I was bein rode through a wash on the County Island with a couple other horses — it don’t matter which ones, but they was prancey — for a slow and pointless trail ride at what shoulda been breakfast time, durin the hot time. I was ridin drag as usual, bringin up the back of the line as we made our way single-file through the deep and dusty sand.
The first horse had just passed a big, low-hangin palo verde that made a spot of speckled shade. I was lookin forward to steppin into the shade beneath those spiny branches to get out of the sun for a few steps, myself. Durin the hot time, I like to measure my hoof falls by how long it takes ‘em to get to the next shade.
As the second horse went through the shade, and it was almost my own turn to savor it, the bucket gal said out of the clear hot sky, “I’m surprised we haven’t seen any sna—”
The brush rattled with snake sounds. We spun on a dime, first horse, second horse, me, in a cloud of dust, like a proper prancey-horse “pas de trois,” which is french for when three horses pirouette, which itself is french for spin, past a tree. Then we all high-stepped it out of there while our riders patted and praised us. I don’t even know if I made any shade.
What’s called the moral of all this is twofold.
First, to all horses on all ranches everywhere, don’t you ever, ever allow yourself to wonder why you ain’t yet seen a rattlesnake. You’ll eventually find one even if you don’t go lookin, so never, ever look for snakes nor trouble anywhere. And people, zip it. No disrespect intended.
And second, whenever there’s a snake tail involved, remember this. It’s the first horse that gets the coil, and the second horse that gets the rattle, but it’s the third horse that gets bit. Or at least closest to takin the hit.