This photograph of a wild horse hangs in a prominent place in our living room, an image I took a few months ago in Nevada’s Kamma Mountains. It is odd, the story of how this horse came to hold a special place in our home and our hearts. I can almost laugh about it now.
We first met the horse two years ago when we stopped for lunch on a narrow but well-defined dirt road that had just summited and was beginning its descent. Jeff cut the engine and we opened our sandwiches, content to eat in silence and admire the view. Then through my open window, I caught drifts of whinnying and snorting.
“Did you hear that?”
“We won’t see it. It’s too far off.” I hoped Jeff would contradict me. Instead the noises stopped.
I finished my sandwich and divided the bits that had fallen onto my napkin, between our two hounds. I was about to suggest to Jeff that we continue on our drive when I glimpsed motion on the west side of the range. A bay stallion emerged, tentatively at first, then gaining confidence as he saw that we remained quiet in his presence. Instinctively I steadied my breath. Seemingly in response, he pranced toward us and began to circle the Land Rover. With his head held high and high pronounced steps, it was as if he planned to captivate us–and it worked.
Jeff and I got out and gently closed our doors. We leaned on the hood, letting the horse take the lead, wondering what would be his next move–when inside the vehicle one of our hounds spotted the stallion, clamored over a pile of gear to a window and began to howl. Jeff rushed to quiet the dog while the horse cast me a look even my mother couldn’t summon on the most obstreperous day of my childhood. Continue reading