It is a well-known fact that you always bargain when buying a horse, a car, or a knock-off Chinatown purse.
I don’t know why this rule exists, and it seems particularly cruel in the horse world, where nearly every sale is an act of desperation. Whether you are waiting for a high-dollar yearling to go through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Select Sale, or selling off the pony you can’t afford to keep anymore, lacking a Blue Book means that the value of a horse resides solely in each individual’s imagination, and every horseman assumes every other horseman’s imagination to be wholly delusional and without scruple.
I never bargain for anything. If I want something, I buy it. If I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it. I think this is polite. It’s also easier, and makes it easier to plan your finances.
(Once I tried, on the advice of a Lonely Planet guide, to bargain on a taxi ride to Cable Beach, the ghost-town resort beach in Nassau that was made unfashionable by the Atlantis Resort. I failed miserably, but we still wanted to go to Cable Beach, so we ended up spending all of our money on the ride there, which made for a very adventurous walk back to the cruise ship later that afternoon. Did you know Nassau has wild dogs?)
So I’ve never made an offer on a horse. I think it’s just plain mean. “Well, your horse is pretty, and well-trained, and you’ve put a lot of work into him, but if you want me to take him, you’re going to have to lower your price five hundred dollars.” I can’t do that to a person.
Packin’ Six was neither pretty, nor well-trained. No one had put a lot of work into him. But galloping down that road, I knew I was going to give them what they were asking for him. He was worth it.
I brought him back down to a trot and we went jolting up the dirt road, back to the driveway where my Honda sat abandoned, with the bare-footed girl sitting on the trunk, swinging her dirty legs against the bumper. I can’t sit a trot or post a trot in a western saddle; it’s like I’ve never been on a horse before in my life when I’m in one, so I couldn’t have told you if he had a smooth trot or what. He had a nice canter. And like Rillo five years before, I tried him in a saddle I couldn’t ride in, fell in love with his gallop, and went from there. One dark bay OTTB is much like another, I suppose. They are easy to gallop, easy to fall head over heels for.
So instead of trying to post, I leaned my fists against his withers and stood in the flimsy plastic stirrups. He turned in the driveway of his own accord and came to a halt before the barefoot girl. She laughed. “Y’all had a good run!” she said. “Whatcha think?”
“I love him,” I said honestly. No games, no bargaining. “I want him. Can you guys deliver?”