Molly McMule's Horse Tales - 1001 Stall Stories
One Starry Night
Everything was very still and quiet in the pasture. It was a beautiful, starry, moonlit night, the right time to be stargazing - and Ginny was doing just that. All the stablemates seemed to be mesmerized by the quiet, with only an occasional chirping cricket or a croaking frog. It was just what they all needed to really relax after several days of a heat wave. Even the youngsters seemed to be welcoming the night.
Ginny and Molly were whispering and discussing the stars. "There's the Milky Way," said Molly while Ginny pointed out the Big Dipper. "And over there is the North Star. We have a much better view of the heavens out here than 'city people' do because we don't have all the city lights to compete with the heavenly lights," Ginny noted.
It wasn't long before the rest of the horses gathered around to look at the sky and make some more observations. Ole, being a little older and, just maybe a little more of a stargazer, mentioned that he could even make out the Pegasus constellation.
Desi and Equinox were particularly interested. Desi asked, "What is a constellation?" and Equinox immediately chimed in with "And what is a Pegasus?"
Ole gave a knowing whinny before the start of his tale to get everyone's attention. "Well, let's start by talking a little about Pegasus. Pegasus was a winged horse in ancient mythology. He was a beautiful horse that was magical and brave and rode around the heavens with the gods."
"Haaaaaaaaaa, haaaaaaaaaaa" brayed the two miniature mules. "We all know that horses can't fly!"
"Now remember, I told you that this was a story from mythology, meaning it may not be true - but then maybe it is. How would we know?" he winked. "And so of course, there are several versions of how this horse came to be. Greek mythology has many stories about gods, goddesses, and monsters."
"Tell us about Pegasus! Where did he come from?" asked Desi.
"One story tells that Pegasus' "father" was Poseidon, who was the god of the sea. Pegasus' "mother" was Medusa, a goddess who was changed into a monster because she dared to think that she was more beautiful than Athena, another goddess. Athena turned Medusa's beautiful hair into snakes and gave her piercing eyes that would turn anyone looking directly at her into stone."
"Could this really happen?" Equinox managed to say, a little worried about snakes.
"Remember," Ole warned, "this is mythology and that means it's a legend - a story told many years ago."
"Go on," Molly urged. "You've got us all wondering now."
"Well, as the story goes, Athena helped Perseus, a warrior, to kill Medusa and asked him to bring her head to her. As Perseus was bringing the trophy to Athena, some blood dropped from his pouch and fell into the sea. Poseidon, who loved Medusa when she was young and beautiful, 'mixed the blood with the white foam on the waves and the white sand on the beach and out of them he created the winged horse'. The horse flew up to the heavens to join the gods."
Everyone was looking skyward, each with his or her own thoughts and wondering what would happen next to the horse in this story.
"Pegasus was caught by the goddess Athena, who tamed him using a golden bridle. He was magnificent, powerful and wise. It is said that he was the color of the morning sun and with a single kick started the spring of Hippocrene flowing. This spring supposedly was the source of all poetic inspiration."
"So, did anyone else ever get to ride him?" Beau asked.
"An ordinary man, Bellerophon, a mortal as he was called then, used to dream of riding Pegasus around the heavens, and one night dreamed that Athena gave him a golden bridle and told him to go to the spring of Pirene, where Pegasus drank. When he woke up, sure enough, there was the bridle at his side, and when he went to the spring, he caught Pegasus and bridled him. Together, they fought the monsters of mythology and won. After a time, Bellerophon decided to ride to Olympus and mingle with the gods."
"Oh, so it has a happy ending after all," chuckled Ginny.
"I'm not finished," cautioned Ole. "Not exactly, because Jupiter, another god, wasn't happy to have Bellerophon in his domain, so he sent a gadfly to bite Pegasus. Bellerophon was thrown from the winged horse and fell to earth. He was never able to ride Pegasus again. Some stories say that Zeus, another god, knocked him off his steed with a thunderbolt and for a while used Pegasus to carry his thunderbolts. Later Athena made Pegasus a constellation, a group of stars which, if you join them together with lines, resembles a horse," explained Ole.
"You know, I can't help thinking about the Lipizzaner horses of Vienna ," Molly remarked. "Those beautiful white horses seem to fly through their paces as soon as a rider is put on their back. Could it be that somehow they possess some of the magic of Pegasus without wings?"
But nobody replied to this thought-provoking question. By this time, each member of the herd was deep in thought and ready for some well-deserved sleep, ready to dream their own dreams of flying through the heavens.
Molly says, there are many websites with stories about the mythological gods and goddesses, and they might inspire you to take a trip to the nearest planetarium where you can see stars and learn more about the constellations. Your library is also a good source of information. One particular book would be "The Mythology of Horses" by Gerald and Loretta Hausman.