I discovered a surprising fact about myself yesterday. I found out that I am not ideally suited for horse ranching. You see, running a horse ranch is first and foremost, a business. The commodity we deal in happens to be horses which means we buy and sell them.
I really believed I was okay with that until yesterday when I had to say goodbye to my Snow Queen.
I remember, over a year ago, when Mel first approached me with the news that she had found a really beautiful filly on the Scarberry ranch down in Arkansas that we really should have for our breeding program because her lineage was impeccable. I grumbled and growled about spending money we needed for other things on another dang horse. Then, she showed me a picture of the young lady….I fell in love.
Here is a shot of her shortly after we got her....
Her formal name on her papers was Hailey but to me she would always be “Snow Queen” and when Mel and her sister brought her home she came off the trailer and into the pasture with all the other horses with a truly regal air of grace and beauty.
We began, almost at once, schooling her with hours of ground work. We taught her to lead and to lunge, to get use to the weight of a saddle on her back, and to stand quietly when tethered. She was gentle and easy-going and she learned her lessons quickly. But, beyond the lessons, my Snow Queen learned to trust and love me.
Every great beauty needs her close-up. Look at those beautiful eyes.
Whenever I walked into the pasture she would be the first to greet me, walking up and gently nuzzling my face with her soft nose and then checking my pockets for her expected treats which I always carried in my pockets.
I looked forward to the day when I could ride her on trail rides and dazzle all the other riders with her beauty. Then, as the horse market stayed depressed and we were faced with reducing our herd, Mel began to advertise a few of our brood mares for possible sale. It was not long before she heard from a rancher in Oklahoma who had seen Hailey’s picture and who wanted her for his own breeding program. His ranch was bigger and better equipped to ride out the down-turn in the market and he was excited to get a mare with her breeding.
So a deal was struck whereby he would get my Snow Queen but we would get the first of her babies so that the breeding line would return to Almosta Ranch.
Well the guy showed up late yesterday with his horse trailer to pick her up. Mel went out into the pasture and slipped a halter and lead rope on my girl and lead her up to where me and the rancher were standing and she handed me her rope. I stood there and stroked her neck and whispered to her. She nuzzled my face as usual and searched for her treat and I was feeling lousy.
Then the buyer started to haggle about the price! After a few moments of his spiel I had heard enough and I quietly lead my girl back into the pasture and began to take off her halter. Mel called to me to stop, the rancher was going to buy her after all. I told her: “I don’t haggle. I will be happy to just keep her.”
Well he took her, as it turns out, but after they were gone I told Mel that from now on she was going to handle all the sales because, like I said, I don’t haggle. My horses are all precious to me and when I sell one it is for a fair price that I will NOT change. She tried to explain to me that haggling is a time honored practice that all horse traders engage in. To which I replied that I was not a horse trader, I was a horseman and to us all our horses are like a part of our family.
So from now on Mel will deal with these people and I will settle with raising my animal charges, loving them, and giving them their treats.
Now I look forward to my Snow Queen’s daughter coming home to Almosta Ranch in a couple of years so I can spoil her and love her like I did her mama.