An Affinity for Horses

By Wendy K. 


Murdoch Lancer strode out the kitchen door of the hacienda, cup of coffee in hand, and wandered over to the corral. The early morning sunlight sparkled off the dew like diamonds and the air smelled fresh and clean. It promised to be a beautiful day.

Leaning his arms on the top rail of the fence surrounding the corral, the Lancer patriarch watched with fond admiration as his first born put a green-broke pinto through its paces. The two maneuvered around the confines of the enclosure with all the grace and finesse of a dance team, man and horse moving in perfect harmony.  

Everyone was always commenting about Johnny’s prowess with, and affinity for, horses but Scott’s ran just as deep and just as strong. The blond definitely had a knack for deciphering the language of a horse, for understanding its nuances. Most people tended to forget that it was he, not Johnny, who had taken Barranca, an unfamiliar and then still-green horse, through a series of spectacular jumps mere seconds after mounting him for the first time.

The former Bostonian was an accomplished and elegant rider, having been schooled from an early age in all the subtleties of horsemanship, and his stint in the cavalry had honed that skill to a razor’s edge. His son didn’t like to talk about it but Murdoch knew from hearing other veterans’ war stories that most cavalry soldiers fought their battles with a gun in one hand and a saber in the other, using only their knees and their intimate bond with their mount to navigate the fierce fighting safely.

“He’s really good, huh?”

Murdoch was startled out of his ruminations by the quiet voice of his younger son, Johnny.  The former gunfighter was mirroring his stance beside him, chin resting on crossed arms as he leaned on the cross rail.

“Yes, he is.”

“Everyone’s always tellin’ me I have a real way with horses,” Johnny continued softly, not taking his sapphire gaze off his big brother. “But Scott…Scott’s in a league all his own.”       

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Murdoch confessed. “You both have a remarkable affinity for horses…..You do me proud.”

Johnny cut his eyes sideways and gave his father a small, bashful grin. “Gracias.” 

“Now if you could both just figure out how to tell a bull from a steer,” the older man continued blandly, eyes twinkling. “I’d be the happiest father on earth.” 

Johnny blinked at his father for a second and then burst out laughing, glad to have reached the point where he and Murdoch felt comfortable enough to joke and tease each other this way.

“Hey, Boston,” the brunet called out after his laughter finally died down. “I think that pinto is probably getting sick of riding in circles. What do you say I saddle up Barranca and we go for a ride out to Red Rock Canyon?”

“I think that sounds like a fine idea, Little Brother,” Scott called as he continued to move the horse around the enclosure at a gentle trot. “We’ll make a race of it. The loser has to buy the first round when we go in to Green River on Saturday night.”

As Murdoch watched his sons ride out of sight, he realized that in addition to their affinity with horses, they had a deep and abiding affinity with each other as well.


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