The New Wild West

The following story was written by a friend of mine who is traveling in Montana.  I thought it fit in with the horse theme that seems to have developed here recently!  The story is used with permission.

We came to Montana to experience once more the part of our country where there remain some real cowboys who still engage in the lifestyle of riding horses and herding cattle.  And they do exist.  But occasionally we see those who don’t quite fit the mold.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon at a campground just south of the Canada border.  The area boasts many ranchers whose cattle and horses range free.  So there in the campground, grazing peacefully, was a pair of roans.  We were still in the process of settling in when they came over to inspect our truck.  Dog and horses greeted each other with nose sniffing and I talked to them, inviting them to come for a visit anytime.  They moved away but remained within view until darkness came.

Morning dawned cloudy after an evening thunderstorm.  Out of the aspens rimming the campground came our new friends.  I talked to them across the way as we took our morning walk, big dog and I.  Later, seeing them a little closer to our site, I opened the door and told them to come by if they would like a treat.  About an hour later, they circled by again, even closer.  I opened the door and sat in the doorway with big dog behind me and offered them carrot treats.  As I talked and big dog vocalized softly, they gradually moved closer.  One moved to the parlor window, inspected it closely and then turned and walked close to sniff the carrot that I was offering.  He took it and allowed me to touch his nose and head gently.  Meanwhile the second roan moved in for his share of treats and touching.  We were still engaged in this conversation when there arose a deafening roar.

“There they are,” one of the ATV riders shouted as they appeared just inches from the rear of our home on wheels.  Both horses bolted and ran, with the ‘cowboys’ in hot pursuit, assisted by their black lab mix.  They roared around the campground, T-shirts billowing in the wind, baseball caps on backward for better aerodynamics, shouting at the speeding horses.  The pursued animals easily outran the ATVs through tall grass and into the trees, up and down the drainage into the adjoining lake.  Then as quickly as they came, they were gone; the roar of engines faded into the distance.  I assumed that the roans had finally agreed to be herded.

Then about twenty minutes later, the engine roar returned.  Inside now, we rushed to the window in time to see the roans, once again, leading the ATVs on a merry chase.  Around the campground again ran the pursued and the pursuers.  And again they all disappeared, this time headed south.  I may never know if the cowboys managed to round up the wandering roans.  But methinks I could have accomplished the task at a walk, just using a friendly voice, an occasional touch, and perhaps holding out a carrot.

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2 thoughts on “The New Wild West”

  1. Makes me sad. Why am I thinking the “cowboys” were young guys and why do I keep humming “…that love, like youth, is wasted on the young…”
    Seems to me that running horses over open range like that could get someone hurt. Doesn’t seem real bright to me. Sad…

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