"A Cowboy and His Horse, Friends For Life"
Cowboys and their Mounts.
"The Wild Wilderness"
Dalton had traveled many miles over the last few days. He was weary, just as his horse, Spirit was. Spirit was an amazing friend to him, and he would follow him where ever he would go...if Dalton allowed it. He had picked him up in a game of poker several years prior to the war, the war of 1812 that is, and they've been together ever since! He was with him during the war itself, which was a military conflict fought between the United States and the British Forces. The Americans declared war in 1812 for a number of reasons....They desired for an expansion into the Northwest Territory, and wanted trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France. Dalton served under General Andrew Jackson, when Jackson himself, and his Indian allies humbled the Creek Nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1812. Spirit took an arrow in his side during the battle, but Dalton nursed him back to health for five days and nights. Luckily, that tough horse survived the ordeal, and he never forgot what his master had done for him. Spirit got his name because he was just....that...."Spirited", and he had an attitude to match it. He would do little things to make Dalton laugh at different times during the day. Sometimes he'd wait until Dalton was about to take a drink from a water trough and at the last moment, he'd dip his nose in and splash Dalton's face. At night, he'd steal Dalton's blanket while he slept, and toss it over his own back. Dalton would wake up shivering from the cold night air and eventually take it back. Times back then were tough, and it was said, that if a man made it to 30 years of age back in the day, he was an "old timer". Well, now It was 1815, and Dalton had served with many others, but now his plans were changing for the better. He and Spirit were on their way to the parts they called "Out West".....God's country! Dalton had dreamed of the West for several years now. He had heard of the great mountains they called, "The Tetons", back when his mother and father would tell him bedtime stories when he was a boy of only 5 years old. His parents have both passed away since then.....his father a victim of old age....his mother a victim of a stray bullet that came through the window of their home during an Indian battle. He was 16 at the time, and afterward he volunteered to get revenge for his mother's death. Revenge was bitter sweet for him, but he doesn't talk of it anymore.....EVER.
The rain is sideways now, and Dalton's face is freezing from the sting of it. He flips the collar on his duster, and pulls his hat down to cover his face from the rain. Spirit lowers his head and puts his back into the wind...He is strong, like a mule, but doesn't know the word "quit". It's mid-afternoon now, with the storm getting worse, so Dalton decides to find a place to camp for the night. He'll need to find a blow-down of some type, so he and Spirit can get some relief from the storm. They travel another mile or so and finally see a huge cedar lying across a fence line. He dismounts, removes the saddle and blanket, and throws it all under the cedar. Spirit has a good "shake", to loosen the dirt from the long ride, and runs and bucks to be free of the weight of his rider. No one else has been seen for three weeks, and that's just fine with the two of them....They don't need anyone else! The rain finally subsides, and gives them a reprieve of sorts. A quick dip in the river makes Dalton a new man. Spirit joins in and lunges into a deep pool in the curve of the river, going under a couple of times, and snorting the dried dirt and dust out of his nostrils. He loves the water so much, that Dalton has to put a rope around his neck to coax him out of the river. He runs and bucks again, and whinnies like a little colt. He stops and gives Dalton a look like he wants to play tag, so Dalton indulges him by chasing him a few times around the campfire. They are peas in a pod, those two......And they wouldn't have it any other way.
"The peace of the wilderness"
A good night's sleep does wonders for both Dalton and Spirit, and they're refreshed and raring to go West! Dalton brushes his friend slowly and removes the thorns and burrs from his tail and mane. With the morning sun hitting Spirit's back, his eyes are half closed now......the feeling of the coarse brush on his hide feels good and relaxes him. Dalton quietly sings as he slowly brushes him, just as a young mother would sing to her newborn baby. Spirits muzzle is almost touching the ground now, in a deep, relaxed state of mind. Dalton rubs his back and legs, and meticulously cleans his shoes before placing the saddle blanket on his back.....ever so gently. Then with one strong hand, Dalton tosses the saddle up and onto his back, with Spirit's nose still close to the ground. Nothing like a early morning massage.....
The peace of the wilderness gives Dalton an inner peace.....A peace only cowboy's and drifters know. There's a feeling that comes over a man when he's out there all alone with just his horse.....that is, his horse and God above. You can hear the birds chirping their happy songs , and see the wildlife as they go about their daily survival tactics. To see a deer as it silently moves through the brush, or an elk as it puts it's huge horns back to run through a forest is a sight to behold. If you've seen either of those, you know what I'm talking about.....If not, I suggest you get out there and try to see it......Life is precious, cherish it.
Spirit's ear "perk" as he hears something ahead on the trail. The trail is a one horse trail, and to come face to face with another person or animal meant someone was going to have to move into the thick Cedars and Aspens that lined either side of the trail. Dalton cautiously pulls on the reins and holds Spirit "Up", until they find out what caused his ears to "perk". It doesn't take long to know what's up ahead.......The smell of the grizzly reaches them before they see it. The hair on Dalton's neck stands on end, and Spirit starts backing down the trail quickly, as he's spooked by the smell. They BOTH know this isn't going to be good, for either of them! The bear comes out of nowhere and is on top of them in a split second. He's big and he's angry; and he's going to prove it! His right paw hits Dalton on the back as he reaches for his rifle, but Spirit spins to take the brunt of the blow. The bear turns and comes back at them, with more power than expected. He digs his claws deep into Sprit's rump, and rips the flesh on his hind quarter. Dalton almost loses his seat, but hangs on reverently. He finally pulls the rifle out of it's scabbard and tries to get the bear in his sights. The bear is still on them, and has it's mouth on Dalton's left arm now......He feels the grizzly's teeth tearing his flesh, and brutally breaking the bones of his arm. The immense pain courses through his body, like that of an electric chair.........sending the shock waves to his brain. He reacts on reflex now!......Still holding the rifle in his right hand, he quickly pops the bear on the nose, and startles him. The bear releases his hold and backs off a few feet. This gives Dalton the chance to bring the gun up and he squeezes a round off. It hits the grizzly in the shoulder and knocks him down, but he's back up and madder than hell now! Dalton quickly shoots again, this time hitting him where it counts! Spirit is starting to weaken, and stumbles backwards.....The bear is still coming at them, crawling now from the two shots, but still coming. Dalton jumps off quickly, fights the pain off, and musters enough strength to hold the rifle long enough to put one more bullet into the bears heart. He drops for the last time, and takes one final breath. The two survivors are barely with it now, having lost a good amount of blood. Dalton and Spirit are both in very bad shape, and both of them are surprised to be alive. Dalton tends to his arm quickly, and stops the bleeding with his belt, then miraculously stabilizes the break with two small cedar limbs. Spirit is bleeding badly from his hind quarter, it's laid open several layers deep from the sharp claws of the angry grizzly. He thrashes with pain, while Dalton wraps his wounds the best that he can with sheets that he carried in his saddle bags. He'll have to get him some help and soon, if he wants to save him. The grizzly lies dead only a few yards away. His monstrous size dwarfs the both of them, and Dalton knows they had God above watching over them. He also knows the bear hide will make a great blanket in the winters to come......
They say time heals ALL wounds.....Dalton and Spirit remain there for a few weeks, living day by day, surviving the ordeal of the attack, and mending their wounds. They are amazed to be alive though. Dalton thanks his friend for saving his life, and Spirit does the same by putting his muzzle oh his shoulder, rubbing it back and forth. They heal, and in time they are back on the trail towards the Western edge of the United States.....The days are long and hard, but with determination they finally reach their destination. They are in awe of what they are looking at on this day.....The majestic mountain range of the Teton Range.....somewhere out West. Dalton's hands tremble as he hit's his knees and thanks God above for the beauty that he put on this earth many years ago. He thanks him for his trusty horse Spirit, for the luck they received during the bear attack, and for the many, many, blessings that HE bestowed on him during his life. Dalton is an "old man" at the ripe age of 35 on this day......He and his friend Spirit retire from life, and take it all in.....As one. There's an old saying about a man and his horse...."There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." I believe this to be so true......I hope everyone that reads this finds out exactly what that is one day......God Bless....an old cowboy!