When we first got Barney, you had to follow him around for half an hour to get a rope on him, and if your hands went anywhere near his ears (essential for putting a bridle on) his ears went straight up, the crazy flooded his eyes, and the whole white wall of him went tight. I always hitched him first, because after Barney, everyone else was comparatively easy.

Jane might break a few of your fingers lurching her head around while you tried to snap her pole straps, but you knew she wasn’t going to kill you outright. Barney, on the other hand, was deeply afraid. And when they’re afraid, and a little damaged emotionally, there’s a thin line between going to till a field and beginning the long recuperation from multiple fractures.

Now look at him. in the palm of my hand (and in my pockets, rooting around for mule treats).

The guy who sold him to me said “He ain’t never been no pet. Ain’t ever gonna be one.”