Missing Four-legged Friends

Hiking the canyon road at Hidden Falls Ranch today, I thought of old friends. Not the two-legged kind.

I’ve been a program director and executive director at my favorite camp, but my best job there was the first one—wrangler.

HFR doesn’t allow trail rides in the Palo Duro anymore. Hasn’t for years. There’s a reason. On the way to the old tabernacle and Aunt Betty’s fortress, we would lead mounted campers past Surfer Boy’s slide and Simba’s roll (for the record, horses and riders came out OK).

Today, I thought of Surfer Boy (named for his bleach-blond mane)—and King.

Zan’s King McCue, this palomino Quarter Horse was my graduation gift from Dad in 1967 and my best friend until supplanted by a cute, two-legged one whom I married in 1968.

Also, thought of Smokey today. A shaggy, albino gelding, Smokey was the best canyon horse I’ve known, meaning he was as agile on rugged, steep trails as the nimble Mule Deer and sure-footed Aoudad Sheep that frequent the area.

In search of some runaways, I once rode Smokey up the Goodnight Cabin trail on a moonless night. I turned off the flashlight when I realized we both didn’t need it—Smokey because he could see fine in the dark and me because what it showed only scared me more.

I miss Smokey and Surfer Boy and King.

C.S. Lewis thought that our pets join us in Heaven. If so, I’m looking forward to some amazing rides.

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