The roan

roan horse

I shifted into granny, then I hopped back on the hay and let the tractor pull the wagon on that winter day. The horses milled around behind and tried to reach the feed. 

I kicked the hay bales off each side and gave them what they’d need. You could hear the horses chomping down, all lined up in a row. 

Their nostrils blowing steam while eating hay right off the snow. Our horses all looked plenty sound, especially one big roan. 

I’d seen too many horses in the winter, skin and bone. I wondered why the roan had put on so much extra weight. 

He was no easy keeper. Looking fat was not his trait. So, I finished up the feeding and sat down to watch them eat. 

That’s when the roan did something, to the likes you couldn’t beat. The crazy roan let out a snort and scared Dad’s Bay away. 

Then straddled the alfalfa, urinated on the hay. Had I really witnessed why the sly roan was so overweight? 

He’d learned to get some extra food. Just had to micturate. I watched the other horses, guessing what a horse would do, as they passed 

up all the flavored hay, while the big roan ate that too. I’ve heard of spitting in your drink. I can’t say that will work. 

But the roan was such a wiseacre, I swear I saw him smirk. I had to wonder how the big roan’s brain could figure out. 

I’d watched him do the dirty deed. He was guilty without doubt. But, we couldn’t let one greedy horse eat all the horses’ hay. 

So, we penned him in the corral, and there the peeing horse would stay. The hungry roan was smart enough to steal the hay away. 

But did he have a clue why he was corralled away that day? We fed the roan his hay and straw, kept track of what he ate. 

We put him on a diet. Soon enough he lost the weight. I tried to be observant, feeding horses every day. 

But from then on I never saw him peeing on the hay. So, I’ll give the old roan credit, how he planned his little trick. 

And I must admit his reasoning was pretty doggone-slick.


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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.



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