Can’t all be heroes |

Can’t all be heroes

Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

Will Rogers once said, “We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” I love that man’s philosophy, and he was a hero in my book.

I mention his quote to introduce my complaint that Heaven has been way too hungry of late, calling home way too many of my personal heroes… people I’ve clapped for. Having Louise Popp, Tom Tescher and Paul Newman all ride over the Great Divide in a matter of days is far too hard for me to accept!

Tescher was 82 and came from a North Dakota ranching/rodeoing family said to have been ‘born on horseback’. He carried off bronc riding titles from many of the biggest prorodeos across this nation until his retirement from the sport in 1957. A Western gentleman and good neighbor who consistently modeled integrity and Christian values and believed they were far more important than his many rodeo titles, Tom reared a family of 10 with wife Lorraine. He joined his late brother Jim as co-founder of the popular Home on the Range Champions Ride at Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. You’ve probably already read Tom’s obituary in this publication, but we want to pay respect and send sincere condolences to the entire Tescher family; especially to our dear friend Don, Tom’s son, and family at Sheridan, Wyoming.

Louise Popp was 89 when she saddled up for her last ride from the Powder River Manor in Broadus. One of the best barrel racers ever to hit Tri-State Country, Louise was a hardworking, capable ranchwoman who loved horses, training, showing and rodeoing. Louise won many saddles and more than 50 trophy buckles in a career that stretched from the 1940’s to the 1990’s (continuing to compete until she was 77!), and was instrumental in getting barrel racing started as a rodeo event in this region. Always a lady, always looking beautiful, always warm and friendly and ready to lend a hand to her competitors, Louise was a positive role model as I grew up in rodeo… and riding a fast dun horse she was darned hard to beat in a barrel race! She’ll always be missed, never forgotten, and we send our sympathy to Sonia, Bill and the extended family.

As for Paul Newman – I think he was one of the good actors for a long, long time; but not much of a “people person.” Living in Hollywood might turn one that way. At least his movies survive and can be enjoyed again and again.

The old cliche about “flogging a dead horse” is eerily appropriate as I continue to raise the subject of HR 6598, the so-called Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (HR 6598), a bill that would criminalize the sale and transportation of horses for the purpose of slaughter. Unfortunately, according to the American Quarter Horse Association, that dangerous measure was approved and recommended to the House of Representatives by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill passed by a voice vote. The committee is finalizing its report for submission to the rules committee.

The AQHA warns, “If passed by Congress, this bill will severely limit the rights of owners to manage their private property and subject horse owners to criminal prosecution should they sell or transport their horses for processing for human consumption, even if that is not their intention. AQHA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among many others, oppose this fatally flawed bill.”

It’s not too late, I hope, to continue bombarding your legislators in Washington, D.C. with mail and calls urging them to determinately oppose this legislation. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has a good website for learning more, and they say, “We were able to make some members of Congress who don’t know much about our issues, take notice and start to question the bill and its impact. If you need more information, or have any other questions, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Bostdorff at 202-879-9128 or”

I like to look for silver linings, and am hoping maybe Congress will be so busy trying to duct tape the international financial wreck that this bill will die for lack of interest. In that same vein, I try to view overabundance of unwanted horses as a boon because when the hordes of protected wolves, Grizzlies and mountain lions have consumed all the elk, moose, deer and antelope, they’ll still have the horses to work on before they start on us humans…

The Wyoming Quarter Horse Association (WQHA) made a good showing at the National level this year and we want’a tip our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to some national champs. WQHA prexy Willa Travis from Cheyenne campaigned her horse Exclusive Entrance to World Championship status at the Select World Show in Hunt Seat Equitation. Harley Reile of Gillette, a former WQHA member, showed his filly So Hot Shez Cool to World Champion 2-Year-Old Mare honors at the Select World Show; and A Stroke Ahead owned by Diane Pilant, WQHA member from Loveland, Colorado, was 6th Place Performance Gelding at the Select World Show. Youth member Kelsey Irby of Wheatland showed her horse Dots Classy Peppy to 10th in Working Cowhorse at the Youth World Show. We’re proud of you all!

The WQHA will hold their annual awards meeting and banquet Oct. 25th in Lead, SD. You can learn more at

As long as we’re talking about good horses and Wyoming, we’d best remind you to mark your calendar for the exciting Wyoming Reined Cowhorse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity & Derby coming to the Camplex in Gillette Oct. 17th through 19th. Bruce Keller and Brandon Buttars will be judging the Futurity and Derby as well as Hackamore, Bridle and Youth events. The Open Futurity boasts $3,000 in added purse money along with a Dave Pollat Saddle for the champ, while the NonPro offers $1,000 added. The Open Derby winner gets a Twister Saddle and there’s $500 added money in that event. This show always attracts good trainers riding great horses, and offers good watching for those who enjoy seeing cow horses work.

Guess that’s the end of this ol’ lariat rope once more…

© 2008 Rhonda Stearns

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