Stock Show Season upon us |

Stock Show Season upon us

As January flies by the Stock Show Season is upon us here in Tri-State Country. The National Western Stock Show starts in Denver, CO next week and the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) comes to Rapid City, SD before the end of the month. These are big annual events offering a great variety of activities and entertainment, including plenty of rodeo action.

For years, probably 1946 through 1961, we never missed a Denver Stock Show; and I have many fond memories of those colorful festivities, so glowing and glitzy to a country kid. The city always retains its Christmas finery throughout Stock Show week, and to learn more about the National Western, or obtain tickets for any of their events Jan. 10th through 25th, you can call (303)295-6124 or go to

This year they’re offering some of the world’s best competition in Professional Rodeo and Professional Bull Riding. For variety you can enjoy the Martin Luther King African-American Heritage Rodeo of Champions, which includes cowgirls competing in Steer Undecorating. The Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza brings yet another variety of thrills, even the death-defying Paso de La Muerte. The amazing skills of the horsewomen of Escaramuza Charra will also be showcased there. Add to that a full gamut of livestock species and breed shows and sales, plus Paint Horse and Quarter Horse shows and sales, including the AQHA Ranch Horse World Championship Show, and your cup runs over. There’s also a fantastic trade show, and if your preference leans to English over Western disciplines, United States Equestrian Foundation events start Jan. 20th. Or, if you’re out for raw power, draft horses and mules are showcased the 22nd and 23rd.

Watch our pages for results and updates from Denver, and for full coverage of the ever bigger and better BHSS.

Speakin’ of rodeos in our area, favorite rodeos, don’t forget the PRCA has scheduled the dates of the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) at Pocatello, ID two weeks later this year. The 2009 DNCFR will run April 8th through the 11th instead of its usual March slot, thus avoiding an overlap with Rodeo Houston, which caused scheduling conflicts for some cowboys and cowgirls in the past.

Rodeo wouldn’t be what it is without outstanding roughstock, and rodeo producers seek new stars at auctions such as the Benny Binion Bucking Horse and Bull Sale during the Wrangler NFR. Held the 4th and 5th of last month in Vegas, the 2008 sale saw 250 head of rank stock pass under the auctioneer’s gavel, to the tune of $530,625. Sale topper was a 5-year-old bay son of Grated Coconut, earning a bid of $20,500. Consigned by Melissa Hollingsworth, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist, the stallion was purchased by the Calgary Stampede through their senior manager of rodeo Keith Marrington. He insists the horse bucks like his daddy, many times PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year Grated Coconut, and has an 85 percent chance of making it to the 2009 WNFR. He will buck under the name Northern Coconut, although he was sold as Eagle Tracks.

“Tough Enough to Wear Pink” (TETWP) events have become popular in rodeo through recent years, always dedicated to breast cancer awareness raising funds to help breast cancer victims. The committee from Gunnison Colorado’s “Cattlemen’s Days” received a very special surprise and boon during the National Finals on Dec. 10th as Wrangler officials presented them with a $210,000 matching gift to equal the money they’ve raised over the last three years to help those in their area whose lives have been affected by the disease. Completely surprised by the honor and the extent of the gift, the committee is now setting up an endowment for the money.

Cattlemen’s Days in Gunnison is special to me as the first prorodeo I provided organ music for, in July of 1966. That started me down a three-decade-long rodeo trail that took me from Raleigh, NC in the east to Ellensburg, WA in the west, to play for rodeos in 13 states.

Looking back is fun, and it’s also exciting to see the progress being made as the decades fly by. That was noted by Dr. Roberta Dwyer of the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington in her comments for the January 2009 Equine Disease Quarterly. Thinking back to her vet school days, more than two decades ago, she declares, “We’ve come a long way.”

“In 2009, along with better pain medications and anesthetic agents, horses will have more access than ever to the same diagnostics as humans,” Dr. Dwyer continues. “More private veterinary clinics will offer computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ultrasonography has advanced beyond reproductive and gastrointestinal use – ultrasound imaging of anything from eyes to tendons is now common… the array of equine therapeutic tools has also expanded beyond new antibiotics, effective pain medications, and safer anesthetic agents.”

Dr. Dwyer highlighted the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers in use at several equine clinics across the country, along with underwater treadmills and equine swimming pools for therapy. She closed by saying, “At the end of the day, any horse wants and deserves the basics of a good life: health, good food and water, shelter, companionship, and a purpose to life.”

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a health benefit several members of my family have used over the years; once cutting edge for humans, and now fairly common for our animals. It’s a high-dose oxygen inhalation therapy achieved by having the patient breathe 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized hyperbaric chamber. The pressurized chamber drives oxygen into blood plasma, which is then transported throughout the body, positively affecting even damaged tissue that’s receiving limited blood supply. The Hagyard Institute of Lexington, Kentucky calls HBOT “one of the safest therapeutics available to the practitioner.”

That old lariat rope is gettin’ close to the end, an’ before it runs out, put this on your calendar – a Justin Lawrence clinic brought to Newcastle, WY by the South Dakota Reined Cow Horse Association on Jan. 17th and 18th. This event will be held at the Craig Deveraux barn just off Highway 85 a few miles south of Newcastle, with good cattle. For information call Craig at (307) 746-2317; or contact Deb Black or Clara Wilson.

© 2009 Rhonda Stearns

Email Rhonda at

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