While many of the animals were beautiful, no one would contest the beauty of the Horse. The farmer took great care with her: kept her coat shinning, her hair combed and braided, and every other consideration was made for her care. She was taken to many competitions, winning most of them.
The Horse didn't care so much about this, though. Most of her days were spent on the farm with her fellow animals. She would go every Thursday to the chicken coop to see the hens and ask how their week was. The Goat was always grateful for her help in placing his paintings a little higher than he could on her own. If anyone needed anything, she was always happy to help.
One day, though, the farmer and took his time to comb and braid another horse’s mane. Later that week, the same horse was taken for a competition. The competition she attended every year.
The Horse started to look at her own reflection. She noticed flaws that she never had before. Her coat didn’t have that same shimmer anymore. She certainly wasn’t as lean as she used to be. Her mane had become tangled and lay across her neck blandly, and the skin on her face was not smooth, hanging just around her once striking brown eyes.
Each day, the Horse started to notice more and more; the scars that remained and the crack in her front right hoof. She started to hide away, staying in her stall instead of greeting her neighbors. She would be careful that no one else saw all that she had lost, because she was now certain that they would not love her anymore if they knew.
As she hid one afternoon on the edge of the pond, the Horse heard the Cat and the Goat talking.
“… very much so. Gorgeous,” the Goat said, handing a picture to the Cat, who nodded. “Really, very beautiful."
“And so kind too. Really, she’s one of the best animals I have ever known,” the Cat said. “Everyone loves her.”
The Horse’s ears perked up, wondering who this could be.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know her,” the Goat continued. “Friendly and kind. Always willing to listen… and I don’t know if there’s ever anyone that comes faster when someone needs help.”
“Never,” the Cat agreed. “And so sincere…”
The Horse didn’t know who they meant, but she did know she wanted to as they continued on. The Cat set down the picture as the two of them walked away, leaving the pond and the image behind.
The Horse had an idea: if she could get to know who this was, maybe she would be worth something again. This other animal was key to her being a part of the farm again. When the Cat and the Goat were gone, the Horse quietly moved forward, going to where the Cat laid down the picture and picked it up. To the Horse’s great surprise, the picture was of her.
Moral: Beauty is subjective, but character is constant.