The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse
A nomadic boy named Tagan refuses to give up his horse after she’s taken by the Chinese army. He sets out to rescue her in an epic journey across the Silk Road. Tagan allows himself to be taken hostage by the army so he can find his horse, but the army is divided in half and his horse is sent on a separate route back to China. Tagan endures sandstorms, brutal uprisings and near starvation along the two year trek. He also survive the brutal mistreatment by the soldiers who treat him like a barbarian. Tagan’s skill with horses and his knowledge of the desert wins the grudging respect of the soldiers he saves. As the army reunites, Tagan wonders if he will see his beloved horse again.
Tagan had imagined himself and his horse winning the game of Kok boru many times, but he never knew how hard it would be to steady himself on the bare back of a galloping horse while desperately trying to hold onto a goat carcass by one leg. He and Kutcha had practiced on the open grassland with Kutcha galloping in wide ovals and cutting quick turns while Tagan carried a sack weighted with sand. He had never considered how heavy the goat would be even though it had been gutted before the game began. The goat had also been skinned, making the carcass slick and hard to grasp. Tagan had never dreamed that his horse, Kutcha, would be spooked by the goat’s other three legs that jangled against her side. Tagan had hoped to hoist the goat onto his lap the way the older experienced riders did, but instead he gripped a slippery leg above the hoof as the rest of the carcass thumped against his horse. Kutcha mistook the prodding against her ribs as Tagan spurring her to run faster. Kutcha would have galloped harder anyway to keep ahead of the pack of riders on horseback coming up behind her. Even though Kutcha needed to stay ahead of the avalanche of mounted horses closing in around her Tagan was tipping to one side and was about to slide off of Kutcha’s back.
Give up the goat and stay on your horse, Tagan told himself.