The horse stood by the fence, waiting for the sun to slide down to a certain point in the sky. That’s when it would cast the shadows of the fence-posts across the horse’s back, and then, for a few moments, he could make believe he wasn’t just a horse, whose grandfather had pulled a hackney carriage, but his ideal….. a zebra!
Horses were two-a-penny he thought. Whereas zebras had their own special place in the world – they were either out there in the wild, or in show business, in their own celebrity enclosures at all the top animal venues, with crowds of people paying good money to see them.
Everyone knew zebras were special; they were instantly recognisable. You couldn’t mistake a zebra in a field of horses, could you? But he was just another horse……………
His tail drooped as the sun dropped. From the darkness of the trees at the side of the field the old owl watched.
“Hey, you! Twit You oo oo……” he called.
“Who, me?” replied the horse.
“Yes you oo oo, you whoa-ful looking specimen!”, said the owl. “What’s getting your goat?”
“Not a goat at all, just another horse – that’s the problem”. And he explained about wanting to be a zebra, have freedom, stand out, be special.
The owl hooted with laughter. “Special? Stand out? Not when he’s with other zebras! That’s his protection; and my goodness, does he need it out there! And freedom? When he’s in the wild he’s constantly having to live by the law of the jungle, running in fear of his life.
Or else he’s in a wild life park, or a zoo, where let’s face it, he’s a prisoner. Whereas you are a horse! You have the potential to be whatever you want to be – a racehorse, a farm horse, a hunter, you can pull brewery carts………… you have choices! And whatever you choose, you’re doing something useful, helping people move forward, get where they want to be!
Oh sure, a zebra is glamorous…….. but what can he bring that you don’t already have? Knowledge of the wild? Doesn’t seem to have done him much good – he ended up in a zoo! Oh yes, he’s a prize specimen in that tiny world.
But you have a green field, and a warm stable. You have options, you can choose where to be. Why do you think that zebra friend of yours is so eager to join you? A zebra or a horse? I know which I’d rather be!” And the wise owl closed his eyes and waited for a meal to emerge from the floor of the thicket.
The horse nibbled at some long blades of grass, and thought about what the owl had said. Then he trotted across the darkening field, into the farmyard, and his warm dry stable, to where his water trough and sweet fresh hay were waiting. “It might not be a banquet”, he mused. “But it’s what I enjoy, and there’s always enough”.
Yes, he was friendly with a zebra – they’d met when he delivered hay to the zoo. The zebra had said he’d like to come and work with him on the farm. And he’d been flattered that such an exotic creature should want to help him. Now he could see another side to it.
“I like him as my friend”, he thought,” and that’s how we should stay; meeting when we do, exchanging news and points of view. But we neither of us would really fit in the other’s world. He knows how to survive best in the wild or in prison. I don’t need to. Horses like horses like themselves; zebras like zebras like themselves. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends……… but not living in each other’s worlds. I’m not a zebra – I’m a horse.”
And he threw back his head, and whinnied proudly, “I AM A HORSE!”
And he swished his tail and tossed his mane, with the joy of being who he was, where he wanted to be.