Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vocabulary of a horse trader

By Julie Carter

There is an entire dictionary's worth of phrases, sayings and quotes you can pin to the horse trading business.

The best advice for the buyer is to carefully discern the words they hear and look for what they may actually signify. Hidden meaning is a trademark of a seasoned horse trader.

For example, when the trader tells you, "This horse will let you do all the thinking," it really means he is big, dumb and heavy footed. If he says, "For this one you just need to start a little sooner or cut across," he means the horse has two speeds, slow and slower.

When the trader tells you "he'll watch a cow" he could mean that he'll actually have the instincts to keep his eye on the cattle and have some quick responsive action. But it could also mean he'll stand in the gate and watch them go by.

And a buyer should always look beyond the obvious. "This horse doesn't let much get past him," usually doesn't mean he is alert and attentive. It more likely means the horse will booger at a shadow or a bird flying overhead at a thousand feet. Riding uneventfully through rolling tumbleweeds and blowing dust will never be an option.

The horse described as having "a nice little cowboy lope" is one that is so rough to ride he will loosen your teeth fillings at a trot and if you can ever get him in a lope, he'll jar your hemorrhoids up to your tonsils.This type of horse can be described as having the ability to give a woodpecker a headache. I know because I own one of these.

The age of a horse is often disputed, especially if the horse has no registration papers for proof of age or origin. The ability to "mouth a horse" and read their age by the stage and condition of their teeth is a real benefit to the buyer. But the die hard trader will always justify a smooth-mouthed old horse with the line, "He's been in a sandy pasture and his teeth may look a little older from that sand grinding at his teeth."

Buyers beware when you hear things like "He doesn't buck very often." My suggestion would be that even if you don't mind an occasional bucker, if the trader can't tell you exactly when he does buck, keep shopping.

Other things to listen for are the brilliant statements like "When his nose quits running and his eyes clear up he'll be just fine," or "I usually don't have to hobble him to saddle him but he just looks better when I do." In a moment of trying to dump a real mess of a horse, they actually will say things that desperate, even to people who know better.

Horse traders come in all sizes, shapes and classes much like used car salesmen. Some you can't trust and others you shouldn't trust.

Having a horse for sale and being called a horse trader is much like be a writer and being labeled a journalist. It is just not all that flattering.

© Julie Carter 2006

Johnny Appleseed

by Larry Gabriel

John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) never made it as far west as Douglas County, South Dakota. That is a good thing. He might have needed a permit before planting a tree in that county.

According to recent news reports, the county claims Gordon Heber must have a permit to plant trees on his own land. They have denied him a permit, and he has taken them to court.

Attacks on the rights of property owners are not new in this country. Congress has been doing it for years.

This is different. This is an assault on property rights by the local government. What are we saying when the government says a man can't plant a tree on his own land?

How can planting a tree threaten public health? (It if carries a disease it might.) Is it a threat to public safety? (If it blocks the view at an intersection it might be.) Does it harm the general welfare? (If it is a noxious weed it might.)

Generally our government encourages tree planting on the theory that doing so promotes the general welfare.

Somewhere we have crossed the line between regulating to protect the basic rights of others, and regulating for the sake of regulation.

Do we really want a society without fundamental freedoms? Free speech, freedom of religion, family and protected private property in the hands of the average citizen are the building blocks of our nation.

An attack on these fundamental freedom and values is an attack on society itself. Are we ready to self destruct? Not if South Dakotans have anything to say about it.

Here is the problem, and it comes up more often than you think in local zoning issues: everyone gets lost in arguments over tangents. Somebody's feelings got hurt. Somebody got angry. Somebody was rude. Somebody doesn't like newcomers changing things.

None of those things have anything to do with the real question, which always should be, "What is the government's proper role here?"

This landowner wants to plant trees near a waterway. The waterway is either federal or state. There is no other kind. Both federal and state agencies have approved the project.

What is the proper role of a county in such matters? That is the question local voters and county commissioners need to debate among themselves. If we become lost in a web of tangents, a judge will decide after much delay and expense.

We waste much when we lose sight of the real issues. At such times, we need to remember people like Johnny Appleseed, whose father was one of the original Minutemen at Concord.

Preserve the fundamentals foremost, and all else that is worthy will be preserved.

Larry Gabriel is the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny. 90% of any industry is to learn the language and the subtleties therein :-).