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A Horse of Course

A Horse of Course
by Don Blazer

"I've got to warn ya," said Slim. "This hoss don't look too good."

"I can see through a little long hair and dirt," the snake skin boots with the silver tipped toes reassures Slim.

"Okay," Slim says with a grin.

Training horses is nothing more than teaching the horse a new language. It's all about communication.

Once a horse knows what you are asking, he's usually more than willing to do your bidding.

But, you have to say what you mean and mean what you say. You can't be wishy washy and say one thing one time and something else the next time. No horse can be expected to perform if he doesn't know the meaning of the terms.

It's the same when you go to the auction looking for a horse.You must understand the meaning of the terms.

Most good hoss traders are honest-in their way. They'll tell you anything you want to know, if you just ask.

Just be sure you give a little thought to the meaning of their terms. An "all around horse" means he's been tried at everything and isn't much good at anything.

And your ego will get you in a little trouble if you are willing to take on "a spirited animal for an experienced rider." The only riders experienced enough to ride this one are at the National Finals Rodeo, or a rider contemplating suicide.

"Green broke" means the owner ran out of knowledge or the courage necessary to finish him.

"Light in front" means this horse will tip over backwards with you. "Light in back" means he'll sure enough try to kick you head off. "Little ticklish about his feet" means the farrier has refused to shoe him again.If a horse has been "started on cattle," or "started on barrels," it means he's walked past the neighbor's beef calf, or that he's walked around a barrel without spooking.

As far as show horses are concerned, you really need to know what is winning these days. A "reining prospect" often means he's run away in 50 western pleasure classes. "A good trail horse" more than likely means he'll go anywhere as long as there's a horse in front of him.

"A good field hunter" means he's way too ugly to be in the show ring. A horse that will "ride on a loose rein" means you'll have to spur him every step of the way, while the horse with "plenty of get up and go" will run through any kind of bit or mechanical stopping device. A horse with "plenty of gas," has frequent bouts with colic. When the "daughter lost interest in horses" it's a sure bet she'll be off the crutches in another month, or she ran off with a bull rider. If the horse is an unregistered Quarter Horse, then he's a fat horse. If he's an unregistered Thoroughbred, then he's a skinny horse and "if papers go with him," you'll get papers, but they might not belong to him. If you are told to "look at that head," then the seller doesn't want you go look at his legs or feet. And if Slim says, "He's got a lot of color," then Slim can't think of anything else to say about the horse.

Beware of any horse named, "Pretty Boy." A "family pet" is not a horse you want. You can't shoe him, he'll walk over the top of you, he's never been taught anything and you can't speak harshly to him. The family pet "doesn't like men" and you can be sure no adult has been able to catch him. Any horse which is "absolutely fool proof, or bomb proof" is still alive, but too old and too tired to care anymore.

Slim seems to be taking a lot of verbal abuse from the guy with the silver hat band on his Stetson. "You didn't tell me that horse is blind," the buyer says. "You didn't ask if he was blind," says Slim. "Even though you didn't ask, I was kind enough to advise you that he didn't look too good.

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