Exclusive First Look: The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse
The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse
Chapter 2 page 24
My little sister rebelliously tested the last rule the guide gave us: never kick and jiggle the reins.
“Ahhh!!” she screamed suddenly past mine in a full gallop.
“Ayyy!!” I screamed as my horse took off after hers. I squeezed my eyes shut and clutched the horn on the saddle. We left our guide behind, tearing through narrow trails at terrifying speeds.
I opened my eyes to see a wooden bridge over a stream and then, just as soon as I saw it, we raced across it, still accelerating. I was scared, but also overcome with excitement over how fast we galloped through the woods—trees and branches brushed past my face just as I saw them. I was in another world, having never known speed like this.
Then I heard the feverish clambering of hooves behind me and saw the guide frantically kicking her horse to gallop past mine, and then up alongside my sister’s horse. I watched as she leaned her whole upper body off to the left, reaching for my sister’s horse’s reins from around his ears. She was suspended over my sister’s horse’s head for a few strides, unable to grab hold of the reins tangled loosely around the horse’s head and ears. My sister’s horse’s natural instinct to race a horse running alongside him then kicked in, and he sped up. My horse followed in yet another gear. I saw my sister’s body start leaning to the left. She was in danger of falling, which, at this speed, with my horse right on her horse’s tail, was bad news.
“Bay, stay in the middle!” I shrieked as loud as I could. I started calling my sister “Bay” because it was a lot cooler than calling her “Baby,” like the rest of the family did.
“Hold on to the horn!” I screamed again.
I didn’t know if she could hear me, as the thundering of three sets of hoofs on the dirt trail was deafening. But then I saw her body land in the middle of the saddle after a few more strides.
“Girls, stop screaming!” the guide screamed at me, “you’ll scare the horses!”
I shouldn’t have thought that. I looked up and saw that my sister’s horse and the guide were fast approaching a drop in the trail, leading to a wooden bridge, built over a sizable river.
“No!!” I was overcome with fear, tears obstructed my vision, I could no longer breathe, my heart was in my throat, and I could not feel my hands.
“We’re NOT going down!” the guide yelled, more to herself than to us.
Acting with one more wave of heroism, the girl kicked her horse to speed up, cutting off my sister’s horse. Then, as the beast started running into the brush alongside the trail, she leaned over, almost onto his neck, grabbed my sister’s reins, and jerked them back with a violent backward thrust of her body. The animal’s front legs straightened, causing him to come to a sliding stop, bouncing my sister in the saddle for a few strides. My horse slammed into hers, but didn’t push him any further, as his feet were now planted firmly into the earth.
I heard our heroine breathe a heavy sigh. I then succumbed to the fear that had gripped me through the entire episode. My body was shaking, I couldn’t breathe, and tears exploded from my eyes. My sister turned around, and was my mirror, her face red and wet with tears.
As a young girl, Victoria’s world is peppered with chaos after her parents’ divorce and abusive father. To find stability, Victoria throws herself into the world of dressage, a sport that tests the unity of horse and rider as they engage in what can only be called dancing. She finds a sense of calm in the stables near her New York home.
When Victoria meets Moonshine, an ex-racehorse saved from years of neglect and a future in the slaughterhouse, she despairs at having to ride such a difficult and ill-tempered horse. Victoria is discouraged about competing at the highest levels of dressage with a “slaughter horse” like Moony. They must compete against horses bred solely for the sport that the judges praise and favor, and Victoria begins to question her dreams.
As she comes of age, and as she and Moonshine train together and get to know one another, Victoria teaches the horse to trust, and Moony teaches Victoria the importance of perseverance and heart. Horse and rider drastically change the course of each other’s lives in this true life story of overcoming adversity and believing in yourself, no matter how hard the road.
Victoria Shade spent her early years competing in dressage, a sport that tests the unity of horse and rider.
During her years of college and law school, she earned her U.S.D.F. Bronze and Silver medals and competed in the Regional Championships. Victoria then met her future husband, Brian, another horse-lover.
After college, Victoria went on to graduate law school, and is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey. She focuses on animal law and personal injury protection. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association Animal Law Committee, as well as the Animal Law Committee’s Legislative subcommittee.
Victoria also sits on the board of the Hudson Valley SPCA, is a member of the ASPCA’s Horse Action Team, and is an attorney member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Victoria now lives with her family on a horse farm, Moon Shade Farm. In 2015, they welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the family, Olivia Jane.