A Man and That Horse
Way over my head today. Way over. Trespassing in Carterland. Walking around the ranch, about to step on the business end of a rake, smack myself in the head. Say something dumb.
Carrie Underwood is queen of country music. Julie Carter is queen of country writing. From her home in Estancia, ranch lady, reporter, writer, photographer, philosopher Carter tells life’s story through the eyes of stubborn cowboys, their no-nonsense women, honky-tonk heroes, grandma and grandpa sitting on a farmhouse porch, the fading sunset a testimony to their loving existence together.
Julie Carter knows horse stories, and she tells them in books and through her popular weekly column in New Mexico newspapers. I am a city kid. My cowboy experience is limited to a boyhood in Boardman, Ohio, where a next door neighbor paid a frightened six-year-old five cents an hour to steer his horse through rows of his crop, green beans or something.
Does one steer a horse? Was the horse cultivating the ground? I was never to learn the finer points because the horse also sensed I was in over my head and trampled most of the man’s plants within five minutes. It was just the first time I was fired.
Other than that, my cowboy experience is limited to occasional track visits where I have never been a smart bettor simply because I can’t figure out which horses are buzzed.
So what I am I doing now, about to tell a horse story? Who knows? But here it is, The Man and That Horse.
There is a driveway off Hull Road here in Ruidoso, the road that leads to the vast parking lot serving the recreational area with soccer fields, tennis courts, a dog park, kids’ playground, three mile walking path around the Links golf course. The driveway runs along a fenced pasture, maybe 200 yards long, half that wide.
In that pasture are normally two or three horses. A couple of weeks ago, finishing a walk, I got in the car, looked through the windshield, and became immersed in a drama that was to rivet me for 30 full minutes.
There was a white horse and a brown horse, hereafter known as That Horse. They both stood serenely at a corner of the fence. In the middle of the pasture was The Man. He held a rope. The Man wanted to put a noose over the neck of That Horse. The white horse knew it, That Horse knew it.
The Man moved slowly toward the horses. The white horse ignored him. That Horse watched him warily. When The Man got within a few yards, That Horse broke and trotted gracefully to the other end of the pasture.
The Man turned and began walking back to the center. There he stopped and, patting his leg as a beckon, cajoled That Horse to join him. Fat chance. So again The Man made his approach, and again, That Horse let him get close enough to get hopeful before bolting. Back and forth they went, back and forth.
Sitting there in the car, I got to thinking The Man totally dwarfed me in the patience department, but maybe wasn’t too smart if he thought there was a chance in hell he was going to noose that horse. Leaving only briefly to obtain a can of what I think was tempting food, The Man never gave up.
A half hour expired before the curtain fell on this captivating drama. Bolting one last time, That Horse ran halfway up the pasture, stopped, slowly turned and walked gracefully to The Man who calmly applied the noose and led That Horse from the pasture.
It was only the guy in the car who did not have a clue to what was going on. The Man knew it. That Horse knew it. It was a just a game that had to play itself out, and to this day, I cannot figure out what there is about this story I find so alluring.
I bet you Julie Carter can get a handle on it.