Pony Power

Pint sized and super sized – trail, tourist, and time tested – horses, mules, and ponies filled the sale offering at Billings Livestock’s “Spring Special Catalog Sale” March 26-27. Held each and every March, the “Trail, Outfitting, Guide, and Guest” horse and mule feature offered 756 head over the two days, including 11 teams and 70 mules. A two-day total of 460 buyers registered with 236 actually purchasing livestock, and 109 buying two or more head.

With all the magic of a “My Little Pony”, Hip 10 “Tonto” took top sale honors for the weekend with a $7,500 price tag. Offered by Clancy McNabb, Cody, Wy, the 11 year-old palomino pony gelding was a true beginner’s package – cute, gentle, happy, and would also drive single. The “point-and-go” pony went home with Teresa Hamit, Clearmont, WY.

Kelly Horses, Midway, UT offered a nice set of trail and mountain horses including Hip 143 “Pete” an 03 Grade Buckskin gelding. A family horse that knew his way around the sagebrush, the flashy fellow brought $7,000 and sold to Ernie Clifton, Sidney, MT.

An excellent prospect for ranch, roping, or working cowhorse, Hip 37 “Annabelles Pepto Taz” a 2007 AQHA sorrel gelding x Pepto Taz and out of a Little Peppy granddaughter was extra broke and gentle. Offered by Lynn “Spook” Pearman, North Platte, NE, the attractive gelding was purchased by Teresa Sperry, Wiggins, CO for $4,500.

Colby and Cody Gines, Powell, WY brought a first-class set of mules to Billings including Hips 235 and 235X “Bell and Bess” a seven-year-old gray molly mule team. Broke to pack or drive, the team had been used in the Gines’ outfitting business for the past two years and had seen more back country than most folks ever will. Jerren Carles, Big Fork, MT purchased the unique pair of real using mules for $4,000.

Ten years old, red roan, and a true family or guest trail horse, Hip 16 “Rigby” would travel in daylight or dark, front or back of the string, would also pack, cross rivers, deadfall, and bridges, and was a sure-shot mountain horse. Consigned by Scott and Sandy Sallee, Emigrant, MT, the utilitarian-kind-of guy brought $3,600 and sold to Robin Schindele, Emmett, ID.

Super solid, from the minute the gate cracked Saturday until the last horse on Sunday, sale averages include the top five at $5,900, top 10 averaged $5,020, top 20 at $4,260, top 50 averaged $4,418, and the top 100 came in at $2,609.

Loose horses rocked as the high selling loose of the day fetched $2,200, followed by $1,500, $1,350 – pushing the top five average to $1,520, top 10 at $1,365, top 20 brought $1,181, top 50 at $852, and the top 100 brought $669.

Billings Livestock’s next sale event is set for April 23-24and will feature the 13th annual “Rope Horse Special” catalog sale and regular monthly horse sale.

Meet Pokey

This, internet world, is Pokey. A “project” pony purchased two years ago during a brainwave I had regarding something along the lines of instilling self-confidence, responsibility and a work ethic in my teenager’s cerebral. An experiment in character-building.

That, and the profit she might make in selling the pony (she was to guide into a safe and usable kid’s jumping pony), could be used towards the cost of the $264,324 (or somewhere in that neighborhood) she intends to spend on her “real” jumping horse.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, okay.

In the meantime, I have to divulge I’m still deliriously happy over Pokey.

The story is classic. It all began one bitterly cold winter day. Perfect day for pony shopping.

Not.

We weren’t actually looking for a pony for Teenager, we were looking for a pony for little daughter. Teenager was along to advise. Somewhere in northern Alberta in a cold cement barn, a charming girl brought three ponies out for preview, and in true salesmanship fashion began with the least-desirable prospect – a little roan, shaggy-maned pony with one erratic blue eye, named Pokey. She was anything but.

“You probably don’t really want this one,” charming girl said. “She needs a bit of work.”

“Well, we’re here, try her,” I instructed Teenager.

Charming girl saddled her up and Teenager rode her up and down the alleyway. Then we put her away. In a stall. By herself. Imagine. We moved on to prospect #2. Roan pony expressed her displeasure with this obvious dismissal through larger-than-pony-sized snorts under the stall door and pawing at the door. The equine version to “excuse me, I’m quite sure you have not given me the entirety of the attention I deserve.” She didn’t let up either, that rowdy little rebel.

We landed the second pony, a sweet little buckskin, which seemed perfect for little daughter, right down to her name – Princess.

On the way home, unable to release the vision of the roan pony, I innocently suggested to Teenager we call charming girl back and try for a package deal on both ponies: Princess for little daughter, and Pokey, as a project pony for Teenager, to raise some cash and give her something to do over the upcoming summer.

Undoubtedly seeing this as another poorly veiled attempt on my part to provide a diversion from boys, Teenager replied, “I think not.”

It’s rare, let me tell you, but somehow, I won that one, and two weeks later, on another cold winter day, Princess and Pokey arrived.

This is what she looked like then. Shaggy, matted, a tad belligerent. A lot annoyed. I hope she has since forgiven me for the “what was I thinking” look I gave her back then.

Two years later, the “project” is only 50% closer to completion, and after taking into account lessons, board, show and travel bills, shows no realistic sign of profitability. Still, I can’t help but love Pokey for all she has gifted us, including, but not limited to:

1)    The Secretariat-sized heart she brings to each and every jump, each and every day. Standardly, she’ll pull at least a foot clearance over any jump presented her. She’ll never win a beauty contest (or, in the English world, a hunter class), but you can’t touch her in a jumping arena. She has the heart of a lion, that crazy little blue-eyed pony.

2)    Her inquisitive nature. How she trots to the gate as you approach to bring her in. Big eyed, a bit presumptuous, impertinent at times, but reaching for a connection with you.

3)    Her maniacal, stubborn pony spirit which has taught my daughter incredible lessons in patience. Oh, can I count the nights Teenager has left the barn, near a meltdown, over “that mental/deranged/lunatic (insert any adjective to “crazy” here) pony” which won’t “listen!”? Oh, can I count the nights she’s left the barn, in awe of the little roan pony and her try and athleticism?

4)    That eye.

That beautiful, mad as a hatter, blue eye that gives her that freak appeal on the left side. It’s her very own signature, that eye. I adore that eye.

Turn her over, and I give you Pokey, the pretty perfectly normal pony. This is Pokey as she practices with teenager for another jumping season. Her show name is Hocus Pocus. Teenager plans on selling her this fall to help fund that new jumping horse purchase.

I can’t believe I just typed that. Sell Pokey? It’s suddenly grieving me on more than one level.  And may be directly related to the family truth that we have a history of not being able to part with our horses.

You should never write about them. Or for that matter, name them.