Learning Lessons- Khan and Leo

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                Leo shuffled his feet nervously, the soft leather halter rubbing against his cheek. “Don’t worry, I’m sure they will be very nice” his handler said soothingly, sensing his uneasiness. The young horse watched as a new and shiny trailer was brought up to the front of the barn, and calmed his racing heart. He stood quietly as the legendary Khan was led from the trailer. Leo bowed his head respectively, doing as Red had taught him.
                Khan nodded his head, and the two stallions were led to the open paddock, which led to the open moors. “This is your first time out, correct?” the older stallion asked Leo, who nodded shyly. “Please, lead the way” Khan told him, and with a flick of his tail, Leo galloped out the gate, and his olive hooves quickly hit the soft, long grass of the moors.
                “There are cottontails and other small animals around here, and if you wanted bigger prey, we would have to cut through the woods” he told Khan, slowing so he was at his side.
                “This is perfect” Khan said calmly, slowing to a walk. Once Leo had stopped by his side, Khan bent his head down the smell the long grasses. Leo watched in fascination, standing silently behind him. “Come up here little one. Today, I am the teacher, and I will show you every trick in the book on how to hunt.” Khan said with a twinkle in his eye.
                “Was I supposed to bring a book?” Leo exclaimed nervously, glancing back towards the barn. Khan snorted and shook his head, and gestured for Leo to come up and copy him.
                “Now, tell me what you notice,” he said, resting his back foot on its toe as he watched the young horse sniff the ground and the air.
                “The wind is blowing towards us… and there aren’t any other horses around” Leo said, glancing at the other stallion, who nodded in conformation. “there aren’t any other predators out here either, and a rabbit has recently passed” he said, noticing a foot print in a patch of mud left behind by a large back foot of a rabbit.
                “very good!” Khan praised. “Now the fun part, the actual hunt. Because the rabbits and gophers live in the ground, you must tread lightly, as not to alert them that we are here” he said as Leo started to wander ahead. Leo tip-toed across, searching the ground for holes telling him an animal was near. “Here, the scent is stronger, meaning a rabbit has recently been here” Khan said, pointing to a mound of dirt on the ground. “Now, on my go, you need to yell or something down the hole, to try and scare them out” he told the younger horse once he walked up beside him. Leo nodded, and Khan backed away, positioning himself between a couple different holes. “Now,” Khan told him and Leo stuck his muzzle in the hole, letting out a whinny. To the left of Khan, a rabbit shot out of the hole, running straight towards him. Khan stomped his feet, and the rabbit turned, running right towards Leo.
                Leo raised his eyebrows in surprise, but quickly lunged towards the rabbit, chomping down on its small throat, making a quick kill. Once the rabbit stopped moving, he set it on the ground and looked at Khan. “That was amazing! That rabbit totally spun around in mid-air when you stomped your feet like that and-” Leo stopped talking and looked up sheepishly at Khan. “Sorry” he mumbled and lowered his head.
                Khan smirked at the young horse. “That’s quite alright, I was the same way my first kill. And you did very good! But next time, you must be prepared for the rabbit to bolt the other direction than you lunge, you wouldn’t want it running down the hole behind you” he said softly. “Now, eat so we can continue on.”
                Leo furrowed his brows, thinking. “Please, it may be small, but share it with me” he told the lighter built stallion. Khan nodded his head before bending down to share their meal.
                With the taste of blood still on his lips, Leo looked around, excited for another hunt. “You need to keep calm, we need to be as quiet as possible” Khan reminded the young stallion who had forgotten to step lightly, and was crashing through the tall grasses loudly. If he could blush, Leo would have turned a deep scarlet before correcting his steps. “Now this time, you will wait between the burrows to try and catch the cottontail. Stand right there, so there is a hole on your left, right, and in front of you” Khan told him, gesturing to an area higher up. Once Leo was in position, Khan bellowed down the hole, and a large rabbit bolted out of the hole in front of Leo.
                Surprised by the speed of the cottontail, Leo was slow to lunge after the it, and his teeth snapped together on its back leg. The rabbit kicked out at Leo, clawing him in the cheek. Leo winced, and let the cottontail go. Frustrated with how stupid he was acting, he took off madly after the cottontail, almost trampling it before delivering the deadly blow to its spine. Grabbing the cottontail by its back legs, he marched back to where Khan was waiting patiently, and threw down the cottontail at his feet angrily. “There, that stupid bunny” he muttered, feeling the warm blood from the cut on his cheek drip down his face.
                “Now now, that is no way to treat your meal. Cottontails are fast, and you will miss many more in your coming years of hunting” Khan said calmly, watching the other stallion.
                “But I didn’t miss it! I caught that little crap before it could escape down its stupid little hole” Leo said crossly, his hot temper- which he got from his mother- showing and consuming his previously good mood.
                “Eat your meal, and we can head home, it’s getting late” Khan told him as he watched streaks of pink and lavender shoot through the sky from the setting sun. Leo huffed, but quickly devoured the hare.
                Together, the two stallions made their way back to the barn, Khan giving him more tips and advice on hunting larger animals and how to track them. “Thank you, Khan, you were a great mentor, I am honored to have learned from you” Leo told the grey stallion as they walked through the paddock gates.
                “it was my pleasure, you are going to make a great hunter” Khan told him as they approached their handlers. They nodded to each other-  a silent goodbye as Khan was loaded into the trailer, and headed home.
                “What happened to your poor face?” Leo’s handler said laughing, brushing the stallion’s bloody cheek. Leo rolled his eyes and walked into the quiet barn, settling in for the night. 
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