Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wild Mustangs

Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust? It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle. It laughs at fear and is unafraid... ~ God's response to Job

I have always loved horses, and through the generosity of my friend Cary have the pleasure of riding from time to time. I am a cowboy wannabe, with spurs, chaps, riding boots, and a Stetson. Now, I am taking an art class on drawing, and just posted my first drawing--a wild mustang.

As the old saying goes, "There's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." Once I am in the saddle, the boy in me is fully alive. Leaning over the edge of the saddle, I pretend I am  tracking a deer or an outlaw. Ducking under a low-hanging branches, or short gallops through a meadow in the woods is exhilarating. As I bob in the saddle through dappled sunlight, I admit it--my imagination runs wild, I keep a keen eye out for places a real cowboy could have been ambushed and lost his scalp.

A few years ago Sandy, Meagan, and I went to Montana. While there, our friend David Roberts guided us sixty miles out into the desert in search of wild mustangs. As we drove along a dirt road our eyes scanned the horizon, peering through rising heat waves as far as we could see. We passed some mustangs that were corralled, but wanted to see the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, unbridled, and running free.

The odometer continued to spin and plumes of dust billowed-up around the Subaru as we traveled further and further into barren, hilly, desert-like terrain. Finally, about a half mile off the twisting gravel line we followed, stood a small herd of five mustangs gathered at the base of some foothills. David, pulled the vehicle off to the side, and we began to slowly make our way toward them. As the gap between us closed, I expected them to bolt away, manes and tails streaming behind them and across their spines. They didn't. Slowly we inched in their direction, ever checking the ground beneath our feet for a coiled rattler, scorpions, and knee-high thorny briers that grabbed at our bare legs. Lizards skittered and jackrabbits disappeared in a few prodigious bounds. The mustangs held their ground.

For us it was a God-moment. Soon we had front row seats on the desert floor no more than fifteen feet away from the beautiful creatures. Our hearts pounded inside our chests. They were majestic and breathtaking. Among them was their leader and guarantee of a progeny; a jet black stallion! Each of the mares was unique. Nervously they twitched, and we could see the gorgeous muscles of their magnificently sculpted bodies. Streams of sunlight reflected off their backs revealing hues of buckskin, red, gray, blue, and mousy browns. Ever on guard, the big stallion rolled his black eyes toward us, stomped and snorted in our direction, making sure we knew who was boss. Old scars and fresh slashes ran in different directions along his neck and rump. He had been battle tested. Obviously, many an interloper had been turned away from his harem.

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