H. Neal Glanville: The last trade
April 15, 2011
My grandfather and his horse-trading cohort swapped stuff back and forth for more than 30 years.
I don't think either one got the upper hand for more than five minutes at the end of each trade.
If anyone came out ahead, it was my Uncle Blaine, who made sure store-bought cigarettes and whiskey came to every event.
As the last trade came about, Blaine, the scrounger of all scroungers, learned that the bucking horses of the Boone Brothers stock company were going to be sold right after Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Seeing there might be a little get-even involved with some extra cash tossed in, he got a hold of my grandfather.
Grandpa had been left holding a short sack the last time he'd traded with Boyd, and wished for nothing more than to be a step ahead on this trade.
He had Blaine buy or trade for all 26 of the bucking stock, and then Blaine took them on a very roundabout trip back to the double lazy H ranch near Big Piney, Wyo.
Now, bucking horses aren't well known for looking good. As a matter of fact, they're not much higher up the wagon-burner ladder than Arabians when it comes to skinny.
Uncle Blaine and Logan Homer took the job of fattening these boys up with oats four times a day along with the occasional shot of "secret sauce."
Meanwhile, Grandpa started the rumor that he was clearing out all but the family horses and vowing never to buy another.
It didn't take more than a Magpie dropping to hit the ground before Boyd was on the phone.
Each one argued how the other one had gotten the better hand the trade before and how there shouldn't be any more trickery between such old friends.
Grandpa agreed, and told Boyd he would sell them for no more than what he and Blaine had paid for them, less feeding them, until Boyd made arrangements to pick them up.
Well, as life will have it, the trade didn't come about until mid-October and Boyd was stuck in Casper, Wyo. Would Grandpa mind meeting him at South Pass and swap the horses from one pair of trucks to another?
Uncle Blaine smelled a Carp in the deal and wanted Boyd to come clear across the state.
Grandpa told Blaine "not to worry, Boyd would fatten the deal."
Sure enough, Boyd offered Blaine a cartoon of Pall Malls and a fifth of Four Roses Whiskey if Blaine drove one of the trucks.
All the way east to South Pass, Blaine swore something was going to go wrong and they'd be stuck with a handful of wagon-burners a glue factory wouldn't want.
Then it started to rain.
Grandpa said "Blaine did everything but beat his head against the dashboard" until the truck slid to a stop at the South Pass turnout.
Boyd showed up a bit later, and the trade began, horses coming off one truck and going on another, pretty as you please.
Then, when there was but one or two more to load, Boyd's granddaughter climbed out of one of the trucks with Uncle Blaine's goodies and asked if she could ride one of the horses into the truck bareback.
"Sure," Boyd said. "Swing up on that buckskin there and we'll be on our way."
Uncle Blaine started filling his pockets with cigarettes and took a pull off that whiskey bottle any man would be proud of.
He knew that buckin' horse was going to send that little girl straight to the moon.
There's a strange thing about most horses — if they can't get their feet steady enough to buck, they're plum happy to walk.
Hey, you be careful out there, and stay to the light.