Plate 43
(This plate is still under construction.)


Horse Trading

Top: Bennie with horses: Molly, Maude, Dexter, Dolly, Polly and Bird.

Bottom: Plowing with a multiple hitch setup.

Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:

"During the hot, dry 30's, when nobody could afford to buy gas, horses made a short comeback. Whole carloads of horses and colts were shipped in from Montana. Sometimes there were a few good, well-broken work horses mixed in with the young, wild ones. Old-fashioned horse traders sprang up everywhere. [27.181-2]

"We bought quite a few yearlings and 2-year-olds and broke them to work. I always broke them to ride and had some really nice saddle horses, until they got sold for work. [27.181-3]

"Pa bought three colts at one stockyard sale and paid about $40 or $50 for all three. One was a non-descript bay, apparently about a year old. Marj named him 'Rosebud' and we had fun riding and teasing him the first winter. He didn't grow at all during the year we had him and we realized he was some kind of runt.

"A horse trader brought a load of horses to the stockyard the next summer, and we went in to look. Among his horses was a good-looking young black horse with harness marks. We got the 'jockey' to come out and see if we could make a trade. We showed him Rosebud and he guessed he was about a 'long yearling.' Pa suggested trading him for the black horse and the jockey said, 'Yah, I'll trade with you.' [27.181-4]

"We knew there was something wrong with the black one, but hadn't spotted what it was. I led Rosebud in alongside of one of my riding horses and turned him in with the other trading stock. When Pa started to lead the black one out, he hit his head on a post.

"The trader said, 'Oh, take him easy, he can't see very good; in fact he's as blind as a bat.' [27.182-1]

"A trade was a trade, and Pa didn't complain at all. The jockey was gloating to himself about getting a yearling for a blind horse, but that blind horse, Dan, made one of the best lead horses we had ever had. He matched up with our best black mare and worked in the field as well as if he had eyes. He was young and active, like his teammate, Dolly. (I sure would like to know where the worthless Rosebud ever landed!)

"A new, multiple hitch system for horses was developed just before tractors came on so big. It was called the 'tying in and buckling back' system. With two good, solid, lead horses for the outside, you could drive almost any number of horses with two lines. I plowed with a two-bottom 'gang plow' with four horses, two and two (strung out), and broke alfalfa with five or six horses on the same plow, three in front and two or three behind.

"Pa took a lot of interest in this, as he had been through a 'horse era' once before, in the livery days, when they shipped in western broncos for buggy horses." [27.182-2]