Two cowboys rested on tree stumps amid the green plains of Nevada. It had been a good day of rounding up yearlings, but this cattle drive was not so much about driving cattle as it was about a horse named Shy Boy.
Monty adjusted his hat. “We gotta keep our eyes open for those wild horses, cause I do wanna turn him loose, Caleb.”
Caleb sat with one hand perched on each leg. “You do?” The accomplished young horseman had grown an attachment to the horse.
“Yeah, I do. You don’t, huh?”
Caleb looked down. “Uh . . . you know, I’d rather not. I’m really not looking forward to that at all.”
Monty was thoughtful. “But . . . I don’t think he’ll go away. I think he’ll come back.”
Shy Boy, a bay mustang, had been born wild and free in these very plains. It had only been eleven months since Monty’s bold attempt to gentle the stallion in the wild. Without the use of an enclosed structure, Monty Roberts, “the man who listens to horses”, used his trademark method, Join-Up, to form a connection with the wild horse. The remarkable moment came when the mustang approached the horseman, dropped his head and allowed Monty to touch his face. Monty was then able to saddle, bridle and get a rider on the stallion in the middle of the vast Nevada plains.
“A good trainer can get the horse to do what he wants it to do,” Monty is fond of saying. “A great trainer can make the horse want to do it.”
With a keen desire to understand the psychology of a horse, gentling one in the wild was only the first part of Monty’s experiment. The now famous mustang was then cared for and trained as a western cutting and reigning horse. On today’s cattle drive he was put to the test with Caleb as his rider. Shy Boy performed admirably.
Yet, the hardest part was still to come.
Caleb looked at Monty. “I think if we turn him loose, he’s gonna go with them.”
“Well, that’s what a bunch of experts say. But, the way I figure it . . . he’s had eleven months of good care. He’s had a warm place every night and a bucket of water . . . some feed.” Monty shrugged. “I think he’s coming back.”
* * *
The wild herd was spotted approaching from the north. As the sun drew near the horizon the horses appeared on the ridge overlooking the camp.
Monty stroked Shy Boy’s neck and looked him in the eye. “Okay, Shy Boy. What do you think? Wild or come home?” With a gentle nudge he pulled the stallion’s head to the left. “Can you see those horses?”
As the halter fell from his neck Shy Boy pulled away and flew toward the herd, ascending the hill with black tail high in the air. An uneasy feeling settled on Monty as he observed the horse entering the herd. Shy Boy was approached by a chestnut. The two nudged noses while others surrounded him. Monty marveled at the way Shy Boy was accepted without fuss.
“I mighta made a mistake.” His heart sank as he watched the herd trot off together . . . out of sight.
Monty took a long walk to the top of the hill. He searched but saw no horses. At sunset he rode his horse out and scanned the area some more. He could not find Shy Boy.
It was a sleepless night for the middle-aged cowboy, who kept watch like a parent waiting up for a child.
Daybreak arrived. Monty, Caleb and Caleb’s young sister, Tara, stared up at the hills. Caleb was solemn.
Monty turned away. “You guys get your horses. Let’s go.”
“Look, it’s him!” Tara pointed.
There on the hill above . . . stood Shy Boy.
Monty’s chest pounded with a flurry of excitement. Everyone stared in disbelief as the mustang meandered a little closer, stopped and glanced back at the herd above. Looking back to the people he began to move again. He was headed straight for them. His walk turned into a jog. His jog became a gallop. Entering sage brush the stallion began to jump and zigzag his way toward them with urgency.
Out in the open now his legs extended into a full gallop. He let out a loud neigh and then few yards from Monty he halted. Standing steadfast he allowed Monty to approach and place a rope around his neck.
Shy Boy had come back from the wild.
This is a true story. Dialogue is as recorded on film with a few words omitted.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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