Horse Traders Enjoy Trenton's Monthly Sale by Marvene K. Twisdale It's always the same ole, same ole . . . the first stragglers enter, while empty seats are numerous. Best Choice: front row, center. In the background, a horse whinnies. A new home awaits the critter. Could be, just down the road or perhaps miles and miles away, depending on the steed. The 15 x 20-foot arena is enclosed with sturdy iron pipe panels surrounding a black dirt floor. A tall auction block is in the middle of the back wall and shortly will be the center of attention. Soon wood shavings will be tossed to cover the ground and give a new lift as well as a fresh smell to the whole area. Ceiling lights are still dimmed, as the clock ticks and time draws near. The "Howdys" and "Ain't seen you in a spell," are overheard. "Hey, save me a good seat" is hollered out the side door across the vast room. The momentum continues to rise as the theater type seats are filled. What's the (calling card) to such an event? To a few, it's their living . . . HORSE TRADERS! Not a title to be taken lightly, as this profession is a gamble day to day. It's not all luck, either, but rather an obsession. The "die-hards" begin at an early age. Neither the (sweet smell of success) nor the continual hard work deters the dreams of (what might be). There are the daily chores of cleaning stalls, providing hay and feed, checking fences and watching for early signs of illness or loss of appetite. The responsibility of an animal of this magnitude is unreal! We're talking endurance and determination against all odds. The Trader's living is good when (on a roll) but, otherwise, risky. Nothing compares to the HIGH of a profitable sale of satisfaction between the buyer and seller. No matter what, though, one never learns all the tricks-to-the-trade. Continually, the scene changes, different breeds of horses, new fangled tack, blood lines that go on for days. Oops . . . the big bright lights are switched on. Conversation of the crowd is ecstatically enlivened. Children's voices are more distinct. "I'm hungry!" "Whose horse is that?" "Can we get that pretty one p-l-e-a-s-e?" An early entrant enters the arena. Dust flies and the excitement of "AHHHHHs" roll through the crowd, like a wave on the sea. The spectators are a mixed group, young, old, mostly men, some reluctant women and children by the score. The auctioneer, Colonel J. Witherspoon, pounds loudly on the block for attention. "We'll sell saddles, but NO TACK," says Jimmy Yarbrough. The auctioneer never misses a beat . . . "If you don't have a buyer's number, slip in the office and pick up one." The sale starts in five minutes. The arena quickly fills (mostly onlookers) from side to side directly in front of the auction block, facing the audience. "Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here tonight," Jimmy Yarbrough continues. "If you buy a horse, examine him in the ring . . . when he goes out that door, (pointing to a rather small one on the west side), he's yours. Please don't give me a bad check!" he pleads. The crowd excitedly cheers. A voice high in the stands shouts, "Yeah, man!" Thus, the sale begins. There will be winners as well as losers... the higher the price climbs, the more lively the people yell. Exhausted babies cry for their cribs, as the long night ahead commences. The air becomes cloudy with cigarette smoke and the once new sawdust, dingy and damp. As the horses quickly enter and exit the small premise, the chanter's voice continues to drone, bill a fellow throws up his hand, "Yep." The gathering wonders, "How many more left?" Watches are absent-mindedly checked. The traders are silently praying that the "big spenders" are still lingering for that (special horse) . . . THEIRS! "Was that a yawn?" "Naugh . . . the night's still young." Trader jargon is not easily understandable to the lay person. Each has his own unique dialog: a sly wink, a nod, a rub across their nose, the tip of a cap, or perhaps fingers wiggling outside their jean pocket . . . but, it's between the lines, where the truth really is. The eye and ear of a trader is keener than most. Years of experience, though are his best teacher. Thus a quick observation: the hoofs and ankles, search up and down the legs (front and back), stepping back a tad, a whole view of the complete physique: clear eyes, attentive ears, quick mouth check (counting teeth). A true trader worth his salt, knows this technique and can come to a total agreement of the animal's age. Position of its tail and lastly color. Any shade can be greatly enhanced by a good bubbly scrubbing, mane and tail combed with overall mist of Show Sheen to highlight the texture of the equine's coat. But, more than these, composition is the utmost importance. Temperament and disposition are next. There are many variables, as there are differences in people's opinions. "Y'all pay attention . . . pay attention, as the registration papers are read." Back and forth the horse walks, trots and turns for the eager audience. "$3,000.00?" By now, the majority of folks have stone faces . . . breaths are held. "Thirty-five hundred?" "Do I hear a bid?" "SOLD!" Oklahoma bound. "Bring in the next horse." There's a lull . . . Then the crowd becomes noisy one last time. Exhaustion shows on the faces of the buyers. The once shiny boots are practically unidentifiably dust covered. The spectators are slowly dwindling out the squeaky swinging doors. Alertness of man and beast becomes more and more weary, as the clock ticks on . . . Jimmy Yarbrough's last announcement, "Fellows, we'll have another sale next month, 4th Friday night, 7:00 p.m." After all is said and done, the trader gets in his truck, whether the trailer is empty or full, he reassures himself. "There's always tomorrow!"
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