.
Jen quickly looked toward the sound. She still did not see anyone. She gave up her efforts to move the bolt and quickly ran the two stall distance to the far end of the stable. As she went through the open doorway she turned toward the jungle and away from the buildings and the track. She had to pass by another stable before she got to the jungle area. She peeked around the corner looking down the corridor, there was still no sign of movement, she dashed across. Crossing about fifty yards of open field took her to the edge of the jungle. She had thought she would disappear into the heavy foliage and then work her way toward the ocean, but the jungle was far too thick. She was able to gain some cover in the edge but could not penetrate more than about 10 feet before the tangle of vines and bushes and trees became impenetrable. If she kept this up she would become entangled and be stuck.
She had as much cover as she was going to get, and it was getting much lighter. Things would start happening very quickly and part of that is that her groom would come to her stall and find she was gone. What would happen then she did not know, but she was sure they would come looking for her. She was an expensive piece of property. She had to get away quickly. But where was she going to go? This entire town seemed to accept the concept of ponies as property. If found she was not likely to be rescued. She would either be returned to her owner or taken by her finder. Without her arms almost anyone, even a child, could control her. A simple tether to her collar and she was theirs. She could picture herself pulling a plow through some farmer's field. Her only chance was to free her arms. As long as they were encased behind her she was clearly marked as a pony and most importantly clearly marked as property. But before she could work on that she needed to put some space between her and the stables. As the day brightened she would become more and more visible in the fringe of the jungle.
She started to work her way toward the beach. Maybe if she got to the beach she could follow it away from the town. Could there be other towns or villages on the island? What would their attitude be toward these things? Certainly someone must believe that what was going on here was wrong.
Then to Jen's right she saw a path heading into the jungle. It was very narrow, but it must led somewhere. She was a little fearful of the jungle. She knew there were things in the jungle that she did not want to meet. She was terribly afraid of snakes for example and jungles were great places for snakes. She would have to be very careful where she stepped. At that moment she bumped a tree and a cloud of something fell. She looked at her body and saw that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of ants running all over her. The tree had obviously been a nest of some sort and even this slight bump had caused a large cloud of ants to fall. Even worse the ants were in a state of alarm and they began to bite and/or sting her. She wasn't really sure which and did not care about the technicalities. It seemed like pin pricks were assaulting every part of her body. She tried to twist and shake them off, but that was not working. She tried to rub against the bushes and brush, but the biting or stinging continued. She bumped against another tree. This time she felt a stinging pain in her right shoulder where she had hit. When she looked back at the tree she saw that its trunk was covered with black quill like thorns about an inch and a half long. Looking at her shoulder she could see half a dozen or more quill ends protruding from her flesh. This place must have been designed by Dante.
She twisted in the opposite direction watching any tree, but noticed that the ground was starting to descend. She could hear the sound of a stream nearby. She started to lose her footing. She fell back onto her seat and then she was sliding. She tried to dig her heals into the soft dirt, but she there are no heals on a horse shoe and she could not seem to make contact with the metal part on her hoof. Fortunately it was not far, only about twenty feet before she came to a stop in a small swift running stream. Closest to her was a pool that slowly swirled, a side eddy to the main stream. The ants were still stinging and biting so she jumped in. She hadn't even thought about how deep it might be, but as it turned out it was only about four feet. She was able to stand up in the pool. Then she was able to push her body into the fast moving stream. She welcomed the quick water as it washed away the ants. When the biting and stinging finally stopped she rolled back through the pool, managed to leverage her body onto the bank and roll out of the water.
She lay there to catch her breath and give some thought to what to do next. She looked up the slope she had slipped down. It was only about twenty feet, but it was very steep. On the opposite side of the stream another similar slope, except heavily vegetated, greeted her. She was in a small clearing area no more than four feet across. Upstream was nothing but a tangle of vines and tree trunks so interwoven as to make almost a solid wall. Downstream was not much better. A person with a machete could probably hack their way through. A small sleek cat could probably wind through the small openings. But to a pony it might as well have been a stone wall.
At least she might be hard to find down here. She looked around for a large rock that she might be able to use to break off her arm bindings. There were rocks in the stream, but she did not see how she could angle herself to use any of them to knock against the epoxy/fiberglass case that enclosed her arms. She did find an old tree stump. With her back to the stump she tried to throw herself backwards so that her arm case would hit the wood of the trunk. After several tries, each of which jarred her back at the point where her arms crossed, she tried to wiggle or move her arms nothing. Then she tried hitting the edges of the case, where the metal loop extended from her elbow, against the trunk. She chipped out large chunks of wood from the trunk and left brown marks on the case, but nothing cracked, nothing loosened, it did not even chip and she could still not even move her fingers. It was pretty clear that she alone was never going to be able to free her arms.
As she leaned down next to the stump she noticed several dark colored things about an inch and a half long on her upper legs. They were alive and slimy. She knocked her leg against the trunk smashing one. As it squashed against her leg blood ran out. It was her blood. She had picked up leaches in the pool. Jungles were formidable places. They were more than formidable for someone without arms. She was no match for this place. She needed to get out of the jungle.
Jen started to climb back up the bank, her eyes focused on the spot she had slid from. The dirt was soft and she was wet and as she attempted to climb it turned to mud and slipped out from under her. A normal person would have to use their hands to grasp the vegetation, or even the dirt, in order to pull themselves out of this place. She had no hands so that was not an option. Instead when she lost her balance she fell forward into the hill and then slid face down back to the bottom. Three times she tried to dig footholds one after another to move up the slope. The metal horseshoes on the bottom of her boots were good at carving out the earth, but not very good at trying to get traction on the soft muddy hillside. Her efforts would work for five or six feet and then a foothold would start to give way and she would once again fall forward and slip to the bottom. She was not even able to reuse the footholds previously made as the action of her body slipping through them would obliterate any useful purpose. In addition, the repeated attempts only made the slope more slippery as she often ended up in the water at the end of her slide. She tried to plot a path using vegetation but although the slope was heavily vegetated there was always a spot where she had to move over nothing but muddy dirt and it proved impossible to keep her balance; the result was always a slow slide to the bottom and usually into the pool. She was so caked in mud she could not even see the leaches anymore.
Jen thought of getting into the stream and trying to work her way down the stream. But the tangle of fallen trees and brush left only a slight clearance above the water. In order to even try she would have to fully immerse herself in the stream and wiggle below the many branches. If she became ensnared, which was likely she would have no way out. Jen could also tell from the water marks on the trees at the bank that the water could raise a couple of feet higher than its present level. Jen assumed this might happen during the afternoon when the rain came. If she were trapped in the streambed as it presently existed she would be below water and would drown.
Finally, she once more, rolled up out of the pool onto the small area near the bottom of the hill and just lay there. It seemed that there was nothing else to do. She would either be found or rescued nee recaptured, or she would be prey for some other formidable creature that might be able to negotiate this jungle, or she would stay here growing weaker and weaker until she died. She did not even know if she could drink this water without becoming sick.
She thought of home and wondered if anybody had noticed that she was gone. Everyone expected her to leave and not be back until the start of school next fall. Some of her friends had certainly tried to call her or to text her in the time she had been gone. They would be surprised that she had not contacted them back. Some of them may even be a little peeved with her for not responding, but she could think of no one who would be alarmed. If anyone would be missing her it would be her parents. She was reasonably close with her parents, but it was not at all strange for a week or two to go by without any contact. It was now quite a bit longer than that. They would be at least concerned, maybe not yet in panic, but concerned. But where would they look? The timing had been such that there was no specific place that she was suppose to be that she was not. School was done; she had checked out of the dorms; she had not found a job. And even if they were looking for her now how would they ever find her here? They may find the plane tickets to Long Beach for her and Abby, but from there the trail would get very cold very fast. They would puzzle over why the girls had gone to Long Beach, but there would be no answer. They would have left the airport and vanished into thin air.
And now, she was stuck in the jungle with little or no prospect for escape or rescue. She would resist drinking from the stream until thirst drove her near crazy, and then she would drink the water, probably get sick, dehydrate and die. Her body would be consumed by the predators and scavengers of the jungle. They would, of course, start on her even before she died. Her bones would sink into the mud or be washed into the sea. In a few months there would be no sign that she ever existed.
Even though the jungle created a complete canopy above; the position of the sun could be estimated based the brightest place in the green roof above. Jen estimated that it was close to mid day. Had she really been stuck here that long? No wonder she was so tired. And the jungle seemed to be adjusting to her. She could hear birds almost everywhere. She could not see very many, but she could tell from the sounds that some of them were very close. That was ok, birds she was alright with, and maybe the sound of the birds meant that there were no big predators nearby. She pictured herself being swallowed by an anaconda, or ripped to pieces by a panther. She was already serving as lunch for a bunch of leaches. She had tried to scrape a few off by rubbing against the tree stump and then given up. She could make out at least three on her breasts; she did not want to be the main course for something larger.
Then there were sounds above. "Here she is. The GPS was correct." Said a voice. There was a man in the standard khaki shirt and shorts standing at the top of the slop looking down at her.
"Bring a line; we are going to have to pull her up. What a mess."
Two of them came down the hill. They came down the sides staying well clear of the area in the center that Jen had turned into a mud slide. One of them had one end of a rope. The other end was being held by someone standing at the top of the slope. The rope was quickly tied to her collar. The two who had come down hoisted her to her feet and the slack on the rope from above was taken up. Then the two individuals standing near her each connected a line to the rings at the ends of her elbows. They moved off to the side and the rope from above started to be taken up. As they started to pull her up from above the other two moved to the side and started up the slope. They would move up pulling on the vegetation until they reached a point they could plant their feet and then use the guide ropes to help move her up the slope. After two steps up, as she had on so many prior tries, she pitched forward, but this time she did not slide down the hill, she was held by the three ropes. She thought they would let her down and try again, but they did not. Instead, she was hauled up the slope like a bag of goods. As they pulled her toward the top she tried time and again to get her knees down under her, but there was no traction and she was back on her stomach as soon as she was up at all. Branches and rocks scrapped her shoulders, breasts, stomach and legs. Her breasts, now purple from having been tightly constricted for so long, stung with every contact with anything.
When they finally pulled her onto the top of the slope she was even more of a mess than when they found her. From her forehead to her boots she was coated in a layer of tan sticky mud. She hoped they would wash her off, but instead she was led held by the three ropes attached to her collar in front and her arms on each side out of the jungle and across the field toward the training area and the stables. It was quickly obvious that she was not even going to be led around the training area, but paraded right through the middle for all to see. She wondered what was next. Would she be punished? She remembered that back at the warehouse punishment was supposed to be very severe. But she already felt punished. She was battered and bruised. She had leaches connected to her thighs, sides, stomach, and breasts, a condition she could do nothing to mitigate, although, as she looked down at her body she saw one, now engorged with her blood, drop from her lower abdomen to the ground. In its wake was a line of flesh showing through the mud leading to a bright red circle with a bubble of blood in the center marking the previous location of its mouth.
Other ponies took some notice as she was led across the training area toward the stable, but at least they did not stop and put her on display. Jen did her best to avoid eye contact keeping her eyes cast down as she walked slowly across the field. There was no pop or crispness to her step as she usually executed when walking. Instead, she stumbled along on the end of the lines connected to her at three points.
Jen did notice Abby trotting near the rest area. Abby gave her a long look, but then had to turn her head forward as she passed by. Abby looked sad, but communicated no other sign or emotion. But, Jen's condition must have conveyed to Abby, as it now did to Jen, that there was no escape. Jen had made it less than a half mile. Then she had become trapped by the surrounding jungle. And what had they said. They found her by GPS. Somewhere on her body they had placed a GPS device. She was on an island, the people all seemed to support the local system that meant she was nothing more than property, she had no arms or hands to aid herself in any way, and even if she managed to get away they had a tracking device connected to her someplace so that all they needed to do was follow its signal. She was too upset to even cry. All of her tears had been expended back in the jungle. All she could do now is to hang her head and take whatever it was they were going to 'dish out'.
Jen was led into the stable. She had noticed the frames in the first two stalls. She now saw a figure with her back to them strapped over one of the frames. The figure was bent over a bar at the waist with her arms connected together by her wrist cuffs and then suspended behind her back forcing her head down below the bar. Her legs were spread and each ankle was held by chains from the ankle cuff to the side bars of the frame. A light line ran from the front of her collar back to between her legs. Jen could not see the connect point from her line of sight, but the knot in her stomach told her it was connected to the ring in the clitoris. As Jen was brought around to the side her supposition was confirmed. She could then also see that a large ring gag filled the victim's mouth.
It was Jen's new groom. Her face was streaked with tears and she was trying to beg and probably protest her innocence, but the words were indistinguishable. For some reason Jen believed that she had been held this way for a long time. Probably from the time Jen was discovered to be missing. It was pretty clear that the groom was being blamed for leaving Jen's stall door open. Jen started to say: "It's not her fault." But before she could even finish a riding crop slashed painfully onto her right buttocks replacing a large glob of now dried mud with a red welt. Jen would have shut up anyway, but a wedge gag similar to the one used on her the night before was pressed into her mouth and secured behind her head. There was not room for two of them on this frame, but there was another frame in the stall across the way. Jen assumed after being shown what was happening here she would be taken and secured there, but she was not. Instead the line from the front of her collar was connected to the end of the frame so that she was forced to look at the poor groom secured before her. Securing the lines from her elbows to either wall made sure she would not turn away. Jen's ankles were then hobbled, except the hobble line was run through a ring set in the floor. This not only kept her ankles within eight inches of each other but kept them positioned with very little movement.
After Jen was secured the three individuals who had brought her from the jungle left; closing and latching the stall gate behind them. Jen looked at the groom and tried to say: "I know you didn't do anything wrong." Jen could tell that the groom would have been unable to comprehend what she was saying, but she said it more from her own guilt than anything else. The groom gave her a sidewise glance as Jen tried to speak, but even that motion caused her head to bob up just a little and pulled on the line between her legs. She gave a squeal and forced her head back down. The position looked very uncomfortable and Jen could see that the groom's legs were trembling. Whether from the enforced strict posture or fear Jen could not determine.
Jen heard the gate latch sliding and then the gate opening. It was the woman, followed by her slave. The slave held in front of her a leather case that looked like the kind used to hold pool cues. She opened the latch, lifted the lid and held it out for her mistress. Jen could see that instead of pool cues it contained at least four canes, or switches, they were all about three feet long, but in varying circumference. The woman withdrew a cane with a shaft about the size of Jen's index finger (when she had had one). The woman whipped it through the air two or three times. There was a whistling sound with each movement. Just the sound of the cane cutting through the air was terrifying. The quivering of the groom's legs increased and moved up to her buttocks in a combination of fear and anticipation.
Then the woman looked over to Jen. She smiled and stepped toward her. She tapped the cane across to top of Jen's breasts knocking away large flacks of dried mud. Even under the coat of mud and several still feeding leaches Jen's breasts could be seen to be a dark purple hue from being so tightly constricted. "It seems the breast enhancing bands were not loosened last night either. In fact, they look to have been tightened. They must be VERY tender." She tapped the cane up and down, only arching about four or five inches, but Jen's breasts were swollen and tender enough to make even this light treatment painful. Jen tried to pull back but she could not move her legs and the elbow lines gave her only a couple of inches of maneuvering room, not enough to withdraw the dual targets.
The groom turned her head toward Jen. If there had been any doubt in the groom's mind as to whether she was responsible for leaving the gate open it was gone now. The groom knew she had not forgotten to loosen the pony's breast constrictions, and it was obvious that they had been tightened beyond the normal setting; she certainly would never have tightened them.
The woman stepped away from Jen and swished the cane several more times. Then she wiped the length of it with her hand. The slave girl had not moved. She stood ridged holding the open case with both hands from below. The woman must not have been satisfied with this cane. She put it back in the case and withdrew another. This cane had a slightly smaller girth. Again the whistling sound as it was cut back and forth through empty air. Then the woman moved around placing herself at the side of the groom. She laid the cane against the naked buttocks measuring its position. The groom whimpered and tried to draw her buttocks forward, but pulled over the center bar with her legs tightly restrained to the bottom of the frame she could move no more than a fraction of an inch. The cane was withdrawn and held in a cocked position behind the woman. Jen closed her eyes and dropped her head in anticipation of the first blow. The grooms whimper became a sob even though she had not yet been struck. A second went by, then another, nothing had happened. The silence in the room added to the sense of anticipation and dread. Jen opened her eyes to see what was happening just as the cane whistled forward and connected very near to where it had been spotted. In spite of the gag a loud screech erupted from the groom. Her muscles tightened and her buttocks wiggled from side to side. Her head pulled up in spite of the discouragement of the line from her collar. This evoked another screech.
Jen saw the cane re-cocked to the ready position and again held as the full impact of the first blow rippled through the groom's body. Jen once again closed her eyes. Again the seconds ticked by. She could not bring herself to open them. This time she heard the sound of the cane cutting the air followed once again by the horrid shriek from the recipient of its kiss. Everyone in the room knew that the groom was not guilty of the offense for which she was being punished. This was not really punishment. This was just torture. Jen had thought maybe that the woman was administering the punishment to cover for the fact that it was she who had left the stall open, but if that had been the purpose of this exercise would she have taken such obvious delight in what she was doing? She certainly would have not been so severe. As Jen realized that she looked up and found that she was looking into the eyes of the woman as she held the cane once again cocked and ready. Jen could not look away. She held her stare for what seemed a very long time. The groom, who was now twisting her head from side to side had also caught Jen's look. If the groom had not known before, she knew now, that it was the person who was delivering her torment that was in fact the one who had been responsible for the act for which she was being punished. The woman looked back into Jen's eyes and smiled with a sense of pleasure, power and satisfaction.
Jen looked the groom in the eyes and then one again dropped her head. It was hopeless. Jen had been beaten. There was no escape. She did not look up as the next two strokes were delivered; she just hung her head in despair. Would she be next? She almost hoped so. At least there was something to punish her for. She was the one who had taken advantage of the error. She was the one who had tried to escape, poorly executed, and with no real chance for success, but she had tried. That certainly was a breach of the rules and something for which she could, maybe should be punished. She would accept it. She wished that this would stop and she could take the place of the sobbing and blubbering groom.
With each new strike, each delivered after what was an intolerable wait, Jen's sense of guilt increased. But there was nothing Jen could do. She was helplessly restrained as a witness to the torment being delivered before her. And no matter how complicit she may have been in the events that led to this action the woman knew well that she was inflicting terror and pain on an innocent person. She hated this woman.
As despair changed to hatred, as the needless cruelty continued Willow felt stronger. She could not change what was happening. There was nothing she could do to stop the torment, she knew that if not for this made up defalcation the woman would, and probably did, find reasons to torture other ponies, slaves and servant. Would Willow be next? Maybe, but she now knew that it would not be enough to break her spirit. The despair was lifting and Willow was feeling renewed strength. Somehow she would find a way to prevail over this sadist. Her head was no longer dropped against her chest. Her body was no longer slumped. In spite of the pain that wracked her she pulled her carriage up. She straightened her posture, held up her head and looked into the face of the tormentor. The buttocks and thighs of the groom were swollen and striped with red and purple welts. Willow's flesh would probably be next, but even if the woman cut her to the bone she knew that she would not succumb. There was even a slight smile on her face.
The woman missed it all, she was not paying attention to Willow. All of her attention was on her cane and the buttocks and thighs of the poor little groom restrained before her. Willow was not sure how many strokes there had been. Nobody had counted. No number of strokes had been announced. It just seemed the woman continued until she was satisfied, until the moans and groans that were now issuing from the torturer with each stroke combined with heavy breathing finally demonstrated that she was satisfied. Only then did the stroke of the cane against the helpless tender flesh stop.
The woman finally became aware that Willow was looking into her face. Her expression changed to almost one of embarrassment as if she were being caught in some private moment. She turned her back on Willow, wiped down the cane with a soft rag of some kind and replaced the cane and the rag back in the case that had been held at ready the entire time by her slave. Only then did the slave close the case, fasten the latch and lower it.
Without another look at either Willow or the groom, and with no effort to free them from their restraints the woman left, this time closing the gate behind her and fastening the latch. Willow watched her leave with a mixed feeling of relief and disappointment. She had steeled herself to the challenge of wills that she expected to come. She had prepared herself to show her metal. But her already tortured flesh was not unhappy at being denied further torment. Besides, she had a race to prepare for and to win. She did not know the full extent of her injuries from today's misadventure, but she knew she did not need to add to them.
Willow and the groom were left restrained as they were, the little groom stretched tightly over the bar, the welts on her buttocks and thighs growing darker as time progressed. Several had cut the skin and were oozing bright bubbles and lines of blood. Most of the time her body was limp and she hung in her restraints softly crying. Willow stood at the end of the frame, trying to look as dignified as she could with her hair tangled and matted and her body covered in mud. By now the mud was almost completely dry and she was able to dislodge a great deal of it just with the occasional shake and shiver. She had not learned that movement through conscious effort to remove the mud. It had been developed in response to another need. Without hands to swat or brush away the flying insects of the tropics she had, maybe by imitation of what she saw other ponies do, or maybe even by instinct, learned to make her muscles quiver causing them to fly away.
It was clearly late afternoon, the temperature had become hot, the air was abnormally still, and the stall holding its two helpless occupants was, in spite of the open grill that surrounded the top very stuffy. From some place flies had found the two helpless occupants. Most of them were just the type of housefly Willow was familiar with from her previous life in another world, irritating with their buzzing sound and creepy little legs as they walked on your flesh, but there was another kind. They were black and large; at least three times the size of the normal fly. But most importantly, they bit. And, without looking it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the feel of one or the other walking across your skin until the pain of the bite clearly identified the unwanted creature. The coating of mud, at first provided some protection to Willow, but there was enough exposed flesh for flying antagonists to find a place to land and walk. Willow's developed reaction was to shake them off. This worked, but it also knocked off more mud and exposed more skin which collected more flies.
Willow wondered why she had not been so heavily accosted by these odious creatures before. She could not be sure, but she thought maybe that was part of the purpose behind the oil that was worked across her body every morning by her groom. It probably contained something to discourage the insects. Right now her helpless little groom probably wished she had some of that ointment. The flies seemed particularly attracted to the injured flesh. Willow watched as a particularly large fly probed with its proboscis for bits of blood that oozed from one of the wounds inflicted on this poor girl.
They were both gagged so they could not talk. They could go nowhere, so they did the only thing they could do wait. It was not until after all the ponies had been returned from training that someone finally came for them. The groom was released from the frame by a trainer. The trainer then turned her attention to Willow. She examined scrapes and bruises and carefully inspected the quills in her shoulder, most broken off to show only black dots on the surface of the skin, but some still protruding a small distance from the surface of the skin. The trainer made no effort to release Willow.
"This mess will take some cleaning." She looked at the groom as she spoke. "Her feet have been soaked most of the day. I don't want to take a chance on jungle rot so pay special attention to cleaning and drying them."
Willow could see that the groom wanted nothing more than to massage and touch her wounded flesh, but she seemed to know that her attention needed to be directed to the requirements of her charge and not to herself. She would sneak a feel now and then, but mostly she just stood, listened, and noted the areas the trainer pointed out as requiring attention. "Yes Mistress, thank you Mistress." Was all the groom could say.
Then the trainer left.
As soon as she was gone the groom went to work. She quickly disconnected Willow from the frame and led her to her own stall. Willow felt a sense of relief just to be back in her stall. Then the groom went to work. She had to leave and retrieve her implements. It also took a number of buckets of water to get the mud removed. Each time the groom left she carefully closed and bolted the stall gate. Willow wanted to tell her that she did not have to worry, she had had enough adventure in the outdoors for today, for the foreseeable future, in fact, forever, but Willow sensed that the only way the groom was holding it together was by focusing on her tasks and anything Willow might say to her could disrupt that focus. She held her tongue.
As directed, Willow was carefully cleaned, her hair was washed, combed and brushed, her boots were removed and her legs and feet were cleaned, dried, oiled, and wrapped in light cloth. The last few persistent leaches that had not voluntarily left their host after feeding until gorged were removed with a needle and a lighter. The groom used a pair of tweezers to remove as many palm quills as she could without having to dig into Willow's flesh. She applied a salve to the abrasions and scratches. Willow knew that infections could be a huge problem in this climate. Special attention was paid to the sores left by the leaches. The groom also carefully inspected every part of Willow's body, even looking into intimate places to insure every wound had been found and treated. Willow for some reason did not find this at all invasive. The soft hands of her groom were somehow soothing.
When the groom was finally finished and left, again carefully bolting Willow's gate it was quite late. All hint of sunlight was gone and the inside of the stable was quiet save the breathing sounds that were commonly heard as the ponies fell into sleep. Willow wanted to talk to Misty, but she had no energy left. That would have to wait. Right now she needed to sleep.
Her groom was there at first light. Over the night bruises had appeared all over Willow's exposed body. Scratches had become red and visible and insect bite marks rose in red lumps. With only what Willow could see she thought she looks frightful. In addition to the normal morning routine her groom paid special attention to the bruises and scratches to make them less noticeable.
"Can't have you looking like an Appaloosa." She said as she applied more ointment to the sores and cover make-up to the large splotchy bruise marks. She ran her fingers softly and caringly over Willows wounds, the touch was again welcome and soothing. Willow could not help but look down at the buttocks and thighs of her groom so severely marked with deep welts that had turned a purple color. They made Willow's own wounds seem slight. Willow was certain as she examined the young girl's flesh that at least several of these welts would scar. But all the groom seemed to care about was Willow.
Willow had been worried that her groom would resent, even hate, her for the beating. She was sure that is what the woman had wanted. But if anything, the opposite seemed to be true. Willow had not given this groom much thought in the past. She expected her in the morning and she was happy to see her at the end of the day having come to enjoy her massages. But suddenly there seemed to be a more significant connection between the two. The groom had taken a severe beating. She had taken it because of Willow. Willow depended on her groom. Her groom did everything for her. Willow could not brush her teeth, she could not brush her hair, she could not wash her body, she could not adjust or polish her harness she needed her groom for all of these things, and much more. Willow could not even touch her own body, but her groom could, and did. The soothing feel of a human hand gently stroking her flesh came from her groom. Willow trusted her groom. She turned her head toward the groom and smiled. Her groom smiled back.
When willow's reins were finally handed to her trainer Willow could see that the trainer was not happy. In spite of the hard work of the groom bruises, cuts, scratches and bites could be seen all over her body. In addition, she had missed an entire day of training. And she was sore and stiff. She knew she could work through most of that, she certainly had on other days, but it would still slow down the training, basically losing much of another day.
After Willow had been hitched to a single pony sulky and emerged from the barn she saw that Gullfaxi and Sleipnir had been joined as a team to a two pony sulky. No wonder her trainer was unhappy, Willow had put them behind schedule. And Willow had seen the trouble that Misty was having. They really needed to get to team training if they had any chance of winning the yearling race. And now Willow felt it was even more important to win. She didn't know why, but somehow winning the race was her way to beat the woman.
Her trainer recognized the need to loosen her up so they did walks and trots and even a short one mile run. Then they went to work on starts. Willow knew that precious time can be made or lost at the start of a race. The starting system utilized a furlong lead up to the starting line. The ponies or teams would move to a trot and maintain an even line until they crossed the line. Then they could shift to a run (unless it was a trot only race). It would then be important to obtain a position. The further you were kept from the rail the longer the passage through the turn would be.
Over and over again they trotted to the line then broke to a run. They started at the pole and far from the pole. They practiced using a burst of speed to be able to move up and in to a better position. There were no other sulkies on the track, but Willow was getting the feel of the start. By the time the day finished and she was returned to her stall she felt satisfied with what she had done. Her trainer seemed to have gotten over being upset with her and once again seemed pleased. That made Willow happy. He had not been there today, or if he had, she had not seen him. For once, she was happy about that; she did not want him to see her days behind all the other ponies. She certainly did not want him to see her body blotched with bruises and sores.
Trainers don't talk with ponies. They may talk to ponies, but they don't talk with them. On the other hand, they don't seem to pay any attention to them when they are standing nearby. Willow had overhead quite a few conversations among the trainers and these conversations answered a great deal of her questions about what was happening. She and Misty would sometimes share what they had heard.
The big race was still about four weeks away. The most important part of this race would be the yearling race. Here a yearling meant a pony in its first year of training. After your arrival year you could not run in that race ever again. They had had individual pony yearling races at one time, but now the only yearling race was the team sulky race. It would be two miles. There would be other races that same day, races with more experienced ponies. She had seen some of them training on the track. Because all races were sulky type the shortest was a mile one lap of the big main track. The older ponies still had team competition, but on this race day they would all be running individual races. There was a one mile, two mile, and even a four mile run. And true to traditional harness racing there was a two mile trot. Willow had learned that later in the year there would be a twenty mile race that started off in the farm area (wherever that was) encircled the entire town then returned and ended at the stadium. She wondered if she would ever be able to run that race. She enjoyed the thought of her streaking through the countryside with her sulky flashing in the sun behind.
But for now the big race was the yearlings. It only happened once a year and only one team from each stable could run in the yearling race. Willow had seen other ponies training from her stable, but she did not know if any of them were yearlings. She would have to look carefully today. Since the only two pony races would be yearlings she would pay attention to the two pony teams. She did not know how many stables there were but she had only seen ponies and trainers from three of them in this training area. She knew that there were other training areas but did not know where these areas were. She knew that her owner was not one of the wealthiest on the island. She pictured huge plantations with large fields and their own private stables and training areas. That didn't matter. She didn't care that he was not the wealthiest of the stable owners. He was her owner and she was going to make him proud.
She had almost screwed things up by taking off, Willow tried to recapture what she was thinking when she ran but found she was unable to manifest the feeling. "Why did she do that?" It made no sense to her at all. She shouldn't be afraid. She could win this. The greatest competition she had seen so far were Sleipnir and Gullfaxi from the Sun stables. Those pompous twits probably thought they couldn't lose. Well, they could, and Willow was going to show them how. Maybe it was a good thing there were gates on the stalls, although she could not picture herself leaving her stall again without her groom or trainer.
For several days Willow worked individually with her trainer. She felt back to where she was before her ill fated escapade. She was sure that she and Misty would be back together the next day. Now their training for the big race could really begin. As she was led back to her stall that night she felt very good.
Willow and Misty had not talked since Willow's return. Willow had been just too tired and Misty had not tried to initiate any conversation, but this night when the evening ritual was finished Willow snuggled up next to the wall that separated her stall from Misty's and called out softly.
"Are you awake?"
"Yes. Are you ok?"
"I am fine. It was a good day. I think we can win this."
"What? I don't care about some damn race. I saw them bring you back covered from head to toe with mud. I saw you covered in bruises and scrapes. What on earth did they do to you? Do you have any ideas on how we are going to get out of here?"
"I was stupid to leave. The jungle is no place for a pony alone. Here we are protected, fed, groomed and cared for. I am very good at this, I am sure you are as well. We will be a great team and win many races together." Willow began to drift into visions of them standing proudly in the winner's circle draped in garlands of flowers. She did not even notice that the conversation had stopped and there was just a slight sniffling sound coming from the other side of the wall.
The next day as she expected Willow found herself being hitched to the two pony sulky as a team with Misty. Willow gave Misty a confident smile. The look she got in return could only be described as confused, even incredulous.
It had been a long time since they had operated in tandem. And the earlier team training had only been over a couple of days at the very beginning of their training. But Willow was sure she remembered the rhythm and they would quickly find it again.
They started in a walk. Willow did not think Misty was lifting very well. It could be a lot cleaner, but right now she wasn't worried about parade showing. They were racing ponies and what really mattered was their ability to work together as a team and perform on the track. When they moved to a trot Willow found that their timing was terrible. With the accentuated movements of the trot it was vital that each step be in perfect sequence. They were not. Willow's form and step was better, Misty should follow her led, but she did not. Willow tried to adjust her pace to Misty's even though it was a slower pace. She thought if she could get them matched then she could ease them up to a better pace, but Misty was not maintaining a steady pace. Willow remembered the first day with the sulky pitching and yawing this was actually worse. Willow was afraid they were going to tip it over.
Finally Willow gave up trying to match Misty. She found a pace near the fastest pace Misty had maintained and she held it. Misty kept dragging her back, but at least at this pace there were no forward lurches were Misty was pushing faster. The trainer seemed to recognize Willows action. She kept them at a trot and used her whip to snap Misty whenever she slowed below the pace; it was the sound of leather on skin, not popping the air. The extra encouragement helped and the movement became smoother. The trainer seemed satisfied. The snaps of the whip came less frequently. The trainer held them in a trot for two complete laps of the large track. Willow felt like she could keep this pace all day but Misty was beginning to drag again. Willow looked over and saw that she was breathing deeply through her mouth, her shoulders were forward and her head was down. "She was tiring, from this she was tiring? That was ridiculous."
Willow could see that Misty was almost begging to walk, but their trainer had a different idea. She signaled a shift to the run. Willow was afraid that Misty might collapse and drag her down with her. She moved into a run, but held the pace back well below what she knew she could have done on her own. Misty dragged a little, but she did find the pace. Misty was breathing hard, but she was keeping the pace. It was not a pace that would win any races, but at least she was keeping the pace. After they had run about a quarter of the track Misty tried to ease off even this slow pace. Willow would have none of it and she actually picked the pace up just a bit. This caused the sulky to yaw as Willow's action dragged her partner forward. The trainer encouraged Misty and she found the pace. She was breathing very hard now. After another quarter of the track Misty once again tried to slow the pace. Willow again answered with an increase in speed. There was now a lot more encouragement from the trainer before Misty decided that Willow was not going to slow for her and that she had to somehow get to the new pace. Now Misty seemed to know that she could not slow down. She was caught between Willow forcing her forward and the trainer applying the buggy whip if she did not do as Willow required. She tried glaring at her former best friend but Willow just smiled at her. Willow could tell she was furious with her right now, but she would thank her later. Winning required hard work.
As they came to the end of the mile run Willow wanted to open up the speed, but this time the trainer held her back with pressure on the reins. Maybe they were going to run a second mile. That sounded good to Willow but Misty's eyes were almost pleading as she looked back and forth. There was not a second mile. At least not then. They were brought to a trot and quickly to a walk for a lap. Then they were rested while the trainers talked. Misty was still breathing heavily. When they were watered she had trouble keeping her breath under enough control to take the water.
Willow did not understand. Misty had always been athletic. They had been training at the same pace. Misty had even had an additional day due to Willows silly adventure. She should be in better condition than this. But, on the other hand, Misty had not fallen, she had not actually stopped, she had been able to make pace when the trainer provided encouragement. It was not a matter of training. It was not a matter of conditioning. It was simply a matter of motivation.
The trainers were standing only about eight feet away. Close enough for them to hear part of the conversation, not close enough to hear fully and clearly. Willow listed to what she could:
"I don't know, they have better potential, but the other team is still faster." So there was another team from their stable.
"Only one team will be kept, the non-qualifying team will be transferred to the domestic stable or sold. It would be a shame to see this team hitched to a delivery cart." Willow gasped. She could never imagine herself hitched to a delivery cart. She was not exactly sure what it meant, but she knew she did not like it. She had seen the cart that delivered the bags filled with their food. It looked like something from a Renaissance Fair with large wheels and wooden staked sides. It would be just right for transporting chained prisoners to their doom in the town square. The brut hitched to the cart was large with good muscle definition. His arms, like the work horse at the dock, were not contained in a casing like hers, they did not exist. He wore no bit in his mouth, but she had also assumed from the sounds that he made and the scar on this throat that his voice box had been removed or cut in such a way to remove any speech capability.
Her thoughts had taken her away from the conversation. She refocused. "We still have a week before we have to designate a team."
"But we need to put all our resources behind the team we are submitting."
"Let's give them four days of training and then run a race. The winner goes on." This plan seemed to get agreement from all of the trainers.
Willow hoped Misty had heard. She hoped that Misty would now show the proper motivation. They had four more days and they still had the afternoon workout. Afternoons were always more difficult. At first it would be very hot, the hottest time of the day. Then in mid-afternoon it would normally cloud up, the temperature would cool and for about an hour it would be quite comfortable, but then the rain would come. And when it rained here it really rained. Sometimes the trainers would put them under the shelter until the rain stopped. Sometimes the trainers would go under the shelter and leave the ponies standing in the rain. Still other times they would be worked through the storm. The rain never lasted long, usually ten minutes to half an hour. If it lasted longer than half an hour the ground became so puddled and muddy that it was very difficult to move through. The sulky was so well balanced that in normal conditions it could be easily pulled, but when the track was muddy it became a real struggle walking was hard, trotting was nearly impossible because a proper pace could not be maintained, and running felt like slow motion. On most days the ground and the ponies dried in about half an hour. That usually left some good training time before the end of the day. It was the end of the day when their grooms would clean and care for the ponies after the day's work.
But, if Misty had heard what the trainers were saying it had obviously not registered. Her afternoon performance was no better than the morning. Willow continued to push her by setting a faster pace; Misty continued to lag until she received the encouragement of the trainer. Misty's thighs and buttocks were red and marked with the evidence of frequent encouragement. Willow would try to give Misty an encouraging look, but all she saw in Misty's face was anger, maybe even rage. "Why is she mad at me?" Willow thought. "I am trying to help her."
To make matters worse the rain this afternoon was longer than normal and they were made to train through it. Their trainer encouraged both of them to keep pace even though the mud made lifting their feet more difficult and dragged at the wheels of the sulky. Willow had forgotten how the buggy whip could bite. It didn't sound or look that bad when applied to Misty's buttocks, but it hurt a lot on her own.
As the day drew to a close Willow fought to resist becoming depressed. She needed to maintain her positive attitude and she needed to find a way to get Misty 'with the program'. She didn't know how she was going to do that, obviously right now Misty saw her not as her friend, but as one of her tormentors. If Willow had held to a slower pace Misty would have received a lot less punishment. Maybe after grooming she could explain to her why she had done what she did. Maybe she could make Misty see. She could only hope.
Willow worried through evening grooming. Usually this was the highlight of her day. Liniment would be rubbed into her body. Her muscles would be massaged, and she would be fed. She had come to enjoy the touch of her groom, and her groom seemed to enjoy the task as well. They did not talk, Willow knew better, but Willow would nuzzle her from time to time and this act was always rewarded with a smile and stroking to her head.
But tonight the massage did not seem to work out the knots and kinks. Her groom even said "I don't understand why you are so tight tonight." Willow knew. She was going over in her mind what she could say to Misty. She had to make her understand that their future was at stake. There was going to be a race in just a few days and they desperately needed to win. The losers would be sold. They were prime ponies right now, but that could all change. They might even be broken up. Willow did not want to be without Misty. She needed them to remain a team.
It seemed like the grooming took so much longer than normal. And Misty's groom had finished first because Willow could hear Misty at her food and water troughs. She prayed that Misty did not fall asleep before they could talk. Then, finally the grooms were gone. Willow heard the last steps echo up the corridor and then the quiet of the night time stable.
But before Willow could start any of her rehearsed (in her mind) speeches there was a voice from the other side of the wall.
"I thought you were my friend Jen."
"I don't know what has happened to you. Weren't you the one who said 'we will never give in'? Weren't you the one that said 'we will never lose hope and we will find a way to escape'? What happened to that Jennifer?"
Jennifer heard that. But Jennifer had learned something. Jennifer now knew that there was no hope. She now knew that there was no escape. They would stay prisoners on this island for the rest of their lives, which would be very short if they got into the jungle. Jennifer was done. All that was left was to give in. She felt the bile in her throat. "I was naοve and stupid to think we could get away. When was the last time you even felt your arms or hands? How long before they atrophy into nothing. They clip reins to our bridle and lead us wherever they wish. If they just wrap the reins around something we are stuck there until they return. You can stand and look over the gate to your stall, but you can't open the door, not without hands you can't. And do you want to know what is out there if your do get out? Almost certain death, I was stuck in the jungle being eaten by bugs, my blood sucked by leaches, and I couldn't go anywhere, I was sure I was going to die, except for the fact that someplace in our outfits they have GPS trackers so they can always find us. We are what we are. We are not college girls anymore. We are ponies. It does not matter that we did not willingly choose it. But from some of what I have seen we could be a lot worse off, and if we don't succeed in the next few days we will be. The choice is simple there is NO FUCKING CHOICE!"
Jen turned and slumped against the wall dividing the stalls. She was immediately sorry for what she had said. But she didn't know how to make it better. Back in college they had only fought a couple of times. In the end they had hugged each other. In fact, when one of them was feeling really down the other would often take her in her arms and hold her. There had been several difficult nights when they clung to each other through the entire night. It had never become sexual, but it was as close as it could get without taking the last step. Jen found herself drifting into wonderment as to why it had not gone further. They clearly loved each other deeply. She was pretty sure she would have responded positively to such overtures. Maybe Abby was waiting for her to take the lead. She wished she had done something. At least she should have tested the chemistry. Now she would never know. She could not comfort her friend. She could not hold her friend. She could not even see her; only hear her quietly sobbing, only inches away. Jen cried back and then she slept.
It was morning. Willow tried to embrace the beauty of the morning, but there was something dark holding on deep within her. She knew what and who it was. Willow had lost control last night and Jen had tried to ruin everything. Her plan, no, the necessity of their situation, required that she encourage Misty not beat her down. She needed to instill some life in her. Acceptance might help, but she was not sure last night's diatribe was right for that either. It was too full of self doubt and defeatism. What if Misty just gave up? There was a huge difference between acceptance and just resignation. And even acceptance was not enough. Somehow Misty had to embrace her new life and the opportunities that it presented.
But first, Willow needed to get rid of her own demons. She took a deep drink of water from her trough; she lifted her head high and shook her mane; she actually jumped around the inside of her stall feeling the blood start to flow through her body; anticipating the crisp morning air on the track. Her groom smiled and stroked her head. She smiled back and nuzzled. She was so lucky to have such a wonderful groom who cared so much for her. She could feel the energy building in her and with it, she could feel the darkness retreating. It may not be completely gone, but she knew what it was, she knew where it lived, and she was determined to keep in locked away in dark recesses of her being.
Finally they were out on the track. Misty did not look good at all. Willow smiled at her. She tried to nuzzle her, but Misty turned away. Willow followed her around keeping her cheek against Misty's, or at least as best she could with their bits bumping. Misty stopped turning. She turned slightly back toward Willow as their bodies made contact. Their breasts touched and there was a spark of electricity not actual, but Willow felt it through her entire body. And so did Misty. Misty turned her face to Willow. They stood nose to nose. Finally Misty returned the smile and leaned into Willow feeling the soft warmth of her body. The trainers seemed to know that something important was happening and did not interfere. They let the two ponies finish the handless caresses before finally, but gently, moving them to the two pony sulky.
To Willows delight they were also belled today. She had not worn the bells in a long time. She loved the bells and it should be very helpful for their workout. It was. After only a brief rough start their timing started to pull together. The bells also helped concentration. Willow was not dragging Misty forward by the yoke. She did not have to; Misty was feeling the pace, matching the bells and, she was having no trouble keeping up. Willow was not even sure who was setting the pace. They trotted with precision and beauty. Then it was time to run. They ran three miles pulling in close to the rail, even making the turns without the bells chiming out of synch.
Willow was elated as they came around the back turn on the third lap, but then she almost missed a step. He was there. He was watching from just behind the training area. "It doesn't get any better than this." She thought as she held her head high, glancing approvingly at Misty. She didn't think anything could darken the moment, but then she saw the woman walk up and take a position next to him. The woman reached out and put her hand on his arm. Willow had to look away to keep from letting the woman's presence upset her. Everything had been so perfect, and then there she was. She knew the woman wanted her to be afraid of her, but she was not. She hated her, but she was not afraid. Willow wished she could bite and kick her. Willow didn't know it was possible to feel such deep hatred.
As the trainer brought Willow and Misty in for the noon break Willow could see the woman still talking to him. She also got a good look at the woman's surrey and the two ponies attached to it. It had a single bench that would comfortably hold two people. Behind the back of the seat there was a small cargo area maybe two feet deep. A V shaped strut from each side held a cover to shade the seat from the hot tropical sun. The ponies were a near matching pair of pretty sorrels. They could not have been more than a few years older than Willow. They stood with their heads lowered, but they were occasionally twitching. Willow took a better look at them as she and Misty came up the straightaway within only a few feet of where these ponies stood hobbled.
First Willow noticed that the rein arrangement was quite different than for the racing ponies. A short chain ran from the edge of the bit on each side of the pony's head down to her nipple ring on that side. If the pony raised her head it would pull up on her nipple. There was a ring in the center of this short chain and it was to this ring that each rein was attached. That meant that a pull on the rein would not just pull the bit to one side or the other but would pull both the bit and the breast. Willow could not help but turn her head to get a better view of the ponies as they past. This is a move the bit arrangement on these ponies would not have allowed.
There was something else. Willow could see something protruding slightly from the vaginal channel of both ponies. She could not tell exactly what it was but it was clearly clipped onto the rings in the labia. The clitoris ring rested on the top of the object base and Willow could see it bouncing up and down. "Oh my God." Thought Willow. "They are being vibrated." Neither pony looked like they were enjoying it at all. Their heads were down and they were squirming. It appeared to have been set on a very low vibration, just enough to be very frustrating, not enough to provide any real pleasure or relief.
When they moved in and stopped at the training area Willow could no longer see the sorrels and the surrey, but she could not get the image out of her head. She did not want to be those ponies. Why did the PPA let this woman get away with the things that she did?
To make matters worse although he was there the entire time they were on break he never came over to Willow. He did look at her a couple of times and she did her best to smile. She even tossed her mane and pawed at the ground. But he seemed very busy.
The woman was not as busy and she did come over. "Miss me?" She said as her hands, not unexpectedly went to Willow's breasts. Willow noticed that the woman was careful to stand to the side and slightly behind so that Willow could not aim a kick at her even if she wanted to. Well, she really did want to, but she also knew better.
"What a fine pair of bays." Misty was now looking at her with horror in her eyes. "I can't wait for you two to be brought down from your lofty perch and become a part of a real working stable . . . like mine. You will really learn what it means to serve. From what I hear it should not be long now." She tweaked Willow's nipple then leaned over and gave her a kiss on the side of her cheek. If Willow had hands she would be wiping her face right now. Instead she could only pull her head back and away from the wet assault. The woman laughed and walked back to him. Willow was thrilled when their trainer finally returned and they were able to get back to work.
The rest of the training day went well. Willow tried to put the woman out of her mind, but she would creep back in and when she appeared she could feel the door to the dark place being pried open. She was not going to let that happen. Any day now would be the qualifier and if they ran like they did today they would win for sure. She would not let the woman ruin that. The woman was trying to get into her head. She wanted to see Willow fail. Willow's stomach lurched with the thought of not just losing her position in the racing stable but belonging to the woman. It was clear that the woman had no respect for fine animals. Willow would show her.
Back in her stall with her groom Willow was enjoying the feeling as the adrenaline was massaged out of her limbs. But there was something wrong. Her groom was more reserved than usual. It was as if she was turning something in her mind and that she was not quite sure what to do with it.
Finally, when everything else was done, the groom walked up in front of Willow and looked her in the eye. She held up an 8" leather hobble with clips on both ends. "She has instructed that you be hobbled." She looked up into Willows face as she spoke. Then she held up the hobble and with an end in each hand turned it from a straight line to a U shape. Willow could see in the center it had been cut almost all the way through. Only a few strands of leather held it together. "She will come for you tonight. Be ready. But don't move too fast."
The groom fastened the hobble, stood and gave Willow a kiss on the lips. Willow almost lost her balance in surprise. Then the groom was gone latching the gate behind her.
What was she going to do? The woman would think she was hobbled. That would give the element of surprise, but once it was used she would have to deal with the disadvantage of not having arms or hands. Sometimes she really hated that part of her existence. The woman was mean and sadistic. If Willow made her mad she could really hurt her. But given her nature she would really hurt her even if Willow was compliant. She remembered being helplessly strapped in her stall with her legs spread while the woman used her riding crop on her. She remembered watching the woman cane her groom, at least several steps of severity above what had been done to Willow. She did not know what was coming tonight, she did not know how it would end, but she did know she was not going to go quietly.
Willow had had to be very careful not to prematurely break the hobble. It needed to look intact when the woman came in. She also needed to be able to react quickly, but she could not lay awake all night. She had a race to win and now she was sure it would be in the morning. That is why the woman was coming now. She wanted to make Willow lose the race. Willow sat at the back of her stall with her legs in front of her and her back against the wall. Then she tried to sleep.
She may have slept, but she didn't think she had. She heard the sound of the gate opening. She sat quietly watching. It was dark enough that the woman would not be able to tell if her eyes were open or closed. The woman stood in the open door of the stall. She appeared to be alone. That was a relief. Willow had been concerned that she would have help overpowering her. Even her wimpy looking little slave could be a problem. The woman had one of her precious canes in her hand. She was quietly slapping it into the palm of the other hand. But that hand also held several coils of line. She intended to secure Willow and thrash her. That was clear. This was going to be tricky. Willow knew how easy it was to clip a line on the many anchor points on her person. A leash to anything on her could easily be secured restricting her movement severely. But the woman thought she had the element of surprise and she thought the dangerous legs were hobbled.
Willow continued to feign sleep. The moonlight was playing off the woman's face and Willow could see the smile. The woman took a line with a clip in her right hand and started to stoop down toward Willow. This line was meant for Willow's collar. A simple click and the contest would be all but over. But before the woman could reach her with the clip end of the line Willow, using both feet together, kicked the woman just below the waist. She howled in pain as she was propelled backwards only catching her balance with the sides of the gate.
Willow jumped to her feet. She kept them close together so the woman would believe she was hobbled. "You are going to really regret that." The woman spit. "Nice of you to stand for me. Too bad you are hobbled. I bet you would really like to kick me now." She smirked as she stepped forward and started to thrash with the cane. Willow was not quite ready for this. Blows rained down on her shoulders and her arms. She turned slightly to the side for protection, but that opened her back, buttocks and breasts. The woman thought she was secured by the hobble so she was busy attacking instead of attempting to further secure her prey. Willow knew that could change at any second, and if she clipped a line to her all would be lost.
As the woman pursued her to the back of the stall Willow ducked slightly, pulled her feet apart breaking the hobble line and then drove her shoulder into the solar plexus of the woman. The woman had been in mid stroke when this happened and her cane snapped in half. She dropped the half she had been holding and grabbed for her stomach. Willow then delivered raking kicks to the woman's shins. She had been looking for a knee, but the effect of the metal horse shoe on the unprotected flesh was still catastrophic. The woman fell backwards into the corridor and wrapped both her arms around her severely injured shins.
Willow moved forward and started to measure a kick to the face. With the power in her legs and the horseshoe on her foot it would at least break a jaw if not kill her. Willow cocked her leg and then stopped. The woman had not taken any effort to protect herself. She looked up at Willow. Willow could see the fear in her eyes as Willow contemplated delivering the coup de grace. But then she did not. The fight in the woman was gone. She rolled slowly to her side, crawled and then clambered to her feet and limping on both legs did her best to run from the stable.
Willow followed her for about three stalls, then she stopped, snorted loudly and pawed the floor three or four times with her right hoof. The commotion had awakened the other ponies and they had come to their gates to see what was going on. As the woman had disappeared into the night there was snorting and whinnying and stomping of hoofs from all around. Willow held her head high. She flipped her mane and slowly walked back into her stall. The door remained open, but she had no intention of going anywhere else. It felt strange seeing the door hanging open. She used her chin to pull it closed; but without the latch it didn't stay closed, although it only remained opened by several inches those several inches were very bothersome. Her door was not as it should be. But it was mostly closed. That at least felt better and Willow was able to lie down and sleep. She did not expect the woman to be back tonight.
Willow could tell that her groom was worried as she very slowly opened the gate. Did she expect to find her dead? Maybe she thought she would be gone again. But the sound woke her and she sat up and smiled. The groom's eyes were wide and her mouth was open. "Oh my god." Was all she said.
Willow looked down at her body. There were huge red welts everywhere. On her stomach, on her chest, on her breasts, even her sides and legs. That was funny; she did not remember that many strokes and they did not hurt. At least they did not hurt yet. Willow knew she was not supposed to talk to her groom, but she looked her in the eyes and said: "Don't touch anything. Go get my trainer."
The groom ran from the stall. She didn't even take time to close the gate. In only minutes she was back with Willow's trainer. The trainer urged Willow to stand with a finger through the ring in her collar. Then, still holding the ring she turned her to one side and then the other observing the damage to her charge. Then she looked around the stall. She saw the two broken pieces of the cane. She stooped and picked them up. She held the fat end of the handle up to her face examining the markings. It appeared these canes were monogrammed.
The trainer gave some directions to the groom and left with the cane pieces in hand. Willow's groom looked very concerned, but Willow gave her a big smile and then a nuzzle. The groom then gently stroked her face and hair. She then spent several hours carefully cleaning and applying ointment to her many wounds. She was surprised to feel the sting now with the tender touch, but the salve felt very good. She wondered how this was going to affect her ability to pull the sulky. After all, she did have a race to win.
When her groom finally fit her bridle and bit and led her from the stall Willow knew that all the other ponies had already left the stable. As she left the stable she could see that it was a very bright sunny day. The warmth of the sun with a gentle breeze from the ocean felt good on her skin. She should not be feeling so happy. She had numerous stripes from the application of the cane. Some of them, showed intense rage, having cut through the skin. She had injured the woman and she felt like she had prevailed, but she had not finished the job when she had the opportunity. Would she later regret that? It did not matter, as angry as she had been at the woman, and even though she had been defending herself, she could not find it in herself to deliver a potentially fatal blow. She would just have to face up to whatever came from the confrontation. She was sure next time the woman would bring help. But right now she was not going to worry about that. Right now she just felt good. She felt victorious and she planned on using that feeling to triumph.
Misty stood, reins wrapped to a post near the trainers' paddock. She looked at Willow with concern as her trainer led her over. Misty was one of the ponies that had seen Willow drive the woman from their stable, but she would not have seen, or then known, the extent of Willow's injuries. She would not know if Willow could still run. Her expression changed the minute Willow looked at her and they made eye contact. Willow's smile jumped to Misty's face. They were able to rub cheeks before the trainers guided them apart.
Even though Willow looked frightful with red stripes all over her body the trainer hitched her to the sulky along with Misty and quickly took them out onto the training track. Today they worked mostly on a small track practicing starts and stops and pace changes. Precious time could be lost if the pace change was not closely coordinated between the ponies. They ended the day with a good four mile run on the large practice track followed by a mile trot and about a fifteen minute walk. Although the woman had delivered many slashes to Willow's skin with her cane most were evidenced only by surface marks. As the day had begun Willow had felt some sensitivity in a few muscles, but the as they worked she felt all the knots work out. Willow thought she was ready for the race, but she was happy that it had not happened that day. She wondered if it had been delayed because of what had happened.
Even though it had been a good day on the track Willow was happy to be back in her stall with her groom. She was carefully washed and her skin oiled. Her boots were removed and her leg muscles massaged before being treated with liniment. The groom's touch was soft and caring. Willow could not resist pushing her head against the groom to encourage her to stroke her head and neck. Willow had prevailed the night before, but it was because her groom had warned her and had sabotaged the hobble. If the groom had followed the woman's instructions Willow would have been helpless and at the mercy of that evil woman. Willow wondered how many others had been so mistreated at the hands of that person. Maybe she should have finished her off when she had the chance. She doubted she would get another chance.
It was a sleepless night. She had not been hobbled, but she half expected the woman to return with help in order to exact her revenge. Willow sat against the back wall of her stall much as she had on the night she was attacked. She drifted in and out of sleep, but any noise (there were many in the stable); any movement (again not an uncommon thing); jerked her back to consciousness. Thankfully the woman never came. In the end there was just morning and the return of her groom.
The next day the training schedule returned to normal. Willow had trouble concentrating and she was tired from lack of rest. It was not a good day and the trainer laid the whip on her far more than normal. The marks on her skin from the attack had turned dark in color making the new marks easy to distinguish. Misty glanced at Willow from time to time betraying a worried look. Willow had been fine the day before, why was she now, a day later, so off her game? Willow remembered the groom strapped tightly over the frame while the woman worked her legs and buttocks with her cane. The woman could bring plenty of help and would have little difficulty rendering Willow helpless. Then she would be able to exact her revenge. She had given the groom over fifteen strokes of the cane just for being the fall guy when the woman left the gate open. What would she want to get even for the injuries that Willow had inflicted on her, not to mention the humiliation? If Willow closed her eyes images of her strapped over the bar and being beaten flashed into her mind. She could not keep pace, she could not change pace, and she kept missing steps.
After a very frustrating morning for the entire team the trainer took them to the break area and tied them near the rail. Willow could see that he was here. Now she felt even worse. He had seen her terrible performance. He would have to be very disappointed with her. Maybe there wouldn't even be a run off race. Maybe she and Misty would just be sold off. Willow looked over at the pony attached to the hansom cab nearby. The pony stood quietly looking straight ahead. Her bridle was equipped with blinkers that kept her focus to the front. He posture was straight, but not really erect. She did not look mistreated, but she did look docile, just a gentle work pony. Her life would be simple. It might even be easy, certainly not as challenging as the life of a racing pony. But where was the reward? Where was the recognition? Willow did not want to be that pony. She was a racing pony and she needed to prove it. She needed to put the woman out of her head and get back to work. If she failed, and was then sold the woman won. She was not going to have that.
Willow could tell that the trainer was talking to him. "How is she?"
"Physically she is fine. But mentally, that is altogether another question. You saw her this morning. I have never seen her exhibit such slow response and lack of concentration."
"Maybe she just needs a good long run. She is going to look frightful for a while."
"The marks will fade." As Willow continued to eves drop something that had become a favorite activity she noticed a dark haired woman walking over to her trainer and him. It was the PPA woman. That explained the presence of the hansom cab. Willow was not sure where she had been prior to approaching her trainer and her owner. As the woman approached the conversation about her stopped and both of the individuals turned toward the PPA woman.
"I think I have concluded my investigation." The woman had her clipboard in her hand but was holding it by her side. "We have no record of any strange betting so it does not appear that she was attempting to manipulate the odds. But as you know any interference with the race protocols is a very serious offense."
"I don't understand what she was thinking. These are not docile work animals. They are responsive, but we work for spirit and they can be very dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. She is lucky she was not more seriously hurt." He was shaking his head as he spoke.
"She has been suspended from access to any of the race training areas for at least the next year. We are not going to revoke her commercial stable license but it will be on probation. We have not yet assessed any damages. That will be up to you to make a claim if it appears that your property has been damaged."
"I understand. She may have cost me a fortune in the damage to this one. I guess we will find out tomorrow when we race the two contenders."
"I hope that is not the case." He and the woman shook hands and she walked back to her cab.
Tomorrow? Tomorrow was the elimination race. Willow knew she needed to get her head back in the game. She had no intention of being eliminated. She fully intended to win the elimination and then to be the winner of the big race. Besides, it sounded like the woman was gone, at least from here, at least for now. It also seemed that so long as Willow remained a racing pony she would be out of the woman's reach. But what if she lost? The woman still had a stable. If Willow and Misty lost their position as racing ponies they could end up in the hands of the woman. They really needed to win the elimination race.
The rest of the afternoon was better, much better, but still not at the level Willow knew she would need to win. But her mind was eased and tonight she would rest. She was well conditioned, she was not injured, and she was going to put everything she had into tomorrow.
It was morning. Willow tried to remember what she and Misty had talked about last night. Willow had meant to tell her all about the conversation with their owner and the PPA woman, but she could not remember her conversation with Misty. She had been so tired. Maybe she had just fallen asleep.
Willow and Misty Night were hitched to their double yoke sulky. They were given a warm-up trot around the training track and then they were directed to the main track. They had seen this track, much of it was visible from the training track, but they had never been taken here before. It was absolutely beautiful. The surface was firm dry dirt, potentially very fast track conditions. There was a turf inner track but they were kept on and guided around the dirt track toward the stand area.
The circumference of the track was defined on the inside by a white rail at about nipple height held up by curved posts about every half chain (eleven feet). Twenty posts would equal a furlong. Another rail encircled the inner track. Inside that was a beautiful garden with ponds and flowers and decorative stone. It presented a restful contrast to the frenzied action that would occur around it. A pony stood hitched to a small utility cart in the garden just inside the inner rail. A team of four slaves worked near the cart in the garden. They were naked except for their chains and cuffs. Feet were held in a relatively close hobble of about 12". Their wrists were connected with a single chain that passed through a loop in the front of their belt. The chain was long enough to allow them to almost extend their arms fully in front of themselves. They appeared to be weeding the gardens. Each of the slaves was connected to a ring in the back of the cart by a light chain attached to each collar. This chain was about 25 feet long and the slave had to carefully maneuver it over the plants to avoid damaging anything. They would work from the cart then all of them including the pony and cart would move up to a new spot. There did not appear to be any overseer directing their actions.
There was another team and sulky on the course. Willow recognized them from the training area and the stable. They had the look of proper racing ponies long strong legs, well tanned from exposure to the sun; a long mane of straw blonde hair with matching tail; wide strong shoulders with their arms disappearing into a strong case that held their arms and hands uselessly behind their back. Willow remembered seeing the name of one of them on a stall door. It was Llamerei, the name of a strong mare from Arthurian legend. Willow had wondered a few times why some of the ponies had such strong historic names while her name evoked no sense of power at all. She liked her name, she thought it fit her, but the names of great horses of legend seemed to be everywhere.
There was a wave of fear. She had not known that this team was the other yearling team. They looked like they had been here a long time. They were clearly better trained than Willow and Misty. This was going to be very tough.
The trainers lined the carts up next to each other approximately a furlong from the start line. Llamerei's team had the additional advantage of the pole position. On a signal from the line the two trainers started their teams. They were kept together in a trot as they approached the line halfway down the straightaway in front of the stands. Willow wondered how far they would race. No one had said anything to them, but after all they were just ponies, why would anyone talk to them about such things anyway? They would start when signaled to do so; they would run so long as their trainer bid it so; and they would keep running until signaled to stop. They would not pace themselves. That again was the job of the trainer. The trainer would set the strategy and see that it was properly executed.
They were across the line and the trainer signaled the advance to the run. The other team had transitioned smoothly and was ahead by several breast lengths. Willow and Misty were holding their own, but the turn was coming. They would either have to turn wide next to the other sulky extending the radius of the turn or slip to a position behind them. Willow would have thought that they would stay wide and just use extra energy to keep the distance short, but the trainer's view was different and only one view mattered. Willow felt herself being eased back with a tension on the reins. She was then moved in behind the other sulky. She was so close her steps were landing where the leading sulky had just been. If it stopped, or even slowed, she would run into it.
As they moved through the turn the trainer held the position.
Once they came out of the turn the trainer eased them to the outside. Willow and Misty started to move up on the outside, gaining until Willow was running near the front of the opposing sulky, just behind the ponies. Suddenly there was a sharp pain in her left haunch. Willow lost a step and they fell back a few feet. She realized that she had been struck by the driver of the opposing sulky. Willow, now dead even with the driver looked to her left and snorted her displeasure at this unsportsmanlike conduct. She wanted to get past them and out in front, but the turn was coming and her trainer eased her back, again falling in behind the other team.
Again, they maintained this position through the turn. As they came out of the turn the trainer moved them wide once again, but it was only a faint. It drew the other team away from the rails. The trainer then moved Willow and Misty back to the left and then forward taking a position between the rail and the other sulky. Willow was almost touching the rail she was so close. They had eased forward on the other sulky, but its driver had pulled as close to them as she could. Misty was now running in the space between the opposing sulky and the left pony of that team. The result was that Willow and Misty could neither go forward nor back without colliding with the other team and it's sulky.
They kept this position through most of the back stretch. Willow was sure as they came to the corner the other team would now have to move outside giving her team the rail through the corner. But even before they could begin negotiating the turn the left wheel of the opposing sulky hit the back of Misty's leg. Misty was knocked sideways into the compartment of the other sulky. That driver was propelled free onto the track. The other sulky then pulled free causing Misty to fall to her right side. This twisted the yoke pulling Willow off her feet and dumping their sulky onto its side. The yoke arm to Willow's left bent and she and Misty lay in a tangled mess from which neither could extricate themselves without help.
Their trainer picked herself up, dusted the dirt from her uniform and came forward to inspect her charges. She started with Misty's legs. Blood was evident on Misty's right leg where it had impacted with the other sulky. The trainer carefully examined the wound, then Misty's body. Next she moved to Willow, again checking her legs first. Other than the fact that she was suspended in the air and not able to touch ground she felt like she was fine. Finally, after carefully inspecting both ponies, the trainer righted the sulky as best she could. With the bent yoke arm it was necessary to release Willow from the yoke before the sulky could sit flat on its wheels on the track. She stroked first Misty and then Willow's hair and softly uttered words of encouragement.
The other trainer, without a word had gotten up and walked around the track following her team who had finished the race without her. Willow angrily looked after her. She wanted to run forward and kick her. She had acted unfairly. But her trainer led Willow to the back of the sulky and attached her reins there. Then the trainer climbed into the seat and with Misty held to a walk, she guided the damaged sulky back toward the barn, Willow did what one does when reined to something, she followed along behind.
This was not fair. They had lost, the other team had finished the race and they had not even finished, but the other driver had cheated, first by striking Willow when they were trying to pass on the outside and then by causing a collision. It was clear that she and Misty were the faster team. They should have been the winners, but they were not. Willow' mind was filled with the talk about selling the losing team; that only the winner would be able to race in the yearling race. The trainer did not say anything to them as she removed Misty from the yoke of the sulky and led both ponies back to their stalls. It just wasn't fair. They should not be sold, they were the better team and they should be able to race, but there was nothing Willow could do but follow her trainer, with her head drooping, back to her stall.
The inside of the stable was quiet. All of the other ponies were still out on the track or in the training areas. Willow was sure this was it. Someone would come for them and take them away from their home. Willow did not want to leave her stall. She felt comfortable here. She felt secure here. She had even been attacked and had successfully defended herself here. This was her home.
There was a sound in the stable. Someone had come. Willow went to the gate to see what was happening. A woman in a white coat, Willow thought she recognized her from the first day on the island. There was another person with her, obviously an assistant. The assistant was carrying a black bag, similar to that used by doctors, but a bit larger. They entered Misty's stall. Willow moved to the dividing wall to hear what she could. The woman instructed her assistant to remove the boot and was obviously inspecting the injury Misty had sustained. Willow heard her asking for things such as disinfectant, cotton swabs, ointments, gauze. There was nothing sinister here; she was the vet come to care for Misty.
Willow saw that the trainer had arrived. As the three left Misty's stall the vet talked to the trainer. "She will be fine. I want the boot off for a day, the wound cleaned daily for the next four days and light service during that period. She will have a nasty bruise on her side, but there appears to be no internal injury."
"I will see to it." Was the reply.
The vet then opened Willow's stall and entered. Willow shied away, she was not sure why. Her trainer came forward. "Shh girl, it's ok, she is just going to make sure you are ok." The trainer gently took her bridle in her left hand while stroking her with the right. Willow then let herself be led forward to the vet.
The vet carefully examined her starting again with her legs.
"She may show some bruising, but she seems to be fine. Let her rest today, but give her a good workout tomorrow."
All three left closing Willow's stall behind them. Willow pranced around her stall. Her legs felt fine. She looked herself over. She looked fine. She wished they had removed her bridle and bit before leaving. But that was a job for the groom. She wondered how Misty was doing. There was obviously some injury that would take a few days to heal.
The next day Willow was taken out by herself. The trainer put her on a single sulky and worked her hard. It felt good. She saw the other team on the track and was very pleased when her trainer had her run past them. Willow snorted and defiantly bobbed her head as she came by. She hoped that they noticed her. Even alone she was much faster than they were.
For the next two days Willow had been afraid someone was going to come and take them away at any moment, but the nature of the training did not feel like they were about to become service animals.
It was four days before Misty and Willow were hitched back as a team. Misty had been out on the paddock each day, but had not been harnessed to a sulky at any time. Willow had watched her limp a little the first couple of days, but she was not limping now. Thank heavens she had not come up lame. As much as Willow enjoyed running solo with her sulky, it felt wonderful to be back in tandem with Misty.
Willow could not wait until they were out on the track running together. Misty did not seem to be favoring her leg at all, and they were making very good speed. After two laps of the track at speed the trainer brought them to a trot. Willow realized how well conditioned they had become. They had just run two miles and she was not feeling the least bit winded as she and Misty maintained a good trot around the track.
Willow could hear it before she could see it. Another sulky was coming up from behind. She and Misty were wide on the track and it passed them at a run on the inside. It was the team they had raced. Willow wanted to go after them. She wanted to show them just how much faster she and Misty were, but there was no signal from the trainer. But at that moment, even though there was no signal, Misty lurched forward. She was trying to break the trot and run. Willow was all for that and quickly joined in.
Willow felt the backward pressure on the reins, but this time she was not going to obey. She shook her head back and forth, snorted and pushed it forward only increasing the pace. Another pull from the trainer received the same response. Willow could tell Misty was doing the same. They were about 20 feet behind the other sulky, but they were closing. Then, the trainer seemed to get into it. Instead of pulling back on the reins she started to slap them up and down urging her ponies forward.
The other trainer became aware of them as they closed up behind to where Willow's steaming breath was on the opposing trainer's neck. She looked over her shoulder into Misty's eyes. They were wild, filled with fire and determination. The trainer turned back and urged her team to gain more speed.
Willow and Misty's trainer tried to close to the inside, but it was quickly blocked. They moved to the outside and as before started to gain on the leading team. Willow could tell that now they knew that they were there and the other team was straining at the yoke trying to pick up speed. But, in spite of all their efforts Willow and Misty were gaining. As they came up to the turn they had drawn almost even. From Willow's position on the left she was shoulder to shoulder with the right pony of the other team. From a distance it would look as if they were actually touching.
The other team had the advantage of the corner, and during the race Willow's trainer had pulled her team back to trail. Willow did not want that now. She was ready to take them in the corner, even with the longer arc of the radius. In order to pass that message to her trainer she strained even faster moving into the lead by a head. As they started into the corner the other team regained the lost ground and started to ease forward. Willow dug deeper. She looked to her right and saw the fire in Misty's eyes. If she were on the other team she would have been terrified by the fierceness of this look. Willow and Misty were gaining. Even though they were running a longer distance they were gaining.
As they came out of the corner they were half a length ahead of the other team. Within a furlong that turned into a length and a half and they were now on the rail with the other team eating their dirt. No achievement in Willow's life had felt as satisfying as this. But she and Misty did not slow with their lead. They kept the steam on. She had never moved so fast with the sulky. She had never seen a team move so fast. As they came up the stretch she could tell that there was excitement at the training area. Whatever anyone there had been doing they had all stopped and all eyes were now on what had just occurred on the clubhouse turn of the training track. As they past the stand Willow and Misty did not even look to their right. They kept their heads straight ahead concentrating on maintaining their speed. They did not slow until they had made the far turn and were in the back stretch. The other team was so far behind them at that point that there was no longer a race.
The trainer signaled them to drop to a trot. This time they obeyed. Willow wondered what they would do when the other team came by again, but that did not happen. Their trainer reduced them to a trot as well and kept a good distance between the teams. "Just as well." Thought Willow. If they had tried to pass they would only have received a brand new ass kicking.
When they finished the lap at a trot their trainer guided them into the rest area. She quickly dismounted and huddled with the other trainers, and someone else. Willow was feeling really good, but then she saw that he was there. He had seen them. He was listening to the trainers speak, but he kept looking over at Willow and Misty and he smiled at them. He was happy with them. Even though Willow was standing straight and erect, which had become her normal posture, she felt herself find just a bit more height. It was an achievement and everyone had seen. Many eyes were on her and Willow found that she liked being watched. Finally he left the group of trainers, walked over to Willow and Misty and patted each of them on the head. He slipped a treat into each of their mouths. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet. Nothing had ever seemed so wonderful. Willow lowered her head and nuzzled him. He didn't pull away or move back, he stayed stroking her head for some time, and then he smiled and patted her on the flank.
"Fine job. I knew you had it in you." He said looking back and forth between Misty and Willow. Then he turned back to the trainers. They were talking again, but Willow was not paying attention. She felt like she was floating. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze that gently moved the tops of the trees, everything was green and fresh and the perfumed smells of the jungle flowers made every breath of air a delight.
Over the following weeks there was an increasing air of excitement in the stables. Willow could tell that the big race was coming, exactly when she did not know. Ponies do not have calendars. Ponies do not pay attention to days of the week. Their routine was pretty much the same every day.
Grooms were slaves so they did not have days off. Morning was marked by the light of the dawn, but Willow knew that her groom would be there every morning and every night to care for her. She did not know what else the groom might do during the day, maybe clean her stall, because it was always clean in the evening, but just like the sun, the moon, and the stars, her groom was always there to care for her. She trusted her groom completely; she welcomed her groom's hands on any part of her body; she knew that her groom would carefully examine anything that might look troubling, like a good cut-man to a prize fighter; and just like a prize fighter her groom would massage and oil her body feeling for and removing any knots. Willow didn't have to tell her where it hurt, somehow she just knew.
As the training continued Willow and Misty got better and better. Their timing and coordination smoothed and became instinctual. Willow did not need to look at Misty. She did not need to try to anticipate Misty's moves, responses or actions. She seemed to know what Misty was going to do before Misty did it. And Misty knew what Willow would do. It was if there was some mental connection between them. Observers would marvel at the almost perfect synchronization of every action. Not only did their gait match but their legs seemed to move with the precision of a top ranked drill team. Even their breathing fell into perfect syncopation.
Willow didn't talk to her groom. She didn't talk to anyone. People might talk to a pony, but they did not talk with ponies. Willow had learned that. Not only was it very hard to talk with a bit in your mouth, but any attempt to talk to a trainer usually ended up with a quick snap of a ridding crop or the end of a rein to the top of a breast. That hurt, but it was also humiliating because it clearly chided her for doing something about which she knew better. Her groom wouldn't strike her, but she would shush her if she tried to talk. Willow and Misty didn't even talk anymore. Willow was not sure when they had stopped. Willow would sleep next to the wall dividing their stalls. She was more comfortable being able to hear Misty breathing but words and speech were somehow a part of another world and she no longer would even think about formulating sentences and speaking. If they were outside their stalls they would often rub cheeks, but there were no words exchanged.
There were other ways to communicate. No one had told her how, but they had just developed, and it seemed so natural. Happiness and pleasure were demonstrated by lowering the head, with the chin forward, and tilting it to one side or the other. If a trusted person were nearby they would be rubbed with the side of the head. This might be accompanied by whinnying. Sadness or pain was demonstrated by lowering the chin and turning slightly away so that the pony's shoulder was pointed toward the object of the emotion. There might be low moans. Anger had the chin pulled tight, eyes furrowed and locked on the subject, nose wrinkled, and the hoofs placed with the left hoof six to eight inches ahead of the right, possibly with some pawing of the ground. This was accompanied by loud short snorts, usually through the nose. It was not wise to disregard this signal as a strong kick could be the reward for not paying heed. A good trainer or groom would know to move to the pony's left side speaking in soothing tones, then move in grasping either the bridle or harness with the right hand firmly, but not aggressively while stroking with the left hand. Fear could be seen in the chin pulled back in, the head down and shaking from side to side, but the eyes still on the subject. This would be accompanied by short steps away from the subject of the fear that would match any attempt to approach by that person. A desire for attention was shown by moving the head up and down and whinnying, this would be accompanied by pawing at the ground two or three times with a hoof.
Willow loved and trusted her groom. She was always happy to see her and always felt better when she was near. However difficult the day's training might have been just the sight of her groom would make her feel better. She didn't feel the same affection for her trainer but she trusted her completely. She somehow knew that her trainer had her best interests in mind. Willow would do her best to respond as expected and please her, not just because failure could bring the pain of the whip, but even more so to avoid the pain she felt inside when she knew she had somehow disappointed.
Willow's groom was excited. Such emotions are contagious and Willow was feeling it as well. Her body harness had been removed. The form and fit of the new harness was the same as the old, but it was shiny and gold. There was, of course, a matching bridle. Not only was the leather gold colored but so were all of the fixtures. They may have actually been brass or perhaps gold plated, but to Willow she was being adorned in the crown jewels. Two large plumes, almost three feet in length, forest green to signify the color of her stable were fixed to brackets at the back of her new harness. Her boots had been replaced with golden colored boots. The material was soft. It would not need to be broken in.
Willows hide had developed a fine golden hue. It was soft and supple from the careful daily attention she received. Any blemish or bruise was spotted with body make-up when she was oiled. Blush accented her cheeks and areola. She felt she knew she looked, radiant. She was a jewel of the stable and she could not wait to have everyone see her.
When her reins were finally attached and she was led out of her stall she saw Misty just ahead. As Willow had expected, Misty had been regaled in similar finery. She looked like the finest show pony. They would look beautiful, but they were not show ponies and this was not a parade. They were racing ponies and Willow knew that this was the race. All of the sweat, all of the sore muscles, all of the training, the timing, the teamwork, the precision it all came down to today. Today everyone would see just how good they were. Today they would make him proud.
She didn't know how many other teams there would be, she didn't care. One or a hundred she was intent that she and Misty would be at the front. She could not remember anything in her life before that was as important as winning this race today. There was not a rational for why this was so important. But Willow did not conduct rational analysis anymore. She did not consider why she felt the way she did or why did the things she did. In fact, her thoughts were no longer analytical. She had instincts that had developed and these instincts now governed most of what she did. She had responses, feelings and emotions. They were direct, easily reached, and neither hidden nor suppressed. Her feelings and reactions lived in the present yesterday no longer mattered and tomorrow never fogged the moment. The future was pretty much limited to the end of the task at hand. But today, right now, there was anticipation, something she had almost forgotten how to feel, today, right now, it was exhilarating.
There was a fine golden colored sulky with forest green plumes matching the ones worn by the ponies. Its design and structure was identical to the one Willow and Misty had used for training. The balance and the stress were identical. There was nothing new that needed to be learned. There were no adjustments that would be required. Willow's trainer took the seat of the sulky assisted by Misty's trainer. They were clad in forest green jerseys and shorts emblazoned in gold, with a distinct golden palm tree on the back.
As they left the stable and strutted toward the entrance to the track Willow could hear the sound of the crowd. As they cleared the stable structures, even though they were blocked by the hedge row along the back of the track she could see people and movement in the stands. There is a sound to crowds that give you a feel for both their size and their mood. This was a big crowd and it was excited. The sound alone made Willow feel stronger. She looked toward Misty, she was looking back. Misty nodded her head up and down and gave her bay colored mane a shake. Her eyes were bright, she stood tall, and Willow could tell that Misty was also feeling the energy of the crowd.
At the edge of the track near the turn closest to the stables a gateway had been opened. Two other teams were already lined up just on the stable side of the gateway. Willow and Misty were maneuvered in behind them making them the third team in line. Other teams then lined up behind. Willow could have seen them from the corner of her eye if she turned her head to the side, but she could not get a good look or clearly make out how many there were. She focused back on the two teams ahead.
Each team reflected the splendor that their respective stable wanted to present. Their harness was fine leather with gleaming highly polished fixtures. Their sulkies all looked new, perfectly shined and elegant. On the sides of each sulky was a number. Willow's team was number 9. She liked nine. It was a good number. She didn't know why she liked it. She was having some trouble remembering what nine really meant. Most of the things in her world now existed in smaller numbers. Each team was plumed with feathers that presented the color or colors of their stable, forest green for Willow's team. The two teams ahead bore blood red and teal.
After a time the teams ahead began to move forward turning to their left onto the track. Willow could see that the stands, which were all on the far side of the track, were quite full. As the teams were guided to their left Willow could see that there were three more teams behind hers, again resplendent in fine gear and color. A total of six teams had entered the track.
The line of sulkies tracked around the far corner back toward the stands. They were moving clockwise the opposite direction from normal racing, but they were not racing, only showing off the teams for the assembled fans. Each pony held her head high, occasionally shaking their mane. They walked tall and raised their legs high, proud to be on parade. Each team wanted to impress the audience, to instill confidence that they would be the winning team.
After completing the turn, the line of teams continued to strut the entire length of the straightaway so that every fan could get a good look at them. When they had passed the stands and entered into the clubhouse turn the teams were turned, one at a time from the back reversing the order until they were all set in the proper direction. They were then guided forward; the first team took up the pole position and stopped. The next team moved to their right and stopped there. The third team then positioned on the end of that line. Willow and Misty's team, fourth in this reversed line, was moved back to the inside taking the pole position but for a second line behind the first. The last two teams then positioned to their right so that there were two lines of three teams each.
Having pole position would normally be good, but with a full line of teams ahead and two additional teams to the right Willow and Misty were completely boxed in. They would not be able to make any quick break forward unless the team directly in front of them moved forward quick enough to let them advance before one of the other teams on that line could close to the rail. This was unlikely, but Willow was not thinking of strategy. She was only thinking of being fast very fast. Her driver would plan the strategy. The trainer knew the strength of her team, she probably had information on the other teams; she would assess how to play it. Willow trusted her completely so she did not have to think about what to do. Her job was to follow direction and be fast very fast.
Willow recognized some of the other teams. Directly in front of her at pole was the Nordic palomino team. Willow knew they liked to make a fast break and run. It would be interesting to see if they tried to take the lead and hold it for the entire race. That would be quite a challenge. Willow wished that she and Misty were up on the first row so they could burst ahead of the dreaded palominos.
The teams were held in position on the track for a long time. The teams did not know why, nor did they care that betting had not yet been closed at the track windows.
Finally Willow saw movement ahead of her and her reins were clicked up and down, a signal to move forward. All six teams started to walk. They held their position in line perfectly. Then, they were signaled to a trot, still holding their position. They had not reached the starting line. As they had practiced many times they would move to the start line at a trot and then change to a run as quickly as possible.
Willow knew the signal was coming as they approached the midpoint of the straight away, but she was well trained, she did not anticipate the command. But, when the command came, she and Misty began to run, finding their pace and rhythm within several steps. The other teams started smoothly as well. There was no false start and the race was on.
As Willow had suspected the palominos moved forward quickly taking almost a full length on the other two teams in their line. Willow and Misty were moved forward, but did not attempt to fill the gap left by the palominos. It was the right decision, the powerful looking sorrels, the next team in the first line, moved toward the rail, seemingly happy to trail in second place at this point. Willow did not know this team at all. She had never seen them before. They must have trained at another location. Third on the front row was the Asian team with their shinny black manes flashing in the wind. They moved in slightly, closing the gap, but moving ahead of the sorrels on the outside. This opened a gap between the three teams in the first row and the other two teams in the second row. Willow's driver moved her team to the right into a position behind the blacks. The other two teams moved in toward the rail.
From two lines of three each the teams were now grouped with three teams on the rail and three more to the outside. Willow and Misty were team number two on the outside. This positioning was held through the turn with the teams on the outside losing only a small amount of ground due to the longer distance created by the turn. As they came out of the turn into the backstretch the palominos tried to open a lead. They pulled away and created a gap between themselves and the sorrels. The blacks were not able to keep next to them and ended up moving into the rail behind. This left Willow and Misty on the outside with no team in front. They were moved forward. Not far enough to challenge the leader, but positioned alongside the second team now running on the rail. The pace felt very good. Willow did not feel pushed, she knew her driver was measuring the speeds she knew they could attain and hold against the overall distance of the race. By the clubhouse turn the field had spread and Willow and Misty were moved in toward the rail behind the blacks that were now running in second place.
As they came out of the clubhouse turn the palominos were in the lead by a length followed by the blacks with Willow and Misty right on their back. Willow and Misty were moved to the outside and picked up the pace. It was a challenge to the blacks and they picked up the pace starting to close the distance to the palominos in first. The teams were in front of the stands and the crowd was cheering loudly. Willow did not know the position of the other three teams, and she did not care. She did not look back, but instead concentrated on holding her pace and moving forward.
If the maneuver to the outside had been meant to challenge the blacks it had not succeeded. As the three leading teams reached the turn the palominos were in the lead with the blacks right behind them and Willow and Misty next to the blacks on the outside. The driver once again eased them back to take up a third position for the turn. Willow could now sense that the balance of the field, consisting of sorrel, chestnut and champagne teams, were at least two lengths behind the three leaders. This did not necessarily mean anything. There was a lot of race left and some of these teams could be late finishers. It was way too early for such a team to make its move.
As the lead teams came out of the turn the blacks made a move to the outside and challenged the palominos down the backstretch. The palominos picked up the pace slightly, but they were losing ground. Willow's driver moved her bays to the outside of the blacks adding to the pressure. They were moving faster now and Willow could see the palominos straining. She knew they were well conditioned and that they were a very fast team, but they seemed to be having real difficulty with the current pace. By the midpoint of the straight away the blacks had pulled into the lead, although not far enough to close to the rail. Willow and Misty were on their outside, but slightly behind almost even with the palominos.
As the blacks pushed their lead forward Willow and Misty were urged forward still behind them but now ahead of the palominos by a head, still gaining. By the time the teams reached the far turn the blacks had moved into first position with Willow and Misty right behind, the palominos dropped back at third.
While these three teams were at the rail a new challenger had emerged from the pack. A pair of beautiful chestnuts was moving up on the outside. They must have started on the back stretch, because by the time the other three teams moved into the rail for the clubhouse turn they had moved up on the palominos on the outside. Willow's driver instead of holding to the rail through the turn eased the team out to the right. If the chestnuts had been able to close up on the turn they could have boxed Willow and Misty in behind the blacks. In order to challenge in the final straightaway it would be necessary to have room to the right of the blacks. Then the driver encouraged Willow and Misty forward starting their move on the blacks even before the corner had been completed. It would be a push to the finish of about a quarter mile, longer than the final sprint that they normally practiced, but pretty much required by the tactical situation.
As they came out of the turn Willow and Misty had been able to move up next to the blacks' sulky. This maneuver had forced the chestnuts wider to the right giving the three teams their position for the final dash to the finish. The palominos were trying to push forward but at the rail behind the blacks there was no place for them to go. The best they could hope for would be second if the blacks pushed and they could stay behind them.
The driver became even more insistent. Willow felt the touch of the whip and knew that it was now or never. She was beginning to feel the effect of the pace but she was not going to let up now. The blacks, to their left, were ahead by a head, the chestnuts, to their right, were behind by half a length. It was now a sprint to the finish.
Halfway to the finish line the blacks began to lose ground but the chestnuts had now moved ahead. Willow and Misty (the bays) seemed destined for second place. But their driver was unwilling to accept second place. The reins were snapped, she was urging them on and Willow was pretty sure she was using the whip although adrenaline was pumping so hard that she could feel nothing. Willow could feel the sulky pulling forward on the right. Somehow Misty was finding more speed (or Willow had been losing some) Willow responded. She could see the line ahead. The crowd was roaring, but the sound seemed to be a great distance away.
The blacks were now at least two lengths back. The chestnuts were neck and neck with the bays. Willow could tell because they were almost perfectly blocked from her peripheral vision by Misty. Willow concentrated on being able to see the other team across Misty's back. The finish line was coming. Willow felt they were gaining was it enough? Did they make it? It had been very close. The roar was ear splitting. The crowd was going crazy.
The driver slowed them and then brought them to a trot. She took them up to the turn before taking them back to a walk. Willow felt good. They had performed well, she knew it. Had they won? She didn't know. They were turned at the corner and walked back along the track near the audience. The blacks were now walking behind them. Then there was a huge roar. The results had been posted. Willow still did not know if they had won. She didn't know where they posted the results. But she and Misty were being guided to a grassy circular area near the finish line. Then she saw him. He was standing in the circle. He was smiling. As Willow and Misty approached he took Willow's bridle in his hand and guided them into the circle and then around to face the crowd. The crowd was cheering.
Willow looked into the faces of the adoring audience and she was very happy. He had not given her a treat like he usually did when he was pleased with her, but she could tell that he was pleased, he was patting the side of her head. Then two grooms approached. Each was carrying a large flower garland in the shape of a horseshoe. As music struck up the grooms placed the horseshoe shaped wreath of flowers around the necks of the two happy bays standing in the winner's circle. Willow and Misty had won. Was it the flowers that smelled so sweet? Willow did not know. What she knew is that she did not want to be anywhere else. She did not want to be anyone else. She was as happy as she had ever been in her entire life.