of all the horses, it is a paint that corrals my eye, my heart.

he stands alone, on a patch of grass twenty yards from his nearest bandmate. his stance is perpendicular to the herd, the eye that faces the others wide and deeply aware. muscles bunch under smooth hide as he shifts from one foreleg to the other. there is just enough of a breeze to dance his mane against his neck, his forelock across the far eye.

what pulls me to him I can only ponder. I many not know the truth for hours, or during my lifetime. is it his outsider role, or his patience? perhaps his inner wisdom. or maybe he is a rebel. a denounced stallion. one who wielded power in an earlier life. I supply a backstory, I infuse him with traits I wish for myself. if he is my mirror, I could be a sinner, a has-been, a separatist, a pacifist, a former pugilist, an underdog, the unloved.

one hundred fifty or so other horses drink from the watering hole, tug at grass, nuzzle flanks and shoulders, instigate or respond to what may or may not be playful attacks. I’m curious, I absorb the experience, but I remain fully committed to my paint and know that as I settle in bed this evening it is he who will visit, he who will remain in my mind’s eye, he who will become the backbone of a story that begins to weave its way from head to heart, from heart to head.



[barb richardson, a writer friend of mine, is aunt to jim schnepel, who is the president of the Wild Horses of America foundation (catch that acronym), and jim was kind enough to invite me out to see the Onaqui herd. the photo here was taken by jim.]