A blog about Cowboy Music, Western Swing and Cowboy Poetry. 2014 WMA Radio DJ/Radio Program of the Year

Cowboys are born with a trading gene. Usually this involves swapping horses, livestock, trailers, saddles or even pocketknives.

Horse-trading requires a special language. When cowboys are involved, the buyer should always be in “beware” mode. For those who were not born down dirt roads, here is an example of a few choice phrases of trading vernacular used mostly in print advertisements.

“Very alert 12-year-old gelding, foundation stock, strong, heavy-muscled, will watch a cow. Friendly nature, quiet in the arena. Must see to appreciate. $27,000 or best offer.”

The literal translation is:

* Alert – he will spook if even so much as bug within five miles moves. Nothing is going to sneak up on him.

* Twelve years old is about the age where horses can no longer be positively aged by their teeth. He could be 34.

* Foundation-bred means he looks exactly like a mustang and was adopted from the BLM in their effort to preserve the world before the wild horses eat it up.

* Strong — means your best antique, foot-long, 40-pound “Made in Mexico” bit won’t hold him.

* Will watch a cow means he will watch the cow go right by.

* Friendly nature – he will pick your gloves out of your back pocket as well as gnaw on everything in the barn and everybody else’s saddle if tied next to another horse.

* Quiet in the box – he will sit there until next Friday if you don’t liberally apply the spurs when you nod for your steer.

* Must see – the seller is hoping to get you to their pen, lock the gate and not let you out until you buy something.

* The price – that’s always a starting place. Actually, the guy would be happy to see $800 and that horse’s backside out his gate.

The trading world has three basic components: sellers, buyers and tire kickers. The variety of descriptive phrases applied to horses would enchant any clever wordsmith.

“Not the prettiest head you ever saw, but it’s full of cow sense.” That means his head looks like a pump jack, is exactly the same length as his back and it would give most horses whiplash to hold it up.

“He has a smooth little cowboy lope that you’ll love.” This is supposed to infer that he can cover the miles smoothly. Nobody mentioned that it takes the first five miles to get him worked up to this cowboy lope and only 15 steps for him to fall back to that teeth-jarring trot.

“This is a horse that will let you do all the thinking.” A good bit of this required thinking will also involve your spurs.

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