Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bay Area Bull Bash

I went to the Mill Casino's Bay Area Bull Bash and that was fun!
Besides a lot of bull riding, which is always exciting, they also had "Dancing horses" and a cowboy mounted shooting demonstration. A trained Andalusian stallion and Friesian stallion perform to music. The man who was riding them just sold a trained friesian stallion for $200,000 and the one he was on today was in training.

I love animals, so I walked around behind the chutes to look at the bulls. I took some pictures, and a man came up and said, "Hey, take this bull's picture!" and started to climb over the fence into the bull pen...
"His name is Preacher."
"You're going in there with him?"
"Yup, he loves to be scratched. I wouldn't do this with those other bulls, though."
He scratched Preacher's head and told me he liked cookies.

Bulls chillin' behind the chutes where they had hay and water before they had to go to work stompin' cowboys.

Most bulls are pretty mean to anything that gets in their way-- people, animals, fences, or even other bulls! But just like with any animal, if you handle them alot, they can get somewhat tame (but just like horses or other big animals, are still always dangerous).

After bucking and chasing his rider, this bull walked around the arena and looked out at the crowds. He then walked out the gait back into the pens where his flank strap is removed and he's turned back loose.

I don't know if you could ever get tired of watching the bulls. They have an air of dignity-- after bucking and stomping a cowboy, many of them calmly looked around at the audience with their heads held high, and then walked slowly out of the gait, as if to show us they did their job well, and were in no hurry to leave the arena.

Many of the bulls just trotted right out their gait after performing.

They almost seem trained-- they stand in the chutes, wait for them to be opened, explode in a bucking frenzy of power, try to smash a few people, then look around at everyone and walk with dignity out of the arena-- not bleeding, limping, or running for their life out of the arena as the cowboys do. I think the bulls are so proud because they always win-- they always buck the cowboy off. Even if he lasts for a full 8 seconds, he hops off as quick as he can and runs away-- and the bull always gets the satisfaction of chasing him in front of all the spectators before proudly walking out of the arena.

Thank goodness he was wearing a helmet-- but he still left bleeding.

The most amusing part was the bull poker. People from the audience had a chance to pay $50 to sign up to play... and the winner gets all the fees. There's a plastic table and chairs, and people sit down and the rules were explained as:
1. You can't be drunk
2. You must sign a release saying that you won't sue them if you get injured or die, and by competing, you're acknowleding you're an idiot (basically)
3. You can't move your chair; last one sitting in the chair wins.

The players were given helmets and vests, and seated in the arena.

They turned a small bull loose in the pen with four people, and after trotting around the arena a bit, the bull turned, chased the clowns up the wall, then turned toward the poker players and in one shot tore through the table and two players, butting and stomping over them.

I got a lot of pictures of bulls bucking people off-- but not so many as the rides. The bulls were actually ridden for such a short amount of time it was difficult to get good riding shots! I have many pictures of cowboys getting thrown or chased, or bulls walking around in the arena, but very few of successful rides.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scent-detecting horses

This is interesting:


While reading history, you will find examples on how the horse's scenting ability helped early pioneers find water, warn them when danger was near and for hunting. One example of this can be found in the book The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. In this book they describe how Roosevelt used his horse's air scenting abilities to hunt buffalo. Other examples on how the horse’s scent locating abilities were used for hunting can be found in the book The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie. History tells us that in the days when horses were used for man's survival, their natural air scent locating ability played a much more important role than most people are aware of. I have taken this lost art from a state of oblivion and developed a innovative training program, so equine scent detection could be used in today’s modern world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yakama Wild Horses

Yakama tribe has about 5,000 wild horses on their lands. They are unaffected by BLM laws, and are adoptable at $100 a head.

We believe the horse was always here, yes, even before the Spanish arrived. I understand paleontologists say the horse was hunted to extinction. Believe what you like. We have songs that talk about long, long ago, songs that honor the horse.

Call me crazy if you wish, but I have a lot of respect for native Americans. When I went on a geology field trip lecture to Crater Lake National Park, it was an interesting learning experience not only for the geology but for the history as well (keep reading, this will be horse related).
There were verbal tribe stories going back more than 7,000 years about the eruption of Mt Mazama to form crater lake -- 250 GENERATIONS!
It is amazing to me that a culture's history could be so well preserved, when today you have teenagers who don't even know about the founding of this country, not a very long time ago in comparison.

Getting back to horses, who is to say they haven't also carried down stories orally about the original horse, before its extinction?
And has DNA testing been done on this herd to see what the ancestry is like?

Hmmm... I wonder what (if anything) would change if a herd of horses were to be found genetically matched to the native horses. Would they be protected as a native species instead of considered feral/invasive?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

With the price of gas, riding is cheaper.

At least that's what this article claims. They've calculated the total costs per year for a car at between $4-6,000, and a horse at about $1600 (which I think is a pretty low estimate, but they are Amish, so their expenses may be cheaper). I estimate horse costs at about $2,700/yr (I may write an article on this later).

I personally will be staying behind the wheel for my daily commute. It's about 80 miles round-trip to go to school 3 days a week. Riding a horse wouldn't be feasable.

But if, like some people I know, I lived close to campus, riding could definately save money-- especially with the current price of diesel, in my town, of $4.29/gallon (I'm stuck driving the old ranch truck for now).
One of the downsides I see to riding would be safety issues-- most places may have parking lots, but darn few have hitching posts or pens.