Baxter Black: Horse Trainin' Tribulations

EquiSearch columnist and cowboy poet Baxter Black's tale of life lessons not learned.
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EquiSearch columnist and cowboy poet Baxter Black's tale of life lessons not learned.

Jack was sittin' in the stands at a cuttin' horse sale down in east Texas and struck up a conversation with an owner. The owner didn't look healthy.

Yeah, he said, I brought this colt to a local trainer. He looked the colt over, praised his conformation, agility and breeding. A natural, he said, a diamond in the rough. He agreed to train him. He promised to ride him six days a week. 30 minutes a day for $700 a month including the $200 feed bill. That's $41.66 per hour of training.

Thirty days passed. I sent a check. Sixty days passed. He called. Said he planned to put him on cows soon. And to send a check.

Ninety days...not quite ready for cows, he said. I sent another check. At four months he called, reported that the colt would watch a cow, but has flexing problems, won't crouch and has a stiff back.

By eight months nothing had changed. Except I now owned a $7600 colt. The trainer encouraged me not to give up. Rome wasn't built in a day, he said.

We were anticipating the colt's first horse show in the spring. Spring came. He'd had the colt a full year. When I called to check which show we should pick he recommended that I sell this colt as he would make a good gelding and ranch horse but lacks the class to make a good cutting horse. Just too tall, he said, won't watch a cow and not an athlete.

I asked him with all these back problems and winter weather how much the horse had been rode. Every three days he reported. $83.33 an hour I quickly calculated. Now my $2000 colt has eaten $2400 worth of feed, lost weight and the hourly training fee has doubled.

By then I'd had $10,400 invested. I'm told my barn burner is just a hay burner and then he offers me $2000 for him to use as a turnback horse! After ten years and as many horses and trainers you'd think I'd have learned something."

"Gosh," Jack sympathized.

Yup, replied the owner. But that ain't the end of the tale. I sold him the colt. Three months later my wife and he ran off. The pair of 'em are now on the internet shopping for owners with real barn burners.

By the way, he sold my ex-colt at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Select Sale for $17,000.

The owner sighed then brightened up. But things are gettin' better. I've got a colt at home right now with more potential than Tiger Woods.

He looked at Jack. Do you know a good trainer?

For more from this cowboy poet, visit BaxterBlack.com.