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Don't Tamper with Horses

Part 6

Ron Casady grinned as he looked over his small herd of purloined horses. The six he'd stolen from Morgant rounded them out to an even twenty. His grin fell a bit as he recalled the stink at Morgant's corral. The rancher must have found some new kind of fly repellent, why else would he bathe the fence in garlic water? But once they'd gotten the horses away the smell had dissipated, much to all of their relief.

"Ron!" Al called. He rode up on a short-coupled bay horse with smooth lines and sturdy legs. It was the best cutting horse Ron had ever seen. "We got trouble cookin'. None of the other horses want anything to do with Morgant's. Look!"

At the edge of the herd a gray ran back and forth, then dashed toward one of Morgant's horses that was edging its way toward the herd, striking out with a forefoot and biting at the unfortunate horse's flank.

Ron sighed. They had the occupational hazard of introducing new horses to each other and he had seen some interesting things. Something was certainly bothering the gray and he shrugged as he kicked his horse forward. "Herd them over toward camp and Vin can help us check them out."

The three Casady brothers puzzled over the marks of recent soaking on all six horses' hooves. Further confusing the matter was the smell of garlic water, again evident when they got close to the horses.

"Nutter," Vin muttered. "They don't have cracks in their hooves. It ain't fly season. What's he doin'?"

Ron rubbed his chin as he thought. He didn't know any home remedies that included soaking horse feet in garlic water. He winced as he smelled the garlic on his hands, left there by touching the horses' legs. His stomach suddenly sank, then tightened with fear as he realized what the garlic was for. "Well played, Morgant," he whispered, then turned to his brothers. "Get our gear, quick! We've got to get out of here!" In the near distance he heard a hunting dog howl.

...To be continued.

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