For a moment, Easterly tasted the bile of guilt for saying yes when the stable owner asked if he was a cowboy. In strict truth, he would have said that he intended to become a cowboy. But it was a chance to prove his knowledge. One of the things cowboys did was break horses.
Easterly had the bridle on an untamed horse and was cinching the saddle. He regretted that Atá Halné wasn’t here. The older man would have to agree that Easterly was indeed enough of a horseman to take his place on the western range. He swung his leg over the saddle and found the stirrups.
The little mare stood still. Easterly heard laughter. A glance revealed that several people had gathered around the corral, some sitting on the rails.
“Hold on to your hat, boy,” an oldtimer called. “It’s looking like a mighty rough ride.”
Easterly pinched his lips together and spurred. The mare jumped straight up catching him unprepared. He almost fell forward over her shoulders. When she hit the ground, his head snapped down hard. His chin struck his chest slamming his open mouth closed in a teeth-clacking snap. She went up again.
Easterly dropped the reins and grabbed the saddle horn with both hands.
The horse had her head down and crow-hopped. Easterly didn’t mean to, but as she hopped, his legs flopped. Every jump made him kick her again. She leaped off her hind legs, twisted in the air, and landed on her front ones.
He never felt such power from a horse. She would win. He would lose. It was foreordained. She whipped him around just like the mane on her neck. Over the horse’s grunts and past the whoosh of gasping breath beat from his lungs, Easterly heard laughter.
He was airborne.
Over The Fence
Easterly’s awareness crept back from the shadows. He was on the ground—bucked off in front of a laughing audience. He’d better move before he was stomped on by the angry mare.
His mama wiped his face with a wet cloth. How did she get here?
“Hold still, Junge.”
A hand pressed his chest, holding him down.
A voice—farther—“Hey Dutch. Will he live?”
Easterly opened his eyes to see a wrinkled, gray-whiskered face scrutinizing him. The tobacco-stained facial hair parted revealing yellow teeth. “Ja. The Junge chust had his vind knocked out.”
Another wet wipe caused Easterly to turn to another face. He took in a pointed nose, clear brown eyes, and flapping ears before the dog gave him another slobbering lick.
More giggling burst from the gallery. It sounded feminine.
Easterly sat up noticing the corral fence between him and the mare. “She threw me clear over the fence?”
The old man stood. “Ja. You flew purty gut.”
Easterly knew from the heat in his neck that he was blushing. Why did girls have to see his failure? He must have put on a show. “Well, I guess I can’t blame them for laughing at me. I didn’t make a very good ride.”
“Oh, dere not laughing at you for falling off,” Dutch said. “Nobody’s rode dat horse yet. Dere laughing because dat Hund vas chust licking his hinter before he licked your face.
The horse doesn’t want him but Hund does. What will Easterly do? Leave a comment.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
Thank a veteran.