The Cowboy & the Mustang Mare

The Cowboy & the Mustang Mare

while back, there was a cowpoke named Tom Penny. He was a tall drink of water,
quick with a smile and hard on a frown. Sat high in the saddle and feared
neither man nor beast. He chose his friends by the cut of their grip and the way
they talked to their horse. Most folks thought he cottoned to animals a darn
site better than to people.
He rode west one day in search of a land where
every man was honest and true, and where he could live in peace and harmony
within himself and the world around him.
As fate would have it, Tom lost his faithful old
horse along the way on one of the high trails. Fortunately, within a day’s
walk, he found a little town near the end of a river that flowed to the sea. It
was just what Tom was looking for. He settled on a piece of land and pondered
what he needed for his future. He decided the first thing was a good horse.
Within a short time, Tom checked out the town and
the local coral, but he never did find a horse that caught his eye. He decided
that walking wasn’t all that bad and he would hold off and not settle for a
horse that didn’t suit him just right.
A few weeks later, he looked out the window of
his cabin one early morning, and there in the nearby misty pasture stood the
most beautiful wild mustang he had ever seen. He had looked upon many a horse in
his time, but this satin black mare with big dark eyes sent a shiver up and down
his spine.
The mare stood tall and looked directly at Tom.
Seemed like she was just daring him to come out and try to catch her. Tom, being
more than willing, slipped on his chaps and boots, grabbed a rope and ran for
the door.
Within seconds, Tom was ankle deep in wet grass
and staring into the eyes of that mare. The mustang snorted once, and cautiously
stepped toward Tom. It was almost as if she was encouraging him to reach out and
touch her. When he tried, she instinctively reared up on her hindquarters, and
then quickly dropped back to all fours. She turned, glanced back at Tom, and
with a wisp of her tail, headed for the distant hills.
Tom followed that mare for nearly a week. He had
visions of what it would be like to have such a horse. How he would feel with
her galloping under him toward some far stretch, or walking beside him in a
quiet wood. "A man can talk to a good horse. A good horse can be a man’s
best friend."
Just before dusk on a particularly cold evening,
he caught a glimpse of the mare’s shining mane in the last of the setting sun.
She was heading right into a box canyon. Tom wanted that horse real bad, but he
didn’t want to corner her where she would have no room to move- he just wouldn’t
feel right about catching her that way.
Rather than follow her, Tom decided to set up
camp just outside the canyon and wait for her under the light of the stars. Tom
was sure that when she thought it over, the mare was certain to come on out and
deal with him. She was in there, but she was silent.As Tom stoked the campfire coals on the second
night, he began to feel poorly about lying in wait outside those canyon walls.
He hadn’t seen hide or hair of the mare for two days, and wondered if she
would ever reappear.
He began to think that maybe this wasn’t the
kind of horse for him after all. He knew that wild horses like lots of space and
the open range. They love to run and they just keep running whenever something
stirs their spirit. Sometimes they don’t know why they run, or where they’re
heading, but that’s not important so long as they are free to race with the
changing wind.
Even if he could coax her out of that canyon, get
a saddle on her, and maybe even settle her down some- she might still yearn for
the open range. If that happened, Tom would know, and only be the sadder for
holding her in.
Tom peered deep into the moonlit canyon, but he
couldn’t see her. He knew she was still in there, but she surely wasn’t
ready to come out.
He stared down at his dusty boots and smiled a
long smile, kicked the charred cold campfire and thought how lucky he was to
have seen her in his pasture that misty morning.
He knew that the best wild things are captured
only with the eyes and in a point in time when they make themselves available to
be seen. You can’t touch or hold them ever- no matter how much you might like
to. You can hope they will stay put a spell so you can enjoy them, but you
always know they will be moving on in their own good time.
Tom pondered, "I guess that’s the way it
was meant to be". He took one last thoughtful look, turned from the canyon
and started to walk slowly back to town.
The Cowboy & the Mustang Mare Originally published in Shvoong:

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