The County Island’s kinda well-known for its long spell of hotness along with the kind of dryness that turns old cow bones white and brittle under the burnin hot sun. Some days, it can feel like your own horse-bones are bein dried out from plumb all the way inside of yourself, that’s how hot of a dry it is.
And when the hot time ends, and your haircoat starts to fuzz up, and the sunshine feels warm and soft on your fuzz instead of like it’s tryin to draw your bones out straight through your skin like you was an old, dead cow instead of a real, live horse, it’s the best time of all around these parts.
The dirt and sand and gravel ain’t hot upon your hooves no more, when the fall comes. Not that a horse really minds hot upon his hooves much, but the people worry on account of they say it can lame a horse, which no horse nor person wants. And when the fall comes, you can go for a trail ride right out in the sunshine, or any time of day that strikes your rider’s fancy at all, instead of tackin up in the dark to try to beat the sun. And in the fall, everyhorse and his rider wants to take a longer ride, ‘cause it finally feels good to be goin out!
So we was wanderin down a County Island road on a warm and breezy fall afternoon, kinda close to bucket time, not that I was particularly keepin track. I reckon that’s hard for most of y’all to believe, but like the man said, horses never lie. I ain’t sure why we got to go out so close to bucket time, when the weather’s perfect for ridin out at any time of day at all, but I reckon it’s got somethin to do with people-jobs and other such foolishness. A horse is better off not knowin. But whatever the time was, it was a downright peaceful and pleasant time to be out and about.
Until I heard a far-off rumble down the road, and then eventually the bucket gal heard it, too, and we moved off to the side of the dirt road, and then a truck pullin a flatbed trailer full of alfalfa bales rolled right past my nose. Alfalfa, stacked upon it higher than my own horse-head! That’s right – it was supper time! Bucket time! My own puny portion of alfalfa time! And the lady drivin the alfalfa motherload went nice and slow, and waved howdy, like she was wavin directly to me, “Come along with me, now, good horse!”
I fell under her alfalfa spell, and I turned to follow her flatbed up the road.
The bucket gal reined me back and said, “Hey, where do you think you’re going, mister Biscuit?”
Well, with her! She’s got enough alfalfa to feed a whole herd, or keep me fed for at least a week, maybe, and surely she needs some horse help unloadin all that. I’ll eat it right off the truck to save her the trouble, ‘cause that’s the kind of helpful horse I am. I tried my best to gape my mouth against my snaffle bit and make myself appear sad and hungry, and show the bucket gal how empty my mouth and my belly were of alfalfa, or anythin at all. The quickest way to remedy my impendin starvation was to follow that truck!
But we didn’t follow it. And, well, a good horse has got to listen to his rider, no matter how much alfalfa might be right down the road. And who knew how many head of horses the flatbed lady had, to feed that much alfalfa, and how pushy or mean they might all be? They might be the worst County Island pampered backyard pet horses of all, for all I knew.
A horse should be happy with whatever he’s already got, rather than lamentin his lack of a thing, even if that thing is alfalfa, especially on a fine fall day when everythin else is goin his way. Whiskey, I told myself, there ain’t no need to get all prancey about it.
After we got back to our home-corral, the bucket gal curried me across all my most itchy spots as I stood dozin off in the fallin sunlight. Then, instead of bringin me my usual helpin of plain ol’ grass hay and a tiny little half flake of alfalfa, the bucket gal done brung my grass hay along with an entire fat flake of alfalfa! I nickered as much thanks as a horse can muster.
Sometimes — and I know how entirely addled this sounds — it seems maybe, just maybe, the bucket gal can read a horse’s mind.