This was only my second or third ride out of the barnyard on Sportin’ Life, a red-headed filly born on the ranch a few years earlier.
Mesquite trees scared her, jackrabbits scared her, white rocks scared her, and grey rocks, and big barrel cactus, and hedgehog cactus and sticks that looked like snakes. The rattle of a passing van sent us galloping into a deep sand wash where a startled red tailed hawk flew up from a kill and brought us to a shuddering standstill.
Sideways, we stuttered into the barnyard. At the tack shed she leapt straight into the air and landed with a single explosive snort, stretched out her neck, cocked her ears like pistol hammers and backed up fast. A dark grey creature about the size of a feed sack scuttled away. Maybe a javelina? Or a pig?
It seemed to hesitate. “Pig!” I called.
Rocking from one double-toed foot to another, its middle thick and unbendable, it turned and shuffled toward us.
Immobilized by terror, Sportin’ Life stood still long enough for me to dismount and kneel. The pig’s tusks curved in a white smile. A flat round nose wriggled and behind the nose, nearly hidden, squinted two tiny crusted eyes. It limped past me and lay down in front of my horse who, trembling, touched her muzzle to its snout…