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The Killer Man's Horse, update 13, sheepishly returning

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The look froze me in the mud. It was calculating, cunning and with purpose. I knew that the Mustang was measuring me, or more appropriately, the distance between us. You see, we were now close enough to each other that one or the other had??the jump?. By had ?the jump?, I refer to a horse?s natural instinct to assess proximity, proximity in relation to threat, the trigger for their instinctive fight or flight response. Horses are more inclined to flight as they are herbivores and most commonly prey animals in the natural scheme of things. So they are more inclined to not let a predatory animal ?get the jump? on them or let them get to close, close enough to pounce or attack. They want to keep ?the jump? on the prey, the jump start to take flight. That?s where we were at now in this grand dance, I had the jump on the Mustang, only I had achieved it quite by accident and was not prepared for the consequences. That put him and me in a very precarious position in relation to each other.

I glanced around and found myself to be too far from the rails to make a hasty retreat. I thought of retreat as I began to realize the Mustang, by the stern calculating look, had in those few seconds, switch his response from flight to fight. The Mustang had ?the jump? on me, and was now assessing me to see what my reaction to his pressure would be. You know, I don?t know if it?s the adrenalin, instinct, fear or what, but I became intensely aware of my surroundings. The pungent smell of the lot mud, the hot muggy air that carried it, the sticky mud holding my feet, the slipperiness of my sweaty, muddy hands on the rope, my sudden lack of ability to catch a refreshing breath and slightly dizzy feeling it gave me, the nerve racking stare of the Mustang, the way his head was up and to the side, the heaves of his breath that I knew were doing him more good than mine for me. We stayed that way for extended seconds that clicked by with the pounds of our hearts, hearts that filled our bones and muscles with the chemical soup of our bodies reacting to the situation. I had not enough time if he charged me to get to rails and safety, I had not recoiled enough rope to build a loop quick enough to whirl it at him in distraction, I had only in me the same thing the Mustang had in him, fear and pride, battling in our guts.

I knew if I moved he would charge, I hoped it would be a bluff. I knew I had to do something, because with every breath he gained nerve and mine seemed to be waning. I did not want to take my eyes off of him so I opted for quick attempt at recoiling the rope. I drew back my left arm which had the surplus coils in it and fed my right hand out to a point I hoped would shorten the length of rope enough to make it manageable to swing in defense if I had to. My movement triggered the Mustang. I saw his ears fold tightly to his neck and his head drop until from his nose to his shoulders he became torpedo like. His hind quarters rippled as his hind feet strained at the muddy ground. Both front feet left the mud and reached up and forward almost to his ears. As his jaw dropped open to expose his crusty yellow teeth I notice the look in his eye. I had never seen a look like that before, this was no bluffing charge, the Mustang meant business. The look was right through me, like a jolt of lightning to my core. It generated in me a guttural growl that I had never had opportunity to muster before, a sound, like the Mustang?s look, that takes a certain chain of natural events to generate, like the steps of an ancient dance that are not revealed to those who have not heard the music.

My mind, body, and instinct reacted as one. As things go the Mustang was not able to generate the needed momentum to close the gap on me, due to the slippery ground and half way through his initial bound attack, the mud gave way under his hind feet, causing him to slip almost completely down to his belly. This had the effect on him of reducing whatever confidence he had mustered to a point which derailed his attack, giving me precious split seconds to dodge. For some reason I was livid upon regaining my composure after the Mustang scrambled past me. Pride had defeated fear in my guts and I was more than determined to secure the Mustang.

The Mustang wheeled around after his mud debouched attack and I?m pretty sure some sort of primeval pride welled up in him as well, as we both stood again very still and assessed one another. In his mind, he felt he should be stomping me into the mud by now, and in my mind I was sure of that too.

I recoiled the rope quickly while the Mustang and I circled, both trying to keep the jump on one another. Experience had taught me that once the Mustang lost his nerve he would fall back into his more natural instinct of looking for a way to run away. He also knew from his experience that the chances of his achieving that goal diminished drastically once that rope made contact with him.

I began to catch my breath and regain my confidence as we circled in the lot. The Mustang did the same, and as the impact of the last few seconds began to sink into me I marveled at the Mustang?s spirit. Watching him prance and posture, and snort and rattle inspired me. I built a loop again and whirled it over my head. The Mustang turned on me; ears laid flat, muscles tensed, with that same dreadful look in his eyes. I hollered at him decisively and intensified the whirl of my rope letting the end of it drop down between us. The Mustang spun around with his rump to me and gave a couple of short bucks at the whirling rope that served only to sling mud at me.

I stopped swinging the rope long enough to pull back enough of it to counter the natural tendency of a large loop to get bigger from the centrifugal force of twirling it. It made a quick zipping sound which threw the Mustang into a frenzy. He darted back and forth down the rail opposite me which was the only thing between him and open pasture and the L.A. country side. I could tell by his instant determination he was contemplating a major jump. Adrenalin surged in me as he squatted deeply and launched himself skyward.

Again, I became highly aware, as I saw him land squarely on the top rail, teetering precariously just behind his heart girth. His back feet scrambled in the open air and I knew if he got a hold on the fence with them we would have one **** of a horse race on our hands. I made some hasty steps towards him, trying to get a good angle to attempt a dramatic catch of the Mustangs head and keep him in the lot. I could hear both the Killer Man and the trainer hollering above me. The Mustang teetered back towards the lot and slipped off of the rails and fell over backwards almost at my feet. I literally laid the loop around his head as he scramble in the mud to regain his feet. When it was securely around his neck I ran backwards jerking the slack out of it and hearing the zip of the Honda as it tightened. I stumbled in the muddy ground and fell backwards on my own rump and for a time the Mustang and I scrambled together to regain our lateral base.

It seemed we did at about the same time and we both realized together that he was securely held fast by the business end of the rope and that I was in possession of the working end of it. I braced myself for whatever he may be readying himself for, both of us squatting deeply and securely in the mud, the Mustang heaving in a massive breath of energy renewing air and me double fisted on the rope held fast to him. In the gravity I heard above me from the cat walk, in a some what contemptuous and condescending tone.

?You?ve got him now!?

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Will James, snort a better compliment I have not recieved. Only being called Louis Lamore would have swelled my head any more.

Sorry, I've been swamped today

it aint much but enjoy

As I think back, I realize I was not fully ready for what was about to happen. I had stepped into a confined space with a highly spirited creature, **** bent on escape or war; I was inexperienced, arrogant, and full of myself. I had yet to tangle with an animal of with this magnitude. I stood there tied off eye ball to eye ball with what could have been one of the rawest, most untamed examples of strength, beauty, tenacity and enduring spirit that its species had produced. I thought for a moment I could just drop the rope and clamber out of the pen.

Naw, I wanted to see what was going to happen.

The Mustang finished his gulping gasp and exploded in a fury of hooves and teeth. I did not think a horse could stand flat footed and jump so high. I had ridden down my fair share of tough horses up to that point, rode bare back and saddle broncs and even tried my hand at a few bulls, but I had never seen one cut half in two like the Mustang did. It was simply awe inspiring to feel his natural athletic prowess.

His second jump he swung his body hard towards top rail of the fence, taking all of the slack out of the rope and the force of it jerked me forward onto my knees. I feared if I would not have weighted him down he would have made it clean over that time. I was back on my feet by the time the Mustang hit the ground and I took the opportunity to wrap the rope half way around my hips. I ran backwards into the rails behind me and made a loud clang with my body. When the Mustang hit the ground, he turned on me with that God awful look.

I dove forward and to the side of him and he swung his bared teeth my way as we passed. I was hoping to run out of rope and have the loop tighten around his neck but I ran out of lot before I ran out of rope. I decide I had had enough of being in the same lot with the Mustang and I clambered over the top rail into the next lot.

The Mustang stopped short of the rails I had just scaled and planted all fours. He snorted in away that I interpreted as triumphantly, and tossed his forelock aside to peek thought the crusty rails at me. The roaring laughter that emanated from cat walk only served to belittle my ego and boost my resolve at the same time. I wanted to quip off a scathing rhetorical rebuttal to the demeaning outburst, but was rendered speechless by the events of the last few seconds and had to settle for cutting an irritated look upward at them, but I knew it would not take.

I had lost my secure hold on the rope in my descent down the wrong side of the lot rails but did not realize until the Mustang began tossing his head and running backwards. I lunged at the end of it, not wanting to loose it to the Mustang and got a hold of it at the last second. I reeled it in hand over hand until I felt tension on it, then made a wrap around my hips with it again. Feeling full of spite from having to loose face at my speedy retreat from the lot, I began running backwards with the rope. The length of it pulled tight around the Mustang?s neck and in a split second, with an effortless rear, he jerked me head long into the rails, and with both hands securely gripping the rope the first thing to strike the rails was my forehead.

Rage overwhelmed me. I kept my grip on the rope and set back into it, digging both boot heals into the dryer footing of the unused lot. The Mustang responded to the pressure by rearing and pawing at the constricting rope. We battle like that for a few seconds, back and forth, until he finally got one foot over the rope and when he came down I was jerked full onto the ground and I had to let go of the rope to keep from being dragged up the back side of the rails like a cheese grater. I watched as the knot at the end of the rope flipped happily over the top rail above me.

I took my time getting up, as while I was down I was not in the view of the cat walk and the trainer or the Killer Man, who were more than enjoying the entertainment. I got to my feet and wiped my stinging forehead with the inside of my shirt collar. Mixed with the mud and sweat was a trickle of red. I cursed under my breath. This approach was not working, not working at all.

I climbed to the top of the rails and swung one leg over, hooking the heal of it a couple of rails higher than the other so I could rest my elbows on it. I watched the Mustang trotting around the lot dragging the rope with him still looking for a way out. When he would step on the rope or notice its presence he would toss his head abruptly or wheel away from it and kick furiously. After a few minutes he stood heaving on the opposite side of the lot from me with a look of thorough disgust.

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The knee is doing well. It hurst less and less each day. Now that I'm on desk duty it gets stiff and I have to get up and walk around a bit.

But the doc says I'll be as good as I was before the surgery by Oct.

I told him that was a mighty big promise to make, cause I was pretty **** good then. [big Grin]

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Originally posted by EricJohn:

Will James,
a better compliment I have not recieved. Only being called Louis Lamore would have swelled my head any more.

You know, while reading the description of the Killer guy, I was THINKING Louis L'Amour! Didn't mention it, because a while ago, I posted about him as a great author of kid-appropriate western/horse-themed books, and nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. [Not Worthy]

Keep it going! We NEED a new Louis L'Amour type Author!!! (Just inherited the whole Leatherbound Collection to go along with my ratty old paperbacks when my Grandma passed in Nov!) [smiley Wavey]

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I think without Louis L'Amour I never would have survived my "yondering" years. As soon as I have finished building a worthy place for them in my home, I will have a complete set of his leather bound editions also.

Take Care

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I was huffing and puffing just as much as the Mustang. I had that light headed feeling a person gets when they are too hot and exhausted. My forehead stung from the sweat running into the scrape on it, my hands were red and burnt from the rope, my hips were sore from it binding against me, I had scrapes and bruises from scaling the rail fence, and I was desperately in need of refreshment.

I also had the same sort of feeling I felt about myself many times in the past. Like the time when I was still just a snot nosed kid in the neighborhood, that wanted to be a cowboy so bad I tied cloths line to the handle bars of my bike like reins and coiled the rest of it up like a lariat. I used to ride around the neighborhood, roping all sorts of mavericks and mossy horns out of the brush that looked more like mail boxes and fire hydrants to the uninitiated. One day some of the other neighborhood kids bet me I couldn?t ride my hoss-bike down Cherokee Glenn and rope the bridge abutment at the bottom that crossed Cherokee Creek. Cherokee Glenn was a back street that dropped steeply down into the creek bottom of Cherokee Creek, which passed through our neighborhood. It was a treacherous ride for a kid my age on a bike like mine, which, this is back in the mid to late ?70?s, so my bike had the tall, chopper type handle bars, banana seat, sissy bar, and hunter orange ?goofy golf? flag tied to it. It was generally not meant to be ridden with rope reins or ?no hands? so I could practice roping, but that?s how you had to do it ride it if wanted to cowboy off of it and by-jingoes I was a right smart a cowpoke a ridden it that way.

Well as it goes, I was completely full of myself when I leant my bike over and started the decent into neighborhood infamousy. I had the surplus coils of cloths line lariat and both reins in my left hand. I was cranking up a big wide ?prairie? loop with my right hand and peddling as fast as I could to keep up with the gravitational pull of Cherokee Glenn as I blazed, **** bent for leather, down the steep incline. Problem is, as I stated before, my bike was not so much designed for neck reining and when the front tire began to quiver under the extreme duress of the **** bent for leather speed I was going, I had only time enough to look down at it before it turned completely perpendicular to my momentum, thus having the effect, I decided later in trying to save face, as my cowpony-bike, stepping in a gopher hole. Well, I got launched, not unlike a well timed saddle bronc buck, and landed face first just short of the bridge in the middle of Cherokee Glenn, much to the riotous guffaws and amusement of the passel of neighborhood kids looking down on me from the top of Cherokee Glenn.

As I regained my senses at that moment, it paralleled the humiliation I felt of me now. The words of my father rang true in my head on the rail of that fence as I remembered what he said to me as sat I next to him in the old Dodge station wagon on the way to the emergency room to get the road rash cleaned out of my face, ?That was a **** fool thing to do boy. What the **** were you thinking??? A simple phase I became accustom to hearing many times as I growing up me.

I didn?t have the heart to tell him what I was really thinking, which was, ?Another thirty feet and I would had that abutment snubbed down and ready for branding!? So I opted for the generic, ?I don?t know.? In an attempt to save myself from more of the lecture he was giving me.

Right now I heard that lecture again in my head. What was I thinking? What the **** was I even doing here? There was no way I could break this Mustang. He was just too wild, too strong. His spirit was too strong to be over come.

I was a fool for even coming here.

I stared at him; still gathering strength from the heaves of his flanks. He bobbed and shook his head at the rope still loosely hanging around his neck. I was one more head bob from giving up when I over heard the Killer Man and the trainer above me. The Killer Man was giving up too. He felt like the Mustang must be here because he was an outlaw. He was the horse that couldn?t be rode, and if he was too tough for those sure enough hands out west to break, he was surely too tough for any one around here. It was decided when we got our rope off of him, he?d be run in with the rest of the unwanted.

The thought peeved me. I don?t know if he meant it as a challenge or that is how I interpreted it but it challenged me. Deep down it challenged me. I was every bit as good a hand as those western cowboys. More so in some respects. What?s more, and even more deep down, I thought it a travesty to destroy such fine example animal; such a fine example of horse flesh and spirit. Deep, deep down I wanted to save the Mustang for his sake not mine. But how was I going to do that if he was so wild you could not even touch him?

I studied all of this as the two of them talked above me. When I had gained enough strength, I braced my jaw like when I nodded the gate open on a hooking bull or a tough bronc, and I bailed off into the pen again.

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