A Change of Heart
- provided for use on SirJeff's Ponygirls.
- do not use without the author's permission.
"Alana? How about today, you don't ride me?" Layci suggested. "Just let me walk by myself. I’ll still carry all the supplies, and I'll let you lead me. It's just, I get so tired, and my back gets sore from your weight."
"Oh stop it," scolded Alana, her fellow travelling merchant, as she stamped out the last embers of the campfire. "Ever since that wizard turned you into a horse, you've done nothing but moan." She slid her dagger into the sheath where it hung from the specially-made saddle, and checked with quick tugs the straps securing their goods and supplies across Layci's back.
"He did not… turn me… into… a horse," Layci grumbled between jerks on her harness. "Just my arms and legs." She nodded down towards what had been her arms, now her forelegs. Just past her shoulders and hips, her human skin and joints gave way to long, elegant, softly-furred horse's legs. "See?"
"Well, if you don't like it, you shouldn't have insulted him back in that tavern."
"I didn't! I didn't even speak to him! I don't know what I did that made him so upset with me."
"That's not my fault, though, is it?"
"But just because I got cursed, I don't see why that means you get to ride me everywhere."
"What else can you do, though, with those clumsy hooves instead of hands? You can't even stand up straight, let alone tie up a sack."
"Couldn't you at least let me have some clothes?" Layci tried.
"You have your saddle."
"That doesn't count!" Layci wailed. "People can see my... me... everything! Oh please Alana, just a pair of knickers?"
"Absolutely not!" Alana declared. "I couldn't dress my horse in human clothes, people would think I was mad."
"I'm not a horse!"
"Well then, Miss Not-A-Horse, what are you?"
Layci was suddenly silent.
"See? Now be a good horse and open your mouth so I can put your bridle on."
The bridle that Alana had commissioned from a rather surprised saddler in the last town was uncomfortable, and dreadfully undignified.
"I still don't see why I need to wear this," Layci ventured, for what felt like the hundredth time. "You can just tell me where to go."
"Oh, why must you be so difficult?" Alana suddenly cried, throwing her hands in the air in exasperation. "Look, whoever heard of a rider instructing her horse by conversation?"
"But it's so embarrassing! I drool everywhere, and flies get in my mouth!"
"Embarrassing? Don't be silly, people expect horses to slobber. And if you stopped moaning, you'd get used to the flies. I don't hear other horses complaining about it."
"I hate you," Layci sulked.
But she opened her mouth.
"Good horse," congratulated Alana. She swiftly manoeuvred the bit between Layci's teeth and buckled the leather and steel bridle into place. Layci moaned softly in distress as the contraption tightened around her head and the bit sank back into her cheeks.
"There. See? A perfect fit!"
Layci gnawed on the bridle hopefully, champing on her bit with clicks and clacks as she tried to ease the pressure on her mouth. No such luck.
"Don't worry, it's supposed to be uncomfortable," Alana said, Layci's moaning and chewing giving away her thoughts. "It's to make you a better mount. If it hurts when I pull the reins, you'll react faster, you see?" Carefully avoiding the sacks of goods, Alana stepped into the stirrup and swung her leg over Layci's back, wriggling against the soft leather as she sat down.
It had been nearly two weeks since that fateful encounter with the wizard, and there was no one else here to see, but Layci still flushed with shame as Alana gripped her back between her legs, and dragged Layci's helpless head around as she tested the reins. Before the bridle, Layci had felt she was just giving Alana a ride; but now, she was being ridden. The difference did not feel nice at all.
Satisfied at last, Alana reached behind her and gave Layci's bare buttocks a couple of hearty slaps.
"No time to waste, lazy! Move it!"
Layci miserably set off, leaving the smouldering campfire and heading on down the road once more with the thump-thump-thump of hooves on dirt. Alana's weight multiplied that of the saddlebags and sacks full of goods slung over her back, and Layci looked for all the world like an overburdened pack mule as she clattered along. Yet her horse-legs were strong, and she bore her burden with ease, though perhaps not with dignity.
"There's a good girl!" Alana said, her voice syrupy sweet with encouragement. "But you know, maybe I should get a crop too," she mused as they trotted along. "Yes, I bet a good whipping would move you along faster."
Layci gulped loudly. Where would this end?
"And get you shod with iron and nails, that will help with roads… And what if someone tries to steal you? Hmmmm." Alana scratched her head. "I think I should get you branded."
Layci shrieked. No! Please! she tried to cry. "Guuuuh! Huuuuuuuh!" the words came out.
"Yes, it is a good idea, isn't it?" Alana smiled. "I'll get a big A for Alana, burned right onto your bottom. Then everyone will know you belong to me."
Layci wanted to shout and scream and cry and berate her friend for such thoughts. But she kept clopping along, because between her awkward new body and the harnesses Alana had commissioned, she was left with little choice.
"…And you'll need a new name, of course. Layci is a woman's name, I can't have a horse called that."
New name?! Alana had assured her that they were still partners, but all this was beginning to feel rather less than equal to Layci. In fact it was becoming clear that Alana had had a complete change of heart.
"Listen, horse: your name is now… er… um…" Alana rubbed her chin. "Your name is… Wobbles!"
There was a muffled sob through the bridle.
"Don't like it, eh?" Alana remarked irritably. "Well, tough. I'm your owner, I get to name you. But anyway, it's perfect for you – don't think I can't feel those udders shaking around down there. Don't worry, I'll soon train you to answer to it."
What humiliation! What hopelessness!
Fighting back her tears, Wobbles tried to look on the bright side. This was a dreadful pickle and no mistake, but perhaps it wouldn't be so bad once she got used to it? Wasn't a trusty steed just as important as a loyal companion..? Yes, of course it was – every brave traveller needed a faithful mount to bear her on her way! Clop clop clop, pant pant pant. Yes, it looked as though she was Alana's horse for keeps now - so she ought to try to be a good one.
"Right, come on, you stupid horse, this won't get us to the coaching inn. No carrot for you if we arrive after sundown. Faster!" Smack! “Faster!” Smack! Smack! Alana's hand slapped hard onto her horse's behind again. The horse grunted and sped up.
Meanwhile, Alana glowed with pride as she watched that tightly bridled head bobbing merrily in front of her, feeling Wobbles' rattling hoofbeats shooting up through the saddle, and her flopping boobs living up to her new name splendidly. Wobbles was much more useful than Layci had been - poor old Layci had never had the stomach for the ruthlessness of trade. And so Alana, never one to throw away anything she could use, had now found a better role for Layci and her share of their last round of profit. Strong, pretty, and obedient: her new horse was everything that greedy old wizard had promised it would be. She sighed happily.
And soon, slowly, a thought dawned. Alana looked hard at the road ahead, then glanced over her shoulder. No other travellers to be seen. She was alone out here.
Alana took a long breath. Her hand slipped inside her britches. Before long, her fingertips were striking lightning to the pounding thunder of the saddle.
Smack! "Faster!" Alana gasped. Smack! “Fa... aaaa... aster, you... lazy... horse! OhmygodfaaaaaAAAAAASTEEEEEEEER!!!”
Wondering why on earth its owner was in such a hurry, the little horse wailed in confusion as its rump reddened with spank after spank, forcing it up to the fastest speed it could manage – its owner certainly was riding it hard today!