“Mom? There’s someone out with the horses,” my daughter told me, peeking out behind the curtain covering the window above her mattress in the bunkhouse.
I immediately jumped out of my bed and peeked out the door. Sure enough, there were two people in the pen moving around with the horses. It was six-thirty in the morning and I was the only one scheduled – who on earth would be out in the pen with the horses? One of the reasons we always had someone stay in the bunkhouse was to keep people out of the pen. The horses didn’t seem alarmed, but without my contacts I couldn’t see who was out mingling with them.
I peeked out the door again to look at the parking area and sure enough, there was a strange car parked there. How on earth had I not heard them drive up and get in the pen? Since they seemed to be moving with purpose, like they knew what they were doing, I picked up the phone and called the main house to see if we were expecting a vet or farrier, though I was pretty sure that either would have checked in at the bunkhouse and it was early – certainly too early for even a vet or farrier.
By the time I got off the phone with the main house, they had moved two horses from the pen through the barn and tied them to the rail. All I could see, sans contacts, was a brown hat moving between the two horses and I could hear the second person rummaging in the barn. Since the answer from the main house had been negative, we were not expecting a vet or farrier, the only answer we could come up with was that someone thought that they could help themselves to our horses. Hoss rustlers!
My daughter was giving me a running commentary of the happenings in the yard as I pulled on my socks and boots and grabbed the Glock .40 cal I slept with. I decided that I could shoot well enough without my contacts that I didn’t bother with them – all I had to do was aim at the big moving things that weren’t the horses and even as blind as I am, I could tell the difference.
Knowing that making a big, loud exit from the bunkhouse could startle them and give me the advantage, I told my daughter to stay put and slammed the door open, jumped out of the doorway to the ground and started yelling, “Who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing with my horses?!?” I must have been a sight; hair piled up on top of my head in a mushroom, gray long-sleeved t-shirt, shiny, blue pajama bottoms and brown cowboy boots. I continued bellowing as I stalked toward the pen, trying to get a look at the people with my horses. I kept my gun down by my side in my left hand, keeping my dominant hand free to grab a lead rope if I needed. I could see one person between the horses and the other stepped out of the barn as I was yelling.
“It’s me,” came the reply from the person between the horses. By this time I’d built up a good head of steam – “it’s me” meant absolutely nothing to me.
“Who?” I bellowed back, knowing full well that I did not know the person exiting the barn.
“Ken” he answered. Ken. My brother-in-law, and a part-time wrangler. “Juanita said I could take a couple of the horses out today.”
About that time, my daughter poked her head out the door of the bunkhouse and hollered, “Mom! Grandpa says not to shoot Ken! Grandma said he could take a friend out today.”
Well, hell, here I was, wide awake now and lookin’ to shoot me some hoss rustlers and it was just my brother-in-law. Couldn’t shoot him. Crap. That’s okay, I s’pose, ‘cause it just wouldn’t have been right to shoot hoss rustlers with a handgun that wasn’t even a six-shooter. For that I’d’ve needed a pump-action 12 gauge.