So I fell in love with this flashy trashy mustang in a matter of about 2.6 seconds. After that, I needed info. I talked long and hard with every single one of the BLM officials about her. I couldn't believe my luck. She already had 6 months of saddle time courtesy of the Gunnison Prison Inmate BLM program that paired horse savvy criminals with mustangs to help them find homes (the horses, not the inmates). Not only do I love this program, but I can't describe what a ridiculous bonus it is to have your mustang come to you saddle trained. The only bad news was that while the other horses could be adopted first-come-first-serve, I would have to bid for this mare the next day at the festival auction. Stakes raised.
I have seen my mother do this before, in particular, for a little black weanling at the same BLM adoption where we got Posie and the burros. She was so sure she was taking that sweet, friendly, boring black colt home. We all know how that ended- with her taking that spooky flashy dun filly named Posie home, in what I like to call the World's Greatest Consolation Prize. This is because auctions are scary. You get emotional, you can't tell what people are thinking, and the next minute your horse is going home in some other guy's trailer.
The memories of that event 14 years ago haunted me for the next 21 hours until the auction. I got home from the festival that night and paced the house in-between typing my adoption application, carefully recreating my theoretical horse's future living environment on graph paper for the BLM (hilariously fearing that they wouldn't approve me), and researching endlessly the Moriah Herd, which used to live just north of Great Basin National Park before they were completely rounded up and zeroed out. She was the last of her people.
At some point, I mentioned to Dan that she was exactly the horse I'd always pictured having someday.
"Really? When have I ever heard you mentioning you wanted a red horse with white feet?"
I starting rummaging around in the bookshelves until I found this:
A copy of my favorite book from my favorite series from the age of about 8-15. I'm pretty sure I read it about 16,597 times, and only in part because I liked the main plot concerning Carol feeling jealous and worried that she was losing ground to Andrea Barry as the star rider of Pine Hollow Stables. Why was I really reading this book to death? Because of the cameo appearances by Doc, the babe that graced the cover of Saddle Club #65. This wasn't a temporary infatuation; I wanted to marry the horse on the cover of that book pretty much until I was already married.
That's as good a reason as any to buy a horse, right?
I did not really sleep that night. I kept going over the numbers in my head of how high I would let myself go in an auction to get her home. I also continued to pretend to consider other horses. Hilarious.
That morning I went straight over to the BLM office to turn in my application that was instantly approved ("Wow, you even typed it! And used graph paper!"), and then straight to the adoption pens, to say hello to my girl, who was dozing in the sun like a flapjack after what I'm sure was a long and promiscuous night. I stayed busy throughout the day helping my new friend Robyn change saddles and horses all morning for the show, which was a welcome distraction, and occasionally went by the pens to see who was looking at her.
Finally, the auction. My posse included the patient husband, my terrible influence of a mother, and my fully cowboy be-decked nephew, Russell, who had been asking Grandma Sharri all morning if she would buy him a burro. That right there is a good auction posse.
The way an auction usually works is that the first few horses will sell for lower prices than the ones at the end. People want to hold out and see what certain horses go for, and if they came determined to take a horse home, they'll bid high to get a horse at the end just because they're out of options. So I was really hoping that at the very least, my mare would come up before the fancy challenge horses.
In a stroke of sheer providence, she was the very first horse of the 10 horses sold that day. The BLM officer walked her back and forth in front of a huge crowd, my heart pounding so hard I couldn't hear. Then she looked right at me, and I got calm. The auctioneer started the bid at $250 measly dollars. Before the words were out of his mouth, my card was up. Instantly, he had another bidder. I never put my card down, I just kept nodding my head as the numbers flew back and forth between me and one other bidder for what felt like minutes but could only have been 10 or 15 seconds. The high bid went to me again, and at this point, I decided to eye the other bidder-- a heavyset woman in flip-flops I had seen talking to the BLM officer about "what do horses eat?"
Mustang #6936 was not going home with her today.
I waited for her to counter me so that I could double her current bid and try to end this thing, but I never got the chance. At that very moment, the other bidder put her card down, cursed, and sat down on the bench, indicating that she was through. I didn't get to double my bid, but I would have quadrupled it.
I can't sufficiently describe the vicarious thrill on my mother's face, the relief on Dan's face, the glee on Robyn's face (since she knew she'd be getting to play with her first!), and the total confusion on Russell's face.
"Is it over?"
"Yeah Russell, your Aunt Lorraine just bought a horse!"
"That red one in there?"
"Oh. When do I get a burro?"
Dear dear Russell. If someday, after years of begging, borrowing, and practicing with burros and learning about burros and praying for burros and dreaming about burros and crying for burros you decide you still want a burro, then there is no inferno hot enough, no logic too sensible that will keep you from it. Someday you will have that long awaited burro in your arms and you will find your soul waiting there for you in the soft fibers and warm foggy breath of that burro, and that will only be the beginning. Every moment after that is your new life- the person you are when you are the steward of a sacred, hilarious, powerful and wild soul.
Keep at it, little man. It's worth it.
|Russell and Icha.|