The director yelled “Action!” too late. The horses were too fast, too wild, and that open gate looked too much like freedom. The camera didn’t catch any more than their tails whipping past. Sound had some more than that: the thunder in their hooves, churn of the desert sand. The director ran after the horses waving his arms, screaming at their flanks.

They weren’t trained horses. The director had asked for stallions fresh cut from the herd, wanted the untamed manes framed by the dusk they were now all missing. Caught or not, the horses wouldn’t be needed for twenty-four hours. And as if they knew, they kept running. The wrangler on the set galloped after them, but he told the crew early that if they were gonna go, they’d get gone, and he’d be out there well past sundown luring them back to the corral.

So for the sake of cinema, the horses broke the dry riverbed and stamped their hooves, nickered, leaped. When the cowboy showed on the horizon they went hell for leather for the next one. Ad infinitum.

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