Plenty of horse events left |

Plenty of horse events left

So many great horse events happened over the Independence Day weekend we wonder if there’s anything on the equine calendar for the rest of the summer, but never fear…

An email from Mike Sigman of Flying Arrow Performance Horses informed me of a Cow Horse Clinic with Keith Brumley upcoming July 25, 26 and 27 at the Circle T Arena between Rapid City and Hermosa. It’ll be a 2 1/2-day event, offering dry work only on Friday afternoon, then a combination of cow work and dry work Saturday and Sunday. Mike said he was sure the participation fee would not exceed $250, maximum; and he had some schemes going to cut it down as far as possible, so it may be less than that.

Mike noted that this is not a SDRCHA-sponsored event – and that it’s essential to have at least 10 registered participants to make it a “go.” So, if you’re interested, contact Mike ASAP at, or (605)381-6528.

I recently asked for your prayers and support for young Tori Bonham who was kicked in the face by her rope horse at the Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals. A benefit rodeo and auction have been scheduled for Tori’s medical expenses (she’s having to have several surgeries on her face, and they have to be paid for in advance!) at the University of Wyoming’s Hanson Arena in Laramie, Wyoming, on August 3rd, starting at 10 a.m. There’ll be barrel racing and breakaway roping with divisions for juniors and seniors; plus pole bending, goat tying and team roping (open and scrambled). A 50/50 raffle is planned and items are sought for the silent auction. To learn more about the event, contact Brian Petersen at (307) 760-8582. To donate items or add to Tori’s fund, contact Cathy Moen at (970) 419-8649.

I understand Tori is in good spirits and has been getting out to watch some area rodeos. We wish her Godspeed for rapid and total recovery; and we thank everyone who donates to or participates in this worthwhile event.

We’ve also talked here about the “too many horses, not enough homes” issue that is inundating our nation since slaughter plants were closed. It sounds like the chickens have come home to roost as even the government is now considering the unthinkable – putting some of these horses down!

An article on the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ website this week says: “Federal officials are considering euthanizing wild horses to deal with the growing population on the range and in holding facilities. ‘Wild horses have overpopulated public lands and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management can’t afford to care for the number of mustangs that have been rounded up,’ said Henri Bisson, the agency’s deputy director. ‘Also, fewer people are adopting the horses,’ he said. This announcement marks the first time the agency publicly has discussed the possibility of putting surplus animals to death.”

Not a pretty prospect, by anyone’s standards… but it would sure beat slow starvation or getting weak and going down and freezing to death this winter. This is a tough issue that is going to require tough answers.

To me it’s kind’a like when the bathtub is full and running over, the first thing you need to do is shut off the faucet and stop adding to the overflow… then you can try to pull the plug and let the water out down the drain where it belongs. Euthanizing wild horses while continuing to let them breed and reproduce doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’ve been told, by people who know, that the studs could be sterilized by darts like those used to tranquilize animals – so why isn’t that the first project the Fed’s undertake? If you can’t get close enough with a plane or chopper, hire some fine Native American horsemen and allow them to experience the ways of their forefathers; running among the herds on horseback, shooting them with the merciful arrows that will prevent another generation of suffering.

I do applaud the serious and successful efforts of the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF), whose Extreme Mustang Makeover programs have successfully placed a good number of wild horses with adoptive families. In September 2007, MHF’s Extreme Mustang Makeover event in Fort Worth, Texas, matched 100 wild horses with 100 trainers and within 100 days these trainers prepared the wild horses for a horse course and free-style riding competition. Through this event, every competing horse was adopted at an average price of $2,300 – a far cry from the government’s minimum fee of $125. Similar events in Sacramento, California and Madison, Wisconsin, placing almost 100 more horses.

Now MHF plans the 2nd Annual event for September 2008. I was privileged to meet Patti Colbert, Executive Director of the MHF, at a Cowgirl U event in Montana the spring of 2007. She’s a hard worker, dedicated to the cause, and very excited about what they’re accomplishing.

Patti says, “This was an event the likes of which BLM had never seen. It was standing room only that created a complete sense of exhilaration and admiration for the horse and trainers.”

An event is in progress here in Wyoming, which will culminate as 25 trainers vie for a $10,000 purse; exhibiting (during the Wyoming State Fair, August 15th and 16th) the Mustangs they’ve been training for 90 days.

“We are now preparing for the 2008 competition that will be held this September,” Patti says, “and have more than doubled the size with 200 horses and 200 trainers plus another 200 yearlings matched with young trainers and their families. The overall prize money has also increased to $70,000.”

That’s a sizable incentive for all you trainers; grab your saddle and throw your hackamore into the ring! To learn more, please go to

As much as I respect the MHF and what they’ve accomplished, I still fail to see how it’s solving America’s problem of being overstocked with horses. Owners, of the same sort who’ll be adopting the wild horses in September at Fort Worth, basically “dumped” hundreds of horses around Denver, Colorado when the recent big financial disaster caused their homes to be repossessed.

What are the odds that people who visit the Fort Worth performance and become infused with that “exhilaration and admiration” (to the degree that they adopt a wild horse and haul it home) will have the facilities, the funding, or the faith to stay for the long haul and give that horse a home until it dies?

Let’s shut down the factory… then try to get rid of the overflow – not just let it keep stockpiling. Talk to your government officials, your neighbors, the media – articulate your concerns about the impending starvation of your own horses if these unwanted horses keep proliferating and gobbling up the grass.

The end of our ol’ lariat rope is wet with tears this time, for our dear, wonderful friend Clem McSpadden. Clem rode off and left a battle with cancer on July 7th, to join his uncle Will Rogers and multitudes of friends and fans on that big outfit that lies across the Great Divide.

No finer rodeo announcer ever picked up a microphone and spoke of the sport he loved. Clem was a cowboy’s cowboy who knew contestants on a first-name, hand-shaking basis… he knew their dad’s and granddad’s too, and would share stories about them as he announced the current generation of competitors. A gentleman statesman of our sport with the warmth of an Oklahoma sunrise in his heart and his smile… my, how he will be missed… is already missed. What a blessing to have known him… how thankful we are for his legacy in rodeo, with the NFR at the top of the heap. Adios, amigo… until we meet again. We know, as you so eloquently put it at the opening of countless rodeos, “YOUR entry fees are paid!”

© 2008 Rhonda Stearns

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