Yesterday afternoon as I was elbow deep in baking sugar cookies, with a big pot of stock bubbling on the stove, the phone rang.
"I called a few weeks ago about your horse for sale. Is he still available? I'd like to come see him."
"Yes (heart sinking), he's still for sale. It's raining -- are you sure you want to come?"
"I'm close by and the rain don't bother me."
I gave him the address and hung up the phone. Brett asked how I felt about it and I said "It has to be a perfect match or forget it." I realized the oven timer had been chiming for awhile; I skidded back into the kitchen and pulled a batch of charred cookies from the oven.
The cowboy was a good 45 minutes away so I went out to the barn to see if I could do something about Tex's dreadlocks. With the wind and the rain, his long mane had turned into a huge tangled mess. I groomed him outside of his stall, in the run-out, but under the barn roof overhang. He's happier outside. The rain came down while I curried and brushed Tex. I had the halter on him, with the lead rope draped over my shoulder as I worked. He didn't budge. It took awhile to get the tangles out and he stood patiently for that as well. When I finished, I used some Masterson releases and he relaxed right into them. I took off the halter and left his stall.
A pick-up truck pulling a stock horse trailer came down our road and turned in the driveway. I turned to Brett.
"If he thinks he can pull in here with a trailer and just take Tex away, he's got another thing coming." Tears pricked behind my eyes. Good lord, I thought, I'm getting attached to this horse.
The cowboy was young; lanky and handsome in his jeans and cowboy hat. He reminded me of the young wranglers at the Alisal ranch; polite and soft spoken. Sure enough, he works on a cattle ranch a couple hours south of us and was looking for a horse to use at work. And, to ride in rodeos. He figured any horse could be "fixed" by just putting miles on him. A little spice didn't bother him.
We told him that Tex isn't spicy. He's level-headed and kind. He just doesn't handle pressure well. I said I didn't think he would make a good rodeo horse because of that. The cowboy nodded. He never touched Tex, wasn't interested in getting close. He liked Tex's size, his strong bone, and his breeding (I guess the Drifter line makes great roping horses; who knew). He asked if we would negotiate the price and I said no. "The price is firm," I said. (I knew he was looking for a $500 horse). "I'm not even sure whether we want to sell him. I've started working with him and I like him a lot."
I put Tex back in his stall. He dropped his head for me when I took off his halter; I gave him a cookie and a scratch on the withers.
Don't worry Tex; we're not going to sell you to a rodeo cowboy.