Blessings to the Highest Bidder

Horse Traders don’t have a heart because every time they sell a horse that has positively influenced their life, they sell a piece of their heart with the horse. The fact is if you sell too many horses you may not have anything left at the end of this lifetime.

I know that is an exaggeration, but this is how I feel. For damage control I have tried to emotionally invest the least amount that I can into any horse that I know is going to be sold. Well, everything is for sale in the barn, eventually. I also believe you can’t make a great horse unless you are willing to train with passion and heart. If you don’t invest emotionally into the horse, I don’t think that you get the same amount of try that you will out of one that you put your heart and soul into. They can tell when you care about them and I think they try harder.

Most of us are all looking for that horse that is going to change our life. The “Horse of a Lifetime.” The one that allows you to quit your day job and go down the road pursuing your dream. Since I started counting. I personally have had 3 “Horses of a Lifetime,” at least I thought at the time. Two of them I had to sell (neither of which I owned) and one went lame (I only owned half of him). I have two horses now that may be “Horses of a Lifetime,” but I’m finding that my standards are a little bit higher now and I realize that even if the horse has the talent, there are so many things that have to line-up, so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

In addition to the “Horse of a Lifetime” there is also a thing I call a “Life Horse.” The Life Horse is the horse that changes your life the most and directly influences your ability to take advantage of the “Horse of a Lifetime” once it comes along. I have only had one “Life Horse” so far. This particular horse came into my life just weeks after I found out that my marriage was falling apart. After several consecutive weeks of crying, a friend called and said that he had a 3-year-old Miss N Cash mare that he wanted to sell. I told him I would come down and look at her and see what I thought. He had run her through the sale barn a week earlier and bought her back because she didn’t bring enough money. She was skinny and wild. I saddled her up, not expecting much and after 5 minutes of riding her decided that she needed a home with me. There wasn’t anything that particularly made her special although she was quick and catty and she didn’t buck me off. I made him an offer and did what every heartbroken horse woman does to try and fix her marriage, I bought a horse I couldn’t afford. I made $250 payments every pay period until she was paid off. Note: she was not very expensive and she was paid off quick, but it was still a stretch for me at the time. This horse gave me something to focus on while my marriage crippled along. She needed me and I needed her. For her 5-year-old futurity year I won money on her and was able to travel around the western United States. When I was at a futurity with her, I didn’t have any marriage problems. She gave me something to focus on during my saddest days. I won money that helped me decorate my home, she gave me a sense of freedom and ability to travel. Because this is a business for me too, at the end of her 5-year-old year I decided to put her up for sale. My marriage was over. I then sold her and was able to pay off all of my credit cards and my horse trailer. This worked out well, considering just 3 months later I was divorced and moving 1,000 miles away and buying a new house. Her blessings didn’t stop there, even after this mare was sold to another family she kept on giving to me. She went on to a family that had two girls who ran her and won on her. After two years of her then affecting their lives the parents decided to sell her so they could buy a car for their teenage daughters who were riding less. I took her back in as a commission sale and ran her over the next several months, winning jackpots and money and giving me the confidence that I needed to ride my futurity horses.  So in addition to the blessings she has given me, she is now helping two teenage girls get what they have always wanted. A Car!

Just last saturday I met a hauler in Oklahoma City to haul this horse to her new home in Ohio. She is now owned by an 11-year-old girl who is a clone of me at that age. She is 4’6 and 55 lbs and the perfect match for this 14.3 hand mare. This little girl can ride the hair off of anything. I can’t wait in about 10 years I’m sure I’ll be saying, “I knew her back in the day.” Here is a video of the girl running the mare for the 2nd time. She was 22nd out 256, some of Texas and Oklahomas finest horses. That’s me in the background screaming like a proud mom.

The money that I made off of the commission is going to pay for my eye surgery that I had last year. Did you hear that people? This horse has given me the gift of sight! No more eye infections, blurry vision, and stress headaches from squinting. Granted I had the surgery last year, but this horse is the one that paid for it!

I didn’t spend a long time saying goodbye to her last Saturday. I just patted her on the butt because I know that since she is only 8 years old she has a lot of life to share with her humans and I’m sure that the effect she had on my life will be exponentially consistent with every person who comes in contact with her. This mare is truly an angel. She never won a World Championships, She never won hundreds of thousands of dollars, but what she did give me is something you just can’t buy. She gave me what I needed, when I needed it. She is a Blessing to anyone who comes into contact with her. I have never had a horse in my life that made such a quantifiable difference. The fact is when I sell horses, I sell my blessings to the highest bidder. It never gets easier, but I guess that’s just life.

If you have a “Life Horse” that you would like to tell me about, please share your story. I know there are more out there!


  1. My Life Horse was a 20+ year old cutting horse name Rocket Sann who won futurities when she was young, but who hadn’t been touched (or fed) in years when I met her. My mom saw her in a pasture, stopped and knocked on the owner’s door, and brought her home. She was a hairy bag of bones with long feet when I tried out for the rodeo flag team.

    I had been around horses all of my 16 years, but didn’t have a clue how to do anything other than climb up and plod along, and I was painfully shy. I was riding my five-year-old-green-broke-gelded-late Arabian gelding. Not the best combo! I didn’t make the team, but was invited to practice with them and be an alternate. I was terrified of my little bay beast, the Arab, so I started practicing on Rocket. I was told that she would be fine for practice, but I would have to find a better looking horse for rodeo & parades.

    I kept riding, feeding and brushing her. One of the cowboys took me under his wing and taught me how to ride. We had a two week break just before rodeo, and when practice started again, I was a good rider and Rocket was a shiny, muscular, beautiful buckskin. Everyone asked who my new “baby” was! I was presented with a bridle for “most improved” during the rodeo and was on that team for 12 years, until I moved away.

    Rocket was in her 30s when she was buried on my mom’s property. I’ve ridden a lot of horses in the past 16 years, and to this day, she is the best horse I’ve ever ridden. I only wish I was as good of a rider as she was a horse when we were together. I believe that I wouldn’t have my lifelong passion for horses if I hadn’t ridden Rocket. I went on to do everything under the sun with that little Arab with the confidence that I gained from Rocket.

  2. Sally and I were blessed to be able to haul with you and the great Lucy during her futurity year!! She is such an awesome little mare and always tried her best!! I am sure she will make that 11 year old girls dreams come true!! Good luck Lucy on your future life! Maybe we will see her on the cover of Barrel Horse News someday soon and then I too can say, I knew her back when…and I also am proud to say I know her trainer who is just as awesome as the horse!

  3. I have a lifetime horse, her name is Treat..about three years ago I had my third daughter, my oldest was eleven and my middle daughter was two. At that time my oldest daughter was outgrowing her “ladder” horse and we had been on the hunt for the next horse to take her into Junior High.. Treat came to us thru a close friend of mine. It seemed that the two of them got along, at least for awhile. During this time I personally was struggling I felt lost and without a purpose it was like my only identity was “mom”. So one night at a barrel race I got on Treat.. Mind you, it had been a long time since I’d run barrels or done more than move cows or take a quick trail ride. I thought I’d get on her, do a quick tune up and be done.. Well, I was done.. But not because I was gonna continue giving up horses but because I fell crazy in love with that mare immediately.. From that day on, Treat was mine.. She changed my life, she picked me up when I was down, she made me realize that I was still capable, that I could still have my own dreams.. This past year she has won money, a saddle, buckles… She is amazing. My goal is not to win the world.. But to continue following my own dreams and still help my girls follow theirs. We have since bought my daughter another horse and they are a wonderful match for each other.. Treat was meant to be mine.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how they (horses) get into your heart and just live there permanantly? I’m proud of you and your new venture. I’m sure your family is too.

  4. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. My life horse is “Paint”, the one in my picture. I bought him when I turned 50 and had lost my confidence in life and myself. I sold two horses to get him. He was 6 at the time. He gave me my confidence back. I can haul him anywhere, ranch or arena. Last year we won a buckle at the Kansas State Fair in Ranch Sorting. We’ve also been to Wyoming to move cattle to summer range. He and I will grow old together. More than I can say for the 3 guys I’ve been married to. 🙂 Terah

    1. Terah, you made me laugh and I cry almost every time I read this post. Thanks for that! On the Man comment, I realized a couple of years ago that I should starting holding people I date to the same standards I do my horses. If only the ex had as much respect and love for me as the horses do:)

  5. When my daughter was 10 yrs old she had been riding a welsh pony named roly poly. I decided riding this mean spirited little pony for awhile that my daughter(Ashley) was ready for an upgrade. Determining our budget we started looking for a horse that she could train for barrels. I looked all over, including the sale barn. A beautiful registered sorrel with a black spot on her cheek came in and I bid as high as could but the local killer had more money than I did as a single mom. We left disappointed. A few weeks later we were at a horse in a completely different town. While walking through the pens looking at the hundreds of pretty horses there she was, that same red mare with the black cheek. I went inside and found the horse trader and asked him what he wanted for her. He said he was holding her but that I could have her with enough money. Now mind you, I know what he paid for her 505.00. she cost me 300.00 cash, 2 yearlings, the pony and an old ranch gelding. Alot more than what I ever wanted to spend but Ashley said she felt like she had to have her.
    We got her home and called the breeder on her papers, they told us to take her back where we got her from. They said she was to dangerous for any kids. But Missy ( Miss Annie Velvet) was ours. I was afraid of what I had just done but Ashley wasn’t having any of it.
    We began with the first ride in which this mare threw my daughter, I told her that was it, back she goes. That was a fight, she said she was hers and that no one was taking her and climbed back on.
    She started training her and got better everyday and in no she was riding all over. I must say Missy was just as stubborn as Ashley, I think thats why they got along so well. She started doing Little Britches rodeos and cleaning stalls in trade for lessons. The first year she was voted most improved, second year she was 4th overall. She competed in High school until a pony that my son had broke through the fence and kicked Missy.
    We called the vet and an xray showed the leg had been splintered in several directions. The vet suggested he be put down. That was our last option. We placed her in standing wrap and doctored her over the next year. Although she was never 100% again, my daughter did win queening contests. We have retired Missy, at the age of 13 she had her first foal. What a beauty she is, my daughter is so excited for the future. Missy is now 15 and Ashley is 21, this mare will definetely a life horse. She will be with us till that day comes. I love seeing her out in the pasture and look forward to that view for many years to come.

  6. I got my “Life Horse” when I was 14 years old, a 3 year old Arabian colt who was just started under saddle that a dear friend had bred and sold to me (for way less than he was worth based on all his halter wins) so I could have a really good horse after years of showing crazy horses. I gelded and finished training “Junior” and the next year we earned him his Legion Of Merit as a 4 year old showing in both western and english pleasure. The folowing year we went to the US Nationals and won our 1st US Top Ten award but Marianne Hannah, the dear friend who sold him to me didn’t get to see that or the hundreds of other championships and another US Top Ten we won, as she died of cancer early that year.

    I would never have meet my husband of 33 years without Junior. I was attending UC Davis and flew down to show Junior at the Spring Arabian Santa Barbara Show and meet my husband Nick (who worked for the Cal Poly Pomana Horse unit) there and we were married a year later.

    While we were ingaged I had someone call and offer to pay what would be today the equivilant of $50,000+ for Junior, a now 9 year old gelding that I had won everything I really could of on. I cried and cried but I knew if I didn’t accept the offer it was the same as paying that much for him myself and as a soon to be married 20 year old, I couldn’t afford that. Nick promised me that someday we would get him back. Two years later the money we got for him provided us wtih half the down payment on our first house. He went on to be Canadian National Champion and Scottsdale champion. When he was 16 years old my husband and my mother found him out in pasture in Washington and bought him back for me for Christmas. He came back to live at the house he helped pay for.

    When Junior was 19 I would ride him with my one year daughter Nicole Hannah (her middle name was for Marianne Hannah) in front of me for the next year and a half. When Nicole was 2 1/2 she kicked me off and I lead her on Junior until I found her first horse, Smokey for her 3rd birthday. As soon as Nicole could walk she would spend hours down at the barn playing with Junior through the fence. He loved the attention and would lick and lick her face.

    At 23 years old I lost Junior in the backyard of the house he helped pay for with my husband he helped me meet and my daughter he loved…all because of him. He taught me to be the horsewoman I am and gave me so much success in the show ring but most of all he was the most intellegent, personable yet challenging horse I have ever owned in my 50 years of riding…a true “Life Horse”.

    1. I love your story Karen. As you know its not the first time I’ve heard it and I will never get tired of hearing it! It truly is amazing what the horses do for us. We are truly blessed.

  7. So I did not actually make a comment on my horse who I happen to think is the best horse ever! (in my eyes anyways LOL) Sally is a 12 year old grade mare that I purchased after selling my other horses, because I got married and moved to New Mexico from California and we did not have a place to keep horses when we first moved. I was very depressed after moving to a new town where I did not know anyone and all of my family and friends were so far away. Then along came Sally, I got to ride her for a month before we actually bought her but I knew I wanted her from the first time I saw her! She is as wide as she is tall and stout is an understatement. You cannot really appreciate how big of a horse she is until you really look at her, or sit on her, her chest is just huge!! She was lightly started on the barrel pattern when I got her, but we just went on from there! We have had our great moments (winning 7th in the 1D at the district finals in 2009) and not so great (completely running past the first barrel at a race in Farmington UT, that was my fault though, i have no idea where i was going LOL), but she tries 110% every time she goes in the arena and she has given me the confidence that I can ride horses that can run in the 1 and 2D because before her I never owned anything that could run fast than the 3D! Thank you Sally for always being there, even though we won’t win the world, it does not matter because we are having fun every time we go in the arena and I appreciate how special you are and how hard it is to find horses like you!

  8. I had to put my 23 year old arabian mare down on 11/10/11. I had only had her 3 years, but the bond we shared was unbreakable, (including the times where she acted like an arab), I loved her still. Every time I walked into the boarding place, I would make this clicking sound and she would go nuts just neighing up a storm and trotting back and forth in her stall. She would of done anything for me, I was the first person in 3 years to take her out on a trail ride. she was terrified of cars and danced the whole time, but settled down when I started talking to her.

    I know that if I I had gotten her when she was a filly, she would have been my “life horse”
    R.I.P. Khelarra Marie(:

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