Discovering Ag |

Discovering Ag

The geese and cranes are making their noisy way northward… unfailing harbingers of a new season. It seems early to me, but ticks are showin’ up on the horses too, so Spring must truly be on its way.

With the Spring comes graduation, and many bright and gifted men and women are thinking seriously of their future once the doors of their high school swing shut behind them. Those who made decisions early in life to pursue a certain line of study and eventual occupation often merge into college solidly, without the drifting and changeability that can sometimes waste years of time and funds before they find the right course to pursue.

The United States Department of Agriculture offers an educational program for eager young people that can help them decide what profession pleases them. Ag-Discovery is a USDA outreach program to help younger students, ages 12-17, learn about careers in animal science, veterinary medicine, agribusiness and plant pathology. During a two-week program participants live on a college campus and learn about Agricultural science from university professors, practicing veterinarians and professionals working for the U.S. Government. Students chosen to participate in Ag-Discovery will gain experience through hands-on labs, workshops, field trips and other group and team building activities. The deadline for applications is April 17, 2009, so if you’re interested go quickly to for full details.

While we’re talkin’ educational opportunities, we live in a region where horseback riding as entertainment, for profit, is viable. If you’ve ever wondered if your ranch might benefit through such a pursuit, there’s a “college” available, run by the best in the business. Kail Mantle and Renee Daniels-Mantle of the Mantle Ranch at Three Forks, Montana, will hold a Horse Wrangler School March 14-22, 2009. Mantle Ranch is the home of Montana Horses, the largest family of proven dude horses in the world. The Mantle’s advocate, “Turn Your Passion into a Profession…Invest in Your Career with Horses.”

Subjects covered in this school include Guests & Dudes, Trails & Trail Horses, Wrangling & Guiding, The Dude Horse, The Dude Ranch – Profitability and the industry, and “Dude” is not a 4 letter word. Beyond that they’ll teach horsemanship, horse handling, herd management and health, vet care – emergencies and maintenance, professionalism, crew dynamics, feeding the working horse. During this intensive nine-day training course they’ll clue you in on Wrecks – Spotting, Preventing, Handling, Safety, First Aid, Guest Relations, Law & Liability, Facility Management, Tack Repair & Maintenance, Horseshoeing, Backcountry Packing & Camp Cook Basics, Job Placement & Interviewing, Resume & References and more. Learn more about Montana Horses and Mantle Ranch at or write to to apply for the school.

By the time you read this we’ll already be enjoying March, and of course that means the American Quarter Horse Association’s annual Convention. That event opens the 6th in beautiful, historic San Antonio, Texas, and I know many of you readers plan to be there. A multitude of hard-working committees will meet and pound out plans and rulings for the benefit of the 350,000 members and 5 million horses that make up today’s Quarter Horse industry worldwide.

After 17 years as AQHA’s Executive Vice President, Bill Brewer plans to step down March 9th. Much has happened within the organization while he stood at the helm. Major among that change is the expansion of AQHA’s business model from being primarily a breed registry to including a long-term initiative to grow membership.

AQHA developed the trail ride program, which features more than 100 rides each year all over the world; marketing alliances with reining, cutting, palomino, buckskin, snaffle bit, equine veterinary associations and even dude ranchers; the Bayer Best Remuda Award, which recognizes the American Quarter Horse breeding programs of ranches all over North America; and breeder recognition and legacy awards for longtime American Quarter Horse breeders; the Bank of America Racing Challenge Program, which provides more racing opportunities for older American Quarter Horses; the development of America’s Horse as the official member publication of AQHA; and a project Bill’s very proud of – the remodeling and grand re-opening of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, which puts the Hall of Fame members – horses and humans – front and center.

It has been rewarding for Bill to sit in the grandstands of some of the industry’s premier events, knowing that he provided the impetus to help them grow and prosper over the years. That includes the Ford Youth World Championship Show and the Youth World Cup, and, of course, the Bank of America Amateur and FedEx Open AQHA World Championship Show, which he managed for several years, and this year offered more than $2 million in purse and prize money. And, although the quest is not complete, Bill Brewer has opened huge doors for the Western riding discipline of reining to become an Olympic event. His boots will be hard to fill.

Still on the subject of the AQHA, another new event is the first-ever QuarterFest, coming to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, May 1-3. This is the inaugural extravaganza of a celebration of the Quarter Horse, offering clinics and all-star performances. Clinics run throughout the weekend, involving four of AQHA’s Professional Horsemen and women: Curt and Tammy Pate, a husband and wife from Newell, South Dakota; Jeff Griffith of Gallatin Gateway, Montana; and Julie Goodnight of Salida, Colorado. How’s that for our Tri-State Pride – they ALL come from here!

If you think you could use a vacation after calving, foaling and perhaps branding, check into an opportunity to win a free trip to QuarterFest, complete with airfare from anywhere within the lower 48 states, hotel accommodations and admission to all special events. One winning essay of 200 words or less – describing which tip on the website has benefited the writer most, and why – will win the writer that trip! One entry per person, AQHA members over age 18 only, will be accepted, and no essay longer than 200 words will be accepted. Entries should be emailed to no later than March 27. The winner will be notified by April 3rd, and full information is available at

We’ve recently touched on the specter of CEM hanging over the equine industry worldwide, and now invading our region. I thank Barb Daniels of Douglas, for providing me with minutes of Wyoming Horse Council’s recent meeting. Included in that mailing are the latest recommendations on CEM from the Wyoming State Veterinarian’s office, so I’ll share them here.

For Prevention & Control – Quarantine and test all imported fillies, mares, and stallions of foreign origin, and mares and stallions not previously bred in the United States that are older than 731 days (2 years). – Quarantine and test the first three mares bred to a stallion of foreign origin. – Quarantine all suspects until all test results are negative. – Avoid breeding any CEM-positive horses until they have been successfully treated and certified CEM negative – maintain strict hygiene when handling mares and stallions (e.g., use disposable gloves, change gloves between horses, and thoroughly clean and disinfect instruments) – and Report Suspicious Cases. It is imperative that veterinarians and equine owners who suspect that an animal may have CEM or any other foreign animal disease should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities. If you have questions or want more information go to or call 307-777-6443.

Looks like we’ve come to the end of our ol’ lariat rope once more.

© 2009 Rhonda Stearns

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