Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Breaking Even on a Horse Trade
April 11, 2003

As a young feller in my twenties, I fancied myself as somewhat of a horse trader. It was very seldom that I made any money on a trade, but the thrill was in having fresh horseflesh around to admire. It is with complete honesty that I must admit I am still hooked on the sport. Maybe someday yet I can trade for that perfect saddle horse.

Back in the early 'seventies, I had a friend who was even more addicted to the game than I was. He even ended up losing a perfectly good wife over his trading. She gave her ultimatum, "Give up horse trading or give up me." Of course he couldn't give up the adrenalin rush of a friendly equine swap so the fine lady gave up on him. Back to this particular deal, my friend and I had traded horses and I wound up with a pretty molly mule as pure profit on the trade. She was a good-looking thing standing about fifteen hands with a delicate nose that would fit in a teacup. Her only problem was a very bad attitude, but that was just a challenge that added to the fun.

One particular night during calving we had company for supper. My dad's brother and his family brought out some other long-distance friends. I talked my cousin, who was the same age as me, into helping me drive in the heavy cows. He saddled up a horse that was in the corral, and I thought there would be no better time to try out my new mule. In took some expertise and "mule whispering" to convince my gorgeous long-eared friend to allow me to saddle her. I crawled into the saddle, and circled her around the corral for a bit.

Darkness was fast approaching, so we rode out into the pasture to drive the cows home. My new mule went fine for a little ways, then bogged her head and really went to bucking. I was grabbing anything that looked like a hand-hold, but a few jumps later slammed into the ground. I lit right on my face and sure had the wind knocked out of me. When I was finally able to kind of breathe again, I tried to take off my glove to feel if my nose was still attached to the rest of my face. The glove on my left hand wouldn't come off because a broken ring finger was bent the wrong direction. A good cowboy is supposed to get back on after getting bucked off, and usually I do. This time I said the heck with principles, and walked the 3/8 of a mile back to the house. My uncle hauled me forty miles to the nearest doctor, and a couple hours later I was decked out with a new cast on that particular finger. The doctor's bill came to eighty-five dollars. The next morning I caught the renegade mule and unsaddled her.

The longer I analyzed the beautiful mule, the more of a horse-trader's special she began to look like. My thinking was "life is too short to put up with the likes of her." When the next horse sale rolled around, I loaded her up and sold her "loose" (without riding her in). When the bidding stopped, the auctioneer announced "sold for eighty-five dollars." Guess you could say I broke even on the horse trade.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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