“A $1000 Saddle on a $100 Horse”


curt smiling photo (2) fixed









A word from Curt

After all of these years, it’s still one of my favorite stories. A humorous story with a good lesson.


“A $1000 Saddle on a $100 Horse”

This story was told to me by my friend Diann Cain Brown several years ago and it is still among my favorites.

Diann’s family has always been active in rodeos. Her parents, Junior and Anita Cain made sure their three daughters, Diann, Dena, DeAnn were busy with both horses and basketball.

Junior Cain once told that a neighbor asked him, “Why in the world do you spend so much money on those girls?” His replay was succinct but wise, “Well, I believe I can pay now or I’ll end up paying later.” I like his child-rearing philosophy – Keep them busy doing positive things and you can usually avoid paying for it later.

Diann, who taught at our schools for many years, told of returning from a rodeo in east Texas. They stopped at Dairy Queen in DeRidder to get some late night ice cream on their way home.

When they returned to their truck and trailer they quickly saw that one of their saddles had been taken while they were inside. It was a nice expensive saddle that one of the girls had won at a recent rodeo. It was engraved with her name and the date of the reward.

They were disgusted that someone would steal this saddle during the short time they were inside.

They made a theft report to the DeRidder Police Department. As the officer finished his report, the Cain family knew they had probably seen the last of this saddle.

The following Monday Diann received a call from Detective Jimmy Smith. He had a few more questions to ask and finished with, “I tell you what, we’ll find your saddle.” Diann was more amused than hopeful at Detective Smith’s confidence in solving the crime.

However, about two weeks the theft, Detective Jimmy Smith called again. His first words were, “I’ve got your saddle, and you can come get it when you’re ready.”

Diann was thrilled and had to ask, “How in the world did you find it?”

Jimmy Smith chuckled, “We just kept patrolling the area until we saw a $1000 saddle sitting on a $100 horse.”                                      Sometimes I’ll see something and Dep. Smith’s quote comes back to me. Such as when I see a man giving up his family… for a job… for a short affair, something that will cost him the rest of his life, and it’s pretty obvious.

Sometimes I’ll see something and Dep. Smith’s quote comes back to me. Such as when I see a man giving up his family… for a job… for a short affair, something that will cost him the rest of his life, and it’s pretty obvious.

There is no way we should take the precious things in life and put them on something temporal and cheap. The “$1000 saddles” of our lives are the things that really matter. Those “precious things” are not material but people and spiritual possessions; our family, friends and faith.

No man or woman who has a handle on those three areas will be putting the saddle on the wrong horse.

If he or she does, they’ll quickly say, “Whoa, I’m on the wrong horse and I’m going the wrong way!”


“A $1000 Saddle” comes from our short story collection,  Wind in the Pines. 


Another story of “price fixing” occurred many years ago at a Wal-Mart store. This was in the days before 24-hour super centers, bar codes, and exit door alarms.

During the night three burglars slipped in through a skylight into a Wal-Mart. During the several hours they spent inside they did not “take” anything. Instead they spent their time switching price tags on various items. Then as quietly as they came in, the thieves left by climbing out.

Early the next morning among the early-shopping housemaids and last minute fishermen were our three burglars. They each got a shopping cart and went to shopping big time. Soon their buggies were full, crammed with an assortment of normal-priced items along with some great deals like

-A new VCR for $12.99

-A $2.49 toaster

Being men, they spent lot of time in the automotive section resulting in great deals on batteries, floor jacks, and air compressors. . . and too many more “bargains” to name.

It goes without saying they were caught before they got too far past the store. I can just imagine their quizzical looks as they held up an $8 Skil saw and exclaimed to the security guard, “Well, I thought it was a low price too, but I figured y’all were just having a good sale.” I can hear one of them parroting Wal Mart’s slogan, “Always low prices!”

It’s a humorous story but once again contains a nugget of truth:

We humans are good at “switching price tags.” But we’ll do it on something far more valuable than a Skil saw. We can easily be guilty of switching the price tags on “things” and those we love.

Because all of us have treasure buried somewhere…Where is yours?

Finally, the article on the Wal-Mart robbers said they had actually switched the price tags. I’d like to have seen the lady who picked up the box of Fruit Loops that were tagged for $62.39.

A big part of our happiness in life is the result of where we put our price tags. What is important is shown by where we place our time, love, energy, and talents.

May it be said of each one of us that we put the right saddle on the right horse… and the right price tag on the things that really have value… and really matter.


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