September 30, 2009



Those of you in the ranch business know how weak the horse market is. I imagine it’s a combination of not having a slaughter option, and the recession. If you have to decide who needs feed worse, your kids or your horses, most people kind of opt for the kids. Although some days I wonder.
There was a horse sale here in town the other day. It was pretty tough on young horses. I was visiting with a rancher friend after the sale and he commented, “How things had changed over the years.” He said, “You used to come to the horse sale and they would be giving puppies away. Now, they sell the puppies and give horses away!”
But times were not always that way, and I just heard this morning that the horse market is getting set for a big rebound. You had better buy one while you have the chance! And what the heck, it reminded me of another sale years ago…
Lynn and I had taken a load of bucking horses to Mesquite for a sale. I tell you what, I’d way rather drive through Killdeer or even Dickinson, than Oklahoma City or Dallas. I don’t know where everyone was going, but they were in a hurry.
But we got into the fairgrounds with our load of bucking horses and didn’t cause any wrecks. Oh, we may have created a little road rage. But what the heck, I married an Irish woman, so I’m kind of used to people being a little upset at my behavior.
And you should have seen the bucking horse and bull sale. I guess they had about three hundred bucking bulls and a hundred horses to sell in one day. A long day. But they are used to it and it goes real smooth. Until they got to our horses.
Most of the horses and bulls they sold are pretty well seasoned. Or, I guess you could say kind of wore out. They have been to rodeos for a lot of years, and for many, their best years are behind them.
Ours were a little different. They were bred to be bucking horses and only had been out a few times. At places like Elgin and Stanley. They hadn’t seen the bright lights and all the action. People all over. Indoor arena. And I guess you could say the young riders they had trying the horses were a little overmatched.
Like I said, things were going smooth. Until our horses came in the chutes. One flipped over backwards. One climbed over the chute. We finally got things settled down and got a cowboy out. He got bucked off into the chute and broke a leg. We had to wait for the paramedics to get him out. Twenty minutes. The next guy got hung up and broke an arm. Another twenty minute wait. The third guy was getting nervous. So was the horse. Finally, he nodded. The horse bailed out, turned back to the chute, and threw the cowboy against the chute gate. Concussion. Another twenty minute wait.
By now, we had the rest of our horses in the chutes. And the riders were weakening. They would see Lynn putting a flank on a horse and they would kind of fade into the background. We kept adding money.
A young guy kept eyeing one of our horses. He asked Lynn if the horse was strong. Lynn said he didn’t know, he’d never arm-wrestled him. Lynn talked him into getting on. The guy came off quicker than a prom dress. Only the announcer had more taste than me so he never mentioned that.
We eventually got them all bucked but two. Three ambulance trips and no rides. And the best horses were left. I finally got them sold after the sale.
Then I went into the office to settle up. To see if the horse check was bigger than the bar tab. And it was. I mentioned to the sales manager that we would be back next year. He looked at me and in a southern drawl said, “If yawl’s comin’ back next year, see if you can bring your own riders. Ours is a little weak for those northern horses.”