One of the entertainers we’ve invited to Shooting the West this year is Brenn Hill, a singer/songwriter out of Hooper, Utah. My favorite song he sings is “Night Horse”, written by fellow cowboy Chuck Pyle. The song describes what can happen when cattle stampede in the dark. The cowboys mount up in a hurry and run with the herd until the cattle tire. Then, if they’re lucky, they can turn the herd back toward home.
But finding home can be a tricky proposition when you’re too far away to see the campfire and all around you it’s black as cats. So the chorus of the song tells the cowboys …
Turn it over to your night horse
Let him bring you back on home to the fire.
Now your night horse probably isn’t the flashiest horse in the remuda, but it’s the one with a sixth sense about where he is, and where he’s supposed to be. As Chuck Pyle says about one such horse …
He must use somethin’ other than his eyes
Whatever birds fly south on
I guess that’s what he counts on
Little Joe could carry me through to sunrise.
I once had a horse I could trust like that. He was black, with a white star on his forehead. Every time I hear the Night Horse song, I think of that old gelding. When I imagine riding through a dark night, miles from home, it’s not my horse’s abilities I question. It’s my own. Could I give the horse his head and lean back in the saddle? There’s always the temptation, as soon as I’m not certain of the direction things are heading, to snatch up those reins again. You know what I mean?
I’ve been working on that. It says on the quarter in my pocket, “In God We Trust.” That takes more practice than I care to admit, but I do realize the value in trusting someone other than oneself — beyond oneself. God makes a good night horse. Chuck Pyle’s song reminds me I’m not alone on the journey. When I trust, the reins lay slack.
(The illustration comes from a rubber stamp I picked up a few years ago. Thanks to “MD,” whoever you are.)