hard; after 28 years, Lloyd and I went for a walk.
Lloyd joined my cowboy-polo string around age six,
and over the next two decades, he did everything
from chasing polo balls to packing guests to
dragging calves. His was the life of a ranch horse
on a cattle drive operation. After assigning guests
their horses, if Lloyd was still in the corral, he
became the favorite pony of my middle daughter,
Chelsie. They were close friends and during the
tedious hours trailing a string of cows and calves
down a county road, Lloyd learned Chelsie’s brown
paper lunch sack held goodies just as fitting for
horses as for cowboys. The instant he heard the
crinkle of paper as Chelsie pulled her lunch from
her saddle bag, his ears would shoot up while his
nose explored the treasures in Chelsie’s hand.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars,
cheese sticks, corn chips and apples were all fair
game. Lloyd loved lunch.
Late in his teen years, Lloyd suffered a life
altering injury. It was early June and my nephew,
Brendon, and Lloyd were chasing yearlings in the
rugged, Red Butte pasture. At an all-out run, Lloyd
stepped in a hole or slipped in the mud, sending
them both cartwheeling down the steep hillside.
Miraculously, Brendon emerged with no evidence of
the tumbling which wouldn’t wash off in the shower.
Lloyd was not so lucky; he struggled to his feet and
was instantly packing his right hind leg. Worse than
just being afoot, Brendon now had a three-legged
horse to coax off the butte to the horse trailer,
several miles away. It was a long trip.
We suspected Lloyd had torn his anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL), rendering him forever stifled, so he
spent the summer on pain killers and green pasture.
Once the pain subsided, allowing me to fully
manipulate his leg, I discovered his ACL was intact,
but instead, he had torn his hamstring—an equally
devastating injury. While healing, Lloyd’s body
replaced the exploded hamstring muscle with scar
tissue, forming a restrictive band with the
elasticity of a log chain. Completely pain free, he
would step forward until the band hit its limit,
thereby causing his foot to slam to the ground. It
is called the “goose-step” and it is the
characteristic gait of fibrotic myopathy. I resected
the band, yielding a completely normal gait the day
after surgery. Within a year, the scar tissue
returned, and he was goose-stepping again, so we
went back to surgery. There are lots of tricks to
keep the muscle from re-scarring, none of which
work, so this cycle became our new normal.
Monday was the day this chapter of my life came to a
close. It was a beautiful, deathly calm, October
afternoon, as Lloyd and I climbed the half-mile over
the hill behind the barn. Lloyd was arthritic and
thin and regardless my efforts, winter’s bite would
keep him from seeing another Wyoming spring. At my
doings, he lay down in a chokecherry patch to never
rise again. I walked back to the barn alone,
carrying only his halter and the warm memories of a
dark brown horse nosing Chelsie’s paper lunch sack
I told you this story because God has given me a
great life and I know everything before me, the easy
days and the hard days, are placed there at His
wishes. At this writing, I do not know the outcome
of the most pivotal election in America’s history,
yet it matters not. Whether I am on the inside or
outside of the political arena, and regardless which
candidates assume power, I will still crawl out of
bed every morning at four o’clock and attack the
task God has set before me. Faith, family and
freedom drive me today, just as they did in days
past. They should you too.