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  • Every horse is a gamble. Every horse is a dream. Every horse is promise and optimism, until they aren't. Every horse has a story.

    "His name is really Moon Rising. You know, MR." She said it to us three times, each time we called him Mister. He was corralled in her backyard at the edge of the desert on a small dirt lot, scarred and thin, his hips jutting, his neck narrow, he was a little vacant-eyed.

    "You see I had his brother and him. But then we got divorced and I gave his brother away and then I gave Moon Rising to Jerry, but he was too much horse for the kid that Jerry had in mind for him. Jerry couldn't sell him out there, so he brought him back. He didn't feed him enough. At some point he went to the track but he didn't run."

    Mister is standing in this dirt lot on the sad sharp edge of the city; there are houses and dogs and skeletal cars and hip hop beats pounding out of some nearby window. Trash is embedded in the desert. There is so much trash that I walk Mister only a few feet into the desert behind her house before I decide his thread-thin tendons will be severed by a crushed aluminum beer can or broken glass or the piece of a refrigerator door or stray barbed wire coiled like rattlers under creosote brush. I get off Mister and turn him back toward his sandy pen in her tiny backyard on the very very edge of town.

    Betsy calls me later.
    "I keep thinking about Mister."
    "I know. Me too."
    "Those legs. He's so skinny."
    "He's a diamond in the rough," I say, knowing this is not reason talking, but optimism.
    This is only hope talking.
    This is only Mister's promise.
    This is Mister's story.

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