It’s been several years since I have been to a horse sale. Unless, of course, you count bucking horse sales. I’ve been to Oklahoma City, Miles City, Kearney, Mesquite, Grassy Butte, Bismarck, and maybe some others for bucking horse and bull sales.
I’ve been to cow and bull sales weekly for more years than I care to relate. I’ve been to production horse sales and for years we held one of our own. Where, coincidentally, the finest horses in the world were sold.
But it’s been quite awhile since I’ve attended a horse consignment sale at a sales yard.
When I was younger it was a must. If there was a horse sale, you just had to go. If you were a kid and wanted to make a few dollars, there was always someone willing to pay a couple bucks for you to ride their horse through the ring, while they took the mic and gave a history of the horse. One time I heard a guy lie!
As I got a little older, it became a social event. You usually had a horse you wanted to part with, or you were looking for a good prospect you could ride a year or so and turn a profit on. And you could usually run into the friends you rodeoed or ranched with. You could share stories of cow tales and rodeo trails. You could compare branding dates and check the moisture level across the country. Sometimes people would stop for a beer after the sale. Really.
Last week I attended a sale for the first time in years. It was held here at Stockmen’s. I had forgotten how much fun they are. You had everyone from babies to old cowboys in wheel chairs. People looking for their first horse, and people selling their last horse. And everything in between. I saw old friends that had moved away, but still dabble in the horse trade. I saw neighbors selling horses that had “been there and done that”. And I could vouch for them.
But I saw a couple things I had never seen before. There was a family. A big family. A family that would bring a horse into the ring and show a horse. Some were their own. Some they were showing for other people. I’m not sure how many kids there were. I know I counted seven, but they kind of bunched up on me at the end and I could be off a couple.
They would bring a horse in and start waving a blue tarp around it. They would turn somersaults off the saddle and off the horses butt. One of them would crawl between the horse’s hind legs, while another was standing in the saddle throwing a rope. They would pull the bridle off and put more kids on and ride the horse around with no bridle! The girls wore long riding skirts and the boys were dang sure just cowboys. It was fun. And it looked like to me, those horses were as bombproof as one could be.
Another highlight was a guy with a leaf blower. That’s right, a leaf blower. He brings this nice gray horse in and rides it around the ring. Then he takes a leaf blower, a leaf blower with plastic ribbons tied on the end, stands in the saddle, and starts this leaf blower. With this leaf blower and those ribbons waving all over, he passes this thing all around this horse. And this horse doesn’t bat an eye. I’m always happy if I can point at a cow off my horse and it doesn’t jump!
Leaf blower is the high selling horse of the sale. Over $10,000!
Evidently there was someone there who really, really needs some yard work done!
Can you imagine the next horse sale when a hundred horse jockeys come with leaf blowers? Scary.
Dean Meyer is a former legislator and ranches in southwest North Dakota. He has been a columnist around the state for years.