Baxter Black: Horse People


I would like to talk to you about a certain kind of person that ranks in my mind with duck hunters. Now, don’t get your gander up, I’m not gonna say anything about duck hunters. After all, what can you say about someone who gets up in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, then goes out and stands in water all day, up to his buckle and then… shoots a duck.

But I’m not talkin’ about duck hunters, no… the kinda people I’m talkin’ about are horse people. Yes, you may have one in your family. You know it when you sit down at the table with a horse person because the first thing they start talkin’ about is horses. On and on and on. And if there’s two of ’em you might as well get up and leave ’cause you aren’t gonna get a word in edgewise.

And cowboys are the worst. You can be drivin’ down the road, three of you in the front seat of the pickup and you’ll pass by this big ol’ meadow. In it there’ll be fifty-two sorrell geldings, each with one stockin’ leg and a snip right on the end of his nose. The guy sittin’ in the middle will point and say, “See that one seventeenth from the left…I broke him in 1993.” How do you argue with somebody like that?

Or you go out to somebody’s place and they say, “Doc, it’s good to see ya! I just got a brand new horse! I know you’ll wanna look at him.” See, they think because you’re a veterinarian, that you care. Which of course I do!

Well I have a confession to make…I have come to realize over the years that I have been a horse person all along. I sat there observing, just like you reading this column, the obsession of horse people with their beast, saying “Yes, I know people like that!”, never realizing that I, too, was afflicted.

It all came into focus one cruel winter evening. 15 degrees F, 20 mph winds and snowing hard. Our company had just arrived. I had recently acquired a spectacular King Ranch gelding. I mean the brand alone was worth a hundred bucks!

In my excitement I offered, “Listen, I’ve got a really dandy new horse. He’s as shiney as a new Dodge dually, smooth as silk pajamas on a snake, light as feathers on angel food cake, and will eat truffles outta your hand. How’d you like to slip out to the corral and have a look?”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw my wife display an arched eyebrow…a sign of warning. Not unlike the one you see on a teamster’s face when he’s about to take the bullwhip to a wayward oxen. You’ve often seen it in Hillary’s eyes.

She calmly said, “Honey, it’s twenty below outside. The drifts are six feet deep between here and the barn, not to mention the fact that your mother is eighty years old…”

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