The Game Horse

He was tied up to the trailer out behind the stands, a blaze-face sorrel
gelding, roughly 15 hands, high withers, slightly ewe-necked, back a little
swayed, white hairs on his muzzle,eyes sunk in with age. An old warrior with
his best years long since gone away, left here baby-sitting at a small-town
horse play-day.

Watched over by her parents, a young girl kissed the horse; they coached her
on the fine points and wished her luck, of course. He hardly seemed to
notice when the small girl took his lead; he followed without balking but
not with any speed. She climbed on and walked him round some, he went
without a fuss; his head was down, the reins were slack, his feet dragged in
the dust.

When they called her name his ears pricked up, she sat up in her seat;
trotting to the gate there was new lightness in his feet. When they got into
the alley he flared his nostrils wide, picked up the bit and arched his
neck, she latched on for the ride. She let him go and as they went the years
melted away, and he was once again the barrel horse he'd been in younger

With eyes on fire and muscles bunched, raw power in his stride, blazing
speed and energy wrapped in horse's hide. He had chased the cans from old
Cheyenne to the Calgary Stampede, from Amarillo to Salinas, he had lived the
game horse creed: "Run to live, live to run," it was printed in his genes,
from nose to tail his big heart pumped blue blood through his veins.

Coming through the pattern they touched the last can some; it was still up
on its edge when they were halfway home. When she asked him for a little, he
gave her all he had; the barrel stood, the run was good, and the time was
not too bad. When she pulls the saddle he's an old horse once again, but
while he's running barrels, he's all he's ever been.

So here's to that old gamer -- may our golden years like his be filled with
golden moments and glorious memories, Of races run and races won, of places
that we've been, of friends we've made along the way and good things we have
seen, And someone who will need us for what we still can do-- may our needs
be small, our wants be less, and our troubles be but few.

by Tony Schwader