They Don’t Shoot Horses

Sara Caudell

Chapter 1

Susie was jolted awake from a deep slumber. Confused, she sought the window and confirmed the dark of night. She lay still, searching the room with her eyes. All was normal, and yet a chill ran through her. Her son mentioned a big cat in the area, a danger to everything outside. Susie froze, held her breath and strained her ears listening for sounds – animal sounds – any sounds. Through the vented window the cool night air smelled of pine trees. No noise ventured forth. The bed was warm and comfortable, and sleep called to her, even as her conscience demanded she discover what woke her. She needed to see for herself that everything was safe and secure.
She pushed back the covers when she heard it: Boom . . . boom . . . boom.




Recognizing the shots from a rifle, terror grabbed her. She jumped out of bed, grabbed yesterday’s jeans and bumped her hip into the dresser as she pulled them on.




Ten years ago that bump wouldn’t hurt as much. Ten years ago her slim, short stature would not bump the dresser. Her silk gown came off, and she struggled into her sweatshirt as she headed for the stairs. Not sure where she put her cell, she ran down to the kitchen phone. She pressed speed dial for her son’s ranch. As it dialed, Susie peeked out the window over the sink at the dark, silent shadows. The leaves on the apple tree obscured her view so she moved to the larger window. She saw nothing unusual; everything looked normal.


“What in the hell’s going on?” She could see the single pole light illuminating the barn doors. Listening intently she could hear the frantic dogs barking and bouncing against the doors.


Jerry picked up on the second ring. Susie heard the phone being dropped and retrieved, with cloth rustling on the other end. “I’m up. I heard it. Poachers?” he said, his urgent voice still groggy with sleep.


“I don’t know, but it was too damn close.” Susie’s voice shook as she huddled in the kitchen shadows, straining to catch movement outside.


“I’m on my way. Call Sheriff Hobson. And Mom, don’t go outside!” Jerry called into the phone pressing the off key.
“Hurry!” she pleaded to the silence. Susie hung up, hands cold and shaking. Trying to calm herself, she took a deep breath and laid the phone on the counter. She went to the hall closet, pulled out the shotgun and reached for the shells on the top shelf. She loaded the gun by touch and a small bit of moonlight coming in through the window.




They Don’t Shoot Horses Description:

In the Colorado foothills, Susie Wheeler’s peaceful widowhood of gentling and training abused horses is shattered by gunshots in the night, bullet holes in her barn and dead horses. Confused by the violence to her peaceful life, she ignores people who try to intimidate her and turns to her friends.

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