Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE TRUE VALUE OF A HORSE
I constantly watched out the large window of the bus as the miles upon miles of open fields and snow covered mountains passed me by. It was very scary traveling all alone on a Greyhound bus. A 12-year-old boy who had never even stepped outside the gates of a Florida orphanage before, except maybe to run away. I was being sent, by order of the juvenile court, to spend some time on a ranch located in Silt, Colorado.
After dropping my small suitcase off at the bunkhouse, I was taken to the corral and assigned a large brown horse. I was told that her name was "Brownie." She was an old horse and could not move very fast. I asked about the scars on her sides. I was told they were from her falling down on the rocky slopes when the yearly roundup took place, but I didn't care about that. I had a few scars myself, many that could not be seen by the world.
Within several days, I had somewhat learned to ride, as well as care for Brownie. Everyday after mending fences and bailing hay, I walked Brownie to the shed where I brushed her down. Every evening, right before I left, she would sling her head backwards and spray slobber into the air. I just patted her on the rump and then grabbed her by her tail. When I did this, she somehow knew it was time for me to go. She would turn sideways in the stall trying to keep me from leaving.
That was a strange feeling to me. I had never known anybody or anything on the face of this earth that wasn't constantly trying to get rid of me. Before leaving the barn, I hugged her neck and then kissed her on her side.
I am not exactly sure what an old brown horse and a 12-year-old boy had in common. She was a scarred-up old mare that was tired and no longer seemed to have value. Her friend was a young, abandoned orphan boy, who had yet to realize that he too, somewhere in the world, also had a value. Two of God’s creatures that other than being fed and housed, meant absolutely nothing to anyone.
As the weeks turned into months, old Brownie continued to get slower and slower. There were times when she stumbled and fell. There were times when her legs bled. I would take off my T-shirt, tear it into pieces and wrap them around her legs. There were times when the other cowboys had to stop on the trail for us to catch up.
"Someone ought to just shoot that old mare in the head and get it over with," some of the cowboys said.
"They don't mean that Brownie. I wont' let them do that to you," I whispered to her.
Many times, I walked in front of Brownie so she would not have to carry my weight. Well, old Brownie died before I could save up enough money to buy her. To the world, she was nothing more than a scarred-up, tired, useless old mare. Nevertheless, in 14 months, she was able to teach a young boy, a boy that no one else in the world wanted, how to care and have respect for other living things.
She taught him about a special feeling called ‘love,’ a feeling that had never been shown to him by another human being - feelings that stayed with him throughout the years. Feelings of love that he later shared with the rest of the world, not to mention his children and grandchildren.