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For sale? Watch your language


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All salesmanship has a language that must be decoded by the buyer. For example, when house shopping, "fixer-upper" means the house is a giant, financesucking vortex. Either take out three mortgages right away or pass it by. "Quaint" means the rooms are so small you'll have to go outside to change your clothes, and none of the walls are square — much like the walls in a house of illusion and they'lle mess with your mind. If you're car shopping, then avoid the "low mileage, mint condition" vehicle. It's a lemon. It's been on the mechanic's hoist more than it's been on the road, and they still can't figure out the mystery glitch. And, no, you are not smart enough to fix it. It's a factory installed feature. And the "lightly used" couch is the one on which the seller's third cousin, twice removed, died under suspicious circumstances. It's haunted. Your TV remote will make all your DVDs play backward, and they will sound like drunken love messages from Rush Limbaugh to Ann Coulter. Buy at your own peril. These same language interpretation principles apply to horse shopping. Not that I need another horse, or want another horse, or am actively searching for another horse. I just like to look. Really. Shut up. I'm just saying, I read the ads, and I notice things like: You will pay a premium price for the horse with "unique coloring" or "unusual markings" because it's so pretty you won't notice the three crooked legs. The seller will also charge a lot of money for a horse with "lots of potential" that is "ready to go any direction." The seller hasn't ever done anything with the horse, and it is, in fact, half wild. However, the seller will tell you the horse "has good papers" and describe all the ways it looks "awesome running in the pasture." Knucklehead is the nicest name you will ever call it. Then we have the horse that's "handled a lot, but never ridden." This horse is spoiled and a menace. The seller is afraid to get in the saddle. Good luck with that ride. The horse that is "great for the whole family" will happily drag riders of all ages to the nearest fence to scrape them off on a post. If it "loves people," it will step on your foot, and stay there. The "nice ladies' horse" will eat your husband. And kill all of his brothers. If you don't require the ability to steer your horse, get the one with "lots of trail experience." It doesn't turn until the trail does. On the other hand, the "great arena horse" has a morbid fear of open spaces. If it also has "cat-like athleticism," then it's quite adept at spooking from the things it fears and will spin, leap or swoop out from under you. No, you don't get to chose the death maneuver of fear. The "show horse" will work only if you spend as much time bathing, brushing and clipping it as you do riding. The "experienced ranch horse" wants to work and will hate you forever if you do more than swipe the dirt clumps off its back where the saddle sits. It believes pretty is as pretty does, so put the Show Shine away and go get the cows. Whatever you do, though, avoid the "well-broke horse, recommended for intermediate or advanced riders." This horse is smart — smarter than you. Accept that. It learned things just to use them against you. It devises evil plans based on military torture psychology to make your life hell. Inexperienced riders and gentle souls have walked away from this horse crying in fear. You better pack a lunch when you set out to get the best of this horse. Buyer beware. (And yet, I live to ride at http://viewnorth40.wordpress. com.)


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