This is the last story I presented at the Writers Club at Desert Trails. I've only been on a farm or ranch a couple times in my life, so this is my perspective of an urban ranch.
Hay Mr. Horse. I see you through the tall hedges of oleander bushes along the roadway opposite my campsite. You rarely make any noise or neigh for attention. I wonder what your life must be like, out here in the desert in Arizona. Your owners have about an acre of desert land and you’d think that would be enough for you to roam around in during the day, but that’s not all for you is it?
Your owners have at least half of that for their home, yard and driveway, but they have carved out maybe a quarter of what remains for you. A simple metal fence surrounds your part of the property. I saw your owner, a Spanish man and his two children, a boy and girl one weekend. The father was rebuilding the roof on your lean-two shelter. It took him a couple weekends to finish the job, finally nailing on the new shingles on the gentle slope of the roof. The kids even climbed up on the roof while their Dad nailed on the new shingles. He left his hammer and few loose shingles sitting on the roof, so maybe he’s not done yet.
They put you in your makeshift barn each evening around sunset and close the metal gate. I hear you lean against it each time, as if to say, I’m not ready to be put in for the night. But it doesn’t matter does it. Your owner makes that decision each day for you.
I noticed they built an even smaller fenced in area within your metal corral and now they leave you in that small space each day, while the family goes off to work and school. The family dogs come out and bark and run around occasionally, but you stand their silent, looking off towards the desert mountains and cactus that reach for the sky.
Do you ever want to run and be free? Do you ever remember running and were you ever free once? Probably not, but you must feel it somewhere within. Do you ever sniff the air and want to search out the smells beyond the barriers that hold you in.
When the coyotes howl at night, are you afraid or are they calling to you to come out and run with the wild ones. Are you able to see the stars at night and watch the moon rise up over the mountain range.
In the morning with the sun peaking up over the horizon, the rooster crowing to beat the band, your owner comes to take you out and put you back in your small pen. Feeding you before he goes off to work, does he take the time to stroke your mane and talk to you? I know the dogs come out with your master each morning and they bark and dance around your feet…. That’s usually my signal to get up as well.
I’d like to see you run some day as fast as the wind and rise up on your hind legs with excitement, neighing at the wind. I’d like to see you free, but not in a desert. Maybe up in the Colorado mountain ranges where the grasses grow high and the fields are filled with wildflowers in spring. Where you could hide in the shade of tall spruce trees during the heat of the day and drink from the wild springs and snow fed rivers.
I’d like to see you free.