The cowboys I knew didn't dress like the movies. No neckerchiefs or fancy Mexican spurs. They wore easy smiles under the brim of a dusty hat. Rough hands with thick knuckles, able to soothe a horse or build fence or squat to look a girl in the eye and listen. The first to offer help, the last to doff their hat at the dinner table and thank the cook. Full-grown men, heroes who live by the Boy Scout code with humility. Much easier to be like these men-with-hats who chase horses with flags, jerking halters in predatory attack. When the horse finally shuts down, drenched in fear, the men-with-hats claim a thing they call respect. An hour later a small group of men-with-hats, each carrying sticks with flags, wait to load a horse too wild to lead. The trainer backs the trailer to an alley chute. It takes a couple of tries and the men-with-hats make small mean jokes, no one offering to guide her in. The trainer steps from her truck, head down, an apology for what she knows they've been saying. The men-with-hats send the horse, an unhandled mare carrying a foal due soon, into the trailer. The trainer pulls her rig forward, lets her dogs out to pee, returning with some business in a plastic bag. She heads back to her farm taking a thing I call respect with her, while the men-with-hats slouch in a golf cart and fluff up their pride with impatience to close the gate behind her.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. And then I write a poem. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)