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RYAN TAYLOR COLUMN: Independence Day sale

TOWNER, N.D. - I've always had horses, but I've never been a very good horse trader. It takes skill to be a good horse trader. Skilled like a card shark, or a carnival game operator or a pickpocket. There's a difference between being a horse sell...

TOWNER, N.D. - I've always had horses, but I've never been a very good horse trader.

It takes skill to be a good horse trader. Skilled like a card shark, or a carnival game operator or a pickpocket.

There's a difference between being a horse seller and a horse trader. I don't do much of either. Most of our horses are keepers, or at least they're kept. Having just celebrated the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day, I always think about my single best horse trade.

I had a red roan colt named, of all the original names in the horse-naming world, Red. I bought Red as a weanling at a local production sale when I was 12 years old.

I cracked the piggy bank, emptied my savings account and told the owner I was looking for a $250 red roan stud colt. Usually, it's a cardinal horse trading sin to lay your top bid out on the table like that.

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The sale was averaging $300 or $400 that day. But when this particular roan colt came in the ring, the owner yelled "Sold!" after I mustered the courage to raise my hand and bid my whole $250. Other people still were trying to bid when my colt left the ring and I was declared its new owner.

First horse

Red the roan was the first horse I bought and paid for with my own money.

It seemed only right that I train Red myself. I hadn't learned about "horse whispering" yet when I was 14, but I tried to put a lot of miles on the horse to make up for my limited horse training experience.

The miles never quite did it for him. He could be plumb fine, then blow up and start bucking. He had some spectacular explosions. I never got hurt, but I never trusted the bugger.

I was too honest to take him to the sale barn and sell him as a "kid horse" just because I was a kid and he was a horse. So I did the most honest thing I could imagine, I decided we should buck him out at the Fourth of July rodeo in my hometown.

I came up with this grand Fourth of July idea on the night of the July 3. I needed to find the rodeo stock contractor after the evening performance. This was before cell phones.

I tracked him down the old-fashioned way: I called the bar and asked for him. Sure enough he was there. This stock contractor - we'll just call him Dean - said to bring him in and they'd put him in the draw for the Fourth.

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I figured we'd start him out with an exhibition ride to see how he'd do. They must have been short of bareback bucking horses that day, so Red's debut would be in the performance.

The lucky rider was the current bareback riding champion in the state rodeo association. He didn't recognize the horse's name when he drew it, and when he heard it was a local saddle horse, he had to be pretty disgusted with his luck.

I wasn't sure how he'd buck, but in a few seconds, Red had the state champion bareback rider thrown to the ground.

The stock contractor gave me $500 for my strawberry roan. In the horse business, you call that doubling your money because you never count the cost of hay, grass, oats, training or transportation in an equine transaction. It's a rule.

And although I've never ridden broncs in a rodeo, every Fourth of July, I can tell folks I rode one horse that a champion bareback rider couldn't.

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