I Support Rodeo

This week’s post is actually a commentary I made on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page last week…

After a comment about abuse on a rodeo meme pic, I feel like I need to make a statement.

I try not to post political crap on this page because that’s not what it’s about. This is a place for we as horse folks of all disciplines to come together and be encouraged and get a laugh every now and then, but I will take a stand on this.

I support rodeo and I will always support rodeo. I personally have only barrel raced at NBHA jackpots and a couple of futurities, but I’ve never ran rodeo. It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid in the 70’s watching the Hesston commercials for the NFR, and one day I will rodeo, good Lord willing. I have lots of friends that rodeo, have been involved with rodeo ministry in years past, and the love of my life is an old bull rider. So my ties with rodeo come from the heart.

Some folks might assume I’m this way because they think I’m just a barrel racer or that’s all I do. They are sadly mistaken. Yes, I love to barrel race but that’s not all I do or all I am. I’ve shown hunter, trail, western pleasure, judged hunter/jumpers and gaited horses, sorted cows, and even trained saddleseat, western pleasure and halter Arabs for a few years in my twenties. I’ve taken a stretch of lessons for eventing, and even had an event prospect off the race track. I’ve gone to ranch clinics and roped calves for doctoring, and I’ve broke more colts than I can count, a few older horses to boot. So I’ve got a pretty well rounded perspective when it comes to horsemanship and what is and isn’t abuse.

I don’t support true abuse in any event or discipline – rodeo or otherwise. But when someone calls out rodeo and makes a blanket statement that it’s abusive but other disciplines get a pass, I have to stand up. There’s abuse that happens in ALL disciplines. Look at Rolkur in Dressage, or riding horses with broken legs in the Kings Cup Endurance Race, pushing horses past their ability in Eventing, or tying horses up for hours in Western Pleasure.

If putting a flank strap that’s as tight as a rear cinch would be on a ranch saddle or a packing set up, on a horse is considered abuse, then those horse riding/showing folks calling it abuse might want to be aware of the fact that there’s a whole other world out there that adamantly states even riding a horse is abuse because  horses had rather be out grazing and we’re making them carry us around. People say the mere act of trimming whiskers is abuse too, as well as using ANY type of bit. If that’s the definition of abuse, then a ton of us are abusing our horses!

As someone else pointed out in a comment on the post, the folks that call the mere act of riding abuse are out to ban all aspects of riding, and instead of bashing each other’s disciplines it’s important that we come together and support one another. 

Oh, and while I’m at it, they don’t break horses in rodeos and the bucking straps on bulls are not around their testicles. And as far as spurs, I’ve seen far more reining, western pleasure, and gaited horses with bloody sides than I ever have bucking horses.

In addition, if it weren’t for rodeo the bucking horses would be bound to a Mexico slaughter house because they like to buck and no one wants a horse they can’t stay on or that’s dangerous. I’d much rather a horse have two square meals a day, get vet care, and only have to work at most 16 SECONDS every weekend than to see them on a truck for 48 hours without food or water just to be cut up while they’re still alive at the end. Heck, my horses work a LOT harder than they do!

Maybe not all the stock contractors or competitors are perfect when it comes to dealing with bulls and horses (I say get some first hand ranching experience and dealing with irate stock without pens and then you can judge.) But then not every rider that rides a dressage pattern, jumps a cross country course, or rides a class down the rail is either. There are poor horsemanship and stockmanship examples in every facet of the horse world but they aren’t the example of what it’s about, and the exact same applies to rodeo.

Rodeo, the people involved, and all the things it stands for will always be near and dear to my heart. I love and appreciate all disciplines because in the end it’s about what a horse and a rider can do together.

Copyright F.J. Thomas

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Tough Horses Make Good Horsemen

A few days will mark the one year anniversary of Cowgirls With Curves!

It’s been a great year and what started out as simple blog has turned into a wonderful journey for me too as not only a writer and horseman, but as a woman as well. I want to say a special “Thank You” to all the followers out there. You’ve been such an encouragement and you’ve shown me what this is really all about — encouraging other riders and making a difference.

I’ve spent the winter doing the bare minimum and packing on a few pounds. Bad news is that I put on 6 pounds of that 20 pounds I lost last year. The good news is I’m still 14 pounds lighter than this time last year – so I consider it a bit of a success!

With show season right around the corner, I’m starting to feel the itch of riding more and warmer days. I’ve always said there’s nothing like a colt or green horse to make me start working out. The last couple of years, I’ve not had to worry about that too much. This year is a little different!

Back in December, Willie Kamps came to farm to live. Willie is an interesting horse. He’d been ridden by a kid, and I believe even roped on. I hauled him some last year to a few barrel races and even a sorting. Although he was easy to put where you needed him when it came to tracking cows, he still had a few gaps.

For instance, we sat a friend’s helmet on a barrel when she was done riding. I went to go around that barrel a few minutes later, thinking nothing of it since we’d worked around it a few times already, and suddenly it became a fire-breathing dragon we couldn’t get within ten feet of!

Although he’s a bit calmer in the arena, he’s a completely different horse out in an open field by himself. He’s got a lot more energy and is constantly looking for things to spook and bolt at. You’d better have your heels down or you’ll easily be left behind!

I also have an off the track retire thoroughbred, Dynamic Host, that I’ll be re-schooling as well as an eventing prospect. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of similarities between he and Willie Kamps when it comes time to ride out in the field!

While some folks steer clear of horses like that, I tend to love a good challenge. I also see them as an incentive to get stronger, in addition to an opportunity to improve as a horseman. Becoming a better horseman is important to me.

Having two tough horses to ride and train and train – in two different disciplines – this year is most definitely enough of a reason to get me up a little earlier. I’m getting older and I don’t like to hit the ground — the best way to avoid hitting the ground is to get strong and balanced!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what inspires and encourages you. What is it that makes you want to get stronger? What is it that makes you want to become a better rider?

Disappointments & Different Plans

Well, it’s been a week of ups and downs, that’s for sure!

We’ll start with the positive… I had previously said that I had been asked to do an interview about Cowgirls With Curves on the Earn Your Spurs podcast. That episode aired on March 17th – you can listen it to it on the Earn Your Spurs website.

I’d like to take a moment to tell you a little about Alyssa Barnes and what she hopes to accomplish with Earn Your Spurs because I feel like she’s a kindred spirit. I had a blast talking with her  – she’s passionate about what she’s doing with the podcast and she’s someone who I can relate to on a lot of levels. Her goal for the website and the podcast is to be a resource for the horse community, especially for those new folks that don’t have any idea where to get started. She has a heart for those that love horses and her podcast interviews are always a lot of fun to listen to. She brings a fresh and thoughtful point of view to the table and I love that. So, if you get a chance check out her podcast and spread the word.

Now on to the not so positive – depending on how you choose to look at it.

No doubt about it, sometimes we need a good kick in the butt. Sometimes we get so focused on something we think we have to do that we can’t see the forest for the trees. I have a tendency to do just that.

For instance, I’m not the greatest at sorting cows. Especially when a cow gets a little hard to cut out of the herd, I have a tendency to get tunnel vision and focus too hard on that one cow and forget the rest of herd, thus pushing them through gate and automatically disqualifying.

Sometimes I have a tendency to do the same thing with my horses. This past year was a really rough one on a personal level, and a competitive level. Last year I only ran three or four times total the whole year. With everything else going on, for my sanity I really needed to run. Unfortunately, I had issues with my barrel horse’s feet and he came up lame or hurt every single time I was serious about hauling to a race. I can only take so much disappointment! The only bright spot is that we ended the year with the fastest run I’ve had so far — and I’ve been working three years for that!

The weather here has been horrible but I’ve ridden as much as I reasonably could the last couple of months. Fireman isn’t in tip-top shape, but he’s in good enough shape to breeze though a set of barrels without pushing too hard. So I planned on running at the first NBHA race this past weekend.

My plan this past week was to do my usual ride Monday and Tuesday, breeze Wednesday, lunge lightly Thursday, and then give my horse Friday off. Monday and Tuesday went as planned. Wednesday, I warmed him up around the pasture and then let him open up without pushing him. He was full of himself and felt good!

Thursday, I went to get him and he was three-legged lame. Seriously?!

I called my farrier. He looked him over and he agreed, it was coming from the foot but he couldn’t get Fireman to flinch at all with the hoof testers. One of my other horses was just getting over an abscess from walking on the frozen mud we had earlier so we both suspected a possible abscess but it was hard to tell.

Needless to say, for about 24 hours I had a severe mental breakdown. You know, one of those that requires wine and you question your existence in life, and maybe you’re not meant to ride anything because every time you plan on going something happens.

One of the problems I have is too many horses and not enough time. I only have one barrel horse, and one honest to goodness barrel bred prospect that’s five this year. But I also have a halter bred gelding that I sometimes call ugly names (because he’s handful) that I’ve put EXCA and ARHA points on, and that I’ve shown in anything from Ranch halter and trail to cattle sorting. I’ve also got another big halter gelding that I’ve done some limited showing with that needs to be finished out as well.

The gelding that gets called bad names sometimes...

The gelding that gets called bad names sometimes…

So after I dried my tears off, I figured if I’m going to have that many issues with my one good horse, then maybe I’d better get to work on these other ones and let them earn their keep as back up horses. Yes, they’ve all three given lessons, but I’ve really been piddling all this time and I’ve got too many horses to not be running something else!

extreme 109

I’ve thought about sending a letter to the NBHA to see if they’d create a 20-D class just for me while I get these guys ready but I’m not sure that’s a possibility! (Kidding!) Even so,the geldings might not be the fastest thing on four legs, but at least I’ll get to run something! Sometimes it takes getting disappointed to be able to see something right under your nose the whole time.

Have you ever been disappointed and had to change your plans? How did you deal with it? Did something positive come out of your experience?

Rainbow after the rain in Tennessee

Rainbow after the rain in Tennessee