It was a bone chilling December morning in southwest Reno. That was the report the weatherman issued and I believed him. Bundled up against the elements, I wandered towards the barn to feed the horses their morning hay.
As I arrived in the stable yard I noticed a small bay horse standing at the hay pile for the neighbor?s cows, contentedly munching on the hay. A loose horse is never a welcome sight, especially on a freezing Sunday morning. I had never seen this bay horse with the two hind white socks, star and snip, but I had only seen this neighbor?s horses at a distance, and I thought the horse must be one of his. Quickly, I went into the barn and said good morning to the three horses waiting expectantly for me. I grabbed a halter and lead line off the peg on the wall, petted each horse and told them that I would be back as soon as I walked the little bay horse back down to his barn.
Armed with a pocket full of peppermint flavored treats, the halter and lead line I hurried back out the barn door and found the horse standing by the gate to the barn driveway, staring at me. Silly girl that I am I thought this would be an easy catch. As I got near the gate the horse started ambling slowly down the street. I said, ?Hey, I have treats for you, come back.? But it didn't work. The horse started trotting down the street so I started jogging after him, never getting within fifty feet of him.
He took a sharp left down the street and trotted through one neighbor?s yard, always managing to keep a safe distance between us. At this point I decided he did not belong to the neighbor with cows because there were several piles of manure in these yards, half a mile down the street from the cows. I wondered if maybe he lived in one of the barns in this area of the neighborhood? The horse and I trotted through another yard to the next side street over, near the Arabian farm. Three young horses were very excited to see the mysterious horse and girl trotting up the street, but the loose horse obviously did not belong at this farm because he kept going up the street, with me in frustrated pursuit. After all, what kind of a horse does not eat peppermints? And who on earth does he belong to?
We trotted up the small incline on the side street and arrived on the main road that connects all of the streets in the neighborhood. My little friend had skirted across the main road and straight up into the foothills, stopping a quarter mile away from me. Chasing this loose horse on a chilly Sunday morning was certainly getting old. There were three horses waiting for me to feed them and I had no idea how much longer it would take to catch this horse. Another question begged to be answered. If I caught him, where on earth was I going to take him?
So there I was, at quarter to seven on a Sunday morning in Reno, standing in the middle of the road. I had a halter and lead line in one hand and a little bay horse standing on the foothill staring me down. A lady in a maroon running suit was jogging down the road towards me and politely asked if I needed help catching my horse. I recounted my early morning adventure for her. She looked at the horse, looked back at me and laughed. The jogger informed me that the loose horse was a wild mustang; I certainly would not be catching him today or any other day. Ah, the light bulb in my coffee-deprived brain came on. No wonder he would not let me near him. He had found a free meal at the neighbor?s hay pile and I had interrupted his breakfast.
I walked back down my street to the barn and fed the three horses that know what peppermint treats are. The next time I jog around the neighborhood after a loose horse I will be more careful. One can never be certain when a wild Mustang will be looking for free breakfast.
Stacey Stearns moved to Reno from Connecticut in October 2006 to care for a friend?s horses and enjoy the many adventures Nevada has to offer.