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Horse people…

I like being around horse people.  They have commitment!  For that matter, I like being around farmers, ranchers, and western folk.  I like their foundation of values – God, country, family.  I like their work ethic; centered on kids, crops, and critters vs. board rooms, bank accounts, and bling.

Since moving to Colorado, my wife has become a horse person; and my younger son, his wife, and my granddaughter, too.  After growing up in suburban Chicago, I now live with a whole different “herd”.  And these horse people are committed!

My husband said if I don’t sell my horses, he will leave me.  Some days I miss him.

Unknown Sage

In January, I enjoyed being around western folk and horse people almost the entire month as I worked evenings and weekends with my wife’s company at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.  She is the unofficial embroiderer for the National Western Event Center equestrian events.  She embroidered 83 champion coats over a 16 day stretch:

One of my favorite events involved the draft horse teams.  Talk about commitment!  On surface, the audience sees the power and beauty of these teams that campaign throughout the United States.  They certainly exemplify western values as written about in James P. Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics©:

Ride for the brand.

Those in the know understand what it takes below the surface for these folks to run such campaigns.  The time commitment alone necessary to prepare to compete in a venue such as the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is indescribable.  Not to mention the small fortune required to enter the event.

When you look at this picture of 14, 6-horse teams (84 tons of horse!) I figure you’re looking at a financial investment of $8,029,000!

$105,000 for tack (42 sets of harness, hitches and reins x $2,500 per set; 3 pairs per team – 2 horses as the wheel team; 2 horses as the swing team; and 2 as the lead team, all with special fitting, matching tack); 14 show wagons with trailer @ $25,000 each = $350,000; 14 pick-up trucks to haul the show wagon trailers @ $70,000 each = $980,000; 14 tractor-trailers to haul the 84 draft horses @ $110,000 each = $1,554,000; and 84 show draft horses @ $60,000 each average public auction price = $5,040,000.

Not counting the cost to hay these horses (50 pounds of hay per horse per day x 84 horses x $5 per pound x 365 days = $7,665,000); and grain them (50 pounds of grain per day…); or to shoe them … or to vet them … or the fuel for the vehicles to haul them … or… or… or…

The $2,500 prize money for the 1st place team (along with a couple of “Champion” jackets provided by NWSS and embroidered by my wife) clearly is not the reason why these western folk compete, true?

While many were watching the NFL playoffs on TV (and perhaps remembering the controversy NFL players started by kneeling during the National Anthem); these teamsters were filling water troughs; grooming their horses; polishing their tack and wagons; mucking manure out of stalls.  They all know one another and enjoy visiting with fellow competitors; sharing stories.  While caring for their critters, they eat their meals in the barn; and prepare for their next event.

And at the start of each and every day, everyone stands and “removes cover” for the singing of our National Anthem.  Yep – I really like being around horse people!

GAP

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2 Comments


  1. John Kleinhenz
    Feb 08, 2018

    GAP – well written article. The financial out lay to compete at the highest level in Horse events is amazing.

    Nice bumping into you at DIA.

    PS – Julie and I are now full time in Kremmling – playing part time Rancher.


    • Gary
      Feb 11, 2018

      Great hearing from you John – I hope our paths cross again in the near future! Congrats to you and Julie for your new/”next” adventure LoL! Ranching is a very honorable pursuit – fulfilling, too. Thx, GAP

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