"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Horse Traders
Occasionally, I like to tell a story on the lighter side of life, and this is one of those times. This story is sort of different; but there is a lesson to be learned here that is just as important as during the more serious times in our lives.
You see, there were these two men who just rode into town. Their names were Jonas and Lester, and the only thing on their minds at the moment was getting something to drink. But before they got away, they heard a boy announcing something in the distance. He grabbed a flyer from the boy and read it out loud. “Colonel Boubon’s cabby. Finest saddle and harness stock. Thousands of satisfied customers from Old Kentucky to California., in North Fork one day only: Saturday.” Lester laughed. “I knew he’d be here! Jonas, you better get your hog sticker all sharpened up.”
“Business or pleasure?” Jonas asked.
“Both,” Lester answered. He said the old colonel owed him a horse.
“I ain’t cutting me up a man because he’s slicker you in a horse trading,” Jonas stated. But Lester informed him that there was a bigger reward out for the steel dust stallion then there was out for him. At that, Jonas looked at his knife. “I’ve never carved a Kentucky coon before.”
“Just like Virginia ham,” Lester smiled.
Meanwhile, Mark and I were at the ranch working on chores. Mark was working on grooming the horses. I came in to check on him to see if he was about finished with that chore, which he said he was. When I checked his work, I found dirt on the horse’s back. I checked because…well…my boy has a tendency of letting his mind wonder onto other things instead of staying on his work. “Clean it up. Cause a saddle sore.”
Suddenly, I heard someone calling my name as they rode onto our ranch. It was Kansas Sawyer and his wife. He stopped by on his way into town to let me know “The” horse trader is in town. I asked him which one. “It don’t make a difference which one! I dearly love to out-swap any horse trader any time and anyway.”
His wife spoke up then. “The way you out-swapped the horse trader and got that broke down old mule?”
But he argued with her that it was a broken down mule. “You just ask Lucas what kind of a horse trader I am! How bout last year when I picked out that pretty bay colt after he done gone and passed it by? How bout that Lucas?” Kansas argued.
What could I say? “Oh, you put me to quiet shame that time, Kansas; but I’ll make it up!”
“Not in horse trading you won’t,” Kansas argued. “It’s a business I know!”
“Well, I gotta admit, Kansas that some people got an instinct for knowing a sound horse!” I stated. Finding an opportunity to brag on my boy, I added, “Mark’s got that kind of a feeling.”
He wasn’t prepared for such a high compliment, though. He humbly laughed. “Oh Pa, you know more about horses then I do!” He stated.
But Kansas stated that knowing about them wasn’t enough. “You gotta know the ins and outs of swapping and who you’re dealing with!” He started to tell us a story but his wife stopped him and said they needed to get going. “Thunder and lightning, you’re right, Callie! I wouldn’t miss this for money, marbles or chalk!”
We watched them leave. “Pa?” Mark asked as they left. “Why isn’t it enough just to know a good horse when you see it?”
Here was another learning opportunity for me! “Well, there’s more to it then that, Mark,” I answered. “First thing you gotta know when you’re trading with a real horse trader is to figure you’re gonna get skinned,” I explained to him.
“Well, are you supposed to know the stock too?” Mark asked then.
“Well, that’s half of it. The other half is knowing the man. You…uh…you weigh everything he says and then try to think of all the things he hasn’t said.”
Mark just looked at me. “I’d rather raise my own then go through all that!” He declared. That’s my boy – always practical!
“Well, that’s probably the best way,” I answered. Then I asked him if he wanted to go into town and see how a real horse trader does business.
That was a silly question! “Sure!” Mark raced off to get his horse ready.
Meanwhile, in town, the colonel was getting ready for business. Micah came up to him to have a talk though. The colonel asked Micah if he was looking for a couple of horses. Micah stated that he was just interested in a steel dust stallion. The colonel pretended not to know what he was talking about as he tried to sell Micah a different horse. “Not for me,” Micah answered as he unfolded a piece of paper. “This steel dust has a star on his forehead.” He read the flyer which said, “$500 reward for Steel dust Stallion: Lost, strayed or stolen from Green Valley Ranch.”
The colonel immediately interrupted Micah and assured him that if he saw a horse that even remotely fit that description, he’d see that he got home safely. Micah stated that he was purchased for the Green Valley Horse Ranch, then up and disappeared. He told him to keep his eyes open. Micah turned and walked away, as the colonel breathed a heavy sigh of relief. But then Micah turned and walked back to him. “We still hang horse thieves in this part of the country, colonel.”
“And I always stand uprightly on the side of justice, Marshal,” the colonel promised..
Kansas and his wife came up to the colonel’s horses and began looking around. The Colonel talked to Kansas as he started looking around. He stated that honesty was the best policy. Kansas agreed with him. “I come from Kentucky!” Kansas wasn’t impressed. He told Callie, but she wasn’t impressed either and got straight down to business, asking if he had any good riding horses.
“Well, it takes a little lady to get right down to the heart of the matter!” the colonel stated. Kansas looked around but didn’t really see anything he was too impressed with. But then the colonel stopped him. He suddenly remembered that he had a good riding horse and gave Kansas the chance to pick him out. “If he’s here, I’ll find him!” Kansas declared. Then he started looking around. He found a sorrel and wondered about him. But as Kansas examined him, he declared that he was kind of narrow in the chance and probably couldn’t hold up after a hard ride.
“Turn him loose, sir!” the colonel ordered. “I couldn’t just sell him to anybody!” Kansas asked how much he’d sale him for. “He’s a bargain at 75,” the colonel answered.
“Ain’t no horse worth more then fifty!” Kansas looked him over some more and decided to go up to $55. Kansas finally talked him into selling the horse for $60.
While Kansas and Callie went to get a saddle for his newly purchased horse, the colonel spoke to the horse. “Now see here, pretty boy. Make sure you come back real soon, you hear me. I’ll see you get a lump of sugar for your trouble.” He looked around to make sure no one was watching. Then he pounded a nail into his back horseshoe.
Kansas saddled the horse and started to leave, but Callie had reservations and was hoping for the best – that this horse was all right.
As Mark and I rode into town, we saw Kansas with his newly purchased horse. “Well Kansas, it didn’t take you long!” I commented. Kansas told me that I might as well go on back home. He stated he bought the only good horse in the lot at his price. “Well, my day will come,” I stated. But Mark wanted to see the other horses. “You see that, Kansas? The hope which springs eternal,” I stated as I motioned toward Mark.
While Mark and I were talking to Kansas, the colonel turned on his music box, but suddenly he had company. Chard and Winters were there prepared to do whatever they needed to get their hands on that steel dust stallion. They grabbed him and pulled him behind the wagon. They searched him and found the $60 Kansas had given him for his horse. "Here partner, fifty, fifty," Chard handed him half of the money.
. Winters asked the Colonel about the Steel Dust Stallion. He tried stalling them, stating that a missing horse is hardly anything to gossip about. But they demanded to know where that horse was. "You forgot to tell me that horse wasn't yours when you offered him for sale. I run an honest business," the Colonel informed Chard.
"If I would had known he was the Green Valley Stud, you would never had got him," Chard suddenly declared.
"You put me in the shadow of the hanging rope," said the Colonel.
“I’ve seen the reward notice,” Chard stated. “$500 and no questions asked.”
Suddenly, Winters whipped out his gun and held it to the Colonel’s throat. He demanded him to talk straight. The Colonel was kind of nervous with that knife being held to his throat. “That horse and I separated a long time ago,” he tried.
“It couldn’t have been more then two week ago,” Winters stated as he held the knife to the Colonel’s throat. The colonel continued to lie, telling him he sold him to a gypsy dealer going south on a wagon. Chard told Winters to look through his cavvy. He thought the colonel was too smart to ever give up that horse.
“Sir, I worked hard for years to build up a reputation of honesty, integrity, and fair dealing,” The Colonel suddenly announced.
Winters suddenly came back and announced there wasn’t a stallion in the bunch. The colonel continued to tell them he no longer had the horse. “Jonas, he’s a natural born liar!” Chard stated.
Jonas suddenly grabbed the Colonel by the shirt. "Mr. Cornpone I can butcher you right where you stand. I can split your lying tongue three ways if you say one more....." Chard heard someone coming and suddenly warned Winters to be quiet. “I can still throw this thing, Mr. Cornpone,” Winters warned.
Mark and I walked into the corral then. When the Colonel greeted me, I announced we were looking for a tough cow pony. I began examining the horses. “Can you guarantee this stalk?” I asked. I began looking a blackie over. He was a nice looking animal, but as I examined him I suddenly saw something wrong. I told Mark to look him over careful, not letting on I knew anything. Mark bent down to look at his legs. I bent down on the other side of the horse. “Well, what do you think, son?” I asked.
"Well, he's got a bow tendon," Mark stated.
That’s my boy! "That's the way to keep your eyes open son." I then asked the Colonel what else he had. "Do you got anything else like that stallion you just sold," I asked.
"Stallion? Oh, that old crow bait!" The Colonel declared.
“Crow bait?” I asked suddenly. "He was no crow bait! That was a good horse."
Chard suddenly asked me if the stallion had a white star on his head. I told him he didn’t. Suddenly, he grabbed my arm. “What was the price?”
I looked down at my arm where his hand laid. I didn’t much appreciate him grabbing me! In a warning voice, I answered his question. "I wasn't told and it’s none of my business!"
I started to walk away, but I heard Chard talking. “You think we oughta cut mister high and mighty down to our size?”
I suddenly turned and held up my rifle. "You better start cuttin' or backin' off mister," I warned.
The Colonel suddenly butted in between us. "Now the price was $60. That same $60 dollars you just borrowed from me a few minutes ago." He tried to assure them that fine animal wasn’t the one they were looking for.
“Go ahead and buy your horse,” Chard advised me. “The Colonel needs the money!” With that, the two walked away.
Kansas and Callie were traveling for home when the stallion started limping. Kansas thought maybe he’d picked up a rock in his hoof. He felt the horses right front tendon and said it might be just a bit bowed. “Oh Kansas, not again!” Callie said as she shook her head at him. “You let that man sell you a horse with a game leg!” Kansas thought they should take a chance with him. "We can't afford that kind of chance. Now you better get our money while the gittin's good,” Callie declared.
But Kansas didn’t want the whole town knowing he got skinned. “Getting our money back is more important than what the town thinks!” Callie declared. Kansas knew he had to bring the stallion back, and maybe even fool me!
Mark and I didn’t see anything worth buying in town, so we started to leave. The Colonel didn’t want us to leave empty handed, though, and announced that he had a pony that would be just right for Mark. Of course that excited Mark. But before we could have a look-see, we heard Kansas yelling. "Hey Colonel, I wanna talk to you." The Colonel hurried up to Kansas. “You sure put it over on me!” Kansas declared.
I walked out behind the Colonel. “Something wrong with the horse?” I asked as I started over for him. But Kansas was embarrassed and begged me not to rub it in that he’d made a bad mistake. I nodded, not wanting to cause more embarrassment for the old man, so I told Mark we’d go give our list of supplies to Hattie.
As soon as Mark and I walked away, Kansas let into the Colonel. He thought he had a bad leg and the Colonel knew it the whole time. The Colonel immediately started making excuses for why the horse suddenly started limping, but Kansas didn’t want to hear it. Mark and I stepped back on the boardwalk and started listening to the conversation. Kansas demanded his money back. “Hardly an interesting proposition. You take a horse out of here with no guarantee from me…” The Colonel exclaimed. Kansas quietly told him he’d take $55, but the Colonel didn’t want to do that. “Sir, fair is fair and honor is honor, but business is business too!”
Mark thought he was a mighty fine looking horse, and so did I. I suggested we go to get a closer look at him. We started walking up to the men, and Kansas suddenly stopped his talking. “Lucas, I told you I feel foolish enough getting stuck with the lame horse without you butting into it!”
I told Kansas that I just wanted to take a look. I looked the horse over as the Colonel offered Kansas $30 to buy him back. “Kansas, I wouldn’t sell that horse. I think that leg can heal,” I stated. Kansas didn’t agree with me. The Colonel again offered him the $30. “Kansas, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you what you paid,” I announced as I looked at the Colonel. The colonel suddenly changed his tune, stating I didn’t want that lame horse. “No, no. I want this one. That is if Kansas will sell him to me.”
“You mean you’ll give me $60 for a horse you already know is lame?” Kansas looked at me in surprise.
“Well now Kansas, I don’t want you to say you were whip-sawed into it – you or Callie,” I stated. Kansas said I made myself a deal.
After I paid the $60, Mark and I were getting ready to take him back to the ranch. But suddenly, the two men from earlier came over to us. They had seen the stallion and wanted to get a closer look. Kansas told them I just bought the horse. Chard started over for the horse, but I stopped Chard by blocking his way with my rifle. “You just won’t tend your own business, will you?” Winters asked.
“This is my business and you’re not included,” I answered gruffly. Mark and I left with our newly purchased horse.
Chard and Winters then grabbed the Colonel aside. “That’s the stallion,” Chard stated.
The Colonel nodded. “He’s a hard horse to disguise,” he answered defeatingly.
“Colonel, you’re gonna get us back that horse,” Chard stated.
“Or die trying,” said Winters. The Colonel stated I looked like a hard man to persuade. “You don’t understand, Colonel. I’m a hard man to persuade. Because I’m liable to kill somebody!” Winters declared. Then they grabbed the Colonel and took him off toward my ranch.
When we got the horse back to the ranch I began looking him over. I found just what I expected – some old horse trading tricks. I pulled a nail out of the horse’s shoe and held it up for Mark to see. "There you are son. Just long enough and curved enough to reach the quick. The horse walks on it, get sore, and he starts to limp." My boy was pretty trustworthy when it came to others, so he was a little shocked at this and asked why. I stood up and began examining the horse’s hair on his back. “Well son, the country is full of people who think they can outsmart a horse trader. They buy a fine horse like the stallion at a bargain price and figure they’ve beaten him.” I went the lantern and put some kerosene on a rag. “The trader puts that trick nail in the horse’s foot, the horse goes lame, and the buyer brings them back.”
“And then he just gives the man back half his money?” Mark asked, shocked.
“Sure, it’s an old trick. Then he goes to the next town and he gets it back the same way. I began wiping the dye off with the kerosene.
“That’s not right! "Well the Colonel won't get this horse back for half price," my boy declared.
Mark saw me rubbing the dye off and questioned me about it. “Horse trading’s a game – a very sharp game. And everybody who plays it knows he better look out.”
Suddenly, I heard a horse. I told Mark to go into the house. “Trouble?” he asked. I told him maybe. I figured there would be once I saw who was coming in the wagon.
The Colonel came in along with the two trouble makers from town. “Well, there’s no point in beating around the bush, Mr. McCain. Now, you look like a man of action to me, and I need that horse back!” He said he the horse had a prior commitment. I told him the horse wasn’t for sale. “Well, I think he’s for sale. I’ll give you $100 for him!”
Winters was really watching our conversation and coming in closer to us. “So you can…um…pass him around unsuspecting farmers and rancher?” I asked, holding up the nail I had pulled from the horse’s shoe. He said that was part of the profession. “I tell you something, Colonel, I have some pretty good mares and this stallion is the one I've been wanting. He's not for sale, not for love nor money."
The Colonel suddenly turned desperate. “Mister, for me it’s not love or money. It’s life or death!”
Suddenly Winters spoke up. “I told you Lester, he’d be hard headed!”
“Call your game!” Chard tried to order me. “You’re doing the dealing.”
Winters tried to show me he was tough. “You selling?”
“Get out of here!” I suddenly ordered. “And do it quick!”
Suddenly, Winters whipped out his knife. "I'm gonna slice me some sodbuster,” he announced.
I suddenly realized they meant business as Winters started toward me with the knife. I immediately began thinking on how to get out of this situation. Just then, Chard pulled a gun on me. "With this I'm gonna split your adams apple," Winters sneered at me as he continued moving closer to me.
Just then the Colonel cracked his whip, at the horse. The horse reared and caused a commotion. That gave me the chance I needed to go for my rifle, which I had hanging on the wall. I tried to get a clear shot to shoot one of them, but my love for horses got in my way. I knew if I tried to shoot, I could shoot the horse instead, so I tried waiting for a clear shot. The stallion was really upset though, and I became more concerned with each passing second that I couldn’t shoot.
Suddenly, Winters threw the knife at me. It landed in the wall right beside me and I turned and glanced at it, thinking that was a little too close for comfort! Suddenly, I thought I could get a good shot at Winters without hurting the horse, so I took it. I hit him and he went down.
I cocked my rifle and got ready for my next shot – to Chard. But Chard suddenly held his gun on the Colonel. “Drop it, McCain, or I’ll drop him!” He warned.
Suddenly, Micah came up right behind them holding his shotgun. “I’ve got a bead right between your ears,” he stated. Chard held up his hands, knowing he was defeated. Micah came in and took his gun. I suddenly rushed over to Winters who was holding his shoulder. I lifted him up into the standing position.
"It looked kinda funny to me: the Colonel being escorted out of town by those two cut throats, leaving his music box playing the same sound over and over,” Micah commented.
“They wanted the stallion, Micah! They wanted it real bad!” I stated. “How come Colonel?” I asked.
“Well, he’s the Green Valley Steel horse,” he answered. “There is quite a large award being offered. I was just taking him home, the long way.” He patted the horse and looked worriedly at Micah. He knew he couldn’t’ fool us.
"Seems to me you've been knowingly keeping a stolen horse," Micah stated.
"Why he's Lucas McCain's horse, Marshal. He's not mine," the Colonel suddenly announced.
"Oh, is that so? In that case Lucas, you'll get the reward," Micah declared.
Just then, Mark came out. He had gotten impatient waiting and hurried inside. “Everything’s alright, son.” I assured him, patting him on the shoulder. I told Micah I’d bring the horse into town a little later.
“Can’t we keep them?” Mark asked. I told Mark he belonged to someone else.
Suddenly, the Colonel spoke up. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do son,” he started on his bull. “Next time I’m gonna give you the first chance on him and I’ll sell him to you at cost.” I turned and gave Micah a look, then watched the excitement on my son’s face. Mark looked towards me at one point, and I gave him a look that told him I thought this man was crazy. I’d never buy anything from him! “On my honor, as a true gentleman of Old Kentucky, that dark and bloody ground redeemed by Daniel Boone! That crowd of the green grass and the finest horse trade in this great nation!” He suddenly looked at me and stopped talking, knowing I wasn’t impressed.
Micah grabbed his prisoners and dragged them off to jail. I watched them leave. Mark was petting the stallion; sorry we weren’t going to keep him.
"Pa, do you think we'll ever get another horse like this steel dust?"
"Well, uh…maybe if we do some trading," I answered.
Mark then repeated what I had told him earlier. That boy does impress me sometimes! "Yeah but, that's awful risky. The first thing you gotta remember when you're trading horse is that you’re gonna get skinned,” he reminded me.
. "Sure, but you have to know the stock too,” I reminded him of his own words from earlier.
"Ahh but that's just the first half of it, the second half is to know the man. You weigh every word he says and then you try and think of all the little things he hasn't said.” Mark had remembered every word I told him earlier. Sometimes I wonder if he really hears me. This time I guess he did! But then Mark got to thinking. “Frankly, I'd rather raise my own."
"You know son, that's probably the best way,” I answered suddenly. Then I took the horse as we started back into town with him.
That boy! Sometimes he surprises even me!
piddlin' stuff.....Jack Kirkwood Sr. played Colonel Bourbon in this episode.
John Milford appeared in eleven episodes ― (Hmmmmm.....does this set any record or maybe there's a tie or maybe someone did more then John? Who could the other Cowboy be?) ― The Blowout as Ross Porter, one of the Porter brothers who was after Al Walker ― The Coward as Dub, he was the one who was reading from George's Journal and making fun ― The Horse Traders as Jonah Winters, he was the dude with the knife ― A Time for Singing as Bro Hadley, he dude who was a bit slow ― Meeting at Midnight as Morgan ― The Pitchman as Marsh Watson, he was the one who tied Mark up ― Baranca as Hadley, he was the one who killed Sanchez ― Dark Day at North Fork as Jack Solby, he tried to kill Lucas when he was blind ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Reade, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― The Journey Back as Jess Grady, as one of the squatters, he was the one who held the rifle on Will Temple ― The Assailants as Lt. Price, the soldier in charge.
Clegg Hoyt played Lester Chard. He was Jonah Winters (John Milford) partner. He was the cowboy who was going to split the reward money for the stallion with Winters.
Chubby Johnson appeared in three episode of The Rifleman ― The Horse Traders as Kansas Sawyer, he originally bought the stallion, but then took it back ― The Spoiler as Mr. Avery, he was the father of The Spoiler, Bud Evans ― Guilty Conscience he was the Old Man.
Fern Barry appeared in two episodes ― The Horse Traders as Mrs. Callie Sawyer, the wife of the old man who originally bought the Steel Dust Stallion ― The Woman as one of the townswomen, she's the lady in the hotel that can up to Micah and told him that the school had been closed (The woman between Pa Healy & Micah).
Whitey Hughes was a well known and respected stuntman, he appeared in twenty-seven episodes of The Rifleman and still counting. Whitey had over a 50-year career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he has been praised as one of the top stuntman in Hollywood. Whitey was the best of the best!
Jack Stoney appeared in eight episodes as a townsmen ― Obituary ― The Legacy ― The Horse Traders ― The Spoiler ― The Deserter ― The Hangman ― A Time for Singing ― Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.
In this episode.....Chard told Winters to take a look through the Colonel's cavvy.
Cavvy: (caviada) Buckaroo term for a ranch outfit's saddle horses. The cavvy horses are gathered by a horse wrangler and brought "to the ropes." This is a rope corral, sometimes temporary, at which the "day horses" are roped.
Bloopers - The Horse Traders
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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