The Outside Circle: You don’t know dry, Dakota Cutting Classic & things to do

Jan Swan Wood

By the time you read this, I’ll be home from a big circle down through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and back. If you doubt that there’s really a drought down in that country, I can sure clear that up for you with the photos I snapped. Some stretches of country in west Texas don’t even have a green edge of growth along the highway. The cattle look surprisingly good, especially those of Brahman descent. They are efficient browsers and they’ve sure pruned the mesquite up high, but without rain, they don’t have much hope for winter. Keep praying for rain for all of that area.

What I also saw on the trip were some very thin horses along the road. With hay prices way over $200 a ton, those in hard financial times just can’t feed them. Those horses have eaten every bite of anything in their pastures, barked the trees and are hoping for a weed to blow into their pasture. Horse sales are full of those horses and they just aren’t worth anything. Fat ones can be sold for processing, but the thin ones don’t have anywhere to go to end the suffering. At least our northern horses have some hope of something to eat. Sad deal.

It’s so dry in central Texas that we saw a round baler parked in front of a pawn shop. I assume it didn’t fit inside.

The Dakota Cutting Classic was held at Platte, SD, on Oct. 1-2. Brad Vance, now of Lipan, TX, formerly of Faith, SD, won the 3-year-old Non-Pro Futurity and the 4-year-old Non-Pro Derby. Both of the horses he rode are sired by Jim and Ethel Whitcher’s Peptos Blue Print. Jim Whitcher placed second, third, and fourth on offspring of the same stud in the Open 3-year-old Futurity. Three of the four horses that made it back to the finals were Peptos Blue Print horses. The Whitchers ranch and raise horses out east of Scenic, SD. Congrats to them for all that their horses achieved!

Also, congratulations to Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, and her great horse An Okie With Cash, for winning the Badlands Circuit Finals Championship. Second place went to Nikki Steffes, Vale, SD, third to Britany Fleck, Mandan, ND, and fourth to Lacy Cowan, Highmore, SD.

Webb Ranch, Volin, SD, is hosting a barrel series to run through May 2012. There will be barrels, peewee through open, plus poles and even goat tying if there’s enough interest. The first one was on Oct. 15, but there are more to come. Call 712-870-1160 for more information.

Just a reminder to my neighbors in Montana, brand renewals are due by Dec. 31, 2011.

Animal identification has reared it’s ugly head again and slithered back through the back door. You’d better wake up and get to learning all you can about the proposed rules. Don’t think for a minute that it’s going to help farmers and ranchers. Also, don’t think that if you don’t own cattle that it won’t affect you. If they get their foot in the door, I have no doubt that the horse industry will be affected. This is about control of our personal property rights, not about food safety. The USDA has extended the comment period to Dec. 9, so get online and find what you need to express your feelings. I’ll try to find more information in that area and share it with you next week. In the mean time, go to, they’ll have information on their site.

The BLM is planning to remove nearly 6,000 more feral horses across the west, including over 2,000 in Wyoming, 3,500 in Nevada, about 400 burros in Arizona, and the balance out of California, Montana and Utah. The estimated population of feral horses and burros is over 33,000 while the target is about 12,000 head. The ones they’ve caught over the years are stockpiled in feedlots and holding facilities and on the taxpayer dole and exceed 40,000 head and these new additions will be put in the same welfare state. In 2010, this cost $36.9 million. In this fiscal year the BLM has removed over 8,400 head, mostly horses, from the range.

They’re also planning on putting some of the mares on fertility drugs (birth control) and adjusting the ratio to favor males and cut back on reproduction before turning them loose.

I don’t even want to think about what it’s costing to put those mares on the pill. Can’t they just spay them? How about gelding most of those ugly studs instead of turning them back out intact so they can fight and butcher each other over the limited number of mares who will cycle?

There’s a petition being circulated asking President Obama to reinstate horse processing facilities, as recommended by the GAO report released in the spring. There are currently over 2,700 signatures on it, but there needs to be over 5,000 for the White House staff to even review the petition. Please take the time to sign this online petition. Here’s how you do it: Go to, click on “open petitions,” find “filter by issue,” then select “agriculture.” Scroll through until you find the one referencing “restoring humane horse slaughter.” Please take the time and do this. It’s crucial that we get humane processing back as a choice we can make to manage our livestock. It was the waiting for someone else to do something that lead to the closing down of horse slaughter. Let’s get off our hind ends and sign this petition. We can do this. Get with it!

Lots of exciting events coming up in the near future. Please share yours with me and I will sure let everyone know about it. Well, this horse and several others are ready for a little turnout time after the long circle I’ve taken, so, I think I’ll go pull shoes and turn ’em out. Have a great week!