Saturday, January 19, 2013

National Western Stockshow

National Western Stockshow is a hold over from the days of the wild west, when cattle ranchers would drive their beef cattle to Denver to load on trains for back east (which is any place east of Kansas in my mind.) It is located in the middle of Denver and J and I have been going for 17 years. T grew up with Stockshow in January and it is as much fun for him as it is for us.

I sweat it's the only time corn dogs sound good to me. The atmosphere is somewhere between a county fair and a super mall. There are three main buildings - the coleseum, the Hall of Education and the Equestrian Center. The Hall of Education also has a smaller arena where they show cattle, alpaca, hogs, sheep, have dog pulls, and stick rodeos (watching four year olds ride a bucking stick pony is freaking the best ever!)

Even at almost 13, T is still drawn into the junk shops. True to form, he wanted a gun (rubber band shooter - of which he has two models already and was looking forward to increasing his arsenal) and a stuffed dog. He settled for the stuffed dog and a bag of sour bubble gum.

The Hall of Education has a bunch of exhibits, including a Bird Rescue. That blur of color at the end of the woman's arm is a frantic Kestrel. There was also a Bald and a Harris hawk.

See? Kestrel. All of the birds are rescues, and unable to be released back into the wild, so they are used as ambassadors to educate people about the birds of prey we have in our area. We thought this particular group was the one who had rescued the Redtail we found injured and I was going to ask about it, but it was a different group altogether.

The equestrian center with the jumps set up for the Low Jumper show. Three of the young women from TMR rode in the show.

Cinnamon and her three students walking the course ahead of the show. They walk off the number of steps between jumps and talk about the best line to take, what to watch out for, where to swing wide or cut time off the course.

This jump course was two fold. The first eight fences were considered the "power" jumps and the last six were the speed course. If the rider makes it clear over the first eight fences (no faults and no time penalty) then they race through the last six jumps and the fastest time in the last six jumps wins the show.

We saw some crashed fences. And some refusals. And a lot of knocked down poles. By the time a third of the class had gone, only four horses had gone clear. One of them was Batman, from TMR, who lives in the stall across the aisle from Ashke.

We had pretty good seats, but only an iPhone camera. It was interesting to watch the horse's ears and attitude when they started the ride. Some of them weren't crazy about their rider.

Watching horses jumping is pretty interesting. Some of them really enjoy it and some are only doing it because they have no choice.

This is Batman. He was in fourth place when we had to leave. We had to leave because I told Lisa I would go with her to look at a new horse. Otherwise, we would have stayed to watch the entire show.

We raced out of the stockshow, which was more like driving really slowly with a great number of stops, and drove to Lisa's house. I went with Lisa to see this pretty fellow, by the name of TMF Maar Egypt.  He is a six year old Straight Egyptian green broke gelding. This was the second time Lisa has gone out to see him. The first time they weren't able to get a bridle on him, so Lisa went out today to see how he was.

It was pretty difficult to get the bridle on him. He has no ground manners and kept coming over into whoever was trying to work with him. The woman who owns him has always worked with him tied to her fence. He figured out some time ago that he could swing his body around and pin whoever it was against the fence, making them back away from him. When pressed, he would throw his weight backward and fight the rope then lunge forward. He also knew that he could get his head over the fence and make it impossible to get the bridle on him. Basically, he was allowed to be a bully and intimidate his owner, who didn't want to reprimand him.

After watching her back away and go forward with him, several times, she turned and asked us to go inside while she got the bridle on him. I asked her if I could try. She did. He tried to pinch me against the fence and I stuck my elbows out, getting him in the ribs and making him move away. I wouldn't let him crowd me. Every time he stuck his head over the fence, I grabbed the halter and pulled his head around. We did this several times and finally he exploded, pulling back and then charging forward. I moved with him, not letting up and not letting him push me away from his body. He stopped fighting quite so much and I shook the bridle in front of him, watching him flinch away from the leather. Finally, he stopped flinching and I was able to lay the bridle on the front of his face. From that point on he was a different horse.

Saddling and riding was no big deal. Lisa rode him in the round pen and then up and down the road. He was awesome under saddle and that's really the hard part. He has issues with his left hind leg and needs work from the ground, but is amazing under saddle. His feet need trimming, which might be problematic given he kicks violently every time you try to pick up his left hind.  He needs to put on a little weight and tone and condition, but not a bunch. I think he and Lisa will make a great team.

And look what we found for Pebble for her first birthday:

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