Dakota Farmer

Young Dakota Living: Here’s an ag twist on the saying, “It’s the inside that counts.”

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer

March 15, 2024

3 Min Read
pickup and trailer
THE INSIDE COUNTS: No matter how much you spend on a trailer to get animals from point A to point B, the caliber of animal inside is what matters. The same principle can be applied to the rest of our lives. Brittany Schauer Photography/Getty Images

Chances are that if you’re involved in livestock in any form or fashion, you’ve seen your fair share of trailers. You probably even have one or a few parked out next to your barn.

Trailers come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes. From a 10-foot bumper pull that hauls sheep or goats to a show to a Sundowner eight-horse gooseneck with an attached living quarters, they all serve their purpose. There’s the ranch work horse hauling cattle, the fancy one that you live out of during a stock show, or the one that you’re just happy has working trailer lights.

You can spend anything from a few hundred dollars to upward of six figures on your trailer of choice. The trailer might ride a little different, have varying features or be a little easier to drive, but the purpose of each option has the same result: transporting your animal from point A to point B.

“It’s not about the trailer. It’s what you back out of it,” Kansas rancher Brandi Buzzard said in her keynote address during the 2024 South Dakota Farm Bureau Farmers and Ranchers Conference. She recounted that her parents would tell her this when they pulled up to high school rodeos and shows and parked their trailer alongside expensive rigs. But what does that mean?

Now, I’ve never owned a horse trailer of my own, and I still don’t. When I’d take horses to NDSU with me at the beginning of the fall semester, I was always on the hunt to find a trailer to borrow from a friend for the trip. Oh, I didn’t own a pickup either (still don’t), so thanks, Dad, for always hauling horses up and down I-29 for me.

Thankfully, Cole and his family always make room in one of their trailers for my head horse Marvin and me to get to a team roping or arena to practice.

Much like a fancy sports car, a trailer is essentially a status symbol. You’ll see all kinds pulling into a stock show, rodeo performance, or county fair.

But no matter how much money went into the method of transporting your animals, nothing can replace the work that went into the animals inside.

I’ve seen a lot of grand champion cattle walk out of a borrowed bumper pull at a county fair. A lot of remarkable horses back out of an old trailer without a tack room, who pull that fast time check at a rodeo. Much like our moms told us growing up, it’s what’s inside that matters.

Just because someone spends upward of $100,000 on their truck and trailer doesn’t mean anything about what animals are inside. While the nicest trailer in the lot might also be loaded with the nicest cattle or horses, the work that went into the animals inside is what really matters.

Let’s step away from the trailer talk for a minute. The phrase “It’s not about the trailer” mirrors the more common saying, “It’s the inside that counts.” That means a person’s true value lies in their intelligence, personality, and abilities rather than their physical appearance. Your talents and determination aren’t visible to those who just look at your outward self.

The same concept can be applied to any area of life — a neighbor with the latest and greatest equipment, a brand-new pickup pulled into a cafe, or that brand-new farm shop. This mindset is something I always try to keep for encouragement to put in hard work on my animals — and growing myself.

Next time you park a run-down bumper pull next to that six-figure rig, take a minute to remember, “It’s not about the trailer.”

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

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