Before long, we came upon a horse ranch with trading stock. We went into the barnyard. Immediately, Nip was greeted by the local ranch dogs and they took him off to hunt for rabbits. The five of us horses were greeted with nickers from horses in several corrals.
A tall, thin, older man, wearing dirty denim jeans and a long-sleeved plaid shirt, stepped out on the wooden porch of the ranch house. The screen door banged shut behind him. “You boys need some help?” he said, switching a piece of straw from one side of his mouth to the other.
“We’re the Overland Westerners,” George said with a warm smile. “You’ve probably heard of us.”
The rancher pushed back his hat and scratched his head. “Naw. Caint say’s I have.”
“Well, you will soon enough,” Slim said.
“So what kin I do for you Overland Westerners?” Mr. Personality said.
“We need to swap out a couple of these great horses,” Slim said, dismounting from Dick.
“What’s the matter with ‘em?” the rancher said, stepping off the porch and strolling up to us. I noticed that he was looking at me the whole time, but I’m pretty used to that.
“Nothin’s the matter with ‘em,” Slim said defensively, as he lifted his chin and placed his fisted hands on his hips. “They’ve just been on the road since May first. It’s been a hard journey.”
“And we still have a long way to go. We need some fresh horses,” George added, dismounting from Lad.
“I’ll make you a deal for that one,” the rancher said, pointing to me.
George stepped over to me and stood beside my head. “No. He’s comin’ with me. But,” he said, motioning to Dick and Bill, “we have these two that we need to trade.”
The old man frowned as he walked around Bill and Dick, looking them up and down, checking their teeth and eyes. “Okay. I think we can make a deal on this one,” he said, motioning to Bill.
Jay went to the corral and picked a bald-faced bay who seemed friendly enough and looked to be healthy. “How about a swap for this one?” Jay said.
“You give me ten dollars to cover the wear and tear on yours and we got a deal.”
While George engaged the rancher in friendly talk of weather and southern Idaho ranching, Slim and Jay continued looking over the trading stock. They finally selected a buckskin with a black stripe down his back. I noticed that Slim had not unsaddled Dick, so the old man didn’t know about the saddle sores.
“Will ya trade me my dependable Dick for this old buckskin?” Slim asked.
“You’ll have to come up with quite a bit o’ cash for that deal,” the rancher said.
“What?” Slim said. “Don’t you know what a deal you’d be gettin’? Why this is a famous horse. He’s been ridden by the Overland Westerners. Not many people can say they have a horse ridden by the Overland Westerners.”
With enough talking, the rancher was convinced that he was getting a great deal and a straight-across trade was made.
Bill and Dick watched us leave and whinnied a “farewell.” While I never felt as close to them as I did Blaze and Lad, I was still sad to leave them behind.
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