(The sound of a slightly undisciplined horse cantering on hard, rocky soil)
“Whoa, Hubris! Settle down! Let’s stop at ol’ Lefty’s Saloon so I can get a shot or two before we ride up the hill to Jack Wright’s Blacksmith Shop to get that new set of shoes I promised you last Christmas. Besides, Lefty’s has a nice big water trough next to the hitchin’ post and you act like you might welcome a drink or two yourself!”
(Hubris whinnies and stomps his left front hoof)
“What’s the matter Hubris, don’t you like the water at Lefty’s?”
(Hubris whinnies and stomps his right front hoof)
“Okay Hubris, we’ll go on up the hill to Jack Wright’s shop. He’s got a bigger water trough than Lefty, though I’ll admit that Jack’s water is saved for his rich friends– but I’m sure he will give us a little drink– as long as we’re doin’ business with him.”
(Hubris stops dead in his tracks and stomps both front hoofs)
“Now Hubris, quit your complaining! Just tell me where you want to go?”
(Hubris takes a couple steps backward, throws up his head and whinnies again)
“Well! I’ll be danged, I’ve got a stubborn horse with a mind of his own!”
I’d worked as a young cowboy on a ranch years ago and had learned how to deal with contrary horses. I just dropped the reins, sat back in the saddle and said softly, “Okay Hubris, you just go where you want to go.” Hubris stood still for a few seconds, then turned around and started to go back the way we had come into town. He hadn’t gone more than twenty yards when he veered off onto a little trail that didn’t look like it had been used enough to go anywhere important. We went over a few little hills and down a draw past some boulders as big as houses. Then we went through a cut in the rocks and popped out of the draw into a new part of town I hadn’t paid any attention to. Hubris went straight for a small new building that had a sign that read “Big Bucks –for small coffee”. I saw another sign that read, “Pour your own coffee and, if you want water, you’ll have to pay for it”. And another sign that read, “Cream, sugar and latte available at extra charge.” I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t imagine why Hubris wanted to come to such a strange place!
The little building didn’t have a hitchin’ post or a water trough out front but it had a level place with a blue sign in front of it that looked like a safe place for an old cowboy to leave his determined horse. I dismounted and wrapped the reins around the steel pole supporting the sign, gave Hubris a pat on his rump and told him to be patient while I took a look inside. As I was going through the glass doors I was amazed at the noise level and, looking around, all I could see was what looked to me like a bunch of rich city kids jabbering over half empty coffee cups. They looked like they were having fun but I couldn’t understand a word they were sayin’, much less how they could be happy in such a strange place, sitting on hard chairs and drinking over-priced coffee. Within a few seconds I realized that they weren’t talking to each other, they were talking to little flat boxes they held in their hands! What a strange thing to do! Lefty’s saloon was my favorite place and it sold whiskey, not coffee, and the conversation there was between real people and as strong and sharp as the whiskey! Looking around, I noticed a plate of cookies for sale and found one that was made of natural alfalfa (gluten free) flour and sun-dried oats. It was the most expensive cookie on the tray. I bought it and took it outside to Hubris. It was just what he wanted!
As I re-mounted, I turned in the saddle to wish the owner/manager well (I think his name was ‘Howie’?) who had come out to check the weather and see if Hubris liked the cookie, and then– with a loud shout of “Hi Ho Hubris, Awaaay!”– we were headed back to old town and Lefty’s saloon.
The new set of shoes for Hubris just might have to wait a while.
Copyright, Louis J. Christen, February 4, 2019