Everyone stops to stare, not even once blinking during the entire time. Everyone has been proven wrong, everyone is amazed, astounded, dumbstruck. A pause in the commotion, silent as a tomb-just for a split second…
The Semi-Leopard Appaloosa is the only one not watching; he is the one being watched. Then the announcer breaks the silence roaring, “And Showdown does it again!” “The Appy captured from the rural desert of Nevada is now the greatest bucker in cowboy history, throwing the “Tiger”, who everyone knows is the greatest of the best rodeo rider EVER!!!”
The crowd erupts in applause, whistling and cheering. The Tiger is furious after being thrown, and he picks himself up, storms away and disappears. The Appy just stands there, just there, neither bucking nor crow-hopping like most of the dangerous broncos would after a fight.
2 years later…
“The remarkable “Showdown” is now out of the rodeo business, taken out by his owner for retirement forever. The last ring he was in, he just walked out into the center and stood there, everyone suspecting him to break out into a bucking fit at any moment. The rider flapped the reins and kicked him but to no avail, he simply lowered his head and cocked his hind leg. His owner, terribly disappointed, took him out of the business at once and has not showed up in public since.” proclaimed the announcer.
Showdown’s private ranch, tucked away and hidden deep.
I paced the ring, my hocks sore from years of bucking, all I wanted was to run free, kicking up my heels when I wanted, loping endlessly in lush green springy turf, never having a saddle and rider on my back ever again. He understood. The owner of the ranch understood, though he never did anything about it.
I spent hours just looking out the paddock or the ring, or the stall…
I dreamed about running free, just galloping over endless fields…
The dreams were full of sparkling lakes, fresh green grass, running free forever.
He strode into the ring, and walked up to me, looking out at the open plain. We stood there for a long time, just looking…
“You want to run free, don’t you?” he whispered, breaking the silence. “I- would hate if I was penned up.”
He strained each word as if it was a terrible effort. He sighed, walked over to the gate of the arena, and lifted the gate of the arena’s latch. He stood there for a long time, hand on latch, just there. He straightened, cleared his throat, and pushed open the gate in one long, hard, swift push. He walked away, and stood there, just waiting, watching me just there. I could see a herd of horses far off into the distance, sparkling lakes, endless fields of green grass. I walked over to the gate.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But I also knew exactly what I had to do.
Freedom, or captivity.
Need or want.
Regret forever or forever regret.
Then I lowered my head, and made my decision.