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Let's All Go Ropin' And Ridin'

Rick C
June 25th, 2007, 02:53 PM
If you're interested in a different kind of culture, I was at the Guy Weadick Rodeo and Professional Chuckwagon Races in High River, Alberta on the bare butt prairie yesterday . . . .

Some tragedy below as well . . . . just a warning if you wanted to stop here.

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Okotoks and Airdrie rodeo queens and princesses at work, more than ceremonial, herding calves in the infield at High River . . . . . they were expert horsewomen.

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One handed and hanging on for eight seconds . . . . how legends are made.

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With his quarry successfully roped after a head start and his highly-trained steed hitting the brakes, this cowboy slams into the dirt with his heels, lariat in his mouth ready to tie this calf up at the feet after wrestling it to the ground . . . . . . the best time of the day was less than five seconds.

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Big buckle, big boots, big hat and a big can of pop, a great day to be a kid for an afternoon at the rodeo . . . .

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A young miss sells beer to the grandstand crowd on a cool afternoon in the stands . . . .

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In a sea of cowboy hats, serious talk . . . probably a lot of money in that crowd.

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It's actually an art, sitting on a gate in the infield . . . . . and bum numbing and back-breaking if you're not used to it.

Continued below . . . . .

Rick C
June 25th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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Kids score some cotton candy

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Trying to gain the inside track, a driver pushes his rig out of the infield after circling two barrels. Uniquely Canadian, although gaining some traction in the USA, chuckwagon racing came out of the cattle industry in the old west when cook wagons would race each other across the prairie. Throwing a stove and tent poles into the back of the wagon from a standing start, a driver and four "outriders," men on other horses, must cross the finish line together while racing a half mile of track (the "half mile of hell") against three similar, competing rigs.

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The moment of disaster in the second chuckwagon race, just before the finish line in a neck-and-neck race . . . . the lead left horse on the outer rig goes down, the driver already pulling back on the reins to stop his rig while his competitor notices the tangle.

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Grinding to a stop, two horses now on the ground and being dragged . . . . .

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Workers, outriders and the event veterinarian rush to the scene to steady the unit, untangle the effected horses. They must also immediately report to the on-site human society observors.

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In the next moments, the big picture on the bald prairie. . . . . . a horse is freed unharmed while workers erect a pre-prepared tarpaulin on hand for just such an event, designed to shield the crowd (and photographers) from what might come next. Within five minutes, three horses had walked away.

The fourth horse, the one that originally went down, had died of a heart attack, causing it to go down initially. It was loaded into a horse trailer and taken to a nearby veterinary hospital with a police escort.

Although safety has improved in recent years on the pro chuckwagon circuit, these kinds of incidents continue to happen on occasion, infuriating animal rights activists.

The races continued . . . .

Rick C
www.goldentales.ca

Frenchy
June 25th, 2007, 03:49 PM
Although safety has improved in recent years on the pro chuckwagon circuit, these kinds of incidents continue to happen on occasion, infuriating animal rights activists.



Well it infuriates me too :shrug: I was at a rodeo once and didn't really liked what I saw .... never going back again.

That being said , beautiful pics RickC , I know it's not everyday accidents happen and I understand people that like to go there, it still a nice family activity.

Rick C
June 25th, 2007, 03:58 PM
Well it infuriates me too :shrug: I was at a rodeo once and didn't really liked what I saw .... never going back again.

That being said , beautiful pics RickC , I know it's not everyday accidents happen and I understand people that like to go there, it still a nice family activity.

I actually asked a moderator whether or not I should post these pictures . . . . that person said "go for it."

So I knew it would be a hot topic. Then again, it should be shown, the best and the worst, both of which are subject to fair comment. The fate of the horse earned a small, one sentence description at the tail-end of the story in the Calgary Herald this morning.

Community Rodeos and the professional chuckwagon circuit are very popular events in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the interior of British Columbia.

Rick C
www.goldentales.ca

Frenchy
June 25th, 2007, 04:01 PM
I actually asked a moderator whether or not I should post these pictures . . . . that person said "go for it."



Sure , why not ! A friend of my ex has some horses and does rodeo (the one that I went too) and I know lots of these people take great care of their horses.

luckypenny
June 25th, 2007, 11:54 PM
What I love most about your photos RickC, is how they depict objectivity. You photograph subjects 'as they are' to let the viewer think and make up his/her own mind. Your photos are amazing, as always.

"A picture tells a story, don't it..."

Thank you for sharing.

rainbow
June 26th, 2007, 12:47 AM
Good photos, Rick, but all I have to say is I wish they would BAN rodeos. :sad: WHY do people have to subject animals to such horrible conditions? :yell: :frustrated: :sad: :mad:

Rick C
June 26th, 2007, 09:18 AM
Good photos, Rick, but all I have to say is I wish they would BAN rodeos. :sad: WHY do people have to subject animals to such horrible conditions? :yell: :frustrated: :sad: :mad:

It's always an interesting discussion . . . . . because there are definitely two points of view.

For the record, it wouldn't scar me for life if rodeos and chuckwagons were ever banned.

The Calgary Stampede has its own ranch east of the city where horses run pretty much wild much of the time, untamed and living in essentially a natural state until the occasions where they are roped and taken to rodeo's where cowboys try to stay on their backs for those famous eight seconds. Then its back to the ranch.

One of the horses in High River was in its last rodeo and something of a legend, having rarely been rode. . . . . and is being retired to pasture for the rest of its life.

My neighbour in the valley raises painted ponies and we sit on our deck and watch these few dozen horses and their babies socializing, running as a herd through the pasturelands, playing tag, etc . . . . and lord, they love to run. It's really a joy to watch.

The neighbour once had a race horse that won the Alberta Derby and lived 27 years. When it died, he buried it in the valley and built a fence around the sight with a cross. It's still there.

Yet this is the same guy who, when I asked what happened to the momma cow that had just given birth in a blizzard down on his farm but hadn't moved for a number of days and was obviously sick . . . . . he held up his arms and mimicked pulling the trigger on a rifle.

About two miles from where those pictures were taken is a Cargill plant that "processes" 4,500 head of cattle a day or about 1.6 million per year. Semi-trailer loads of them arriving 24 hours a day. An assembly line.

I've been through a feedlot operation that won a Microsoft competition for programming . . . . they came up with a way to track every cow through the place, how much it was fed, medications, etc. The whole purpose, of course, to fatten the cow up for slaughter.

When about 150 cattle went through the ice on a slough last winter east of Calgary, all drowning, the farmer who owned them bawled like a baby at their fate.

Ian Tyson, whom you might remember as a folk singer from the 60's, is famous locally for railing against the city slickers moving to the country and the deteriorating "cowboy lifestyle."

Therein lies the incongruity that makes that lifestyle difficult for city slickers to comprehend . . . . . most ranchers and farmers really do have affection for their animals . . . . . but they're also very business-like about their eventual fate.

As such, I have no doubt at all that the chuckwagon driver, who will typically travel with two teams of horses to these events, was likely busted up pretty badly by the death of the horse in the picture.

Yet he'll be there running for about $250,000 in prize money in front of 15,000 from all over the world at the Calgary Stampede in less than two weeks.

Beautiful and brutal. A way of life.

A good Wikipedia (I know, I know!!) article on animal rights issues at the Calgary Stampede is at this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calgary_Stampede

Rick C
www.goldentales.ca

trippincherri
June 26th, 2007, 05:34 PM
I grew up with my best friends doing rodeo and competing in horse shows which I often attended and helped out with.
I never did care for the chuckwagons and bull/bronc riding (usually laughed at the ill fated cowboy who got launched by the beast he tried to ride) but the other sports, like barrel racing and pole bending were always fun to watch.
I hate the calf roping, the look in the poor little buggers eyes as they're snagged and tossed to the ground *sigh* and then they bellow and cry.
Its kinda pathetic and sad to see.
I've also been behind the scenes and watched cowboys and girls lovingly preparing their horses for the crowds and its not always about the money or the showmanship that they do it, its for the COMPANIONSHIP and TEAMWORK they feel when they compete with their animal.

There's good and bad to it. I guess it depends what side of the fence your on. ;)

Schwinn
June 27th, 2007, 02:50 PM
I try to be open-minded about the rodeo. I don't have a problem with the bull riding and bronco riding events per se, it's the way I've been told they get them to buc. I'm not crazy about the spurs or the rope tied around the testicles (so I've been told).

As for the calf roping, I used to be against that. I heard a rodeo cowboy talking about it, and he was saying that a lot of the calves see it as a game. Someone scoffed and asked me how would I like to be chased down and tackled? (you mean, like in football? I enjoyed it quite much, thank you) The argument that came back was that no animal would like that. Again, I think to how much Daisy likes me to chase her and tackle her, and wrestle with her, sooo...

The thing I don't get is why the chuck races are such a big bone of contention. Are they really that dangerous to the animal? I always thought horses loved to run, so I figured they would like it. But, I'm not a horse, so what do I know...