One time, and one time only, a terrible thing transpired here on the County Island.
I was bein rode along one of our less usual roads, by the bucket gal, of course, and it was a dark ‘n windy winter day, gettin on toward sunset, and also feedin time. The shadows was layin long upon the ground, and the hunger in my belly was such that it nearly swallowed up all my own ability to pay attention to my surroundins — which was hard to see anyhow, on account of all the shadows that might spook a lesser horse.
I know I talk a lotta trash about lesser horses, but there’s lot of ‘em to talk trash about, especially upon the County Island. So my horse-thoughts that day was mostly trained on my empty insides and not so much the world outside of me, on account of I ain’t a lesser horse. I seen so much of the outside world, sometimes what’s out there hardly even matters to a horse, lest it’s a rattlesnake or maybe a hole in the ground a horse could twist a hoof in.
When out from the out from the shadows on the side of the road leaped a big, black BEAR. No, it was a whole HERD of big, black bears!
Now, I’d never seen an actual bear before that time, but I’d heard other horses tell about ’em from up in the more mountainy ranches. Mostly they was big, and black as a night that’s got no moon in it, and scary, with big, scary sharp teeth and claws meant to make meat out of good horses. So I surely wasn’t about to let a bear get ME. Much less the bucket gal, on whom I depend for my bucket and my feed.
Before the bears made their attack, I did the bucket gal — who was ridin me on the buckle and likely payin less attention than I was — a solid favor by duckin sideways and pitchin her — and me — away from them, and spinnin in a circle so as to maybe confuse ’em and throw ’em off for a second.
Let me say first, I fully expected her to stay in the saddle.
When the bucket gal hit the ground, I whirled around to face our attackers.
And saw they was just a big pile of big, black, shiny trash bags. Just normal trash, too, not bear-like in the least.
No shadow of a doubt about it, this trash had put me in the middle of a big mess.
And let me say second, it was good that they wasn’t real bears, ’cause while I was fully prepared to gallop for home and take the bucket gal with me to escape an all-out bear attack, gallopin wastes a whole lotta energy that’s best conserved for eatin and nappin, and also any time a horse turns and bolts for home, he’s gonna have a whole lotta explainin to do after the fact, likely at the end of an angry lead shank. Trust me, horses. It ain’t worth it, not even for bears.
Also, if ya ever mistake a trash bag for a bear like I done, don’t bother tryin to run from the deed after it’s done. Extra spookin serves no good purpose at all. Horse up and own your own deed.
The bucket gal recovered her pride quickly, as I stood there in my attempt to say sorry. She was mad, alright, likely more so at landin on her behind than by bein saved by a false bear attack by me. She led me what seemed like the long way back home to our own li’l horse-corral, and we went slow ‘cause she seemed to be slightly lame in her gait. We arrived right as night fell. My buddy Coors (this was before we got saddled with Coors Light, too) waited at the gate with a curious expression, even for an Ayrab-horse.
“Bears,” was all I told him by my flattened ears. His eyes got real wide at that. He blew hard through his nostrils.
I never dumped the bucket gal before that, and I ain’t never dumped her since. Dumped her from a dead walk, though, in my own defense. I never planned to dump her that day, but then I never planned to get ambushed by bears, neither.
And that’s why I still don’t fully trust big, black bags of trash along the road. They fooled me once, and I ain’t even a lesser horse. I don’t intend to ever let ’em fool me again. It’d be too much for an old, broke ranch horse to bear.