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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Something To Learn

There’s some good news this week!  I’ve been asked to do a podcast interview about Cowgirls With Curves and some of the challenges that real size riders face when it comes to riding and competing. The interview will be in early March and I’m excited to have the chance to spread the word and hopefully make a difference in how cowgirls everywhere see themselves! As soon as I have more information, I’ll post the link here so you can listen and share.

With the RFD-TV American Million Dollar Rodeo semi-finals going on, I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about attitudes. Attitudes towards ourselves and our horses, and attitudes toward other riders and their horses.

Just this week, I saw yet another Facebook post saying that just because a horse and rider doesn’t run 1-D times or win money at every rodeo it doesn’t mean that they’re crap or not worthy. I’m sure the post was the result of something that was said to the poster or perhaps she overhead. Either way, it had an impact.

I’ve seen the woman who posted the statement at many barrel races and ranch clinics since she was a very young teenager. While she may not have the latest greatest tack, truck and trailer, or have the most intimating blood lines, she has done well locally.

Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Now, I’d like to run down the alley way of the NFR just as much as any other barrel racer out there, or push a cow down the fence at mach nine at the ARHA National show. Heck, any national title would make me happy! Because of that, I read about and listen to a lot of national champions in the hopes of learning something and some day being in their shoes.  At the same time, there’s something that this young woman has that I think all of us, no matter what level we show at, can learn from.

Horsemanship is very important to this young woman, which is one reason she goes to the ranch clinics. Too often I feel like the horsemanship part gets left out in the pursuit of a title. Horsemanship and the best interest of the horse always needs to stay in the forefront, no matter what.

Trailer load demo at Circle C Cowboy Church colt starting competition and clinic 2011.

Trailer load demo at Circle C Cowboy Church colt starting competition and clinic 2011.

This young woman is passionate about barrel racing and she’s one of the hardest workers I know. She’s done the absolute best with what she has and it’s not been easy. Even through the disappointments and the hard times she’s managed to keep the fire lit under her dreams and keep moving in that direction. She’s always had a great attitude.

The last thing is that she dearly loves her horses and she realizes how blessed she is just to have a horse in the first place – any horse! Humility and thankfulness are two things that serve you well no matter where you go. They keep you grounded and they get you through the hard times.

On a side note, when it comes to humility and thankfulness, far too often I’ve seen a sense of entitlement develop with a little bit of ability or winning a title. Just because you have the horse and the ability to win doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled. When you’re humble and you’re thankful, that sense of entitlement doesn’t rear it’s ugly head.

The sad thing is that every section of the horse industry sees someone like this young woman and thinks they’re a nobody. They’re not appreciated for the qualities that they have, and no one thinks they have anything to offer or learn from because they don’t have a title under their belt. As wise horsemen say, good or bad, every person and every horse has something to teach you. Of course, in order to learn you can’t dismiss them.

I have my judge’s card with the Open Horse Show Association.  I would love to get my judge’s cards in several other large associations like ARHA, AQHA, etc. One thing that has kept me from pursuing it quite frankly has been the financial costs but I love judging open shows. The main thing I absolutely love about judging open shows is seeing people who are starting out on their own without any help. Even though they’re a complete novice when it comes to showing horses, I’m always in awe of how they remind me every single time what it’s all about. That keeps my own passion for showing and competing alive. It is also a part of what prompted me to start this site.

Judging at the Reinbow Riders open show at Tri-State arena in Cleveland, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Christina Simmerman.

Judging at the Reinbow Riders open show at Tri-State arena in Cleveland, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Christina Simmerman.

Have you ever had an experience where someone has dismissed you as a competitor? How did that make you feel? How did you get past it?

Breaking The Mold

TOAD RIDE

Welcome to Cowgirls With Curves!

So what is Cowgirls With Curves? It’s a blog that’s aimed at plus size riders that features tips, interviews, and eventually clothing & tack reviews.

There’s a few thing this blog isn’t about….

It’s not about giving up and making excuses for the size you are.

It’s not about telling you need to lose weight, go on a diet, or exercise.

It’s not about bashing women that aren’t plus size.

There’s a few things that this blog IS all about…

It’s about highlighting and encouraging real sized women that love horses and love to ride.

It’s about helping real size women love themselves at the size they are and helping them to become the best rider they can be.

It’s about breaking the molds and stereotypes of plus size riders everywhere.

Let’s face it. The horse world can be an incredibly cruel and judgemental place, especially if you compete. The pressure is real and almost every single plus size rider feels it on some level. If you’re not a certain size and riding at a certain level, even if you’re a good horseman there’s rarely any notability.

But the truth of the matter is that the average American woman wears plus size clothing. The average American woman also fills the majority of the Amateur classes at most horse shows and competitions. So why are they not recognized and appreciated? Why is the majority of the western clothing and tack industry still geared to smaller sized women?

Some of the largest modeling agencies in the world are starting to sign plus size models, which by the way immediately catapults them to super model status. Plus size bloggers are now some of the most popular fashion bloggers out there. Why can’t the horse industry follow suit? I think it’s time it did!

So sit back and enjoy the ride and take a tour of the site. By the way, if you’re a plus size rider that would like to do an interview I’m looking for YOU!

I’m also looking to reach out to clothing and tack companies that cater to plus size riders. You don’t have to be a big name like Wrangler or Cinch -you just have to recognize that some of us gals don’t fit the mold! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, fill out the contact form and I’ll get back with you!

Check back with us next week — we’re going to be talking about exercises you can do to boost your confidence and balance in the saddle. These are exercises that I personally try to do on a regular basis to maintain and improve my riding.

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