As Julius and the cowboy dismounted, the herd moved to the far side of the corral…as far away from these men and their sold-out horses as they could get. Hunter walked quietly to the fence where he could be close to the herd. He stepped up on the bottom rail and leaned forward over the top.
One small dun-colored mare with a thick black mane turned her entire body toward him. The mare’s eyes held him spellbound for more than a minute. As Hunter looked into the large, warm, brown eyes, it seemed as though she was sending him a distinct message: “I know you. I know you down to the core.” Hunter closed his eyes. When he opened them, the mare had moved off to join the other mustangs. Perhaps it was just my over-active imagination, he thought.
But the brief exchange had been picked up by Smokey, who had watched the new boy approach. When it came to horses and boys, there wasn’t much that the old cowboy missed. He stepped up to the fence beside Hunter and rested his arm on the top rail. “I could use your help with that mare if you’re up to it.”
Hunter straightened and stepped down from the fence. He rolled his eyes. “I don’t do horses. If they don’t have a motor and four tires,” he said, thinking of the ATV’s on his grandpa’s farm, “I don’t ride ‘em.”
The cowboy shrugged his shoulders and turned to look at the little herd of new mustangs he had just adopted from the Bureau of Land Management. “Well, that’s quite a few horses and somebody’s gonna have to help me. Might as well be you.” He stuck out his hand, “I’m Smokey. You must be the new boy, Hunter. I’m pleased to meet you.” Hunter put his hands in his pockets. Smokey shrugged, dropped his hand and turned on his well-worn heel. As he walked away, he had a smile on his face. Smokey prided himself on being able to read teenage boys as well as he could read horses.
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