Life on Almosta Ranch

Stories of ranch life and other silly musings of an old codger

David McClain

David McClain
Doniphan, Missouri, USA
February 08
I am a simple man who has lived a simple life for sixty years. I have not dined with movie stars nor Kings and Queens. I have not walked the halls of power, nor have I been a mover and a shaker. I have, however, been a soldier, a tinker, a jack of all trades. I have raised five children....I have been loved and I have loved. I do not see grand designs nor do I chase afer them. Instead, I listen to the heartbeat of the land and I rejoice in a bird's song in the morning. Do not come here seeking answers for I have none. I do have questions which I will ask you constantly though. I do not believe in aruging so Politics will not be discussed in my blog. I do not care what your personal beliefs are for you are free to believe as you will...please allow me to do likewise. I have never been rich, but I have always been poor. Being poor however has never stopped me from feeling rich. I feel rich because I have the love of a good woman. Melinda completes me. She gives me the peace of mind and soul required to write about life without regrets and without envy of those who might have more. She is my world. Almosta Ranch is our heaven and we are happiy. This is what I want to share with you in this blog.


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JANUARY 15, 2012 12:41PM

Farewell to my Snow Queen

Rate: 34 Flag

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.

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Beautiful and poignant. I was sorry to see you had to sell her, but I appreciate your attitude about the animals. They deserve care and respect and love and I think they find that with you.
David, what a beautiful horse and I'm in your camp about all of the haggling business! I hope you are able to visit Snow Queen whenever you want (despite the distance)...she looks like the type of horse you would want to see every so often after having had her a part of your family circle!
This has me a bit teary, David, but you're level-headed to balance that soft heart. I think I want to come back next life as one of Almosta Ranch's critters. Maybe one of your fainting goats :)
I think you should continue to make the connection with the buyers. You have heart and every transaction needs exactly that.
Parting is a sweet sorrow.
I never saw a horse with blue eyes.
I'm to the point now (and imagine you may be too) where I classify horses in the same category as elephants, great apes, and possibly certain dolphins, cats and dogs. You just have to appreciate that emotions and connections go both ways. I, like you, would find it very difficult to be a horse trader once a committed relationship existed. Poor Snow Queen. She's gonna miss you you know.
David,you have my fullest sympathy.
How can you give a horse away that loves you so much!
Life is hard,and ranch life is more than tough!
I couldn't do what you do. It would be like selling one of my dogs. She is so beautiful. -R-
I feel similarly about Big Blue, the rooster we bought in the Saturday parking lot critter mart at the Tractor Store. He's a Jersey Giant, blue, friendly, gentle, nice baritone crow and he sired about seven other roosters. My wife put an ad in Craigslist because we had too many roosters. Someone came and picked Big Blue. (I wasn't home and they're Angela's chickens anyway). This was a month ago. I still miss him and so do Hannah and Summer, his favorite hens, who keep looking for him. Hannah even spent several nights roosting on our front porch instead of joining the others in the coop. We had to carry her back there at night when we realized what she was doing. I did make a new friend in one of Blue's sons - Big Orange, who eats corn out of my hand every morning, taking alternate turns with Hannah. I hear ya, Tor. We get attached.
I dont think I could have sold her.. I really dont.. and if he haggled.. horse trader or not he cold shove a horse hoof up where the sun dont shine.
I become extremely attached to animals.. I dont know ho you did it.
Matt and Linda,it feels good to know that I am not the only one.
I'm really sorry David, she's lovely and had a sweet nature. I had a filly once, I remember how she would come nuzzle my pockets, rub her head on me then follow me around while I did chores. She was pasture bred and wild when we got her and a year later was more like a big puppy and we did the things you spoke of.

We only got her green broke before we couldn't afford to keep horsed anymore. She was so sweet and we spent so many hours together, I remember how I felt watching her being loaded into the trailer. I'm glad she went to someone who really wanted her but I'm sad for you.
I remember the picture you put up about her before David.
You sure got my interest writing about Almosta Ranch.
Please continue. I love it all.
I remember the picture you put up about her before David.
You sure got my interest writing about Almosta Ranch.
Please continue. I love it all.
David, Mel is right about the tradition, but I don't think I could have done it either. I know it was hard for you. I put myself in your position and I know I would not be able to part with her...such beauty. I hope they are treating her with respect, giving her the things she needs to breed safely and flourish. Be well...
Oh David, I feel for you, Snow Queen is magnificent.
Although she would have hated me,like all horses do, i think that was beaut of a beast. Hope you got top dollar too.

I can just see it at the orifice (pron:office) if I put up a sign selling FRed(tm). Glori'arse Blue Point Siamese. Actuarial and underwriting a speciality. Expects fresh seafood daily with a dash of Chablis at 8.30am , shellfish and a side salad of dried food at noon and whatever your eating during the rest of the day.
Likes helicopters but hates elevators.
DOesnt pure but screams a complicated vocabulary which you have to learn or live a life of hell. Computer literate. Sleeps on bed.
Such a beautiful horse, David. I'm sure her daughter will be as well.
There's an unearthly beauty to her. So hard to let her go live with the negotiator man. He did not sound like the type to keep his pockets full of snacks.
So now I know for sure. I'm not a business type person. I'm sitting here and I can't stop crying. I am amazed at your strength.
Awww...I love your soft side and totally understand your feelings.

I can't abide haggling for anything and would hate it as regards a beautiful animal like the Snow Queen.

But we both know Mel knows best as regards animals and I hope to be around still when the offspring arrive at Almosta Ranch.
I know I'd be in the same boat as you, David ... I'd make pets of every horse and wouldn't want to sell them. Just as well you have Mel to keep your livelihood on the straight and narrow.

What a lovely mare! Her foals will be beautiful.

Of course you're suited to horse ranching-- you're attachment to the animals is your gift. As long as you leave the haggling over to Mel, no worries. I know another couple with exactly the same arrangement, only he handles the business of haggling.

I love visiting Alamosta on OS.

Tough one, David. I'm sorry for you to see her go. Very pretty animal.
You are indeed a horseman and not a horse trader. Good for you. This was the best story of the morning... I'll stop reading now. R.
You are indeed a horseman and not a horse trader. Good for you. This was the best story of the morning... I'll stop reading now. R.
She is exquisite...with an entirely other-worldly beauty. True, you are not a horse trader-especially when it coms to family! I loved this insight into SnowQueen and your shared journey. You have rendered us all eager to read about her daughter. Your heart, decency and truth never fail to inspire! Thanks! R
In the anals of horsetrading that was probably one of the best "closes" ever. You would have been perfectly content to see the rancher get back in his truck and haul his empty trailer back to Arkansas...and he knew it.
Delightful story, David.
Haggling means one party settles and I DON'T settle anymore. I know how much you will miss her. I have been thinking about my lost animals the past few days. Of all, Friede comes to mind, best (full-blooded) German Shepherd anyone could want as part of their family.

I can't wait to hear about your baby when she arrives!!!!

Speaking of animals, there is one as close to my laptop as she can get without sitting on my hands on the keys telling me to quit bawling and get on with getting to bed. Thank you David! I could feel all the emotion!
Glad you shared this one with us, but sorry your Snow Queen had to go. Hope her foal will fill that spot soon.
My gosh, we both posted on the most beloved of creatures, the Pet of royalty the Stallion and the Grande Dame.

Was Snow Queen an albino? Her eyes are softly slated blue and that would be an incredible blood line.
Will there be a coin toss or have you struck the deal for first pick?

Could you imagine the blood line of Snow Queen and Secretariat with Phar Lap as their ultimate lineage?

My heart races to think! I hope ypou don't mind In have printed the picture to look at every day when I awaken.
♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚For having a great heart...