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Rugged ranchers or welfare cowboys? Dispute over grazing fees on public land rages on. I thought this was a good summary of two points of view.

By Rob Nikolewski
New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. — The accusation is a blunt one: That ranchers who hold permits from the federal government to graze their cattle on public land are little more than welfare recipients. The response is just as blunt: Like hell we are.

The argument has kicked around the West for years, and it’s come into sharper focus in recent months as ranchers in parts of northern and southern New Mexico have clashed with environmentalists over the recent listing of a critter most people in the Land of Enchantment have never even seen — the meadow jumping mouse.

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the mouse — which can hop up to three feet from its hind legs — on the endangered list. That has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to reinforce a gate along the Agua Chiquita in Otero County and erect barbed-wire fencing near the Rio Cebolla creek in the Santa Fe National Forest to keep cattle from damaging the mouse’s habitat.

“The livestock industry has enjoyed special treatment from the federal government for so long that our streams have been trampled to death,” Bryan Bird, program director at WildEarth Guardians, said earlier this month when his group filed a lawsuit just before the fencing was constructed.

Bird’s comment echoes a long-running complaint environmentalists have about grazing fees on public lands.

They say ranchers have been getting a sweetheart deal from the government for too long, pointing to fees charged by the entities such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service charging $1.35 a month for what’s called “Animal Unit Months,” compared to an estimated $16-$20 a month on private land.

They also cite data from a 2005 report from the General Accounting Office and say U.S. taxpayers suffer a direct loss of more than $120 million because of the fees.

“Ranchers have benefitted from a whole suite of subsidies. I used to call them welfare queens,” John Horning, the executive director of WildEarth Guardians-NewMexico, told New Mexico Watchdog in an interview in July. “I don’t really care if it’s welfare because the bigger issue for me is not that (taxpayers) subsidize it, but that we allow the activity to degrade so many valuable things.”

But cattle growers push back just as forcefully.

“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. “And it’s a tired old argument.”

Cowan says the price difference between grazing fees is misleading because ranchers have to pick up the costs for things such as managing and fencing their allotments, supplying their herds with water and absorbing any losses due to death and attacks by predators that aren’t usually incurred when grazing on private property.

“It’s kind of like you renting a house in Albuquerque that has all the amenities,” Cowan said. “It’s furnished, you’ve got electricity, all the utilities are done.” But grazing on public lands is like “renting a house that’s totally vacant, has no amenities … and anyone can come through your house and use the bathroom anytime they want … The price is low until you look at the amenities that don’t go with it.”

But Horning counters the pricing formula for grazing on public land has essentially been frozen by the executive order since 1986 when Ronald Reagan was president.

“The grazing fee today is the same as it was 30 years ago,” Horning said. “Name one commodity or one resource that you can extract today for the same fee you could 30 years ago.”

But for ranchers like Mike Lucero, grazing cattle along the Rio Cebolla is something his family has done for generations, going back to the time of land grants in New Mexico, predating the existence of the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is my family and ancestors’ heritage,” said Lucero, a member of the San Diego Cattleman’s Association.

Unique to states such as New Mexico, land grants were awarded to settlers by the Spanish government during colonial times. Under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the U.S. government pledged to honor the grants, but property disputes have persisted in the Southwest ever since.

“I totally agree, there is a discounted rate involved,” Lucero told New Mexico Watchdog this summer. “But when that used to be a land grant, that wasn’t federal land at all. So you’re telling me I don’t have a right to get a discount when it was taken away from my ancestors to begin with? Everyone knows land grants are for the people in those communities to make a living off of.”

THE MOUSE IN QUESTION: Listing the meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species has led to a battle between environmentalists and New Mexico ranchers.
THE MOUSE IN QUESTION: Listing the meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species has led to a battle between environmentalists and New Mexico ranchers.
Ranchers at the Rio Cebolla say their cattle only use the meadow for four-five weeks in the fall and one-two weeks in the spring. They insist they keep the area in excellent shape.

But environmental groups say the habitat for the meadow jumping mouse has been systematically degraded in New Mexico, as well as Arizona and Colorado.

“We are asking the Forest Service to keep cows out of 1 percent of public lands that have streams and rivers,” Bird said. “The livestock industry needs stop kicking and screaming and cooperate to ensure clean water and healthy wildlife.”

“Ranchers are responsible for the stewardship of their land,” said Cowan. “Recreationists don’t pay to hunt or hike or fish on those lands. But the timber industry, the oil and gas industry, the livestock industry (do). I think guides and outfitters even have to have some kind of permit. Those folks are paying the government something.

While WildEarth Guardians has filed its lawsuit to protect the mouse’s habitat, the ranchers have filed their own, alleging the Forest Service of heavy-handedness and not following its own environmental analysis.

Regardless of what decision is reached, it’s clear the debate — and the rhetoric — over grazing fees will continue.

“Grazing permits are costly food stamps for cattle,” wrote an attorney from Utah in the Salt Lake City Tribune earlier this year.

“The whole purpose of what (environmental groups) are doing on the land is not to save anything, it’s to protect it from people who actually doing something productive and I’m talking about ranchers ,” said C.J. Hadley, publisher of the pro-rancher publication RANGE magazine.


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Kent Rollins shares his tips for savory white gravy.

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Champion ranch horse trainer Mike Major demonstrates the steps to a sidep

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Dr. Matt Spangler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension beef genetics specialist, presented this webinar December 4, 2012. The webinar focuses on utilizing EPDs in the selection of sires to make genetic progress and to meet producers goals.

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Extension Beef Cattle Specialists in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension talk about beef cattle nutrition and considerations in feeding cattle.

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Thanks to my brother John Beal for finding this.

By Rosalyn Oshmyansky
From Entertainment Tonight

Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco is not only an actress but a skilled horseback rider.

At the Longines Los Angeles Masters yesterday, Cucoco participated in a charity competition as part of a team with California show jump rider Paris Sellon.

Cuoco was the amateur on her team, but you couldn’t guess it based on her photos and the video she shared on Instagram.

Here she is riding Thor:

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Each team was judged on the number of penalties over fences, the team’s style and elegance and the horse’s style. Cuoco calls her style “Cowboys and Indians” as seen by her attire in her pics. The competition had 11 teams that represented 11 charities. Cuoco and Sellon rode for Ride On Thereapeutic Horsemanship. Ride On teaches adaptive horseback riding to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Although 2008 Olympic Team Gold medalist Laura Kraut and Hannah Selleck, daughter of Tom Selleck, were crowned the Charity Pro Am Style & Competition winners, Cuoco and Sellon raised $25,000 for their charity.

In this pic with Sellon, she says, “Had an amazing time partnering up w the amazing and talented @parisanns for the #lamasters #proam #longines @ #laconventioncenter 25k to the charity #rideon #ididntsuck #thankgodforThor.”

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By Carolyn Jones
From the San Francisco Chronicle

It took 90 years for Thea Murphy to get on a horse, but about 30 seconds to fall in love.

“I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter. It’ll make me remember Katy,” a beaming Murphy said Friday afternoon at a Petaluma horse arena as she gazed upon the palomino mare that provided Murphy’s first horseback ride. “Look at her. She’s so beautiful. And she listens to me!”

Murphy’s maiden horseback ride was courtesy of a Napa nonprofit called Celebrating Seniors, which granted wishes for half a dozen elders in the North Bay. Murphy’s wish was to ride a horse — something the 50-year Napa resident had never done.

Other seniors wanted to go on San Francisco Bay cruises, or visit a great-grandchild on the East Coast. But for Murphy, who’s partially paralyzed from a stroke and blind in one eye, it was all about horses.

riding1“It’s because I love them,” Murphy said before getting on a horse. “I love animals, I love horses. I want to know what it feels like to ride one.”

Gentle horseback rides

The ride took place at Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Petaluma, a facility that provides gentle horseback rides for people who are physically, cognitively or emotionally disabled.

Murphy’s wish was chosen from about 45 entries, and she had been planning for the excursion for weeks. She bought denim skinny jeans and a bright red shirt for the occasion, with red lipstick to match and hair colored strawberry blonde.

She was accompanied by caregivers, friends and volunteers from Celebrating Seniors, who became a little weepy when Giant Steps staff lifted Murphy from her wheelchair onto the 1,000-pound beast.

“With her disabilities, at her age, to still have that same desire that she had since she was 6 … that’s what we found so heartwarming,” said Penelope Hyde, who led the senior wish committee for Celebrating Seniors.

Even the staff at Giant Steps was moved by Murphy’s story, and by Murphy herself. The slight, Dutch-born widow smiled almost incessantly as she petted the horse and chatted happily with spectators.

Riding horses can be great therapy for disabled people, said Giant Steps Therapeutic Center Director Mark Walden.

Balance, coordination and core strengthening are among the benefits, plus the emotional and social boost from interacting with the patient, placid animals.

Will Rogers’ wisdom

“It’s like what Will Rogers said: There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man,” Walden said.

Murphy has had her share of physical setbacks recently. In the past few years she’s had a leg amputated, undergone hip replacement surgery, lost vision in one eye following cataract surgery and became paralyzed on her left side after a stroke.

Giants Steps staff held her on both sides as the horse ambled around the arena and down a short trail, for a total of about 30 minutes. Murphy held the reins and directed Katy left, right and forward. Katy, for her part, followed along cheerfully.

Murphy may have physical limitations, but her spirit has never been brighter. Until very recently, she was reading a book a day, knitting, puttering in her vegetable garden and Skyping with her 91-year-old sister in Holland every morning.

“She’s a tough cookie, extremely strong-willed,” said neighbor Anne LeBlanc. “She gets something in her mind, and there’s no stopping her. She decided she wanted to ride a horse, and here we all are. Life is really quite amazing.”



Alysa Matraver rides Denise Kersley’s Tiger Tim to second place in the National Dressage Championships novice restricted

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From Western Hats

The Cattleman crease is the most basic and oldest crease found on a cowboy hat.

A Cattlemen crease started when ranch owners did not want the look of the rodeo cowboy on their cowboy hat.

These cattlemen wanted a more taller and narrower crown so that when the wind blew and the rain poured these cowboys could pull their cowboy hats down so that it would stay on their head better.

The Cattleman crease is also a dressy crease and worn by the true cowboy gentlemen.

A Cattleman crease can be found on former President George W Bush’s cowboy hats.



From Facts About Beef

Myth: Big beef uses antibiotics without regard for animal welfare or human health.

Facts: Antibiotics are just one tool beef farmers and ranchers use to keep cattle healthy by treating and preventing the spread of illness. Cattle can pick up illnesses, just like humans, whether they’re out on pasture or in a feedlot with other animals. Cattlemen work closely with veterinarians to develop a comprehensive health program, which may include nutritious diet, proper housing, hygiene, vaccinations and antibiotics.

Here are the basics on antibiotic use in cattle:

How are they used?

When an animal gets sick, farmers, ranchers and veterinarians carefully evaluate when to administer antibiotics and use specific dosages and treatment protocols to treat the animal.

Cattle farmers and ranchers believe not treating cattle that become sick is inhumane as part of their ongoing commitment to animal health and welfare. When administering antibiotics, they follow precise label directions, meaning they adhere to usage guidelines to protect both animals and humans that have been rigorously tested and approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration. Just like in human medicine, there are many protocols developed by veterinarians and scientists that they have to follow diligently.

Antibiotics are used in animal medicine to prevent disease, which is important to animal and human safety.

Antibiotic use to prevent disease differs from growth promotion purposes in three ways: dose, duration and level of veterinary oversight.

Some farmers and ranchers choose to use ionophores – a special class of antibiotics not used in human medicine – to promote lean muscle growth in animals, which results in leaner beef choices.

Who ensures antibiotics are not overused?

There is no reason to overuse antibiotics, but reasons why they might be used at specific times and in targeted ways. For one, it’s the law not to overuse them, but antibiotics also are expensive for the small businessmen and women who raise cattle for beef.

How are antibiotics given to cattle?

Depending on the circumstance, antibiotics may be given to cattle as individual injections or added to feed or water to treat a larger group who has been exposed to the same illness.

Are antibiotics safe?

All antibiotics must go through rigorous government scrutiny before being approved for use in livestock.

Unlike human medicine, animal medicine goes through three layers of approval, is the medicine safe for the animal, the environment and the humans who will consume the meat. All three areas must be evaluated before approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Even after they’re approved, antibiotics are continuously monitored and must be re-evaluated annually. They only stay on the market if they continue to be proven safe.

What’s being done to improve antibiotic use?

Cattlemen and the entire livestock community are working together to continuously improve the way antibiotics are used in animals, because they care about how their practices impact antibiotic safety and efficacy.

The beef community is also working to avoid using antibiotics that are important to both human and animal medicine, as identified by the World Health Organization. For example, Food & Drug Administration Guidance 209 and 213 will eliminate growth promotion uses of medically important antibiotics and extend veterinary oversight.

For consumers who want beef raised without antibiotics, the beef community has listened and provides choices to meet those needs.



Can’t be there for the $210,000 Central Park Grand Prix, presented by Rolex? You can still see some of the world’s best jump in the heart of New York City in Central Park—tune in to NBC Sports from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Sept. 18 to see all the jumping action LIVE in this historic setting.

This broadcast will mark the first time an equestrian sport has been shown live in a primetime slot on a major sports network, and by watching you can help show the television industry how much we all want to see horses on TV. Visit http://www.nbcsports.com/tv-listings to find the channel for NBC Sports Network in your area. SHARE this with all your social networks—encourage them to watch this event and boost the ratings to help get more horse sports shown on television!

You can get more information at their website by clicking HERE.



Looking for funds……

Inspired by Commedia Dell Arte (Italian Renaissance “Art of Comedy”), Shakespeare, and all things “horsing around”, Equine Dell Arte’s 1st full length production ‘O! For a Horse with Wings’ will take you on a whimsical wild ride! Galloping through a montage of music, magic and mayhem actors and horses team up to bring you a performance like you’ve never seen before!

Equine Dell Arte is an ensemble company comprised of professional actors, students, people with disabilities and/or under-served populations, and horses (of course!) working together to empower, enlighten, and entertain in an outdoor theatrical setting. EDA is a for profit company that donates to non-profit therapeutic entities.

EDA was conceived by Susan Kelejian and came into being in 2013. In the past year we’ve held acting workshops and performed at 2 fundraiser events for the Shadow Hills Riding Club (www.ShadowHillsRidingClub.org). The reception and popularity of those performances and workshops have lead to the demand for a full length, stand alone performance, “O, For a Horse With Wings!”

Since Equine Dell Arte began with SHRC, and we continue to work closely with them and their horses, a portion of all proceeds from the performances will go back to supporting their amazing therapeutic programs, including:
-Saddles and Serenity (People in recovery from addictions)
-Saddles for Soldiers (US veterans)
-Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (Children and adults with special needs)

All funds raised by this IndieGoGo will go towards the production of “O, For a Horse With Wings.” 30% of the proceeds from performances in September will go towards Shadow Hills Riding Club Therapy programs, while 70% goes back into Equine Dell Arte for further productions.

You can get more information at their website by clicking HERE.

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In this video, reining and cutting horse trainer, Larry Trocha shows emergency techniques to keep you out of the hospital emergency room.

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Thanks to Stacy Westfall for finding this.

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imgr1234esCraig Cameron, a life-long rancher, working cowboy and horse trainer, has just about done it all from cow-calf, stocker operations, custom hay-baling, or capturing wild cattle for fellow ranchers. After years of bull riding on the professional rodeo circuit and successfully operating his cattle business, Craig began conducting western horsemanship clinics and demonstrations to help beginning and seasoned riders increase their knowledge and understanding of their horse and to keep the cowboy tradition alive.

In the spirit of the cowboy tradition with a personal connection to the military, Craig has partnered with this special group of Special Operations Veterans and friends and seasoned riders for a unique Guts & Glory 100 Mile Trail Ride to raise awareness and funds for the SOWF.

– Bryan “Doug” Brown – General, USA, Retired 7th Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
– Joseph Maguire – Vice Admiral, USN, Retired Former Commander Naval Special Warfare Command
– Larry Mahan World Rodeo Champion
– Walt Garrison former American football fullback in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys
– these are just a few of the legendary and heroic gentlemen joining, “The Cowboy’s Clinician,” Craig Cameron for his 2nd annual Guts & Glory 100 Mile Trail Ride!

This 3-day ride for the seasoned rider, scheduled on November 6-7-8, 2014 will begin in Goldthwaite, Texas, with a dinner and auction party on Friday evening at the N at Hardway Ranch and continue on Saturday to Bluff Dale; riders arrange their own overnight plans. If you are interested in riding all 3 days OR just the Sunday final leg (open to all riders), please email doublehornd@lipan.net to receive a Guts & Glory Horse Ride registration packet.

Proceeds Benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF)

In 1980, when eight special ops warriors lost their lives during a hostage rescue attempt in Iran, a promise was made to provide a college education to each of the surviving 17 children. Today, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation continues this solemn pledge to educate every child whose special operations parent loses their life in the line of duty. Currently supporting over

145 surviving children in college, there are another 570 children who will require college funding in the future, AND that number grows steadily as special ops warriors continue to sustain casualties in the line of duty. These funds are generously donated by friends and corporations all over the United States!

You can get more information at their website by clicking HERE.


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The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register today to allow the importation of beef from a region in Argentina. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bob McCan, cattleman from Victoria, Texas, issued the following statement:

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is deeply concerned by today’s announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to add the Patagonia areas of Argentina to the list of regions considered free of Foot-and-Mouth disease and to subsequently allow the importation of live cattle and fresh or frozen beef into the United States from this region. Our extreme concern is only further magnified by the associated proposed rule to allow chilled or frozen beef to be imported from the region of Northern Argentina. Northern Argentina is a region that is not recognized as being free of Foot-and-Mouth Disease by APHIS. We strongly believe that these recent actions by APHIS present a significant risk to the health and well-being of the nation’s cattle herd through the possible introduction of FMD virus.

“FMD is an extremely contagious viral disease of cloven-hooved animals and many wildlife species. This disease is considered to be one of the most economically devastating livestock diseases in the world and an outbreak of FMD could ultimately threaten the entire U.S. economy as well jeopardize our national food security.

“APHIS conducted their risk analysis based on a series of site visits to Argentina to determine the FMD risk status of these regions. NCBA’s repeated requests for written reports for these APHIS site visits to Argentina have gone unanswered. Finally, we were informed by APHIS that written reports are not required for APHIS site reviews. This lack of documentation and an obvious lack of management controls for the site review process calls into question the integrity and quality assurance for the entire risk analysis. Valid science-based decisions are not possible in this flawed system.

“It is evident that APHIS has charged blindly forward in making this announcement, ignoring the findings of a third-party scientific review identifying major weaknesses in the methodology of the risk analysis that formed the foundation for the APHIS decision-making process. The third-party scientific review uncovered deficiencies in the APHIS hazard analysis and the exposure assessment, as well as an overly subjective qualitative format for the risk analysis.

“NCBA remains committed to supporting open trade markets, level playing fields, and utilizing science-based standards to facilitate international trade. At the same time, no amount of trade is worth sacrificing the health and safety of the United States cattle herd. Strict transparency for the adherence to sound science must be the basis for all animal health decisions of this magnitude.”


The idea of the cowboy and the American West is set firmly in the American psyche. Countless films have portrayed the West as a place of freedom and danger, but, above all, a place of boundless possibility. Though we may think they are a thing of the past, cowboys still exist, and the professional bull riding circuit is the one place you’re guaranteed to find them. The cowboys’ earnest reflections on personal liberty, family struggle and the country’s changing identity paint a vivid portrait of an America both at odds and in love with itself. Through the film’s epic cinematography we come to understand that The Cowboy continues to embody the mythology of the American hero, though in an entirely modern way.

The Professional Bull Riders’ circuit is a tour of the top 45 bull riders in the world, consisting of roughly 32 stops a year around the US. The winner of the world title in Vegas also wins a million dollars, so it’s safe to say this is not some little backyard rodeo. Bull riding has entered the mainstream. Droves of fans flock to the sold out arenas toting signs and banners in frenzied support of their favorite riders, making this the fastest growing sport in America. All the while the cowboys are hustling, trying to stay on their bulls, trying to make ends meet and raising hell… good ‘ol boy style!

Beginning and ending with explosive event footage and packed with daredevil bull riding, pyrotechnics and big arena rock and roll fanfare, The Ride goes full circle as it takes through the complex lives of one compelling character to the next. The characters surprise with their gritty cowboy personas and genuine wit.

The Ride features professional bull riders JB Mauney, Amish hopeful Willy Ropp, PBR entertainer Flint Rassmussen, bull fighter Shorty Gorham, talented singer songwriter Leann Hart, millionaire bucking bull breeder Tom Teague and an original score by Brooklyn band The Weight.

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