The National Western Stock Show, held January 10 through 25 — has changed over the years. When I was 12 I competed in western horsemanship and received a ribbon. In those days, the judged horse events were combined with the rodeo events in one …
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The National Western Stock Show, held January 10 through 25 — has changed over the years. When I was 12 I competed in western horsemanship and received a ribbon. In those days, the judged horse events were combined with the rodeo events in one performance, so spectators not only got a taste of rodeo events, but also western pleasure, English riding and jumping. I enjoyed watching those performances because of the different breeds of horses.
Now the Coliseum rodeo is separated from the judged horse events, which are held in the event center.
The Stock Show was special for me this year because I had completed my memoir, which covers the time I was a Little Britches Rodeo champion and then a rodeo photographer for the Rodeo Sports News from 1971-1973. I wanted to give my book to an old friend, Henry Vold, my favorite stock contractor from when I was a photographer.
At the Stock Show behind the bucking chutes I met Kirsten Vold, Henry's daughter, who manages the Harry Vold Rodeo Company and brought 30 bucking broncos to the Stock Show from her father’s herd.
I told her in 1971, (before she was born,) her father brought the bucking stock to the location of a movie I worked on in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
“Your father is fondly mentioned in my memoir and he’s central in a group photo taken after completion of 'The Honkers,' the Hollywood movie with James Coburn and Slim Pickens,” I said. “The photo is in the book. Would you be able to take a copy to him?”
“Sure,” she said. “And if you want to go visit him on the ranch, he’d enjoy it. He’s 90, but still sharp. He’d probably remember you.”
So on Martin Luther King’s Day, my husband Dick and I drove down to Harry's ranch in Avondale, outside of Pueblo. Down many long dirt roads and through an electric ranch gate, we drove up the hill to the house and knocked on the door.
As Kirsten promised, Harry was still sharp, and looked sharp, too. Seeing Harry, gave me a sense of being connected to my past - to involvement with rodeo, a special time in my life.
Harry showed me his office covered with awards, memorabilia, and photos of friends and family from his rodeo days. Many of his bucking horses won trophy buckles and halters for being voted “Bucking Horse of the Year.” He also had a headdress from the Sarcee Indians, who made him an honorary chief.
Harry drove us in his one ton truck around the property to see the cemetery where top broncos are buried: Necklace and the bull Crooked Nose.
In his truck, Harry also drove us to the pasture to see the broncos. It seemed so natural, horses in a herd, instead of separated into stalls. They’re a professional unit, important creatures. They travel, they make money. They work less than an hour a year (an 8 second ride) and bring in big bucks. Favorite horse companions travel together which makes them more secure and they perform better.
My husband Dick and I are still talking about what fun we had meeting Harry at his ranch.
Though the National Western Stock Show has changed over the years, some things stay the same. Horse and rodeo people are warm and friendly and form a bond which lasts over the years.
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