I’ve always considered myself a cowman; it’s my identity. When people ask me what I do for a living, I take pride in saying “we run cows” or “I’m a rancher.”

Those who know me know that I harbor a limited number of passions. These include cows, politics, college football, my kids and, my most dangerous habit of all, horses. I can’t explain it, but riding a good horse is one of those things that just makes the world seem right to me.

I bring this up is because I’m also kind of known as being a bottom-line kind of guy. I once took one of those personality tests and am embarrassed to say I received nearly a "0" on the scale for compassion. Certainly I've been known to tear up at funerals and will get misty-eyed watching a Hallmark movie, but I’m pretty sure my kids have never seen their dad cry.

Well, I had to sneak off behind the barn recently to keep that record intact after the vet came out and told me my old gelding was preparing to depart. That gelding had taught two of my kids to ride; he was my first real good horse. At 30+ years of age, his demise was something I knew was coming. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that came when the time arrived.

Of course, I understand it's not in the same realm as a divorce or passing of a loved one, but I found myself feeling like I was going to cry. The last time I remember having that feeling was when I was seven and experienced a “real” loss. So, I walked out behind the barn, out of view of mom and the kids, to be alone. I just walked around a tree patch and remembered something that had played a special part in my life, something I regretted losing, and I prayed and thanked God for the opportunity to have had the chance.

I remember my grandpa saying that people are either horsemen/cattlemen or they aren’t. As I was walking around that tree patch trying to figure out why I couldn’t keep those tears from slipping down my cheek, I realized my die was cast; I am a cowboy, and maybe sometimes it’s okay if cowboys cry.

Of course, I wouldn’t argue with anyone who might think it was weird that I have more vivid memories of several old cows and horses than I do past girlfriends, but I guess that just who we cowboys are.
-- Troy Marshall