SSS (Sadie’s Short Stories): Reed; Bandacar’s Beginning

I rode hell-bent for leather when I got far enough away from the camp to not see firelight or my herd anymore. Even in the dark of night, Bandacar knew his way around this terrain, I knew I could give him free rein, and he would be able to make it to the nearest town, or fort, with no trouble. I raised him on this land since I was 16 summers old, I could never stop counting my age with seasons, that’s just the way I was raised. I broke him gently, having found him when his mama was attacked by a wolf, and he was left for dead, his mama lying there beside him. I had found him when I was practicing my bow and arrow hunting with some fellow warriors. We had split up, I was using one of the many apache hunting trails, and the other warriors went to go hunt antelope farther down the canyon. I heard a rustle, and a whinny, and heard a scuffle in the underbrush. I thought I had come upon a kill of my own, lifting my bow and anchoring the arrow feathers near my mouth. I stared down the shaft of my arrow, sweat beading down my sunburnt skin, my red curls laying over my apache headband, the curls blocking some of my vision. Apache don’t cut their hair until they are mature, and while their’s is straight and can be braided or pulled back, mine just curls and falls in masses over my forehead and neck.

Well the whinny became insistent, like a plea for help, and I shook the sweat soaked curls out of my line of vision, and moved cautiously through the brush in front of me, moving my feet along the ground as to not startle whatever was on the other side. My moccasins slide along the rocks and sand, the dry twigs and sand slightly agitated as I came out on the other side of the brush.

A little foal was whinnying in a pathetic cry, a mare that looked as though it had been ripped to shreds, and a wolf on the other side of the clearing in the rocks, coming for the foal. The foal was a beautiful chestnut, it’s little spindly legs shaking in fright, it’s pupils dilated, it’s ears back in agitation. It tried going around to the other side of the mare, thinking it would have protection, but the wolf looked almost gleeful at it’s easy kill.

I felt a surge of pity for the poor foal. I felt anger surge as well, and I let the arrow fly, striking the wolf right between the eyes as it lunged at the little foal. The foal squealed as it was crushed by the dead weight of the wolf, but the wolf was dead before it even hit the ground. The mangled hair of the wolf and the white teeth made me shiver as I rolled the wolf off the foal. The foal lay where it was, shivering in fear, petrified at seeing an even bigger creature looming over him now. I sighed with pity, and lifted the poor thing back on it’s feet, surveying him, checking if there were any wounds. There were a few scratches that looked like it had been running through some briars, but other than that, no harm was done him. I rubbed down the chestnut foal softly, as a mother would on his wounds. He whinnied contentedly, having calmed down a little, but still on edge with the smell of the wolves blood, and his mother’s.

“Come little one, I’ll take care of you.” I lifted the foal, slinging it over my shoulders. He was bigger, but in the wobbly and skittish state he was in, I couldn’t risk leading him, and I had nothing to tie him with, so I was on my way, the foal on my shoulders. I would later find the other warriors, and show them the mare and the wolf, confirming my story of where I got my foal, and confirming my kill.

That was how I met Bandacar, it was quite a story really, but that was a very long time ago. Sorry for the rabbit trail, but to better understand the bond between a man and his horse, you have to know the beginning. We just bonded from the time I found him, to the time I trained him, through many a battle, escapade, and through the rough times too. We had traveled all our years together, growing up together, sightseeing together, working our herd together, he was my best friend, and I him. That’s why I would trust him with bringing us where we needed to go. He knew the land like the back of his hand, or hoof in this instance. I knew he would get us where we needed to go. It was almost like he could read my thoughts, even before I thought them. I wanted to go a certain route, and to a certain town, he would take me. If we needed to be steathy, and not leave a trace, he could walk like a panther, and leave no trace behind. If we needed to get lost, he got us out of harms way before you could say “YEE-HAW”. He was a special horse, that’s for sure.

Well, having gotten far enough now from camp that we could slow down our pace, I slowed him down to a trot, then to a walk. He whinnied in a relieved tone, seemingly satisfied with the pace I set. I sighed, letting the reins hang limp in my hands. We walked through the night, and I took my time, watching the stars, then the path ahead, then behind, still cautious, but now more relaxed. I had made my escape, and by the time they found my cage empty, Bandacar and me would be miles away, with no trace behind us, for I could smell rain in the air. After a few minutes, the smell of distant rain was upon us, and the rain was coming down in sheets. I knew of an alcove with an overhanging rock ledge, which you could make a fire, and the light would not be seen. With the rain as well, the smoke would be diluted, and the rain would block some of the light that did escape the little cavern I had found.

Not long down the trail, rain-soaked and tired, I got down and led Bandacar out of the rain into the little spot I called Covered Cavern. Getting into the cavern, I found the stack of sticks and twigs I had made there awhile ago, in case of times like this when I was caught in a tight spot. I also found the flint and stone had left beside it, and set to work building a fire. I got one started, first sparks, then flames blazing, lighting up the small carvern. The smoke billowed out of the cavern through a small crack in the ceiling of the rock ledge. I was thankful for the cover of the rain, and for the water that it provided. I took out my canteen from a pack on my saddle, and set the canteen out in the rain, then came and unsaddled Bandacar. He seemed to thank me with his eyes when I got the rain soaked under blanket from beneath the saddle, and when my clothes and the saddle was laid to dry by the fire. I had changed into some fresh clothes I had in one of my many packs, and rolled up a saddle blanket beneath my head, drapping my large buckskin coat over me. I looked over at Bandacar, and smiled happily as he munched from the feed bag I had put on his face. His eyes told me to rest, and he seemed to say that we had done well.

“We sure did well Bandacar, thanks old fella for saving my neck back there.” He blew loudly through his nose, like a sign of welcome. His eyes seemed to smile at me in the firelight, and before I closed my eyes in deep sleep, I smiled back.

Thanks for reading more of my stories! I hope you enjoy reading more about Reed and his many adventures, to understand them all, you would need to go back and read Reed the white Apache, Part I and Part II. I also hope that these stories are informative, and that you find them entertaining, yet enlightening in the area of the historic old western way of life. Thanks again, and make sure to keep updated on more blog posts! – Sadie


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