She was a sight to behold. Nobody had ever seen a horse like her. She was a beauty…completely white with a jet black blaze. She soon became mythical and her legend put the small town of Bonebluff on the map.
The myth surrounding her was that she was the one horse nobody was ever going to ride…or break.
She was as fast as lightning and had been dubbed “Wind Spirit” by the town. Catching her would be like trying to catch a fast-moving storm. Men came from far and wide. Many of them tried and many of them failed but not everybody gave up so easily.
One day a stranger rode into town. He was a self-assured cowboy who introduced himself as Jesse. Word had it, he was from the hills of North Carolina and had made his way out west in search of Wind Spirit. Tales of her had traveled all the way to the East coast.
Jesse made his living breaking horses for ranchers….horses that were “unbreakable.” His business card proudly boasted “ain’t no man can’t be throwed. Ain’t no horse can’t be rode.”
There was no reward for the capture of Wind Spirit, just bragging rights for having done so and Jesse had it in his mind to claim those rights.
He had never encountered a horse like her before. Sometimes, it was as if Wind Spirit was playing with him. She would let him get close and just as he was about to dismount his horse, she would bolt as quickly as a speeding bullet.
After months and months of trying, it became clear to Jesse that he had met his match. There were going to be no bragging rights and his reputation was going to suffer but for some reason, it didn’t seem to matter. He had developed an almost reverence for her.
When he finally gave up, he rode up to the hills for one last look. As she stood in front of him, he tipped his hat in a gesture of respect, turned his horse around and rode out of town.
Not long after, another stranger rode in, known as the cowboy. He seemed to have an air of superiority and expected everybody to acknowledge it. When asked what his business was, he simply replied “I’m here to claim a prize.” That prize was Wind Spirit.
People laughed and told him it would take a better man than him…but this cowboy was different. He had learned the ways of Native Americans for catching and taming wild horses.
He was determined and driven but he was patient. He slowly gained trust from Wind Spirit. Instead of trying to rope her, he took off his shirt and let her smell it. He rubbed it up and down her back. He was getting her used to his scent.
Before long, he managed to slip a bridle on her neck. That day, she became his.
The townsfolk gasped as he came riding Wind Spirit down the street. He had a satisfied smile on his face and strolled by as if he was wearing an invisible crown. Although it was apparent that Wind Spirit hadn’t completely surrendered, he had done it. He had caught the uncatchable. He had touched the untouchable. He had conquered the unconquerable. He did what he came to do. He had claimed his prize.
After a deep jab with his spurs into her sides, and the crack of a whip, he and Wind Spirit disappeared into a cloud of dust.
Years went by and in the town saloon, the usual old timers sat at the table, playing poker, drinking whiskey and wiping tobacco stains from their chins onto their shirt sleeves. They were just old men, talking about old women and old times and old legends. Festus was pushing eighty and was by far the oldest but he had a remarkable memory and loved to tell stories of days gone by. He started talking about the mysterious cowboy who had come to take Wind Spirit away. He captured their attention as he told the tale. Then, he quietly wondered aloud “I wonder whatever happened to her.”
A lone cowboy sat at the bar, staring into his glass of whiskey. A closer look would have revealed that the man was Jesse.
He heard that after the cowboy had beaten Wind Spirit into complete submission, he put her out to pasture. The cowboy hadn’t cared about Wind Spirit. He had only cared about breaking her. He had only cared about winning. It was that night that Jesse decided he was going to find her.
He tracked the cowboy down and when he saw Wind Spirit, he almost dropped to his knees. She was tied to a post and was so disfigured and beaten down that he hardly recognized the beauty she used to be. The letter B had been deeply carved into her left flank.
As Jesse ran his hand across the scar, the cowboy smiled and said “this is my mark. It stands for BROKEN.”
Jesse wasn’t sure but he thought Wind Spirit might have recognized him as she gave a slight nod when he gently stroked her mane. He whispered to her that he was going to take her home. Jesse asked the cowboy how much he would take for her. The cowboy said “just take her. She’s useless.”
Jesse made good on his word and took her home. People stood in silence as she slowly and painfully walked down the street. A few of the old men had tears in their eyes as they watched her struggle. Gone was the beauty who used to be the envy of every cowboy.
Jesse and Wind Spirit made it back to her beloved hills. When he took the rope from around her neck, she used every ounce of strength she had left to make a gallant run before she collapsed. She had one last taste of freedom.
Jesse buried her that same day. There is no monument. There is but a tiny cross made of sticks which will, in time disappear. But her memory will live on…in tales told by old men, who sit around and play poker, drink whiskey and wipe tobacco stains from their chins with their shirt sleeves.
Nobody ever saw Jesse again after that day.
Word soon traveled to Bonebluff that the cowboy had been found hanging from a tree. A large J had been carved into his chest and a note was pinned to his shirt. It was written in his own blood.
The note said “this is my mark. It stands for JUSTICE.”