? Bill Nugent
Horse trader, Water Valley, Alta.
“I like a horse with a good mind and no buck in them. They say the ground gets harder as you get older, but for me it’s always been hard. I don’t consider a horse to be broke until it’s got two or three years of good miles on them.
“If I take a half dozen horses to a sale and someone tells me what kind of a horse they’re looking for — I’ll tell them which horse I recommend. Quite often though, they’ll buy the one I don’t recommend maybe because it’s cheaper. I don’t understand that. My advice is: Don’t buy a young horse for a young kid and think, ‘they’ll grow up together.’ That doesn’t work. I bought my grandson an older horse, well, half pony/half horse, well-broke, quiet — and he rides him everywhere. Buy a good horse for your kid or grandkid. If you balk at the price, ask yourself; ‘What’s my kids’ life worth?’”
? Hugh McLennan
Horse trainer, broadcaster, Pinantan Lake, B.C.
“Presentation is important. I’ve seen good horses come into the sale ring not cleaned up, a bridle on over the halter and packing an old, dirty saddle; the rider wearing a ratty pair of sweat pants, running shoes and a ball cap. It could be the best horse at the sale, but it won’t bring as much as the groomed horse that is presented with a trimmed bridle path, nice, clean gear and the rider dressed in a clean shirt, pressed Wranglers and a good hat. Show what the horse can do — not what he can’t do. If he doesn’t back up well — don’t try it in the sale ring.
“Another bit of advice; if you’re buying privately, get the owner to catch the horse, saddle it up, bridle it and ride it, showing you everything they say the horse can do. If they’re not willing to do that, don’t you be the crash test dummy — just walk away.”
? Roger Parsonage
Cattle rancher, horse breeder and trader, Maple Creek, Sask.
“Some will tell you to look at their head, their conformation — that’s important, sure. But there are a lot of good horses out there that have a few knobs and bumps that’ll still get the job done and they won’t get you hurt doing it. My advice for buying horses is this: lean on the seller. The seller’s reputation is important — maybe more important — than the horse they’re selling.”
? Shane Franklin
Rodeo stock contractor, Bonnyville, Alta.
“The thing about buying bucking horses, it’s just like your preference for vehicles; everyone likes a different style of vehicle. That particularly goes to the bucking horse. Some guys like horses that have got lots of swoop to them, some guys like horses that go straight away — it all depends on what you like. Really and truly — you’ve got to buy what you like. Read what you see in the program and then you watch that horse buck and if that’s the style you like that’s what you buy. It’s like Don Gay said: ‘What girls are prettiest when you go to the dance? It all depends who’s looking.’
“See, the country’s cleaned out. Nowadays, buying bucking horses you’re better off buying from a proven breeder. Somebody that’s been breeding bucking horses for 30 years.
“It’s the same in the saddle horse industry. I’ve gone to Haythorne Ranch in Nebraska and looked at saddle horses there. They’ve raised, broke and sold their own saddle horses for years. They sell like 50-75 head at their sale every two years. They raise them horses and them buckaroos train them. They do pretty good on that sale because that’s a proven background for ranch saddle horses. My advice is: whether you’re buying bucking horses or saddle horses, go to a proven breeder because the background foundation is there.”
? Jeff (& Sandy) Resch
Pick up man, Big Valley, Alta
“Buy a horse that suits you. For me, the right height is important. Minimum 15.1 hh, ideally between 15.2 and 15.3 hh, (otherwise I have to reach down too darn far to release the flank straps.) I like pretty, a nice head, well muscled and flashy. I don’t care what colour it is, just well put together and good bone. Usually we buy a horse that’s kind of green and ‘make’ them by getting them used to the commotion, and for a pick up horse we don’t look at bloodlines. (However, Sandy does for her show horses.)
“Everybody you talk to that has a big auger-headed son-of-a-buck figures it would be a good pick up horse. They don’t realize that a pick up horse has to be a good moving horse, brave and extremely athletic because our horses do everything. You want an outgoing horse because it’ll see everything, from a cheering crowd to a bag blowing across the arena, a horse squealing and bucking to bronc riders diving onboard.
“We tend to sell one pick up horse a year to make room for one of the young horses coming up. Almost all of our horses except for two have gone to the same home. Now that the kids are getting older we might not part with some that we normally would have.”
? Jason (& Carrie) Resch
Pick up man, Ft. Assiniboine, Alta.
“I look for a horse I can connect with. You have to read them and connect with them; otherwise it’s really not going to work.
“(Watch out for) horse traders; there’s lots of good ones but I hate going to horse sales for just that reason. I just can’t stand (crooked) sellers; it makes me mad even just talking about it. I tend to buy privately from a specific breeder. He knows what I’m looking for and his horses are well-broke before they come to the arena. Any horse can be ‘arena-broke’ but in our business they have to be well-broke.
“I just can’t stand the fact when you go and try a horse that the owner has bragged up; you don’t even get to the gate and he bogs his head and tries to buck you off. If they buck and they’re the worst rascal out there — fine, tell me, I don’t care. Just tell me. I prefer guys that are straight up and honest — don’t lie. We’ve had lots of horses nobody else could handle — but they were honest. There’s a lot of horses out there smarter than the people riding them.
“I don’t sell many horses, to tell you the truth — and it’s going to get worse now that the little guys are getting old enough to compete. I was trying to work it that I’d rotate my old guys out and bring in the new ones, but now my old guys are going to the kids — which isn’t a bad thing.”
? Lorne Sharkey
Horse trainer and trader, harness maker, Eagle Hill, Alta.
“When I’m buying a horse, for me, conformation is number one; with good conformation very little can go wrong. I move them out in all directions; side pass, back them up, trot them — those movements should show any physical problems.
“When I’m selling I do all of the above and if he’s a rope horse, I rope off him — showing that the horse waits for my signals. One thing about rope horses; I like a rope horse to be a bit toed-in. If they’re toed-out at all I won’t buy them for roping; they’re more prone to injuries.”
? Tom Reardon
Community pasture manager, Meyronne, Sask.