The Next Day

I walked into the barn and looked around as usual. I stopped by Doc's stall first, putting a bucket of feed in his trough. While he ate I fed the calf and the stallion. I stopped and watched as the stallion delicately at the food. He ate as though he had been taught manners. He didn't drop a single piece of food and chewed quietly in comparison to Doc who ate greedily and didn't care if he dropped any. The stallion's wound had scabbed over, so it was already on the way to healing up. I grabbed an old rope halter I had found in the barn when I first moved in. I had kept it clean, hoping to use it one day and I was finally getting to. I clipped a lead line to it and set it over my arm.

I quietly opened the door to his stall and left it unlocked just in case I needed a quick escape. The stallion instantly got as far away as possible from me, not caring about the food.

"It's okay boy. I won't hurt you," I said in a soft voice and held my hand out to him. He thought about sniffing it but held back. I walked slowly toward him with an outstretch hand, my palm up. His ears flicked back and forth uneasily. He rolled his eyes back, watching me as I moved to his side. I laid a hand on his shoulder and stood there. He flinched and his head flew up, a frightened look on his face. He was in a corner, so he couldn't escape me. I laid a rope over his back very gently and waited for the bomb to explode. He stood there; snorting uneasily, with his ears laid back and rolling his eyes back at me. After he semi-put his head down, I left the rope where it was and held the halter open in front of his nose.

He snorted again and sniffed it. I carefully slipped it over his nose and let him raise his head away from it. I just held it where it had been before I moved it over his nose. He put his head back down and I tried again. This time he stood still for a few seconds longer before moving his head. I just moved it back. He put his head down. I moved it over his nose. Then when he was comfortable with that, I moved it up further. He'd move his head. I'd move the halter back. He'd sit a bit longer, and then move his head. I'd move the halter back. When he was comfortable with that, I tried to put the line over his head.

He really didn't like that, because he ducked his head down, which enabled me to tie the halter real quick, unclip the rope, and get out of there. I locked the stall door and paused to watch him. He was pacing around the stall shaking his head like the world was about to end. He nearly walked into the wall a few times from shaking his head so hard he lost his balance, but other than that, it was circles around the stall. I snapped out of watching him like an awestruck child and went to go get Doc.

Approximately 5 Minutes Later

I saddled up Doc as usual, being gently with him like I always did. Then I set my saddle bags over his hips and secured them to the saddle. I filled then with a couple canteens of water, some bread, and some of the extra money I had from the last time I went to town. After that I tied the hides, which I rolled up and tied last night, to the back of the saddle. I secured them tightly and grabbed Doc's bridle.

"You ready to go to town boy?" I asked him as he accepted the bit and I slipped the bridle over his ears and fastened the jaw strap. It was Jay's and Ralph's (the other two cowboys on the ranch) turn to check the cattle today, so Mike and I had arranged to meet and ride to town today around high noon. I set another saddle bag over the saddle horn and flipped the reins over Doc's head. I led him outside the barn and mounted up just as soon as Mike rode up on Rosy. I rode over to the gate and Mike dismounted and opened it for me.

"Thank you, sir," I said in a mock-polite manner and rode through. He hit Doc on the rear, startling him, in return. Doc spooked and jumped forward a bit but settled down as I pulled back lightly on the reins. "Easy boy," I said as I laughed and shot Mike a 'dirty' look.

"What a great horse you've got their, sir. Would you mind if I drew a picture to resemble his greatness?" he said after mounting up on Rosy, mocking and English accent.

"Why of course you may, sir. As soon as I sue you for hitting him," I said and we laughed, riding our horses off at a walk.

"So? How's your new boy doin?" Mike asked as we plodded along through the feather-light snow. He reached up to readjust his hat as I he spoke.

"I got a halter on him," I said proudly and laughed as Mike gawked at me.

"No way," he replied in disbelief. I nodded and told him how I did it.

"Well, boy, howdy," he said and sighed in amazement. "You just know how to work with horses don't you?" he said and looked at me in a sincere kind of way.

"I guess so. I just went by instinct. There had to be a way to get a halter on his head," I said and thought about how gorgeous that stallion looked with a white rope halter on his head.

"But you found it," he said with a laugh and without warning he took off on Rosy at a fast lope.

"Hey!" I shouted with a laugh and urged Doc to follow. We caught up easily since Doc was at least a hand bigger than Rosy, meaning he'd have a bigger stride. We raced until the horses seemed tired. We let them walk for a while and just talked about the cows, horses, horse trainers, and other cowboy stuff. When we reached the main drive of the ranch (which was three miles long) we headed into a quick trot down the dirt lane, eager to get to town.