There's a sub-culture you might have never known about. Horse sales. Last weekend my main squeeze and I attended a big, special horse sale down in Billings. Not the average, once a month sale where many horses are sold, quick. This sale offered eight hundred horses. Most were sons and daughters of renowned horses. Most were very high dollar too! But all I could think about as we walked around the complex was, "What a tough way to make a living!"
Eight hundred horses were hauled from just about every western state and provinces of Canada. They were bathed, brushed, prepped and stalled on Thursday night. People and horses rushed about in crowded alleyways. The folks selling the horses had to be present near the pens and stalls to answer questions of potential buyers. For hours and hours. After driving a thousand miles, caring for the horses, doing all the paperwork, making attractive sale flyers to hang on the gates....
The next day the same folks saddled up the horses to be previewed. Wannabe buyers watched as each horse was shown off for the crowd. Some roped calves, some ran barrels, some just loped circles. The buyers wanted to see how they handled.
Friday night a hundred head went through the ring. Most didn't bring as much as the seller hoped. They weare unlucky to draw a sale time before the big buyers arrived on Saturday.
The next morning at seven we saved our seats in the top row. Sale time was at noon and If we didn't get there that early there would be no seats. We piled our things on a seat and went to the cafe down in the front of the sale barn. The place was packed. The waitresses were rushed, but the food was good. Like one of those run down truck stops that serves home style meals.
Every person within ear shot was talking horses. Which ones were outstanding, which ones were lame, which ones they hoped to take home. Several hundred people with the same goal. Buy the best horse for the lowest bid possible. Or sell the horses for as much as possible to keep the grocery bills paid.
Horse sales are a family affair. The kids of the business amaze me. Cute little girls are recruited to ride the steeds through the ring. They're taught that being cute sells. They're out there riding them ponies until late at night. It's cold, dark, wind blowing and those kids are getting it done without complaining. I told one little girl that she's definitely tougher than I am. I wanted to be back in my hotel room with a cup of tea.
Saturday night after hours in our chairs, a little bay mare came through the ring and no one was very interested in her. She wasn't as fancy as most of the others. The mares we had hoped to buy went too high for our budget. So we still had our money in our pockets. Michael looked at me sheepishly, we agreed and bought her on a whim. Impulse shopping at a horse sale is usually a bad idea! But the little mare came home with us and she is a sweetheart. Thank goodness!
After being at the sale for thirteen hours, we loaded her up and drove five hours to home. The most tired I've ever been in my life is at the end of horse sales. I told Michael we sure can't do this very often.
It's a tough way to make a living.