Having spent close to two years hanging out together on about 8 ½ acres of remote Texas County pasture, Shawn and Big Sur had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and routine.

Our two Arabian geldings had only each other with whom to share both an abundant, reproducing food source and a springhead that is not known to go dry. Heck, even in the summer of 2011, when the relentless heat could have easily had the two guys thinking they had been transported back to the land of their ancestry, they had running water to guzzle and tons of grass to munch.

Life was good; the 15-year-old Shawn knew that the 23-year-old Sur was boss, and there was a sensible order to everything. Their needs were met, their struggles were few, and everyone got their share of sweet feed.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Then fall came and something happened that turned their equine worlds upside down. In early October, their twosome became a threesome, and the new team member was – gulp – a woman.

The unexpected addition was Holly, a 10-year-old quarter horse mare, who was visiting from a friend’s place. Our unsuspecting pair didn’t know she was only scheduled to be there a week.

When Holly first entered their space, Sur did some bucking, kicking and carrying on to show her what Shawn already knew. She was wholly unimpressed and paid little attention to his antics, choosing instead to peruse the corral area to find where the tastiest patches of grass were growing.

As the first day passed, the trio settled into their new pattern. Some of the novelty had subsided, and the men took to their fresh situation by usually flanking the mare, offering their protection from whatever might threaten her.

Holly seemed highly content, and acted as if she had been there for a long time. There was no sign of any dissent or unrest, just three horses being horses and enjoying it.

A day or two more went by, and Holly assumed the role of making most of the calls (where to stand, when to move, and other decisions that need to be made during a horse’s day). The men were satisfied to follow suit, and the order they were used to seemed to be intact.

But a few days into the story, something drastic took place. Shawn and Holly eloped.

The white Arabian and his brown quarter mare were somewhat suddenly inseparable, going to and fro on the acreage in almost a giddy fashion. Shawn, to be sure, was giddy. He had found the love of his life and was making the most of every moment.

Meanwhile, the surly Sur stepped a bit out of character and pretty much allowed the festivities to continue, positioning himself at a distance from the silly couple while they frolicked in the autumn green and made their plans for the future. The big flea-bitten gray veteran of many a saddle allowed it, but he wasn’t in approval.

On day five, he put the hammer down and the marriage was annulled as quickly as it had been established.

Shawn was no longer given any sort of access to Holly and was forced by his elder boss to maintain a distance of at least 40 yards from her. Sur was diligent and unwavering in his zeal to keep his rival from the girl, and made it his top priority to make sure Shawn stayed out of the forbidden zone.

Heartbroken and crest fallen, poor Shawn tried in vain to approach his ex, but she was to forever remain his ex. Sur would have no part of a reunion and chased away his upstart counterpart at each advance.

He was the alpha male, and for the order to be restored, the mare could not be spoken for by the young, inferior buck.

But this saga was never meant to be lasting, and a week and a day after it began, the controversial female departed in the same trailer in which she had arrived.

One would think ol’ Sur would have danced a jig knowing his problem was gone. One would think he would have had a prideful laugh at expense of the young whippersnapper he had just defeated.

One would be wrong.

In the days that followed, both boys seemed to be dealing with great loss. Their neighs at each passing vehicle and their cries in the darkness illustrated their sorrow.

Where is she?

Why was she gone? Why had she come?


The answers were not to come.

At least there was still fresh water in the spring.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com