Cowgirl Sass & Savvy: Tales of a horse sale

Julie Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.

Julie Carter

Horse sale stories beget more stories.  Over the centuries, the time –honored tradition of “horse trading” has changed only in the price tag.

One cowboy summed up the industry. “Last year I bought a horse at the Spring Horse Sale for $900 and sold it at a December sale for $500 and never looked back. I finally got a set of shoes on him before the sale. It took two of us and a lot of drugs. We even gave the horse some. The outlaw never learned to neck rein but I did get the buck out of him long enough to sell him. He sure was purty though!”

I personally bought one of those really “purty” ones that was represented as a “little cinchy once in a while.” It wasn’t long before I realized I owned a horse that needed a shot of drugs before you could saddle him up. He only flipped upside down when you pulled the cinch too tight or too fast and sometimes he waited until you were sitting the saddle.

Another was the nearsighted barrel racing horse. He could and would turn like a rat in a barrel but the problem was he would do it about ten feet in front of the barrel. Now that’s a scary ride.

Then there was the big, very pretty palomino that was the answer to a dream. It had rained a foot in the Panhandle, something that rarely happens. So when the cowgirl went to look at the horse, he was standing knee deep in mud.

She fell in love with him at first sight, wrote the check and trudged him through the mud to the trailer to take him home. On dry ground she could see he was about as pigeon-toed as he could be and still walk.

Tales of a horse sale

Since it didn’t rain again for a long time, it took her awhile to find him a new home. It was the first time a horse had been bought from a trader and it would take another trader to get rid of him.

The most honest reply I got when asking folks about the horse they should not have bought was, “Really, almost every horse I ever bought I shouldn’t have.”

The horse market seems to bear both ends of the dollar spectrum and has buyers that fit the bill for both.

One time a regular cow-trailing, colt-riding Panhandle cowboy got mixed up with a bunch of big-bucks horse people and ended up on a plane to Dallas to a big dispersal sale for a name-brand horse breeder.

A limo met the plane and hauled the prospective buyers to the sale where the cowboy toured the barn of sale horses with the troop.

He spotted a truly outstanding 2-year-old bay stallion and he decided that colt would be a perfect fit for him. He tells his wife, “This one would make a nice gelding. I’m gonna make somebody pay for that horse. I’ll get him for $1,500 or let him go and we’ll get him started this summer.”

The sale started, everybody moved into the barn, took seats and held up their buyer number cards. The cowboy was on high alert for the bay colt and was not going to be outbid. He already was making plans to fly home to get his rig to come back and pick up the colt.

The bidding started at $10,000 and the first bid out was $15,000. He may not have been outclassed but he sure was outbid.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.comVisit her website at




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