“Hunter, watch carefully as I approach the horse. Notice how he keeps his eyes directly on me. If he moves away, then I’ll put him back to work.” Smokey moved toward the bay stallion again. But this time, he didn’t run off. He held his ground, his ears twitching every which way, his eyes locked on him. Ever so slowly, Smokey switched the stick and the rope into the same hand and reached out his other hand until he was touching the bay horse’s forehead right between his eyes. Hunter could hear him cooing like a dove to the young stallion as he rubbed his head. Hunter was amazed but even more surprised to see Smokey turn and walk away.
The old cowboy walked through the gate and around the pen to stand beside Hunter. He rested his foot on the lower rail and his arms over the top. He looked at the stallion that had still not moved.
“We’ll just let him think about that for a while,” said Smokey with a smile.
“Why did you quit after all that?” said Hunter, squinting up at the cowboy, the bright sun having risen to its zenith for the day.
“Ah-h-h, boy. Good things take time. If you want his trust, you have to earn it. You can’t rush it. I like to leave them on a good note. Leave them thinking about what just happened and that it was a good thing. He has to learn that I am not here to hurt him.” Smokey turned his head and looked down at the boy. “Horses and people are a lot alike. It doesn’t take much to destroy our trust but it takes a dang long time to earn it back.”
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