Sunday, January 29, 2017
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy
by Julie Carter
There is an entire dictionary-size list 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 which are 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.
When he says that he has a “good'un that doesn't 'look' real good right now,” it means that he's blind in one eye.
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 owned one of such as this.
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 will actually say things that are 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. And, some traders are quite honest with their dialogue. My all-time favorite is "this horse will do anything you can get him to do."
Horse traders do have place in the world. Proof of that is the wife that said her husband bought a couple horses from a horse trader and it was going to take a horse trader to get rid of them.
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 can be reached for comment firstname.lastname@example.org