War Horse

 By Roger Pinckney

The Good Book says “Thou shall not covet” and goes on to list thy neighbor’s house, wife, ox and ass. But it neglects to mention horse.

Me and Marion were drinking good liquor in the shade when Miz Jennifer sent the blue roan out.  Marion had the ice and water; I had a jug of Old Heaven Hill.

The blue roan was a Marsh Tackey mare, from a bloodline that went clean back to Hernando Desoto’s war horses, cast ashore here in 1536.  Fourteen hands, 800 pounds, a Tacky can ride a quarter horse right into the ground and 500 years later they are the best gun horses on earth. Lay a double gun between their ears and cut loose a load of double-ought, they won’t even flinch.  Ride a Tacky to the kill, lasso the rack, dally off the line and slide the buck right out of the woods.

Miz Jenifer was in the shade too, nursing a Bud as she eyed the proceedings. She was Charleston quality and her family raised Tackies for maybe 200 years.  She cleaned up nice but now she was in dusty jeans and wore-down, mucked up boots. Behind her, some scruffy character led the blue roan out of a stall, stopped right in front of us.  He was bandied, knock-kneed and scruffy with a turquoise studded buckle big as a cathead biscuit.

“One of Jennifer’s strays,” Marion allowed.

“The horse?” I asked.

“Hell no, the man,” he said.

There followed the damnedest display of horsemanship I ever saw and after 20 years in the saddle, I’d seen a lot.  The man dropped the lead rope and the mare did not move.  He picked up each hoof and she did not move.  He took off his jacket, covered her eyes and ears and she did not move.  He uncovered her head, flapped flanks and belly and she did not move.  He crawled beneath her, then hung from her neck and she did not move.

“Damnit, Marion, that gal is trying to sell me this horse!”

Marion took another sip, nodded and grinned.  “Maybe.”

“Hey Jenifer,” I hollered, “how much for the mare?

“She is seven and ain’t even broke to ride,” she said.

“I didn’t ask you that.  You wanna sell that blue roan?”

“No, but I’ll sell you right of first refusal on her first foal for 500 hundred bucks.”

“Nice try Miz Jennifer, but you know it don’t work like that!  Ain’t no way to guarantee a foal’s color.”

Miz Jennifer just shrugged, took a long pull on her beer.  “I’ll be at the bar in an hour if you wanna talk about it.”

I reckoned that couldn’t hurt.  And maybe we could talk about something else…