If a horse aims to exaggerate, his tale ought to stand at least as tall as his own withers. To tell a lesser tale that also ain’t truthful is an insult to a horse’s own personal code of proper behavior, which is also called the Code of the West. It’s a insult to horsedom. If a tale’s lesser and also true, that’s one thing. Truthful things often ain’t real interestin, but on the County Island, usually it’s the most true tales that’s the most strange – which a lot of folks also think is interestin on account of some folks is like that. It’s been a long time now since I spoke of the Code of the West directly, though it’s always part of everythin I do. Unlike for some horses. Horses with false tales hurt all of us. That’s exactly what I said to my own horse-buddy Coors Light one time, but it might’ve come out more like –
I’m a real tolerant horse. Ask anybody on the County Island or beyond it all the way back to the ranch. My reputation’s solid. But even tolerant horses got limits, and mine’s gray and an Ayrab and stands about 15.1 at the withers the day before the horse-shoein man’s due.
And so thusly I repeated myself, “Bull pucky!”
Hold that thought.
I got myself all ready to go for a trail ride one fine day.
What I do to get ready is run around. To tell the truth, I don’t know exactly why I like to run around while the rollin white horse-box’s gettin hitched up, but I do. It’s a fun thing. And if ya got time enough on your hooves for fun, a horse should always have some. So the bucket gal was doin her people hitch thing, and I was flaggin my tail and lopin circles around the corral. I like to get Coors and Coors Light lopin, too. It’s part of the whole routine we perform before we go out someplace trail ridin, me and the bucket gal. She gets the rig hitched. I run for fun. She shouts somethin insincere such as, “Knock it off, Whiskey!” I run some more, and I buck-fart. She tells me that’s gross. I circle Coors and Coors Light and then cut ‘em off, and sometimes I like to call ‘em my cattle to their faces. The bucket gal shrugs and laughs, and off I go in the rollin white horse-box.
Only this time, she yelled at me with grave sincerity for makin Coors Light lope and buck so much. We wasn’t playin up excessive-like as far as I could tell. And also, he likes it. We play far worse when she ain’t around, but I suppose what a person don’t know can’t hurt ‘em.
She frets over Coors Light. Well, she frets over all of us, for different people-reasons that don’t make sense to a horse. One of Coors Light’s legs was suspended a while back, which means he was suspended from ridin until it healed up proper. The sweet-talkin but evil vet lady called it a supendery injury. And he busted his suspendery to start with by playin up and buckin hard with me one day. To me that says he was likely to bust it no matter what he did or did not do that day, but I also don’t care to know much about suspenderies. And, well, I got own my bad hawks which earned me my birthday “ramp” recent-like, and Original Coors has got his sore lack of a proper vicular, which is called havin no vicular at all. But still. Who cared if Coors Light played up hard once in a while? I ain’t got to repeat the answer. By which I mean the bucket gal cared.
And then she haltered Coors Light, not me. And away he went, cloppin up the rollin white horse-box’s new “ramp” which was my own personal 29th birthday gift to use, not his. She did tell me previous that maybe he and Coors could use it sometimes, but I had no idea by sometimes she meant right now. I couldn’t take my eyes and ears off ‘em as they rolled away, without me.
The Code of the West says a good horse has got to accept things as they come, rollin with the changes (and rollin for real if you’re feelin scratchy) – but it don’t say he’s got to like it. The same goes for rollin horse-boxes. It don’t matter if ya like steppin into ’em or not, if your person says get in, ya got to get in and go. But you can still pin your ears if they ain’t lookin, as long as all four of your legs is movin in the proper direction. And if your hawks is real bad, you can try and make a case for their badness like I done by necessity, and then maybe you’ll get a ramp, too.
They was gone a real long time.
Original Coors went to wait by the gate. He kept watch of the road for his brother from breakfast ‘til long past when the sun’s high in the sky.
A few rollin horse-boxes rolled past, and they was all white, but none of them was ours, and they was headed to other ranches, carryin other horses.
Me, I ate some, and drank some, and walked around some, and napped some, and pondered Coors and his position at the gate some, and rolled some to maintain the spirit of the Code, and then I ate some more.
Original Coors eventually turned his big, wide eyes toward me. “He’s coming back, right?”
“Couldn’t tell ya,” I replied. Not to be mean about it but to be a truthful horse, like the Code of the West says to be. The last time I ever left the ranch, I thought I’d come back to it like always, too. But I didn’t. And they’d been gone a lot longer than a normal trail ride time by now. I couldn’t lie, not even to an Ayrab-horse. And don’t tell, but especially not to him. He’s my buddy, lack of good breedin and all.
I forgot about the Code for a spell and started to wonder things horses ain’t meant to wonder.
I wondered if Coors Light went to the auction, like I did. But who would bid on a Ayrab-horse with no ranch skills at all?
Right as my thoughts and the sun started to sink, they came back!
So since the Code also says always be grateful for what ya got, I set to lopin more circles out of gratefulness for gettin Coors Light back, or somethin. Maybe I loped slower on account of overdoin it that mornin, but I still did it. Original Coors did, too, and not only ‘cause I made him. We was as happy as two County Island horses that’s also me and him can likely get.
Until Coors Light opened his mouth to whinny.
It wasn’t just a howdy, hey I’m back, hey I missed y’all too.
It was braggin. No, it was bald-faced as bald as a bad halter rub lyin.
So, “Bull pucky!” I said no sooner than he was unloaded and let go to roll.
He told a real dumb tall tale which insulted my intelligence, most of which I ain’t gonna bother to repeat, all about how he and the bucket gal AND the carrot guy went out ridin. Which is ridiculous ‘cause the carrot guy would ride ME if he rode at all. Coors Light said he rode a rolly-bike while the bucket gal rode him, and they went out like a herd of only one proper horse and one improper rolly-bike up and down and around all the hills. I happen to know he don’t do hills no more on account of his suspendery, so there. Some other amigos and their rolly-bikes came, too, and they made a picnic after, durin which he was fed LUNCH. And he was the only horse at the whole entire place. We never get fed lunch. I never get fed lunch. So I knew that was a lie. Rode so far and long he lost a hoof boot. Well, he was surely missin one now, but I’m sure that ain’t how it happened. Everybody givin him carrots from the palms of their hands. Travelers from beyond the County Island makin their picture with him. *I* get my own picture made with the tourists, not him. It’s happened any number of times with the folks who often talk like they ain’t from around these parts: “Look at ze be-you-tee-ful palo-meeno vestern cow pony wit ze cactus! Can we make ze picture?” That’s what they say.
“Draw me a picture of it in the sand with your own hoof or it didn’t happen,” I flattened my ears at him. It was a dumb thing to say, but still less dumb than what he’d said. “Or I’ll believe it when I hear the bucket gal tell it with my own ears.”
And then she did. But I still don’t believe it. Some days I think she makes up more stuff than Coors Light and Coors combined. And that’s directly in violation of the Code of the West.