What better way to celebrate Halloween as a horse lover than with some spooky horse stories?
We’ve got a few here that are sure to send a shiver down your spine and get you in the spooky spirit this year!
The Omen Horse
“Dollie passed an almost full glass of light colored beer between her hands, sliding it on the smooth wooden counter. She was lost in her own mind trying to piece together a million racing thoughts in the dimly lit quiet bar. The bar had an eerie vibe to it especially since Dollie was the only customer here tonight.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“Hm?” Dollie responded half-heartedly to the bartender, a bald man with sad deep-set grey eyes, a gaunt face and dressed in a brown long sleeve shirt and jeans. The old man finished wiping his hands on a white towel and tossed it over his shoulder.
“Let me guess, guy trouble. It’s always guy trouble.” Dollie glanced up at the man with her dark brown eyes. He had crossed his arms on the counter and leaned forward. His name tag read Walter.
“I wish. That would be so much easier.” Dollie pulled her blue knit sweater sleeves over her hands and rested her elbows on the counter.
“Well, what is it then?” Walter encouraged.
“There is this property that I am looking at…”
“The one at the end of Douglas Lane?” Walter interrupted.
“How’d you know?”
“You walked in dressed in breeches and boots and it’s the only barn for sale in this miserable town.”
“Yeah, with my grandfather’s inheritance I can finally open my own lesson barn…” Dollie said with a sigh.
Walter looked at her sideways. “You can barely call that run down structure a barn. The slightest gust of wind and it will topple right over.”
“That’s one of the problems.” Dollie mumbled.
“If you can fix it — and by fix it I mean plow it down and rebuild — I think it would be good, having a place for the kids to go play. They got nothin’ for them here. You need to watch your back though.” Walter warned.
“Why?” Dollie questioned, skeptical.
“You haven’t heard?” Walter asked and Dollie shook her head no. “It’s got a proper ghost story to it.”
“Oh please, those are just some rumors from bored teenagers who have been trespassing to throw parties.” Dollie rolled her eyes.
“No, it is not a rumor.” Walter walked around the bar and took a seat beside Dollie. “For years that barn has been plagued by the Omen Horse: a creature who is part shadow and part skeleton, all black except for one half of his face that is exposed skull. It is said that anyone who sees the Omen Horse will experience bad luck and misfortune.”
“Suit yourself then.”
“So this is the place then? Nothing much to see.” Eddie, Dollie’s fiancé, said, peering out of the pickup truck’s windshield.
“It comes with a ghost.”
“The Omen Horse?”
“I figure it’s probably just some wolf,” Dollie said as she climbed down from the truck. She started to head through the overgrown knee-high grass and weeds to get to the dilapidated barn that sort of leaned to the left, with Eddie in tow.
Dollie questioned for a moment if it was even sane to enter the barn with its peeling, fading red and white paint. Curiosity pushed away the fear and doubt and she and Eddie heaved with all of their strength on the heavy door, unsealing the barn for the first time in years.
It squealed in protest as it slid on its rusty tracks.
Inside the barn everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and cobwebs and most of the dark weathered wood structure looked like it was close to caving in. Across the aisle way was a door labeled office and she headed in. The first things to catch Dollie’s eyes were the old faded pictures and faded ribbons covering most of the dirty white painted walls.
“Hey Eddie, come here!” Dollie called out, walking around a simple wooden table covered in aged stained paper. She grabbed one of the pictures so yellowed with time off the wall.
“What’s up?” Eddie walked up behind Dollie, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“This is Walter, that bartender I was telling you about.” Dollie placed a finger on a not-much-younger looking but happier Walter holding a lead rope that was attached to a chubby medium black pony.
Sitting on the pony tacked in an English saddle was a little girl gleaming with joy holding a trophy high over her head.....
Dollie entered the bar which was much more crowded and lively than the other night. Picture in hand, she walked over to the counter and took the only seat available.
“What can I getcha?” A tall young man with shaggy brown hair and a beard asked while pouring out a drink for a nearby customer.
“Actually I was wondering when Walter was working next. I have some questions I wanted to ask him.”
“Walter? Walter Douglas?”
“The man in this picture.” Dollie held up the framed photo for him.
“Walter has been dead for five… no, six years.”
Dollie went cold.
The bartender asked, “Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“So you really think this is a good idea?” Eddied asked, turning on a flashlight, scanning the surrounding forest with its spotlight.
“We are about to be owners of this place so we should see what this ‘Omen Horse’ is all about,” Dollie said, walking towards one of the paddocks. She climbed up on the rickety fence, took a seat, and turned off her flashlight.
She glanced up at the crystal clear starry night. She had so many plans for this place, she could hardly wait. For years, Dollie had been traveling from barn to barn to teach her lessons, on random horses she never got a chance to bond with. Eddie climbed up and took a seat next to Dollie. He proceeded to take her hand and squeezed.
There was a rustle in the tall grass and Eddie was quick to place his finger on the switch of his flashlight.
“Don’t.” Dollie whispered, covering Eddie’s hand to stop him. A shadowy figure moved quickly left and then to the right.
It’s got to be a wolf, right?, Dollie told herself as her heart rate quickened.
As the small black mass, with its white skull exposed on one side of its face glowing in the moonlight, stood looking at them in the middle of the paddock, Dollie wondered if the Omen Horse was real.
“Okay… now can I turn on my flashlight?” Eddie demanded.
Dollie had a hunch about this so called Omen Horse. Moving slowly as to not make too much noise, she took off her backpack and rummaged inside until she found what she was looking for.
She placed a broken-up granola bar on her hand and reached out.
As the Omen Horse approached, its shadowy figure looming closer in the darkness, it greedily ate up the granola, tickling Dollie’s hand with its long whiskers.
Dollie began to stroke what felt like fluffy fur. Turning on her flashlight she could see the pony’s two toned face, one side pure black, the other a bright white.
“So scary.” Dollie laughed at the fact that this cute little thing caused so much panic in the small town.
“Isn’t this the pony in the picture with Walter?” Eddie questioned with relief in his voice.
“For sure. He must have gotten left behind somehow.”
Dollie untacked Omen and waved goodbye to the little girl who just finished her lesson. Dollie smiled with joy as she watched her student skip away towards her father who was waiting for her at the end of the newly built barn — it had been a long year of hard work since that fateful night.
Dollie gave Omen a broken-up granola bar, unclipped the cross ties, letting them swing to the wall with a clang, and turned to walk the pony back to his paddock.
She stopped dead in her tracks. A bald man with sad deep-set grey eyes, dressed in a brown long sleeve shirt and jeans stood in the aisle.
“Thanks for taking care of my pony,” Walter said as a smile lit up his face; his eyes no longer looking sad but instead sparkling with pride. He took one last look at the pony, who had nickered softly seeming to recognize his old owner.
Walter turned and walked out of the barn without another word. Dollie was quick to follow, dragging the pony behind her. As she stepped out of the barn she scanned the property, only to see her horses in the paddocks. Dollie was the last and only person at the barn as dusk fell.”
-Submitted by Alycia Skye to Horse Nation
A Ride to Farrier Falls
“Sarah and Tess had ridden trails together for as long as they could remember.
They’d grown up on Long Island, but while Sarah opted to stay in the city after they graduated together from Columbia University, Tess moved to the serenity of northern Vermont, with which she’d fallen in love during a ski trip freshman year.
Rural Vermont was a place of peace, introspection and—especially savored in the midst of sparse population—community.
Families that homesteaded here around the time of the American Revolution had stayed for generations, spawning tangled webs of descendants who both clung to each other and welcomed newcomers in a perpetual quest to survive one more harsh winter, before spring thaws came just in time to restore faith in the possibility of rebirth.
But the fall was what outsiders knew of this place. Like many others, Sarah visited during crisp, October weekends to take in the changing foliage. Tess kept two horses, so on these treasured weekends the friends got to share the beauty from horseback.
Riding along dirt roads together, their years lived separately disappeared as quickly as breath rising from the horses’ muzzles. They re-told the same stories every year for decades and the re-telling only made the stories sweeter.
This year, Tess led the two along an old supply road from the days of the Revolution, a wide forest path meandering near a creek. “There’s an interesting story about this place,” said Tess. “I’m hoping we can ride as far as a spot called ‘Farrier Falls.’”
“Farrier Falls?” said Sarah. “Do tell.”
“Yeah well, people say it’s haunted.”
“Whaaat?” said Sarah. “Haunted? What’s the story?”
Tess giggled, “I know, ghosts, right? As if.”
Sarah felt a cold shudder rock her shoulders, but she didn’t mention it.
Tess continued. “So, yeah. Supposedly Farrier Falls is the site of an unsolved murder from like a hundred years ago.”
“A hundred years? People still talk about this murder?” asked Sarah.
“Well I mean, you know, it’s a legend,” said Tess. “Vermont is full of legends. People have lived here for generations, so there’re all sorts of great stories around here.”
“Okay so a 100-year-old murder,” said Sarah. “What’s the story? What does it have to do with Farrier Falls?”
Tess giggled again. “Some things never change,” she said. “Apparently all those years ago some rich dude lost his wife to an affair with the farrier, right? But the farrier was supposed to be friends with the husband. They knew each other, would go hunting together and stuff. One day, supposedly, the two guys went up hunting with a bunch of dogs along this creek. But only one guy came back.”
Sarah shuddered again. “No dogs?”
“Well I don’t know if the dogs came back, weirdo,” said Tess. “But the farrier didn’t. People say he was pushed over the Falls to his death by the jealous husband.”
“Yikes!” said Sarah. “And I guess if the dogs did come back, they never told what happened.”
“You got it,” said Tess. “But people say the Falls are haunted and that you can still hear the farrier’s hunting dog barking around there. Sometimes.”
A third time Sarah shuddered, reaching to zip her jacket tighter under her chin. “We did see some other cars parked at the trail head, right?” she said, half-joking, half-hopeful. “I mean so it’s not like you’re the only crazy person who dares to go up here.”
“People hike this trail all the time,” laughed Tess. “Like I said, it’s a legend. Doesn’t mean it’s truth.”
“Doesn’t mean it isn’t, either,” muttered Sarah.
“What?” said Tess.
Sarah coughed a little to clear her tightening throat. “Nothing. Surprised we didn’t see any other horse trailers at the parking lot, though,” she offered.
Tess sighed. “Seriously!” she said. I mean this trail is awe—Whoa!” she cried.
The horses stopped with a jolt.
Ears pricked, the horses stared down the trail. Their pounding hearts beat hard enough to be felt by each rider. A dog bayed in the distance.
Sarah’s horse trumpeted loudly, frozen with anticipation. The women saw movement through the woods ahead, and a flash of white momentarily appeared between the trees.
Two beagles sprang across the trail about 50 yards ahead, giving chase to an unseen quarry. The dogs disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, soon swallowed in the thicket of gold and orange leaves.
“Scared the crap out of me!” said Sarah, and her horse shook its entire body and snorted out relief.
“Crazy dogs!” said Tess. “Anyway. Like I was saying: this trail is awesome!”
She took in a deep breath and sighed with the beauty of it all. Far above the riders, sunlight from a brilliant blue sky filtered through treetops. Beneath them, the horses’ hooves swished quietly though pine needles and fresh leaf fall. Tess had decided to keep the horses barefoot this year, and back at the trailhead she had showed Sarah how to put on protective hoof boots for the ride. The boots muffled the horses’ footsteps to mere whispers through the leaves.
Minutes later, the horses again sensed movement down the trail, and Sarah and Tess peered ahead to see patches of neon orange swim into focus. It was the wool caps and vests of a couple of hunting buddies. “Nice day for a ride!” the men called as they approached the riders. “Hope our dogs didn’t give you any trouble.”
Sarah breathed a secret sigh of relief. “Okay so I guess those weren’t ghost dogs, huh,” she chuckled to Tess, trying to sound more convinced than she felt.
They picked up a trot. After a while the trail began a steep climb, leaving the creek below at the bottom of a deep gully. Eventually the trail flattened, and the horses were glad to ease back to a walk, winded from the climb. Soon they came to a hitching rail tucked into a small clearing beside the trail. The women dismounted and loosened the horses’ girths for a rest. They pulled off the bridles, then pushed away the furry heads which leaned in for rubs.
“Here, fine—we’ll give you ear rubs already!” laughed Sarah. It was hard to be annoyed with the gentle giants, especially for Sarah who only got to ride on rare visits to the country. The horses each had a rope halter under their bridle. Sarah and Tess tied the horses to the hitch rail, then pulled water bottles and snacks from the saddle bags.
Sarah fed the horses carrots, savoring the sweet vegetable essence which erupted as the horses chewed.
Tess checked that hoof boots had stayed in place, none rotated sideways or loose, nor, as sometimes happened, lost on the trail. The horses had been left barefoot behind, but all four front hooves were still wrapped safely with the rubber boots. Tess set down the last hoof and straightened up, stretching out the kinks in her back. She’d never gotten this far down the trail before and was glad there was such an easy spot to enjoy a rest.
“Hey look at this!” she called to Sarah. “I guess we made it!”
Sarah looked around, and Tess pointed out a small wooden sign nailed to a tree. Sarah squinted to make out the capital letters stamped into the sign. “Farrier Falls, 75 yds,” it said. An arrow pointed down a narrow foot path away from the main trail.
“Go check it out,” said Tess. “We can take turns; I’ll stay here with the horses.”
“Yeah, right. You take me to a haunted water fall and send me off by myself!” laughed Sarah. “How about I stay with the horses; you go see if there’s any sign of 100-year-old foul play.”
Tess giggled again. “Just messing with you,” she said. “Let’s both go.”
Sarah hesitated. She hated to leave the horses; the warmth of their bodies, the smell of the sweat which barely dampened the fur of their growing winter coats.
“You sure the horses will be okay?” she asked.
Tess assured her they would. “It’s only 75 yards,” she said. “We’ll be back in 5 minutes.”
It was a short walk to the falls, but it had clearly been months since anyone had taken the path. The trail was narrow and filled in with wispy shrubs making their final stretch skyward before yielding to winter. The women stomped down the brush and snapped fallen branches out of the way. Sarah swore under her breath as she tripped, finding herself alone as Tess, more used to the rural woods, disappeared from view.
Despite the tangled footing, Sarah broke into a jog to catch up to her friend. She hoped to warm up, too, as an unmistakable chill had settled through her. She hadn’t realized she was shivering, but suddenly her chattering teeth drowned out all other noise except, unmistakably, the distant bay of a hunting hound.
“Oh my gosh, Sarah!” cried Tess in the distance.
Sarah shrieked and stumbled forward, gasping for breath. Miraculously the trail opened ahead of her, and there was Tess, standing in bright sunlight at the banks of a cascading waterfall. Tess stood with arms reached to the sky, her t-shirt pulling out of her riding jeans, head titled back to catch warm sunlight on her face. “This is amazing!” cried Tess again, turning to greet her friend.
Sarah collapsed forward in relief, resting her hands on bent knees as she caught her breath. “Did you hear that?” she gasped, panting.
“Hear what?” asked Tess, and both women fell silent, listening. There was the rush of falling water, the chirp of a scolding squirrel and nothing else but the faint rustling of autumn leaves. “It just sounds … peaceful,” said Tess.
Sarah shook her head and let out a sigh of relief. “I swear I heard another dog,” she said.
“Oh, come on now,” said Tess. “I’m glad I didn’t tell you the rest of the story, the one about the farrier’s ghost.” Tess opened her eyes wide in mock horror, grinning.
“Ok this is seriously not the time to mess with me about ghosts,” said Sarah. “I tripped and really freaked myself out back there when you got ahead of me.”
“Well even if there were a ghost, we don’t need to worry about it,” said Tess. “Supposedly—and maybe this is why we didn’t see any other horse trailers, come to think of it,” Tess paused in thought.
“Supposedly what?” asked Sarah.
“Well supposedly the ghost only messes with horses. Being a farrier and all.”
“Somehow I don’t find that comforting,” said Sarah, trying with little success to laugh off her concern. “We’re rode horses up here, if you recall.”
“Nah, just silly stuff,” said Tess. “Like, people saying their horses spooked a lot up here. Or lost a shoe or whatever. Stuff that can happen on any trail ride, right?”
“Right,” agreed Sarah, tentatively, thinking about her friend’s logic. Stuff that can happen on any trail ride.
“And besides,” said Tess. “The horses don’t even have shoes on, remember? I’m testing those new hoof boots. So, no worries.”
Sarah shrugged as she gazed toward the waterfall. “I guess so,” she said. “And yeah, it is beautiful up here.” She breathed deeply, trying to savor the moment instead of worrying so much.
The ride back was uneventful, supporting Tess’s conviction that meddlesome ghosts were merely the stuff of legend. If anything, the ride was more beautiful on the way down. As afternoon slipped into early evening, the sunlight brought more shades of gold out of the trees surrounding the two friends.
“That was a wonderful ride, thank you,” said Sarah as they returned to the trail head. “Every year, it’s always a wonderful ride up here. I’m so grateful.” She smiled at Tess. She didn’t mention that part of her gratitude was in finding the horse trailer undisturbed. She simply added, “Sorry I was kind of nervous about the ghost and all.”
“Nah,” said Tess. “Just had to add some local flavor to your experience, that’s all,” and she smiled back.
“Anyway, we’ll get all the gear off these guys and go find a warm fire and a good bottle of wine, how about that?”
The temperature had dropped along with the setting sun.
The women put saddles back in the trailer tack room, and rubbed sweaty horse-backs with faded, terry-cloth towels, massaging out any possible sore spots from the tack. “Oh, and the hoof boots!” remembered Tess. “Let’s see how they did, check for any rubs or anything there.”
She bent down, asking her horse to lift a foreleg for inspection. The horse easily yielded its hoof. Tess unbuckled the retention strap wrapped around the pastern.
She pulled apart the Velcro which secured the front of the boot, and wrestled the hoof free. She froze in place.
The hoof wall was intact; the boots had protected that.
The heel bulbs were soft and smooth; there were no sores where Tess felt carefully under the hair at the coronet band.
But what she found under the hoof rooted her to the ground.
There, glinting in the evening light, was a perfectly fitted, new horseshoe.
-Submitted by Katharine Mertins to Horse Nation
From our team here at Paddock Blade UK, Happy Halloween! Share this post with a friend to spread a little spooky spirit!
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