A heartbreaking story about a woman who must end the life of her beloved horse has won Halifax native David Huebert national acclaim

His story Enigma took the top spot in the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize. It examines the mystery of life, death, love and grief. 

"I think a lot about human-animal love," Huebert told CBC Radio's Information Morning.  

"We have been evolving alongside these animals for thousands of years, so I think that love is just so deeply rooted in us that it's something that I really want to probe and examine in my writing."    

Personal connection

Huebert got the idea for writing the story after his sister's horse died this fall. During that time his sister cut off much of her contact with the outside world. 

"She was kind of in emergency mode. So I wasn't really able to talk to her at the time, but I was trying to imagine what she was going through. Me and my sister are very close, there's only two of us kids in the family."

Huebert currently lives in London, Ont., and is doing his PhD on animals in American literature.   

The short story grand prize includes $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts. Huebert's story will be published in Air Canada's enRoute magazine, and he will receive a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre. 

"It's a validation of the hard work that I've been doing over the past five plus years. It's really just astonishing to me and overwhelming and wild. There's really not another contest that I'd rather win in my life." 

'Even better for me than the money'

Huebert said he's always thought the CBC Short Story Prize was the "Cadillac" of short story contests in Canada. But it's not the money that really excites him, it's the writing residency. 

"The residency at Banff might be even better for me than the money, because you know money can always get folded into everyday expenses," he said.

"Where a prize like actually going to Banff and doing a writers residency, that's going to be like paradise for me."    

With files from Information Morning