BG Stables

Percheron Geldings
Carts - Sleighs - Buggies - Harness
Antiques and Primitives...

Located in North Platte, Nebraska.

Brenda Grant

Nebraska Horsetrader
By Lynn Telleen
(The Draft Horse Journal)
Autumn 1996 Annual Work Horse Issue

You've seen her ads in the likes of The Draft Horse Journal and the Percheron News. They are eye-catching and intriguing, to say the least. One reads, "buy sell or trade gray Percheron geldings, carts, wagons, sleighs, buggies and harness from miniature to draft." Another says, "This is my full time business. Let me find what you are looking for in horses or equipment. I travel from coast to coast." You may also have seen her looking over horses and equipment at many of the major horse sales. If so, you'll notice she's very particular. But who is this Brenda Grant from North Platte, Nebraska? And what is a woman doing trading horses and equipment.

Brenda Grant is a fourth generation horse dealer that has established her-self as a competent and honest trader of Percheron geldings, harness, wagons, fancy carriages, sleighs, cutters and occasionally, a Halflinger or two. She's been at it full time for just eight years, but she's got a lifetime of experience to back her up. Her great-grandfather, James Almira Grant, 1846 to 1927, was a buyer and shipper of horses. He lived in Fredericktown, Ohio, home of the Percheron Horse Association of America. Her grandfather, William Runnion Grant, 1884 to 1967, traded horses out of his livery in Van Wert, Ohio. William was also involved in training Standardbreds. Her father, Robert E. Grant, at seventy-nine, is still active in trading horses, equipment and horse trailers. He also has a small tack shop, moving mostly saddles and harness. Brenda grew up under his motto, "Everything is for sale, except the wife and kids, and they might be for sale, too."

One of three girls, Brenda was the only daughter interested in horses. She rode with her dad to the sales at Rushville, Indiana, (the oldest horse sale east of the Mississippi) every Thursday with a load of riding horses. She's been going to the Topeka, Indiana, carriage sales since the 70's and credits these experiences as the source for her extensive knowledge of carriages, cutters and sleighs.

With horses coming and going literally every week during her youth, Brenda had the opportunity to ride and drive virtually every kind of horse that could be found. She got bucked off and banged around by many of them. She recalls learning to be very cautious when selecting a horse for a 4-H project. "We lived on a horsetrader's income. If the horse didn't work out, I was just stuck with him for the year."

Growing up in Ohio, just east of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, her interest in horses led her into showing and training Appaloosas, Palominos, Quarter Horses and then Paints. In fact, it was a job at a Paint Horse ranch that brought her west to Nebraska in 1986. She showed a top ten Paint the last year she was involved with that breed.

So why switch to Percherons after training, riding horses for 20 years? Part of the decision came from being fed up with the politics and arguing that exist within the light horse circles. She was ready for a change in direction. Brenda says Percherons were the obvious choice as there were always greys at home. "They were always Dad's favorite." Besides the family tradition, she had noticed that the supply of good Percherons didn't meet the demand. She's adamant that this hasn't changed today. She also feels that there are few breeds where you can purchase an individual for $10,000 and take it to the top.

Brenda has also become visible in the show ring. She has shown her cart horse, "Sam," at the National and World Percheron Shows and rode English at the World Congress. Yet another facet, is her involvement in competitive driving events. Brenda broke her gelding, Joshua, to ride English. She felt the transition to competitive driving was only natural, involving a higher level of communication between horse and driver.

Brenda sells an average of fifteen head of horses each year, admitting that she would move a lot more if she spent less time with the carriages. But, her true love is in the collecting and dealing of antique sleighs and cutters. This becomes clearly obvious by stepping into her and husband Doug Peterson's home. In the living room, you'll find an immaculately restored 1860's cutter with hand carved sweeps. Their entire house, in fact, is decorated and furnished with antiques of many types. A member of the Carriage Association, she says, "Sleighs are my favorite vehicle. They are all so unique, all so different." During her biggest month last year, she sold $20,000 worth of carriages.

Brenda Grant is very particular about the horses that she selects. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, she looks for well-broke horses with style, color and size that are easy to handle. She says that people from all over the United States call about horses and equipment. "I'm sending out photos everyday. These people are buying from a picture and from my word. I have to represent this stuff honestly."

Brenda travels a great deal in her quest to fill orders and in delivering the goods. She puts between 30,000 and 50,000 miles on her truck and trailer each year, and trades for a new pickup every two years. This reflects the fact that only 10% of her business is done locally.

Brenda has learned a few things about salesmanship and client rapport from both her dad and her husband, whom she considers "the two best salesmen in the world." After each sale, she sends out a personal thank-you for the business. She also makes a follow-up call to horse buyers to ensure that the animal is working out. Brenda says, " You have a responsibility to your customers." Admittedly, she adopted the idea from Doug, who is a certified financial planner, traveling almost as much as his wife.

Of course there's going to be some rough water whenever a woman becomes involved in a traditionally male occupation. Brenda says, "Some people don't think I'm serious. Sometimes they'll call about a horse and then hold off on buying, thinking that a woman won't get it sold. I hate to disappoint them." She adds, "This is my full time job and I'm lucky enough to be doing something I enjoy." Has she felt the weight of the prejudice? "Sometimes when I'm bidding on something, others will run it up because the notion is that a woman will bid, bid, bid." One instance that Brenda recalls revealed the other side of the coin. She was bidding on a very nice carriage and ended up with it at what she considered to be a "cheap price." She found out afterwards that the owner "let it go" at that price because it was a lady was bidding on it."

Brenda's advice to any young lady aspiring to enter her field of work is, "Learn all you can from every deal and every breed, develop connections, know who to call for every specific item and above all, be honest. Oh yeah, dad always said, 'Draw to boot.'"

Brenda Grant represents part of the "new" generation of heavy horse enthusiast, crossing over from the lighter breeds. Her methods and tact will certainly not dissuade any new comers if they get their start with her. Her success may, in fact, prove to be an inspiration for some.