Big Sky, Big Trouble

A young mother and her grandfather find themselves confronted by the worst nature can offer during a leisurly horse ride.

William Jacobs swung his aching and aging hips over the rawhide saddle and settled into the seat. He hadn't seen the perspective from atop on a horse in 30 years. And even as soon as he adjusted his 74 year old body to try and blend with the contours of the leather, the spikes and jolts of pain from arthritic joints gave him second thoughts about his current decision to ride today.

Lacey Jacobs watched her grandfather ascend the Palomino with the grace and ease of someone who was a pro. Although she never saw her "Papa" working on any horse (at least that she could remember), she knew the stories he told of raising, training, and dealing horses here in Montana. Now, seeing his handsome and rugged figure sit fully erect and proud, she knew she was viewing him in his element.

"Let's head on down to the river. We might see a coyote or mountain goat on the way, and I think we can make it back before them thunderhead clouds introduce themselves." said William. He remembered the way. He had walked his horses thousands of round trips along the trail for dozens of years.

"Just as long as we don't see any mountain lions," said Lacey. With a sharp gesture from the riders, both animals loped forward making their way and snuffling the air.

"Henry seems to be bonding with you very fast," Lacey said. Henry was her one year old son. This was the first time William had seen him. "He really likes his papaw. "

William smiled. "He's a cute little squirt. I'm glad I made the trip back to Montana for a spell. The constant sunshine in Palm Desert is monotonous. And golf is the only thing keeping my old hips from rusting up for good."

They ambled along for a few miles, but before they reached the river the thick clouds had raced past overhead and looked full of rain and ire.

"I think we should probably go back now before we get drenched, don't you think, Papa?" Lacey tried not to reveal her concern, but she had seen clouds like these before and knew what type of wind, hail, and wetness it could unleash.

"Naw, we'll be fine. You got your hat, dontcha? A little summer rain'll do ya good. I just want to see the ol' winding Yellowstone while I'm here." Drops of rain began splattering the ground just as William finished his sentence. But so did gust of wind which grabbed his trusty cowboy hat off his head and blasted it 25 yards off the trail.

William halted his horse and left the reins with Lacey. "Hold these. I gotta get my hat."

"Be careful, Papa." said Lacey. He ambled off through the brushes pushing past shrubs and wiping rain from his face. Lacey watched him freeze just as he was about to bend over to pick up the hat. "You ok, Papa? Did you hurt your back?"

"Lace, I want to you be real quiet and walk them horses back the way we came. Looks like we got ourselves an old mountain lion and I don't want the horses spooked."

The End

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