Cowboy, his dad a cowboy, Jessie, all he ever knew was being a cowboy. Jessie used to travel the circuits, rodeos, bull riding and roping. Years ago Jessie had bought a horse, stallion named Smokey, that horse a better friend than most of his human friends. Smokey like Jessie both were getting old, their glory days just faded memories. Reminders of those happy days hanging, the form of pictures on the wall and the many trophies won, sitting places in his house.
Jessie had worked a lot of his later years on a ranch in Wyoming, riding Smokey checking fences and livestock each day. Jessie could whistle at anytime and Smokey would come running, but only to Jessie’s whistle, yes that horse could identify Jessie’s whistle from any other man’s whistle. Jessie and Smokey had been through a lot over the years together, from roping and performing in rodeos and horse shows, to bears and big cats on the ranch. Smokey would never get too excited, trusting Jessie’s wisdom, plus Smokey was used to Jessie’s lever action rifle that took care of most harm that came their way.
Jessie had retired, owned a small forty acre farm in Wyoming not to far from the ranch where he worked for many of his later years. Jessie was married once, but the traveling, rodeos, and horse shows kept him away from home a little more than she liked. After one of Jessie’s outings of two weeks of the circuit, came home to a mostly empty house, she’d taken most of what they owned, bank account too, mostly Jessie’s heart. She’d left a note on the table, didn’t seem she’d cried much, but the tears sure rolled from Jessie’s eyes. Note, just a few words…”tired of being a cowboy’s wife, I’m moving on, sorry!” Jessie never did hear from her again, didn’t even know where she went or where she was. He never loved again, maybe once in a great while frequent a bar and have a few drinks and laugh and talk with some women, never nothing serious.
I knew Jessie, we worked some rodeos and horse shows together, he was a good man, I lived a mile or so down the road, my own little place. I’d come and visit Jessie ever so often, probably the best friend he had besides Smokey. You know I can remember when Jessie first got Smokey, that stallion black and shiny, run so fast, that he did look just like a streak of black smoke when that horse went by. Smokey was the reason Jessie did so good in all those rodeos and horse shows, not taking anything away from Jessie’s skills. I never saw any man and animal like Jessie and Smokey, why it seemed like they could read each others mind, if possible! Smokey and Jessie could act and react to each others movements, better than any cowboy and horse I ever saw and yet to see.
I remember times at a rodeo or horse show the many times of winning, Jessie riding Smokey out to the middle of the fenced area to receive their prize. Smokey just as proud as Jessie, gallantly trotting out to the winners place under the bright lights, Smokey’s mane and tail bouncing to a beautiful slow gallop. Jessie always took the best of care of Smokey, Smokey healthy, shined like a newly black waxed car, those were the good old days for Smokey and Jessie. Now Smokey and Jessie both old and stoved up some, when Jessie rides Smokey now it’s just a walk, short distance out in the field and back.
I’d come and visit Jessie, ninety five percent of the time Jessie was in the corral or barn with Smokey taking care of him. Actually I think in some strange way, they took care of each other, Jessie would talk to Smokey just like Smokey was a person. You can say I’m crazy, but I believe that horse understood most of what Jessie said and they were so use to each other, that they knew each others next move. Beat anything I ever saw, the way those two were so close, and loved each other, like two brothers would love each other, probably more than most!
I always wondered who would die first, Smokey was 23 years old, getting old for a horse, Jessie was only 59, but disabled from the many broken bones and damage to his body from bull riding in his younger years. Jessie was 59, but looked 70, rough life traveling, rodeos, later years mostly did roping and horse shows. Jessie had bought Smokey as a yearling, so they had spent 22 years together, much longer than Jessie’s marriage and Jessie and his once wife never had any children. Jessie’s life was mostly him and Smokey, both very contented in each others presence.
One Sunday morning I had went over to check on Jessie, he hadn’t been feeling well, he wasn’t one much for doctors, he’d always just try to rough it out. As soon as I got out of my truck I knew something was wrong, I couldn’t see Jessie, but Smokey was going crazy, pawing the ground, raring up some, whinnying like crazy. I entered inside the fence going to the barn, some scared because Smokey was being very protective of Jessie whom I saw laying on the ground just around the corner of the barn, outside. Smokey knew me some, reaching out to him, he’d have nothing to do with me, but he did finally let me get close enough to Jessie, I knew Jessie was dead.
I called 911, Smokey still going crazy, they got there trying to retrieve the body, I thought Smokey would never let them have Jessie’s body. I stayed the night, just outside the fence with that horse, like most people would do with kin, having lost a loved one. I believe Smokey grieved over Jessie’s death as much or more than a human would a loved one. I never saw the life taken out of an animal, like what I saw of Smokey after Jessie died. Jessie had, had a sudden heart-attack and died very quick, is what the examiner told me. I guess Smokey being so young and spent so many years with Jessie, all Smokey ever knew was him and Jessie being together every day, many hours a day!
Jessie had made all his arrangements and I had promised to take care of Smokey if Jessie died first, which he did. Jessie had beforehand ordered a special grave stone, carved in his grave stone was a beautiful picture of Smokey, words under the beautiful engraving of Smokey said, ” Never a horse like Smokey, never a better friend any human, than Smokey and in death like life, I’ll be riding Smokey, black and beautiful galloping across the green fields of heaven, us together forever!”
Smokey had to be put down about six months after Jessie’s death, Smokey give up on life I believe, till finally the veterinarian said because of pain, better to euthanize Smokey. We buried Smokey on a special place on Jessie’s forty acres. Jessie also before death, Smokey a small grave stone with a picture of Jessie on it, words under, “Smokey my horse, always will be, throughout eternity!”
You can say what you want, but I’ve never seen two better friends than Jessie and Smokey, even if it was between a horse and a man. Never seen an animal that seemingly listened to every word of Jessie, cared and consoled just like one human another, except Smokey was a horse…a horse named Smokey!!