In this story are equestrian and gun terms arcane to the layman, so I provided a small glossary in the back of the book for dressage and the sport of cowboy fast draw. And last I provided the only definition I know for love—Mansion.
This is not a “how to” horse book. It is a novel with an ongoing story line using the formal devices. I wrote the story for my friends in the horse business, both professional and amateur, and all of the horses throughout time that have exalted the human race. There are lessons and coaching conversations with riders from time to time, something a non-horse person may have to read on, but for those in the business that get up every morning to this, the lessons and training are a way of life. I have tried to make the back-and-forth dialogue during the horse craft interesting to everyone by surrounding it with what else happens in the lives that become so intertwined at the barns and arenas around the world.
The word dressage in French simply means “training.” That training is to make the horse a better athlete so that they stay healthier and safer with the weight of us on their backs, but make no mistake, the movements you see at a dressage show, those beautiful movements you see in the Olympics, were primarily trained into a horse to give Napoleon or Alexander’s armies an advantage over other men in battle. The best-trained cavalries were feared. Horses were the killing machines of their day, like aircraft are now. The English did not like to go to the continent and fight the French or Prussians on horseback, because their ability to train horses was not the same as the dressage masters of those countries. Of course, the English did not have to go there; if you tried to sail across the channel to them, they would drown you. They were masters of naval warfare.
Horses: I once asked an old master if he thought a certain horse was a good horse, and I never forgot what he said.
“They are all good horses.”
Chapter 1: Elsewhere
“Steak without bourbon is like chicken without skin. Love without sin is like an egg without salt,” the man said to a friend, and the man was his own hero.
They told him in town, “Don’t go on Wolverton Mountain if you’re looking for a wife. Clifton Clowers has a pretty young daughter, and he’s mighty handy with a gun and a knife.” But the man went anyway and took the girl he loved. The bears and the birds told Clifton Clowers, and the story stopped.
Joel Katz, another fast gun, called Wolverton Mountain his favorite love song without an ending, so he decided to give it one:
The man and the girl were married a year when he stood by a river with a gun on his leg. Forty feet away stood Clifton Clowers with his. People off to the side stopped breathing. The man got Clifton, the jailhouse, and a famous trial for dueling, illegal since the eighteen hundreds. What was it on Wolverton Mountain? A duel? Self-defense? Or both? Joel Katz and the jury told everyone that would listen, “Both.”