I took the old horse to the saleyards today,
Buckled his bridle, led him away,
Too ancient now to be earning his keep,
I could pull down the stable and run a few sheep.
Shunted in shortly with other tired hacks,
Hip shot, day dreaming, bays,
browns and blacks.
One quick pat for farewell, then left to his fate,
His puzzled gaze followed as I chained the gate.
I meant to go home - but on passing the ring,
I hung around idly to see what he'd bring.
Flies rose in clouds, keen auctioneer's cry
Urging, haranguing the people to buy.
Brief swirl of dust as each beast was led,
Gentle Shire, impish pony, tall Thoroughbred.
Heat, noise befuddled - a familiar sharp neigh
And into the ring came my gallant Old Grey.
His head held up high, hollowed eyes bright,
He plunged and he reared as a two year old might.
Curved his neck archly, walked staight and proud,
And danced his excitement in front of the crowd.
My memories flooded, the stations outback,
The cattle, the country, the weeks on the track,
Long summers, stark winter, rivers to swim,
The trust of a pony and my trust in him.
He lunged for the rail, watchers swayed in alarm
As he slid to a stop, laid his head on my arm,
Leaned on my shoulder, content, flicked his tail.
From somewhere, my small voice,
"This one's not for sale."
In the yard by the house graze a small mob of sheep,
They wander the mound where Old Grey lies asleep,
I like to think his last days here were great,
May green pastures forever surround my old mate.