"Look Mrs. Simmons," Jessica shouted, her long blonde ponytail bouncing as she skipped through the barn. "Isn't that horse beautiful?" She stared at the white and brown spotted pinto horse. "This is the best field trip we've ever been on."
The horse looked amazed or maybe he looked hungry. She wasn't sure. She saw the huge sign as they entered the barn, "DON'T FEED THE HORSES ANYTHING," but her mother had given her a carrot. Surely it wouldn't hurt for the horse to eat just one little carrot.
Jessica slowly removed the carrot from her pocket. She glanced around to see if Mrs. Simmons was watching. Mrs. Simmons was busy talking to the stable manager so Jessica hurried to stuff the carrot into the horse's mouth.
The horse greedily ate the carrot then searched Jessica's hands for more. What if the carrot makes him sick? She knew her mother wouldn't have wanted her to disobey what the sign so boldly stated.
She walked slowly up the hall dragging her feet. She half heartily looked at the other horses. She glanced back at the pinto's stall; he no longer had his head out the window. Maybe he's just eating hay. She wanted to go back to see but she was afraid he might be very ill. She watched his stall wishing he would come back to the window but when he didn't she was sure she had made him sick.
"What's wrong Jessica?" Mrs. Simmons asked. "You were so excited a few minutes ago. You're aren't sick are you?"
"No," Jessica muttered, "Why don't they want you to feed the horses anything Mrs. Simmons?"
"The sign didn't use to be there," Mrs. Simmons explained. "Last year several children fed one of the horses so many treats that he got the colic. That's a huge stomachache. They called the veterinarian and luckily he got here in time. A horse isn't like people or dogs and cats. When he overeats he doesn't get nauseated. If they aren't noticed early enough they can die from colic so that's why they don't want anyone feeding the horses."
"I fed the white with brown spots horse a carrot," Jessica said. "Is he going to die?"
"One carrot wont hurt him," Mrs. Simmons said, hugging Jessica tight. "But, what if everyone had decided to feed him something? The manager would have a very sick horse to take care of."
"I'm sorry I disobeyed the sign," Jessica said her bright brown eyes staring at Mrs. Simmons. "I promise I wont ever do it again."
"I'm sure you will remember what you learned today," Mrs. Simmons smiled. "Now let's go to the picnic tables. Lunch is waiting."

Copyright © 1998 Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.