In the late 1970’s, when my husband and I were first married, we bought a good paint mare–producer of three Minnesota state champions, bred her to an AQHA Champion, and confidently expected that this would be the beginning of a nice, profitable side venture out of quarter horses and into a breed with lots of pizazz. Well…
In due time we had a nice, wild colored colt, did quite well with him at our state futurity, and then consigned him to the Paint Futurity sale down in Wichita, Kansas, with expectations that he would finance the purchase of more good mares.
The trip to Kansas went smoothly until we were half- way through what must be the most desolate part of that state. As we drove down a long hill, we were startled to see a large, dark shape fly past the truck window and arc gracefully out into space over a deep, brush-filled ravine.
There was little time for reflection over this phenomenon, for in a split second, we felt a tremendous lurch and heard the squeal of rubber on asphalt. We pulled over to the shoulder of the highway with difficulty, and with great trepidation went back to survey the damage.
The trailer wheels had ben greased and repacked just prior to the trip, but now one was completely gone, and the other one on that side was off its axle and jammed at an angle under the wheel well. The axles both showed considerable damage.
We stood there in shock, for there hadn’t been a sizable town behind us in the last hour, there was no traffic to flag down, and the Congress sale was less than 24 hours away. It was hopeless! We stood there, staring at the damage, trying to imagine how this could all be resolved, when over the next horizon our Lone Ranger appeared in the form of Officer Pekin, a highway patrolman.
The three of us warily searched the top of the ravine from the edge of the highway, keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes–very common in the area and especially in rocky, brush filled places like that, but the airborne tire had departed with such velocity that it was nowhere to be found.
Office Pekin, undaunted by our dismal situation, confidently assured us that we would make it to sale on time. He made a quick call on his car radio and located a local rancher with the improbable name of “Grasshopper.” Well, Grasshopper soon appeared with the stock trailer for our colt and a wrecker was summoned for our trailer. Grasshopper, a lanky, charming and generous cowboy from the top of his cowboy hat to the tips of his dusty boots, loaned us the trailer for the rest of our trip, and by late evening we were again on our way.
By now, it was raining heavily and night had fallen. We were inching along in the dark, in the pouring rain on a very narrow highway, praying we wouldn’t drive off the road. The rest of the trip seemed to take an eternity, but we finally arrived at the Paint Horse Congress grounds late at night. As we led that colt out of the darkness and into the safe, warm, brightly lit barn at the fairgrounds, the feeling of relief was immeasurable.
Well… we put the colt through the sale, and based on all the people who had stopped by his stall expressing interest, we had visions of a good price, ala the current AQHA market. Of course now paints and pintos are a hot commodity, but at least for that era, we were quite a surprised to find ourselves no-saling him when the bidding ended at $900 !! And now, we needed to find a ride back to our home state for the colt…and also had to return Grasshopper’s trailer.
Luckily, we found somebody with an empty spot in their trailer who was headed the right direction…but then, a few weeks later, we also had to take a second trip to Kansas to pick up our own trailer, which had been repaired sufficiently for travel. We did receive compensation from the gas station that had been negligent when working on our trailer in the first place.
Well….we fed that colt for the next year. I started him under saddle and he was the easiest pleasure horse I ever started, he was just so talented. The first time he loped off, he was slow, quiet, with his head down–an absolute dream through his own personality rather than any talent of my own. And then we again took him to a paint sale, figuring he would easily bring our extra year of expenses and much more.
This time he brought $1,000 ….a grand total of a hundred dollars more…but THIS time, we let him go!