first horse 2

Back in the Wild West and the days of cattle drives, the wrangler was often the youngest, most inexperienced member of the team who was tasked with taking care of the horses.

For this month’s By Invitation Only, the theme is “barter skills,” the caveats being that there is no system of currency, no electricity. What are the skills you could bring to society and barter under those circumstances? I can sew….a little. I can cook…a little. I can do laundry in a tub. But so can a lot of people. At first I thought I’d skip this month, but then looking through these old photos it came to me: I could train and take care of the horses. Of course we’d need horses, right? No electricity, and I’d assume no cars or other modern means of transportation. We’d need horses.

These are pictures of me with my first horse, a capitulation from my parents after YEARS of riding lessons, begging, pleading and agreeing to their terms of assuming all responsibility for taking care of our cat and dog for several months. They never thought I’d do it, but I really wanted a horse. The first horse we bought was a quarter horse mare named Poco Duquesa (we called her Duchess). She was only four years old and green. Very sweet, but very green and spooky, too much so for a ten-year-old. After a few months we sold her to a teenage girl who was able to work with her and eventually did very well with her at horse shows. My next horse was older and very well-trained. (Scary smart too, but that’s another story.)

Over the years my skills and confidence grew, and I was able to work with horses that were “inexperienced” and needed guidance and training. It’s been a few years now since I’ve ridden regularly, but it’s like riding a bike, right? And I still know how to care for horses, to feed, groom, maintain tack.

first horse 1

I’m very interested to see the skills the other By Invitation Only bloggers will be bringing to our barter economy! You can visit the link-up at Splenderosa.

By Invitation Only

What skills would you bring to a barter economy? Remember, no electricity, no mod cons.


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  1. Oh this is fun. I know how to cut down small trees and make tables (lashing) in the woods. This same skill extends to building latrines with seats. I learned all of this at summer camp. I can also manage a canoe, cook on a campfire and prevent erosion with check dams.

    I loved seeing the photos of you with your horse!

  2. I can hunt and fish. I can also tend chickens, garden & can the produce for later use. Oh, and I can sew, cook on a campfire and dig a latrine. I haven’t thought about those skills in years.

  3. Gosh, I have photos similar to yours!I had a Quarter horse named EL SENOR!He was a bit too much for me too……………..I think he was 16 hands if I remember correctly.WHAT A GREAT IDEA YOU HAD.Someone has to care for our VEHICLES!!!

  4. Horses is it is Susan, maybe this means you might take up riding again… A great skill in any time frame… 🙂 xv

  5. I’m a ceramic & textile artist so I could produce clay vessels – from finding & digging the clay to making & firing . If someone else can shear sheep I could make felted textiles – and even dye them with natural dyes !

  6. I am so impressed by those who are outdoorsy… I feel like a hot house flower next to the rest of you! I’ve always prided myself on being culturally adaptable (linguistically as well), but I’m not certain I would fare too well without knowing one of you fine ladies to help me get from place to place or build and repair what strikes me as unfathomable!

    What a fascinating exercise to consider what we would contribute in a barter economy – how self-sufficient we would be, or, as in my case, utterly dependent on communal living.

  7. I can: mix cement by hand; lay brick; put up drywall; chop wood; sew; knit; cook over an open fire; knot ropes, as needed; and herd ‘cattle’ w/o a horse (I had four children–3 of them boys).

  8. I can bake bread in an iron pot, sew, cook over an open fire, ride a horse, pitch a tent, paddle a canoe — oh, and clean out stalls, clean hoofs, and saddle/bridle a horse. Probably some other things, too……from a well-spent childhood.

  9. Great question. I can sew, cook, (but I’d rather) take care of children, and if there’s a saloon nearby with an upright, I can give piano lessons. Thank goodness for the ladies here with the “big” skills! Dig a latrine? 🙂

    1. After the last comment there was supposed to be ‘clapping hands’ in brackets but they didn’t appear. Applause to “Dig a latrine!”

  10. We actually barter quite a bit as my spouse is excellent at fixing computers. We trade his skills for learning things like how to change brake pads (saves a LOT of money). He can also make a fire, canoe, pitch tents, etc. which would be much more useful in your economy as described. I, however, have fewer barter-able skills–I can cook and entertain kids and minimally sew, but mostly I’m good at intangibles. I’m a pastor and have worked as a chaplain so I’ll perform all your weddings, funerals, rites of passage and handling of dead bodies. That’s useful, right?

  11. My first reaction was that I’d be pretty useless. Obviously I can cook, but though I enjoy cooking I’m no expert. My next thought was that I could be the story-teller, especially with the younger children. Even as a child I enjoyed making up stories and terrifying my brother (who is 4 years younger), according to my Mum. She said the reason he needed a night light was because of the stories I made up! When my youngest brother was a child, as he was 10 years younger than me, I was a lot kinder and made up stories that weren’t quite so terrifying. I could also be the complementary therapist as I’m a qualified reflexologist and Bowen technique practitioner, as well as having qualified in Indian Head Massage and seated chair massage. Sounds like many of you would welcome my services after a hard day’s work!

  12. How wonderful !! I am loving this month’s topic as we all try to imagine what talents we have that are barterable, and I love what you’ve told us. I love horses too! And, yes, I think this talent would be sorely needed in our “new” way of living. Thank you for participating !!

  13. We raise/ have raised sheep, alpacas and angora rabbits. I can start with shearing them, and do all the prep through cleaning, spinning yarn, weaving cloth and designing/fitting/sewing the clothing. I also knit, crochet, felt, quilt, etc. I can also dye with plant materials, and have grown indigo for dyeing. My husband is the woodworker, gardener, canner, butcher, etc. We could be fairly self sufficient on our farm, but we are getting older (60s)-one of our goals is to train the younger generation in these skills. I am also an RN with fairly general skills from pediatrics through geriatrics. He is also a pastor, so can take care of spiritual needs.

  14. This is such a lovely post, you looked like a great kid. Interesting to see how your legs are so straight when you are seated on the horse, in England our knees are bent, suppose the saddles are different.

  15. So many of my GFs were “horse crazy” growing up. I never was and yet now I find horses to be unceasingly beautiful. Where I live there are many horses for carriage rides, draft horses, etc. They’re all incredible.

  16. You, Tish, would be a great asset in a world of bartering ……. I would certainly barter any of my meagre skills for you to look after any horses that I had. XXXX