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The Tiger and the Horse

By Denise May

Once upon a time
In a land quite far away
A Tiger wished to ride a Horse
He longed for it night and day.

Oh, what a wondrous feeling
What joy it would truly be
To ride upon the Horse's back
And be as fast and free as she.

But the Horse would have none of it
Tigers filled her with only fear
They had eaten her beloved family
For thousands and thousands of years.

How could the Tiger convince the Horse
That he really meant her no harm
He decided to be most likable
And use all his Tiger charms.

"I will throw my great paws around her"
Said the Tiger with a smile
"I'll lick her skin from nose to tail
Then I'll ride in style."

The Tiger ever so slowly
With his eyes in a Tiger stare
Crept closer and closer paw by paw
Hoping the Horse would not care.

"Paws and claws! Claws and paws!"
The Horse screamed and ran to flee
"You stare with glare and walk with stalk
No Tiger will ever ride me!"

The Tiger felt so very sad
And most misunderstood
He only wanted to ride the Horse
And pet her if he could.

The Tiger looked into his mirror
And knew what he must do
He would change all his Tiger ways
Or, at least just one or two.

"Today I will walk upright
And hide my stripes with clothes
A Tiger that's me I still may be
But the Horse will never know."

He pulled two boots upon his feet
To hide his nails of course
Then filed his teeth to a softer smile
And left to ride the Horse.

The Horse bolted as the Tiger neared
And screamed "You can't fool me!
You may walk on two legs now
But I Tiger is all I see." 

"Go hide your paws, stripes and claws
But a Horse sees past those lies
All this you hide, still you'll never ride
For the Tiger is in your eyes."

The Tiger sat there thinking
That his plan was full of weeds
The Horse would surely let him ride
If he met all her needs.

Ahh…but first he had to catch her
So he went to find a noose
He chased her down and tied her legs
So she could not get loose.

Then the Tiger dragged the Horse
Into in his small dark lair
He fed her hay for many a day
But the Tiger didn't stop there.

He dressed her in finest leathers
Braided her hair and gave her shoes
He did what he thought best for her
But never let her choose.

"Well, my fine Horse tell me now
Do you see how hard I tried?
Your life is so much better now
It's your turn…give me a ride."

The Tiger could barely hear her
The Horse had grown so weak
She raised her head as if near dead
And began to softly speak.

"You stole me from my family
And the land I used to roam
You ripped sweet freedom from my heart
And made this jail my home."

"To hell with your fancy finery
Rich leathers and shiny tack
You tried through pride to steal a ride
But you'll never know my back!"

With one last ounce of courage
Though some might call it rage
The Horse began to kick the walls
And destroy her Tiger cage.

The Tiger he tried to hold her
And begged for her to stay
But she twirled around and kicked him sound
Then bleeding she ran away.

The Tiger he lay there broken
Unable to walk or run
He watched his own blood mix with mud
And knew that he was done.

He licked his wounds and waited
For death to claim its prize
Regretting he had wronged the Horse
The Tiger at last grew wise.

The Tiger wept with large, wet tears
Flowing down upon his face
The memory of a Horse he loved
His mind could not erase.

"I curse my silly vanity
And my willful Tiger pride
So much the cost of pain and loss
Just to gain a ride."

Then in the dark the Tiger heard
A soft and gentle neigh
He felt warm breath upon his face
That smelled of sweet spring hay.

He thought he was in heaven
So gentle was the touch
But there stood the Horse he had wronged
The Horse he loved so much.

She lowered her body to him
And he thanked her with a kiss
As he held her mane up she came
And her blood ran into his.

Now there are many stories told
Of what came of that fated pair
To hear some say they died that day
Others claim to see them there

In the Land of Trust and Forgiveness
Together they dance and run
No longer a Horse and Tiger
Shared blood has made them One.

So if you know a Tiger
Tell him please don't take a chance
Don't ever try to ride a Horse
Why ride when you can dance?