So…last week I said I would come back today with part two of my thoughts on “Outlaws, Pickers & Mavericks” after my ride out to Robber’s Roost, Utah with guide West Taylor and friend Mike Moutoux. I figured I’d be loaded up with knowledge about old Butch Cassidy and I could share all that great info with you. As they say, man plans, God laughs.
Last Tuesday as I was buying supplies for the trip, I received a call from my sister who said, “Mother’s having chest pains, they think she’s having a heart attack. They’re taking her by ambulance to the hospital.” Well, they put her in the hospital and proceeded to run every test known to man on her heart, none of which indicated a problem with her heart. They did find evidence in her lungs of pneumonia and she had a cracked rib, apparently from coughing. This appeared to have been the source of the chest pains. She’s not a big complainer, tending to wait until her pain is at an 8 on a scale of 10 before she speaks up. Admirable but not particularly helpful. They had to wait on results from some of the lab tests and weren’t going to have them until Wednesday morning, when I was scheduled to leave. Things were still “iffy” the next morning and since I didn’t want to be out of cell phone range, I canceled the ride. The good news is that they pumped her full of antibiotics and by late Wednesday afternoon, she was back at her assisted living place. By Friday morning, she seemed to be out of the woods so I headed on up to Utah for my performances over the weekend.
As I was getting to Torrey on Friday afternoon, I received a phone message from Mike Moutoux saying he’d been in a horse wreck and sustained a broken rib. He was in a lot of pain and didn’t think he could do his full performance Saturday. In fact, he couldn’t perform at all since, as it turned out, he hadn’t broken A rib, he had broken SIX ribs, some in several places. As you read this, he’s in the hospital in Provo, UT. In the true cowboy spirit, we’re waiting until he gets out before we start giving him a hard time. He and our guide, West Taylor, never made it to Robber’s Roost. More about Mike in a minute.
So Mike is out of commission but West, whom I’d never met, came to my performance Saturday afternoon and afterwards, we went out to dinner. West is about a sixth generation Utah native who grew up working with horses on his grandfather’s ranch. After college, however, he got married and went into the IT/Computer field, moving away to the big city to pursue his dreams of financial rewards. Four years ago, with the economy still floundering, they re-evaluated their plans. West and his wife made the huge decision to completely change their lives. They moved back to the beautiful red rocks area there close to Torrey where West now works full-time with his first love- wild mustangs. He takes young wild mustangs, helps them learn to trust and become working partners with humans. He’s very good at what he does.
West first met Mike Moutoux last May at this same event, the Torrey Cowboy Gathering. A couple of months after that West was involved in a bad horse wreck which left him with the left side of his face crushed. It was touch and go for awhile and during the time he was healing up, West seriously pondered how quickly life can slip away. Last October, Mike, whom you’ll recall West had only met once, and our friend and wonderful Western entertainer, Mary Kaye, did a benefit performance for West to help out with medical expenses. West told me he was overwhelmed by this generosity. He couldn’t believe how Mike and so many other people whom he hardly knew were willing to step up and help out. Now, he tends to believe that most people are basically good; if a fellow human is having trouble, they’ll do what they can to ease the burden. As he’s thought about it, he’s decided he wants to give back as well. His focus now is looking for opportunities to use horses to help humans heal…wounded veterans, troubled adolescents. He realizes that people can learn a whole lot more from horses than horses can learn from us. As my buddy Juni Fisher said so eloquently, “listen to the horse.” We spent several hours talking about his plans and I’m looking for ways I can help him along the way.
I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that Butch Cassidy thing. It was clear to me that this was the story I needed to tell this week. With the intricacies of horses, history, buck-offs, and amazing Utah scenery, this is a narrative that could only come out of the West. What does it all mean and where is it headed? Heck, I don’t know. I’m just along for the ride.