Sunday, January 8, 2017


Today was the first day of the National Western Stock Show and T's first day skiing with his ski club at Winter Park. We delivered him awake and on time to the bus at 6:30, then took the dogs to run for exactly nine minutes and twenty seconds before they were too cold to go on (it was seven degrees out and the sun wasn't up yet). They ran themselves pretty ragged in the short time they were out and seemed okay in their Dover blankets.

 They love to go, go, go in the snow.

 Looking for stuff to bark at . . . .
there wasn't much out this morning.
You can see J at the far end of the park. We were calling the dogs back and forth between us to get them to run.

Snowcicles on the edges of her lips.

We took the pups home (they curled up and slept on the drive home) then left them to go to the National Western Stock Show. When we reached the complex, we discovered there weren't a ton of people there yet. We started wandering around looking at all of the things. The Semen sales store was gone, replaced with some kind of woven rug store, and the Carhartt dealership was gone. Her booth was replaced with a huge store that sold items for showing cows and sheep. The Valley Vet booth used to be huge and this year is was a small table with clippers and hoof boots. Thirty years ago, the booths were focused on farming, ranching and land management. Now, the booths are directed toward selling the average American something they don't really need: nail gloss, lotion, cookware, jewelry, clothing (western focused), etc. One of the booths that's been there since J and I started going to NWSS was gone (glass artisan) and the Outback clothing store was gone as well.

Did manage to find some pretty fancy fringed western breast collars.
Because we all need one of those.

Didn't buy the indoor sauna I've been wanting for twenty years, but it's still on the list. Maybe next year . . . . We also went past a Raptor Education Program and saw this beautiful guy:

 This fine fellow is an Aplomado Falcon, which is the most endangered bird of prey in the world. It was found in NM and southern TX a long time ago. Mostly though, they are found in Central and South America. There are none in the wild but the breeding programs have produced enough new birds that they are looking at reintroduction.

This guy is a juvenile falcon, bred in captivity and imprinted on humans. He was calm and intrigued by the people around him and about three times the size of the American Kestrel. This falcon is almost the same size as the Peregrine and flies pretty much the same way. We loved him.

As we wandered downstairs we realized it was the Alpaca and Llama part of the show (they are only there the first three days of NWSS, and then the sheep come in) and the basement was filled with their fuzzy wonderfulness.

 This one was so darn cute.
He really wanted to investigate me but I smelled like something he wasn't comfortable with.

They are very expressive. Think chestnut mare, but smaller and fuzzy.
They can pin their ears and snarl while still looking adorbs.

We watched a Llama trail class. They were saddled with panniers, had to walk through a series of camp chairs, over a pile of wood, stand without moving while their front foot was lifted (this was very difficult for a bunch of them), go through a standing gate, stop and stand next to their handler without moving, allow a bright shiny metal pan to be hung from their panniers, cross a bridge, then duck under a low hanging branch. Once that was complete, the handler unsaddled the llama and brushed them down with their hands while the llama stood still for it. It was fun to watch and some of the llama's were breathtakingly beautiful.

Then we went to the Event Center. As we walked in there was the sound of gunfire. Did we turn and run for our lives? Heck no,  we walked up to see what was going on and found Mounted Shooting. In the thirty years I have been going to NWSS I have never seen anyone mix guns and horses. We watched for almost two hours.

There were four patterns to the double pistol series

The white ballons were shot first, then the red balloons.

The horses and riders wear ear plugs. The six shooters are 45 caliber handguns loaded with black powder and plugs. They shoot 20 feet, so the riders have to be closer than that to the balloons. A fifteen year old HS Freshman had the fastest time with no penalties. I however, did not video her run.

Then the pattern was changed and they shot the white ones with the handgun, then the red ones with a shotgun. There was one bunch of three red ballons at one end and a bunch of two ballons at the other. There were not as many riders for the shotgun and rifle events. And only one woman.

Each balloon that was missed was an extra 5 seconds added to the time. Knocking over a barrel added another 5 seconds as well.

It was pretty darn good fun.
Maybe not as much fun as mounted archery, but still pretty cool.

After the shotgun, they moved to shooting five balloons with a rifle.
I did not get as many videos as I wanted because the phone was dying.

My overall impression was that the horses knew their jobs (although one little mare really thought she was supposed to weave through the poles), and there was some flexibility in how the pattern was ridden in order to maximize the efficiency of the run. Most of the horses were Barrel racing bred QH's and were very quick on their feet. The real problem areas were in handling the guns efficiently and quickly. A lot of balloons were missed because the gun didn't fire or the rider couldn't cock and aim quick enough.

I also think Ashke would have hated it because of the noise. Although, I do think he would have enjoyed the speed stuff. I was also very amused at the announcer saying that the rifle shooters had to trust their horses to do the right thing (rather than expecting the riders to ride from their seat and legs).

We had to leave to go get T. I said to J that I thought we were done with the Stockshow this year and she thought I meant forever. I thought she wanted to stay longer and was very confused. We worked it out that 1) we were ready to go (crowds had gotten very heavy at that point), 2) we didn't need to come back again this year, and 3) we would come back again next year. It was a fun day.


  1. Love:

    - those fancy breast collars! Maybe a western equivalent of the blingy dressage browbands? :D

    - that gorgeous falcon How cool you got to see him. I found a dead kestrel last winter. So sad that it had died, but I really enjoyed examining it up close. Raptors are so impressive.

    - Your header pic is adorable!

  2. That falcon is GORGEOUS! And OMG the mounted shooting!!!! <3 If gun laws weren't so strict in MD, I would totally go for that as an alternate sport...

  3. There is a group in Maryland called the Mason-Dixon Deputies. They are in Berlin. You could at least scope it out. 😀

  4. Wow, sounds like the Stock Show has really changed, and not for the better. I have yet to go, but it sounds like you picked a really nice day for it.
    The falcon is beautiful! We got to see a program about them at the Raptor Center in Utah a few years back and really enjoyed them. I hope they are successful in their reintroduction program.
    The mounted shooting looks like fun. I want to see something different like that when I go to the show, but I was busy this weekend, so we'll see what I can find.