Have you ever watched people play “horseshoes”? It’s a game — which is to say, it’s pointless — where people toss our shoes into the air just so they can see where they might land. And the farther they fly and the farther away they land, the better. Also, they think a horseshoe means good luck, though to me bein shod means work, not luck, although I reckon a horse who’s got a job is a lucky horse, indeed, and a person who’s got a job that needs a good horse is lucky, too. But when a horse tosses his own shoe as far away as a horse possibly can if its horseshoe nails come loose, so that his person may go try to find it later, they don’t find the fun or luck in it at all. County Island people are like that. I try to accept it as best I can. Thinkin too hard on things that “ought to be” never did no good for a horse.
So when Coors Light told me the pinto mare down the road told him that the ol’ ex-racehorse-turned-cowhorse two more roads down from there told her the halter Ayrabs at the halter Ayrab farm said they heard a person at the ranch across the road from them say she was gettin’ a bonafide new ranch horse, well, I reckoned I’d put about as much faith in it as a person hopin to find a horse-tossed horseshoe under a half-acre of sand. Which is to say, not much. And yeah, our bucket gal’s been siftin sand, so to speak, for more than a people-week now, lookin for one of Coors Light’s latest tossed shoes.
Imagine my surprise, then, the day a lady done rode by on a sweet li’l red roan of a western-stock mare. Did I say “sweet”? I likely didn’t mean to say that. I ain’t mushy about mares, like Original Coors is. I already told about that back here. But there was somethin in her demeanor… There was somethin in the way she was put together, too, if an old horse can mention it, with real solid bones in her legs and hooves, and a real nice hip, and she wasn’t tall like a pencil-neck “show Quarter Horse.” She was small, but she was solid. When the lady stopped to talk to our bucket gal, Li’l Red swung her head toward me, and regarded me from beneath her frosty long red forelock, and I couldn’t help myself. I went and pricked my ears at her. Both of ‘em.
Her lady was prattlin on as County Island people will do, somethin about how she was “just a four-year-old,” but was done ranch-broke good and steady — like that was a special accomplishment by the time you’re a four-year-old?
Li’l Red regarded me, and Coors and Coors Light, who’d come up to the fence to meet her, so entirely politely, it was almost cute — if mares were cute. She flipped her forelock and said, “Howdy! It’s a pleasure to meet all y’all.”
With those manners, she’d been ranch-raised, that was for sure. I also couldn’t help but notice her big, purty ranch brand back there on her fine red hip. It weren’t nothin like my own brand, but it made her authentic, alright. Coors took a step toward the fenceline, and I snapped both my ears backwards at him: Step off, son.
“Where you from, sugar?” I turned my own head sideways a bit to show off my good, long-nosed profile. Aw, hell. I dunno when the last time was that I ever called a mare “sugar”! And I took a step toward her, which damned if the bucket gal noticed. “Ooooh, I think Whiskey liiikes her,” she crooned. And was that Coors and Coors Light snickerin behind me?
“I’m from Oklahoma,” drawled Li’l Red with a nod. But right then, the people wrapped up their blabberin, and the lady reined Li’l Red back toward the trail! People’s timin sucks — pardon my french. Either they talk for far too long, or not nearly long enough. I watched her brand, and the rest of her, disappear into the distance.
I got no idea what nor where the Oklahoma Ranch is, but I think I like it a lot. And when I eventually turned to go back to my breakfast, I put my hoof down on an unexpectedly pointed piece of sand, and Coors Light’s missin shoe surfaced with a *plink.* It was like Li’l Red done brought me my own horseshoe full of luck. Our bucket gal was long gone, though, so I kicked some more sand over it as I shuffled off, and left it right where I found it, so maybe she could have a nice surprise sometime later and find her own good luck. Plus, the more time people spend searchin for lost horseshoes, the less time they got to prance a horse around in pointless circles. A ranch horse should always aim to be a helpful horse.