I was out trimming and shoeing horses just the other day, not much different that any other except it was well on it’s way to being one of the nicest days of the year so far. Spring is finally coming!  I was finishing at one ranch when a neighbor from down the road apiece, we’ll call him Mr. E, stopped by to see if I could trim his old horse up.  I happily said I could fit it in and as I finished hammering on hind shoes he and another old timer swapped stories about cowboying in the Dakotas.  Many of their stories got a good chuckle out of me and helped pass the time.  I finished the horse, and that job, and started packing up my tools, having agreed to meet the man in a bit.

A short time later, I pulled off the highway in front of the Mr. E’s place.  I easily located the horse pen and met him as he ambled over with the halter in hand.  Stooped and shrunken with age, he still easily caught the horse and swung the halter over it’s head.  He led it out and I got to work, quickly cleaning up the winter’s growth on all four hooves.  After finishing, he turned out the gelding and headed for the house to retrieve his wallet hollering over his shoulder that he would meet me back at my pickup.  He was soon there, and asked how much he owed me.  “Thirty dollars” I stated.  He peered at me and said “Seventy dollars?  OK.”  “No, no, just thirty!” I said, more loudly this time.  He nodded and proceeded to thumb through the bills squinting at the old wad of leather in his hands.

Payment completed we got to talking for a few minutes and he inquired how much a full set of shoes was.  I told him, and he explained what his plan was.  He and his wife had a favorite camping place way up in the mountainous back country that they went to for years.  He wanted to make the trip again- but this time to spread some of her ashes.  I could see the old cowboy’s eyes mist up behind the deep, leathery creases on his weathered face and his voice choked up telling me about this place that held so many precious memories for him.  It was obvious to see the pain of losing her and just how much he had and still loved her.  His whole demeanor softened from the hardened man who easily swore every second word in a conversation about bucking stock just minutes before and it pulled at my heartstrings.

It’s not often to see a love like that anymore.  It was an image right out of the bygone days out West, where these tough people made it through thick and thin together, and left an impression like that on the other.  Looking down the road, what else is there?  Time has a way of putting a shine on things and changing what we hold important, and experiences like that make me reevaluate my own priorities.  Maybe it will do the same for you…