In his youth, horse trader Verne Upmier built up a thriving livery business by working hard to please his customers and being particular about the horses he used.
He remembers one week when he bought ten supposedly well-broke horses through three different sales barns, and only two of the animals proved dependable enough for rental.
One of these was a paint mare, who was unusually versatile. She was gentle enough for children to ride throughout the week, but on Sunday afternoons, Verne would put a flank strap on her so would-be cowboys could learn to ride a bucking horse. She would buck like holy terror with that flank strap, but on Monday mornings, saddled up for livery duties, she would again be quiet enough for the littlest cowpokes.
Not all of Verne’s acquisitions were that docile, however. Back in the 40’s, large numbers of untouched mustangs were shipped from the million-acre CBC ranch to be sold in the Midwest. Most mustangs can become wonderful, gentle riding horses with proper training, but the local horsemen soon learned to interpret the CBC brand as “Cowboy Be Careful!” Some of these horses from that ranch were just plain rank.
One, a big gray, took considerable exception to even the most gentle handling. “I saddled him and put him in a stall, figuring he needed time to adjust,” Verne says. “but when I returned a short time later, he was gone.”
The horse must have viewed the stall as his personal Stalag 17, and he was no slouch at escapes. He jumped his manger, ran down the aisle, jumped into another stall, kicked open a door at the back of that stall, and raced out into the pasture.
Verne eventually caught up with him, but the horse was too wild to catch, so Verne began driving the animal towards home. The horse, who still had the saddle on him, bucked all the way to the barn.
Selling him as bucking stock was an easy decision after such a display of determination, and that choice proved to be wise.
During the next two years, the horse never failed to unseat his riders before the eight-second buzzer, and he even “performed” in Madison Square Garden!