The Old Horse Trader…..

I got my first horse at the age of six, and have never been without one since. I first had an ancient bay mare, and then as time went on, I would ride down three miles of Minnesota gravel roads to visit the local horse trader. He and I would dicker, and I gradually “traded up” to younger and better horses. He was an honest horse trader, but when I got into my teens and could earn money from part-time jobs, I got into registered quarter horses… and then I started to encounter people who were not quite as honest as old George. “Buyer beware” was certainly a phrase to take to heart!

So when I eventually got married and moved to another state, I wasn’t nearly as trusting as I’d been in grade school…but then I met a busy horse trader in the area. Verne Upmier was one of those rare, good souls who was truly honest, and who stood behind every deal he made.

If a match between horse and new owner didn’t work out, he would go out with his trailer to pick up that horse, give a refund, and take the horse. Not many old time horse traders were like Vern! And going to his farm was exciting business, to be sure. In his heyday, he had horses coming and going in a constant stream, because everyone knew about him. And if you went out there, saw a good horse and thought you wanted it, you had to be quick! If you didn’t take it, you could bet that it would be gone in a day or two to someone else.

Verne was not only an experienced horseman, but he was a wonderful storyteller with a wry wit and a delightful twinkle in his eye. Back in the mid 1990′s I wrote a series of articles about him for The Horse Show Times, a Midwest regional horse magazine, and never ceased to be charmed by the stories he told. He died a few years ago, and his passing was a true loss to the horse community in our part of the state.

I was cleaning out my office closet this afternoon and came across a stack of those old magazines, and found myself caught up in his stories once again. They were written on a Packard Bell computer–a wonderful gift from my friend Judy, who owned the magazine–and on with Wordstar (anyone here remember that one?) Those computer files on the giant floppies are long gone. I’m going to start posting some of his stories here, as I get them re-typed, so those of you who are horse lovers can enjoy a taste of an old-timer’s recollections of days gone by as a horse trader. So stay tuned!

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8 Responses to The Old Horse Trader…..

  1. GunDiva says:

    I love finding fellow horse owners! I read your guest blog at RWTTD and was intrigued by your pet blog. Thanks.

  2. Pat Cochran says:

    We used to enjoy driving along one of the roads in our area because of the several stables to be found there. The children enjoyed "visiting" the horses. Each stable
    had several horses that were lodged there,
    so there was much to see. Then progress happened to the area. As the progress
    progressed, there were fewer horses. Today there is only one stable with some eight or ten horses left. I'm so sad!

    Pat Cochran

  3. RoxanneRustand says:

    GunDiva, I am intrigued by your name! :) Thanks for coming over to check out this blog. IO hope you'll come back–or sign up, so you can catch the new posts when they appear.

    Pat–yep, times have changed. The area I grew up in, west of the Twin Cities, offered miles of quiet gravel roads, and unfenced timber to ride through. Hennepin County had the second highest horse population in the USA then, behind a county in California. Now, the city extends for forty plus miles past my old stomping grounds. Sad to see that way of life go, in the area….though now, I live in the country, and there are lots of horses in the area. This truly does feel like home!

  4. RoxanneRustand says:

    Hmmmmm. I need to proof my posts better!! Oops!

  5. GunDiva says:

    Speaking of needing to proof posts…
    I have signed up as a follower and have enjoyed reading some of your past posts.

    The name came from when I was working at a gun shop and shooting defensive pistol competitively. I love to shoot any discipline and the name seemed to fit. :)

  6. RoxanneRustand says:

    I am impressed. Competitive shooting–wow! And your job must have been really interesting. Did you ever have customers who made you feel a little leery about their intentions for the weapons they bought?

  7. GunDiva says:

    Really, we didn't have a lot of what my daughter would call "creepers"; if they were, we exercised our right not to sell to them. I can only think of one person who fit the creeper role and he was so stoned he probably doesn't even remember coming in the shop. What made the most nervous were the men who'd come in and want to buy a gun for their wives – a gun's no good for protection unless the person is willing to use it, and most of these women were not. I wasn't a very good salesmen because I talked a lot of men out of buying guns for their wives. LOL. I'd tell them to bring their wives in and then we'd find a gun that would fit her hand and her needs. Only had a couple men actually bring back their wives.

  8. RoxanneRustand says:

    Thats so interesting. You'd think the men would realize that there'd need to be a good fit. Makes you wonder if there would have been TWO incompetent people handle those weapons, then!