Sometimes, a horse just feels like he’s bein followed. If he’s lucky, it’ll happen to him when he’s out around the ranch, or at least out on the trails somewhere where there’s lots of open range and space for a horse to get away or keep his distance, and he’ll be bein tailed by a pack of lonesome, bored coyotes who don’t mean a horse no harm — they’re just out bein dogs. Or, he’ll be bein tailed by one lonesome, bored coyote pup who only means to satisfy his curiosity about what a horse is. But, if that horse is me, he’ll be out around the County Island, walkin within the confines of the wash, and he’ll be bein been tailed by two, maybe three, half-grown human colts on rolly-bikes, in coyote stealth mode.
Personally, I prefer the coyotes.
No coyote wants to make a beeline straight for your nose and pat it, nor stick his paws in your nostrils.
Coyotes may howl and carry on after their prey, but they don’t yell, “Hi, horsey! Hi, horsey!” every two seconds while they’re huntin ’em down. But little people-colts do. Now, I actually happen to love the little ones if you set one in my saddle. I’m the most careful-est, patient-est horse there is when I got a little cowpoke holdin onto the saddle horn. And it’s kinda flatterin that the little ones on their rolly-bikes want to tell me howdy so much.
But a small herd of people-colts on rolly-bikes is like a tiny herd of over-rambunctious coyote pups on wheels, and as ridiculous as that notion is, people-colts on rolly-bikes is even more ridiculous. And they have danged good trackin and herdin skills, too, when there’s a horsey involved.
On this occasion, I was bein rode through the wash that makes a big circle around a lot of people-barns on the County Island. And the tiny pack of rollin people-colts spied me as we passed along one part of the loop, and yelled, “Hey, there’s a horse! Hi, horsey!”
But we kept goin. Dark was comin on, and we had to get home. At least that’s what I told the bucket gal by way of my unwaverin, purposeful walk, and she seemed to agree.
And when we came to a break in the brush, there they was again. “Horsey, horsey! Hurry up, there’s a horsey!” Rollin for all their tiny legs was worth. But we kept goin.
We came around the bend, and there they was, all of ‘em lined up on wheels, poised on the tips of their toes like a coyote or a dog that’s pointin at somethin. If they had tails, their tails woulda been standin straight out and quiverin in anticipation. “Hi, horsey!”
I turned toward ‘em and nodded my head in a neighborly but not overly familiar “good evenin, y’all,” and we kept walkin.
But I could still hear ‘em behind me, somewhere around the road that curves around the wash, howling and yippin excitedly about which way the horsey went and whether their rolly-bikes could roll through the sand in the wash to catch me.
What the hell — and pardon my french in the middle of a conversation regardin young-uns — was they intendin to do with me if and when they caught me? Maybe pet me to death?
The youngest coyote pup knows he ain’t never gonna actually ever catch a horse.
When you’re stuck bein rode through the wash loop that runs around the people-barns, there’s only one way in, and one way out. My only foreseeable way out was home.
I couldn’t see ‘em no more, but I heard ’em with my fine palomino horse-ears, just beyond the brittlebush and the creosotes, still goin on amongst themselves about the horsey this and the horsey that, like they’d never laid eyes upon a horsey before on the County Island that’s chock full o’ horsies. Dangit, they were some tenacious trackers.
The bucket gal chuckled, like maybe she found bein tailed funny.
And then she whoaed me, and made me wait like the good horse I am, until they’d rolled their rolly-bikes back around to the road in front of the wash, which was also in front of us. I twitched an ear. She patted me and told me I’d live, which was ridiculous, ‘cause of course I’d live. The situation wasn’t nearly that dire, though an old ranch horse could argue it might be.
“If you want to pet him, you can pet his shoulder,” she called out.
*Traitor,* I opined inside my own horse-mind.
“Just the shoulder – not his nose.”
*Well, alright then. As long as we’re in agreement about the nose bein off-limits,* I thought. It ain’t right to pet a horse upon the nose.
And carefully, like curious coyote pups circlin a rattlesnake, half full of fearful shyness and half full of curiosity, the people-colts discarded their rolly-bikes and approached me. I stood stock still.
The pup-like people-colts obeyed instructions and only patted my shoulder, one at a time, of which I approved. Maybe they’d make proper cowpokes someday, after all, and trade in their rolly things for proper horsey things. And they asked questions. What was my name? Was I a boy horse or a girl horse? How old was I? And so forth. Satisfied with my bucket gal’s answers, and proclaimin me to be the softest and the prettiest palomino horse ever, they bid us an enthusiastic “Thank you!” and “See you next time!”
I couldn’t argue much with bein the softest and prettiest, assumin by prettiest they meant the most useful. “Prettiest” is what Original Coors prefers to go by.
We continued to make tracks back home down the wash, barely beatin the fallin darkness. As for next time, I still think I’d still prefer a pack of coyotes. They’re safer and more predictable, overall.