The Stockman’s Choice
The Stockman’s Choice has gained multiple highly commended awards and achieved second prize in the Bronze Spur written competition in 2018.
The poem tells the story of the strong bond often forged between man and horse in difficult times and is told through the eyes of the horse.
THE STOCKMAN’S CHOICE
I was born a horse on a mountain ridge with a savage storm in sight
when the thunder roared and the lightning flashed and the day turned into night.
And I heard the call of the wild horse mob as my mother pawed the ground
and she urged me up on my shaking legs as the brumbies gathered round.
Then we turned and ran for the snowy tops high above old Jindabyne
through the deep ravines and the fallen logs as we scaled its steep incline.
And the valleys rang with a thousand hooves and their thunder matched the skies
as the sparks threw light from the flinted stones like the fire in our eyes.
With the blood of Walers and station studs running strong within our veins
we knew every inch of those alpine slopes and the fragile frost-swept plains.
And I grew up proud and I grew up strong where the snow gums brush the sky
and I learned to thrive on the brittle grass and the dew when times were dry.
But the mountain riders were toughened men and they knew that country well
as they chose the best from among us all with an eye to buy and sell.
So, when old enough, that’s the way it was, I was captured in a pen
and I met the likes of the breakers there and I learned the ways of men.
Then a stockman bought and he trained me well with a firm and gentle voice
and a bond was forged in a rugged land for I was the stockman’s choice.
Then a war broke out on a foreign shore and the Anzac spirit rose
and the stockman rode as a soldier now and I was the horse he chose.
And the rifles roared like the thunder storm and their muzzles flashed with light
while the thick black smoke and the choking dust quickly turned the day to night.
But we fought with pride for our southern sky, for the country of our birth,
though the guns spat pain and an early death and a life held little worth.
And we rode the length of those arid lands as we viewed the gates to hell,
‘til we felt the sting of the bullets bite and on foreign sands we fell.
And I heard the calls of the wounded men and I heard the stockman’s voice
as he urged me up on my shaking legs for I was the stockman’s choice.
And I went to him on those blood-drenched sands and I got him to the line,
but the price I paid made the stockman curse –his life for the cost of mine.
And he leaned in close with his whispered words when he knew what must be done
and his eyes grew moist as he stroked my side and he sadly aimed his gun.
So, I died a horse on those desert sands while the soldier stayed to fight
when his rifle roared and the muzzle flashed and the day turned into night.
Now my spirit roams on my mountain home and I listen for his voice.
Then I’ll go to him and I’ll bring him back for I was the stockman’s choice.