1. Once upon a time, there were four horses standing near the edge of time. One said, “Jump!” and all of the others did, sailing off into infinity. The last horse became lonely and wished he hadn’t said what he had.
2. Once there were four horses. Each horse was a different color: dun, piebald, chestnut, blue, you know the drill. One got jealous of the others and made a little altar in her stall. Soon, all the horses had mange except for her. You would think she would feel guilty, but she did not.
3. Once in a while the four horses would get together and talk about the old neighborhood. They agreed that none of the younger generation appreciated their sacrifices. They stood in a circle and chuffed in indignation. Soon a wild pony turned up dead of poisoned oats. In public they decried vigilantism, but in private they snickered.
4. Once every four years, the horses got together and put on a little show. They wore top hats and ball gowns. They put silver and gold streaks in their manes and polished their teeth with clover. They tap danced to the old songs and cheered and cheered and cheered. And everyone agreed that it had been that way since the beginning of time.