Thinking New Year |

Thinking New Year

If you’re readin’ this, the chances are good that you’ve survived another Christmas season – congratulations! Now you’re watchin’ another year draw to a close… an’ maybe you’re thinkin’ about New Year’s resolutions.

One thing’s sure – you understand 2009 is not entering this old world upon the best of situations. Things are a bit shaky. Lots’a folk have lost their jobs, or expect they might lose them in the near future. Lots’a folk have lost their savings, or a good portion of them, or expect they might lose them in the near future. No doubt you’re feelin’ some stress about what the next 12 months might hold for you, personally.

An’ we all know stress is no fun. Since your mind is on resolutions, an’ since we’re supposed to be talkin’ about horses here – why not resolve to do everything you can in 2009 to relieve stress on every horse you have anything to do with? It’s a win-win idea, good for you and your horses.

I recently read a statement by Tim O’Byrne, editor of Working Ranch magazine, that you might like to ponder: “…to become a truly effective horse person one must cultivate a relationship with them in which communication flows easily both ways,” he says. “Spoken language is not a barrier, so we can’t use that as an excuse. Don’t forget, there are plenty of folks who speak fluent English but have trouble communicating even the simplest of concepts or emotions to another individual.”

That writer went on to suggest that to be the best caretaker of our horses we should train ourselves to recognize stress… anticipate stress… and make vigorous arrangements to avoid it; on our horse’s behalf. That’d be wise behavior on a personal level, as well – and why not accept the same responsibility on behalf of our human associates whenever possible? Might be a good way to start off a new year; and if we’d continue, it’d surely impact our coming year positively.

Thinking “new year” we also think “new things,” new products, new trends… what’s on the horizon? Maybe a ranch job in Brazil?

Global Ag Investments (GAI), a group rooted in Iowa, has reportedly “noted the opportunity countries like Brazil hold” and is already managing over 34,000 acres on various farms in that country. North Dakota native Lowell Malard recently spent a few months in Brazil with GAI. Lowell apparently retains a good bit of an adventurous spirit himself, as I understand it he’s still with GAI, investigating such other exotic environs as the Ukraine. We tip our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to a native son going far.

As you’re well aware, we’ve discussed the horse slaughter issue a good deal here of late. I have received two letters from ladies obviously offended by my stance on the matter. Both condemned “irresponsible breeders” who have a “breed and dump cycle.” Two other statements they both shared are, “The pro slaughter stance on horse slaughter was built on lies and greed” – and “you will never see another horse slaughter plant on US soil.” They’re definitely organized, and this gives you some idea of the vengeance with which these people are vigorously opposing the reopening of any such plants.

I’m sure some of them may truly care for horses, or have a fantasy that they would love to own one; they are simply misinformed and misled about the pain and suffering that’s inflicted on horses when there are no slaughter plants in operation. Unless you’ve lived among livestock in natural settings and seen the kinds of suffering the old, crippled, abandoned and neglected often endure, I guess you wouldn’t be able to understand that sudden death could often be far better and less painful.

I noted through another publication that Dr. Robert Lawrence had a good article on the unwanted horse issue in the Thoroughbred Times of Oct. 25. One of the things he said is, “Today, everything is increasingly complex, and it is often very difficult to comprehend the consequences of many decisions… It may be easy to ban something, but dealing with unintended results is often a problem.”

We should leave the old year on a positive note, and I recently ran across a “happy ending” story about prominent South Dakota cowgirl and horsewoman, Teresa Dee (Daly) Sutton. The National High School Rodeo Association’s (NHSRA) official publication NHSRA Times reported, in an article by Minnesota State Secredary Jodi Oftedahl, that 41 years ago a lady in Iowa bought the 1967 NHSRA Queen saddle from a horse trainer. She was now seeking the original owner, to find out if they’d like to buy the saddle back. She contacted Jodi after discovering a Minnesota girl had been the 1967 National Queen.

Jodi was soon able to find out the Teresa Dee Daly of 1967 is now Mrs. Monte Melvin. She then contacted Monte, and put him in touch with Mary Hanson, present owner of the saddle in Iowa.

A really joyful part of the story is that Monte secretly bought the saddle, and surprised Teresa by giving it to her for her birthday last month! Icing on the cake, pun intended, was a queen sash presented to Teresa by the Minnesota High School Rodeo Association; to honor her for bringing that crown to their state, and to commemorate their part in the story of her ‘lost’ saddle.

Teresa had reluctantly sold the saddle not long after winning it, because she needed the money to go to college – only to be “reunited” with it more than four decades later. No doubt they’ll “live happily ever after!”

An’ that brings us plumb to the end of this ol’ lariat rope for 2008 – may your rope be long an’ strong in ’09… an’ may it catch and hold all that’s best for you and yours.

© 2008 Rhonda Stearns

Email Rhonda at


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