Excuse me, y'all. Excuse me. Can I have yer attention for a spell? Y'all can holster them guns, pardners. I mean no disrespect and no quarrel here. You see I done lost my horse and am, as you can imagine, quite despondent.

Gather 'round, y'all, and lend me a kind ear while I speak my tragic tale and, if you'll permit, reminisce about my aforementioned horse, who has left me for foreign pastures in the night. I can only speculate as to my horse's current whereabouts, but if I were a horse I'd part these dry, dusty lands for green fields and plentiful waters. Can't quite reckon why we people don't do the same.

Now I don't know why my horse left. Maybe it was my attitude and my gosh-darn cussedness. You see, pardners, I am a cantankerous coot by nature, and seldom do I show my appreciation for others, least of all my horse. I rode on the back of that fine steed and never once did I offer thanks. In this landscape unending, there ain't no other way for a sorry cowpoke like myself to traverse but by horse. There is of course the steam engine -- and I can tell by mere mention that many of y'all share my disdain for such technological hubris -- but horsepower will always be first in my heart.

And that's the problem right there, amigos: I never once told my horse that. I could have said, "Horse, I ain't laid eyes on no prettier a creature. You got a beautiful mane and a big heart. Horse, I'm much obliged to ride on your back, and proud to be your companion on this lonesome trail." I could have brushed its mane every night, made sure it had a shiny pair of shoes and the finest oats available. When the horse got tired, I could have climbed down and handed it a fresh apple. I did no such things.

For me it was always about gettin' to the next town for my next drink. Never once did I contemplate the needs of my horse. The horse was just the thing that carried me to my next exercise in drunken foolishness. Ya know, every so often, in the business of imbibing as much liquor as my gullet could capacitate, I'd catch a glimpse of my horse through the windows, hitched up outside all alone or amongst its peers. The look on that horse's face was like ice-cold river water running down my spine. I'd tell myself "Lord help me, I've got to clean up and be a better man for that horse." By the time I'd get sobered up, that promise would be forgotten.

Now I see some watery eyes here in this here saloon, so I know I've struck a nerve. I don't think I'd be makin' no fools wager that more'n one of you has been unkind to your horse. And if not expressly unkind, at the very least unappreciative. Am I right, amigos? Yeah, from that silence I 'spect I am.

It's only been a day since my horse run off on me, and not a moment goes by I don't hope to see it come galloping back, maybe even bursting through these saloon doors. I know horses don't speak no English, but maybe it'll have learnt a little in its travels apart, and maybe it'll have learnt to say "I forgive you." And you know what, I think I learnt how to say sorry, too. I'm gonna say sorry to that horse and I'm gonna mean it.

And I can tell you one thing I was happy to do in the meanwhile: I kicked off my spurs. Carrying a full-grown man around is no easy task, and certainly no pleasant one when said man is jabbin' and pokin' with sharp stars on his heels. I reckon none of you would be pleased if, in the commencement of your daily labors, some mean ol' horse kept pokin' metal in your hide.

Yep, I'm gonna be a better man to that horse. I'm gonna brush its mane and tell it nice things. I want my horse to be proud to have me on its back, and that means no more drinkin' and whorin' around. After tonight's drinks, when I sober up, I'm goinna give that horse something to smile about. It'll strut around town mighty pleased and proud to have yours truly on its back.

Pardners, I see a lot of y'all is holdin' back tears. Well, I say let go of the reins on those tear ducts. If y'all feel like cryin', let it out. I know I've wept myself dry while lookin' for my horse up and down town, hollering "horse" to high heaven. I can tell I've given y'all a lot to think about in regards to your own horse relationships. There ain't nothing wrong with admitting you done a poor job. The only thing wrong is doing that same poor job again.

The way I see it, pardners, is there ain't but one solution: If my horse comes back to me, I'm gonna do the honorable thing. I'm going to marry that horse and show it the love and kindness it deserves. Now I don't care if I have to force a preacher at gunpoint to perform the ceremony. I just want that horse to know its appreciated. I can tell from lookin' at your faces that many of you are thinkin' the selfsame thought.

Well, drink up, pardners. Tomorrow's gonna be a new day for all of us. We're all gonna wake up as better men, committed to showing appreciation to that most faithful alley in our ongoing scheme to ride from town to town, engage in the occasional shootout, lasso the assorted varmint, and lead cattle from one barren pasture to the next. I'm talkin' about our horses, pardners. I'm talking about our future wives.

– Josh "Livestock" Boruff (@Livestock)

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