In AWAKENING, horses, like all animals have developed in the five thousand years since the great freeze.
Most of the European horses that survived the terrible storms and tsunamis that accompanied the great freeze, were forced far to the south, away from the freezing polar icecap. Only stopped from going further, by the natural border of the Mediterranean sea.
Building their ability to communicate with each other, they slowly built in numbers using their intelligence and speed to escape most of their predators……Until man came back into the equation.
In the last thousand years they had been hunted for meat, bred for cavalry mounts and faced being eradicated as a wild species and enslaved for life. Now they can choose their destiny again!
In Banain’s dominion, no longer can a human enslave an animal against his will, if a human wants to ride into battle rather than walk, they have to convince a suitable mount to accept them. It is a symbiotic agreement, whereby both parties benefit. Inter-species communication between most animals and man had been enabled through Banain’s gifts, greatly enhanced by the Immortals.
The result, apart from most species being able to understand each other, is the realisation of the needs of all creatures, which do not differ wildly from species to species.
In AWAKENING, the horse chooses its rider and once the breath of life has been shared, they are bonded for life.
Here is a short excerpt from the book, where Star bonds with Banain.
A short while later, the messenger arrived with his heavily armoured warhorse, both dwarfed by Star who walked alongside them. The mighty animal was impressive to Banain; he stood almost eighteen hands high and weighed over eight hundred kilograms.
“I am Star, formerly of Lord Erador’s cavalry. I thank you for setting me and my kin free, Banain. I pledge my service to you for life and share the breath of friendship with you.” Star trotted up and lowered his nose to within centimetres of Banain’s, and then he exhaled in the traditional horse greeting.
“I thank you Star and accept your pledge. I would be honoured to ride with you,” Banain said, breathing in the air of the big horse and returning his own. “You understand that this is a dangerous quest and that I cannot guarantee your safety,” Banain said, looking for any doubt in the horse. He found none.
“My kind welcome danger; it is where we differ from our wild cousins. We charge in, whilst they charge away,” Star said, a deep sense of pride evident in his words.
“Do you require a saddle and bridle to ride me, Banain?” he asked.
“No, thank you. I think I will be fine.” With that, Banain leapt nimbly onto Star’s back.
“I think you will!” Star said, amazed. He could hardly feel the well-positioned and balanced rider. “If Grindor is to ride me again, perhaps you could give him lessons, Banain.” Star gave the equivalent of a horse chuckle.
“I heard that, horse,” Grindor said, his sadness turning to indignation.
“I am only joking, Grindor. You rode well…for an ape!” Star replied as he disappeared from view, following the messenger.