Authors: Alan Evans
Alan S. Evans
Longboat Key, Florida
Copyright © 2009 by Alan S. Evans
All rights reserved. No
part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or
mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without
permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote
brief passages in a review.
book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are
the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
Published in the United States of America by Oceanview
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
printed in the united states of america
This book is dedicated to all those involved in protecting and
insuring the future of our American wild mustangs. These fascinating creatures
should always be recognized as irreplaceable living symbols of our nation’s
strength and resilience.
It would have been an
impossible task to bring this book to publication without the help of so many
fine people who believed in me and pushed me beyond my own doubt.
Thanks to my wife,
Carlie, whom I bounced more ideas off than anyone should have to endure. To
Margie and Bill Evans who became my first unofficial critics and editors. A big
thank you to Dot Whittle whose honesty, expertise, and time helped me shape a
roughed-out story into a manuscript worthy of exposure to literary
professionals. Thanks to Lynn Guelzow and Lisa Maier whose interest and
connections must have been God sent. I have a special
appreciation for Drs. Pat
and Bob Gussin of Oceanview Publishing. Their investment of time, money, and
faith means more to me than I can express. Last but not least, to the entire
team at Oceanview, thanks for your professionalism, enthusiasm, and creative
energy that shows well beyond your desks and computers.
2007�—�Wyoming State Fair
An intense heat simmered over the fairgrounds located just south of the
small town of Douglas, Wyoming. The light gray clouds lingering high overhead,
showed no real threat of rain, but were casting some welcome shade on this hot
summer afternoon. The annual event, just beginning its final weekend, was in
full swing, bustling with a record crowd.
Among a large group watching a demonstration in the
livestock arena, were two men who had never met. The strangers, both wearing
faded jeans and worn boots, soon struck up a conversation while leaning against
They had come to see the talented young horseman
that had been so heavily advertised around town. The guy they were watching was
just beginning to work with a nervous two-year-old black colt in a round pen.
The older of the two men threw his half-smoked
cigarette on the ground, stepped on it with the toe of his boot, and asked the
other, “Who is this guy, where’s he from?”
“I don’t know,” the younger man answered, “but I
heard he’s an Indian.”
A third man sitting in the stands just above looked
down and commented. “No kidding, if you ask me, he looks like a boy just off
the reservation.” They all laughed a little under their breath. A few minutes
later he glanced down again, “I had a chance to watch this guy during
yesterday’s show, and I’ll tell you this, that kid’s damn good with a horse.”
The young horseman’s name was Tommy and he was
“right off the reservation,” the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Tommy was
nineteen years old and a pure Shoshone, who was starting to build a name for
himself on the horsemanship clinic tour. He traveled around working with young
horses that were often rank and too dangerous for their owners to train. He
would hold these demonstrations in front of large crowds, showing them how easy
it could be to start young horses under saddle, with the right knowledge and
experience. This audience had paid to watch him and they expected to be impressed.
He didn’t let them down. The frightened black colt was soon calmed, and
eventually accepted a saddle and a rider for the first time in its life.
“How did he do that so quick and easy?” the older
man asked out loud.
“I don’t know, it must be some kind of Indian
voodoo,” the other answered half jokingly.
After the clinic was over, Tommy headed toward his
trailer to put away his gear.
A lanky, older man, wearing a cowboy hat, approached
him from the distant crowd. “Hey kid,” he hollered from a few feet away. Tommy
kept his eyes down and continued packing his equipment, not responding to the
man’s loud, rude beckoning. “Hey!” the man repeated, “I have a horse farm
nearby and I could use a guy like you to help break in my colts.”
Tommy, having no interest in
the job, slowly looked up and replied, “I don’t break horses mister, I
them . . . and I already make a good living doing
my clinics. But thanks for the offer.”
The cowboy looked put out for a moment, then
scratched his head and accepted the answer before asking, “Where the hell did
you learn to get along with a horse like that, son? Is that some kind of
ancient Indian shit you do?”
Tommy smiled and said, “No sir, believe it or not,
what I do, I learned from a white man.”
The fall of
1996��—��eleven years earlier
Deep in the
back country of the Wind River Valley
in northwest Wyoming
Well beyond his prime, the old Native American slowly makes his way
through the familiar lush green forest. Finally reaching his destination, he
sits on a large flat rock to catch his breath. After a short rest, he looks up
toward the snow-capped mountaintops and whispers the Indian word,
with outstretched arms, he raises his open palms to shoulder height and begins
a chant that is old as time itself.
He is a highly revered man among his people, the
last in a
centuries-old line of true spiritual shamans. He prefers the old ways, often
speaking his native tongue, and living by the ancient beliefs and traditions
that he fears will one day be lost to his tribe. It’s this particular sacred
spot where he often comes to meditate and seek answers. Just as his father had
done, and his father before him.
A red-tailed hawk circles high overhead in the
cloudless, blue sky, screeching its piercing call. To the aging spiritual
leader of his tribe, this is a sign that his ancestors are near. He closes his eyes,
lowers his arms, and drifts into a trance. Soon, a tear runs down his face as a
vision, which he has seen before, reveals a dark future for his people and
their ancestral land.
Little does the old Shaman realize that events that
would deeply affect his fate were beginning to unfold fifteen hundred miles
away, and a world apart in northern Tennessee.
The morning was beginning like many others on the farm. It was
6 a.m.; Shane Carson had already fed the horses and was now relaxing with a cup
of coffee on his front porch. The hired help would be in soon to start setting
up for the long hours of training that lay ahead. This was one of Shane’s
favorite times of the day. With his family still asleep, he looked forward to
these early mornings alone on the porch. It gave him a chance to plan out the
day’s progress he had in mind for each horse while watching the first rays of
light slowly dance across his farm.
Shane carried a deep admiration for his land. To him
this place was much more than just a monetary asset. He saw the real treasure
in the countryside itself, with its ageless, tree shaded, grassy hills and
their whispered surroundings. Here he had plenty of room to stretch his arms
and raise his kids without the congestion and problems of more populated areas.
Shane felt fortunate for this lifestyle, but taking care of his land and the
valuable animals entrusted to him required a tremendous commitment involving timeless
days of hard work.
It was early November in Cheatham County, Tennessee,
and there was a light frost on the grass. This was the first cold morning of
the season, so the horses were feeling frisky.
Shane took another sip from his cup of coffee as he admired
the bright waning moon still hanging low over the horizon, soon to trade places
with the rising sun. Off in the distance he heard one of his broodmares whinny
for her foal. He knew which one it was by the sound of her call. He knew all of
his horses that well. Following the mare’s call, he heard the sound of
thundering hooves in their field
located on the back side of the property. There were eight broodmares in that
field with eight babies by their sides, and all sixteen were soon caught up in
a playful stampede around the large, rolling meadow. This was not a rare
occurrence on the farm, but the cool morning’s nip seemed to be adding to the
By the time they had made their second lap around
the field, the yearlings in the next pasture over had joined in the fun. With
all the heart and strength they could muster, each animal desperately tried to
outrun the others. This playful madness quickly launched an unstoppable chain
reaction that continued on to the two- and three-year-olds in training, which
were kept near the barns on the front of the farm. Then, just as suddenly as it
all started, the herds began to settle. The horses, one by one, exhaled a last
snort, dropped their heads, and began to graze quietly.
Witnessing all this brought a smile to Shane’s face.
He knew how important it was for these animals to grow up like this; being able
to interact with each other in a large group was only natural for them.
Providing this kind of environment helped them become secure in mind and strong
in body, both of which would serve them well later on when they became work or
His business included training and selling the young
horses he bred and raised, as well as training the ones his many clients sent
him. All the horses he worked with were well pedigreed, expensive animals. Once
they were finished and had proven themselves, these young potential champions
would be given a life of envy. They were fed, groomed, and schooled on a daily
basis, all of which cost their owners a substantial amount of money.
Shane sometimes joked about what aliens from another
world might think if they were to observe a human’s relationship with his
horse. Watching the care, time, and quality of life afforded these animals, it
would probably appear to the aliens as if the horses were the masters and
people were their beasts of burden.
His methods were different than those of most
trainers. They had been taught to him by a couple of special old mentors who
had died years ago. At this point in his career he could do just about anything
with a horse. He could start ’em, fix ’em, and also put a finished handle on
one that would impress his clients as well as his professional peers. It was
said by many that he had some kind of magical power over these thousand-plus-pound
animals. Others claimed that he’d learned to hypnotize horses in order to tame
them so easily. He knew differently. Hard work and knowledge had earned him
this level of mastery.
He was well paid for what he did, and he loved his
work, but Shane was no longer a young man. Now in his forties, every morning
his body, abused by his occupation, reminded him of this. You couldn’t be as
good as he was without also physically accumulating the miles and injuries he
had endured. But it was all worth it to him, and to do anything else for a
living would be unthinkable.
The only thing that meant more to him than his work
was his wife, Jen, and their two children, eight-year-old Jacob and Tina, who
was six. The kids were now old enough to ride, and they begged daddy every day
to put them on a horse. These were good times and Shane loved every minute he
spent with his family.
With his cup of coffee now empty, Shane stood,
stretched his sore back, and ambled toward his day’s work. His assistant
trainer, Terry Adams, was waiting when Shane arrived at the main barn. As
usual, the dependable Terry had the first horse saddled and ready.
“Mornin’, boss,” Terry said as he handed Shane the
reins. “Your first victim is ready for you.” They both grinned.
The morning was going well, and by 9:30 they were
already beginning to work with their third horse. This one was the young bay
gelding he had ended with yesterday, one that had been started in a bad way by
a rough trainer.