Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Big Valley" are the creations of Four Star/Republic Pictures and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended by the author. The ideas expressed in this story are copyrighted to the author.
Nick rode Coco hard. He knew the stallion could handle it and had decided that his beloved horse loved the challenge as much as he did. They were going amazingly fast and the wind whipping past felt wonderful on the hot, sticky day. Not much work in the area he was riding that year, so he knew he was alone. Heath was on a horse-buying trip and wouldn’t be there to ask for him and it was unlikely that he’d be needed at the house. He was free to take up a challenge.
Everyone thinks I want to beat everyone. Why? There’s not much fun in that. Well, I guess that I usually do beat people could have something to do with it. Gosh, some of those time have been doozies. Nick smiled to himself.
Nick eased Coco to a halt but remained seated. He took out his pocket watch and checked to see if he’d lessened his time at all. He’d lost two seconds! He let out a whoop and reared Coco up on his hind legs. Taking a deep breath, he dismounted and walked to Coco’s front.
“Ah, I knew we could do it, Coco, old boy! Yessir, we did it! What’d I tell ya? Made it here quicker than last time. Whoopee! As Heath’d say, boy howdy, we did it! And, by golly we did! For that, you get a treat. Enjoy it now, fella. It’s well deserved.” Nick fished a few sugar cubes out for his horse and rubbed his friend’s head as the latter nibbled on the sweet present.
Nick let Coco have free rein and sat down under the shade of a tree. Boy, was it hot out, even for summer! He lay back and tipped his hat down, dozing off for about ten minutes. Even sleep took second place when duty called the tired cowboy. He woke up with only a few minutes before he’d have to leave for the house to make it home in time for dinner. He looked down where his hand lay in the dirt near the roots and scratched into it with his fingernails. He took in his fist what he had scratched and held it before his face. He loved that ground. The land. The land was his anchor. Something he worked for to improve, to use it. He loved doing his work. Driving cattle along a dusty trail. There was just that feeling that came, a love that happened when you poured your sweat and blood and heart into it. Something inherited from his father. Something that made the process sweeter than the rewards, the work more valuable than the results. Something the Nick understood but could never explain. It was the same thing that drove him to competition. The same thing that drove him to perform to his greatest, making conquering others secondary to conquering himself.
His time was up. He grabbed Coco’s reins and mounted up effortlessly. Nick took his pocket watch out and looked at the time.
“Alright, Coco. Let’s make it home in time to check what’s for dessert!” He dug in his spurs and they took off rapidly.