I’m a little ticked.

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Believe me, I’m no card carrying PETA-type person, but I do have a deep love of animals. And I believe if you are going to take one on as a pet, you have a responsibility to that animal, in good times and in bad.

And the cost of keeping and caring for an animal for their lifespan MUST be factored into your decision. Also your contingency if you are unable to care for your pet any longer.

I see *too* many people using the disposable pet approach.

And that gets me steamed.

So why am I ranting on this topic today?

Because of this article in both the Las Cruces Sun News and the ABQjournal today:

Horses May Be Relinquished as People Economize

Seems as the economy gets tough, people are looking to give their horses to Dona Ana County animal control, who only has capacity to handle a few.

Owning a horse is a lot of hard work. They eat a lot (and feed prices get driven by ever upward spiraling corn prices). They need to be ridden and exercised. They need a lot of vet services. And farrier work too.

While I know that when times are rough, expenses and “nice to haves” have to be cut back.

But abandoning your animal? Not cool.

From the Las Cruces Sun News article:

“Childress said he’s suggested horse owners try to sell their animal or find another home before contacting his office. But that can also prove difficult because of the number of horses already on the market.”

Jeez.

The price of petrol affects more than just the fuel in your gas tank.

And the dominos fall.

Went and got a little country

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Now for ya’ll that know me, you know that goin’ a little country is the roots of my raising.

I’m a bit more comfortable getting lost in the woods than I am in a big city. I can fathom starting a campfire more easily than finding a parking spot in San Francisco.

That said, you know I also love the urban area where I live. The art, the music, and oh the food.

So this weekend, the two sides of me managed to converge in one geography.

You see, there is this establishment just south of San Francisco called the Cow Palace. I am not making this up.

I remember the first time I visited the Bay Area. I remember driving north on Highway 101 from the airport and I saw the sign for the Cow Palace. I was like “WTF?” (I believe that is a direct quote.)

A palace for cows?

I got my first chance to visit the venerable Cow Palace about eight years ago for a car show. (Yes, I own it, I like car shows) I found it to be an odd yet intriguing place. It reminded me, on many levels, of Albuquerque’s own Tingley Coliseum.

While wandering the halls of the Cow Palace that car show day, I noticed there was a wall of grainy black and white photos of old men in cowboy hats. I was told then that the Cow Palace has hosted a rodeo for many years. “Well, cool” I thought. But then thought “the Bay Area doesn’t know nothin’ ’bout goin’ country.”

Each year that I’ve lived here, I’d see on the news the story about the kickoff to the rodeo. A longstanding tradition where cowboys drive a small herd of longhorn cattle down a busy urban street to the Cow Palace. Here’s a link to this year’s story complete with photos and video: Moo!

I always wanted to go see what was doing at a rodeo held at a palace for cows, but due to a lot of circumstances that don’t bear explaining here, I spent a lot of time alone in those days (despite being in a relationship). I was never brave enough to go to the Grand National Rodeo by myself.

This year is different. I am in a relationship with The Good Man. My Brooklyn-born, City raised fiancée. There is no way I’d ever have thought he’d be into the rodeo.

Man, was I ever wrong. Another good lesson in tempering expectations, eh? (May The Good Man always be such a source of surprise for me.)

Several weeks back, TGM sent me the links to the rodeo and said he wanted to go. He’d gone to the Grand National a few times in the past and enjoyed it, but hadn’t been in a long while.

For me, come May, I’ll have lived in the Bay Area eleven years. So it’s been at least that long, maybe tack on a couple more, since I’d seen a rodeo myself.

Saturday rolled around, the last day of this year’s rodeo, and we made sure we didn’t miss it. I pulled on my fave Fat Babies, did my hair up high as the heat and humidity would allow, and we hit the 2:00 pm show. We even managed to get ourselves a couple real nice box seats.

Wow!

What an impressive show. It was a tight two-hour rodeo with great cowboy competition. In between events, they had top notch entertainment like Tenessee Walking horses, Open Hackamore reining events and the best was Tomas Garcilazo, a genuine and incredibly talented Charro (and his horse Chollo too).

I was oh so very worried about going to a San Francisco rodeo, not knowing what it would be like here in the big town. I had nothing to worry about. It was great. As soon as the first bareback rider came blasting out of the gate, I knew all about it. I was right in my element.

We had *the best* time. When the rodeo was over, we wandered the cowboy art show, shopped the mercantile, and generally took in the sights.

All of that was followed by kick ass eats at Milagros. Nothing puts the topper on a day like hand smashed guacamole…oh, and a glass of sangria.

What a great weekend…

Turns out the Bay Area DOES know a little bit about goin’ country.

Confidential to my best friend in Las Cruces:

No, it didn’t compare to that cold rainy night at the rodeo in Silver City. But then that night was more about the post-rodeo party…

Only somewhat on topic…

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So today’s thoughts aren’t specifically New Mexico related…and yet, in a way they are. Today we’re going to have to *gasp* include our Texan neighbors to the south, in El Paso, in the conversation. It’s ok, we like them, mostly.

So in looking for ideas for this blog, I went to the bastion of internet knowledge, Wikipedia to look at what they had to say about our fair state.

In the history portion of the Wiki, it talked about the early Conquistadores, Coronado coming along first looking for the cities of gold, then fleeing back to Mexico. Then next, Don Juan de Oñate some 50 years later (1598), founding the first European settlement on the Rio Grande. Oñate was then made the first governor of the Province of New Mexico.

This Wikipedia entry is all very factual, but it got me thinking….

Oñate has a bit of a colorful history. The Wikipedia entry for the man uses the light language that “Oñate soon gained a reputation as a stern ruler of both the Spanish colonists and the indigenous people”. Stern is a nice way of saying he was a bit of a sonovabitch.

And some four hundred years later, there are still some folks a bit, shall we say, uptight about his history.

In 1998 a statue of Oñate at the Oñate Monument Visitors Center outside of Epañola, NM was vandalized. Our friends in Española aren’t often known for their senses of humor…they cut off his foot, leaving a note saying “fair is fair”.

And the latest in the debate…this is where El Paso comes into play. In 1997 work began on a statue of the well-known conquistador. Billed as the largest equestrian statue in the world by the artist, John Sherrill Houser, it was completed in 2006. It’s due for a ceremony and unveiling in April 2007. I saw it when in El Paso this past December. I have to say, it’s a visually stunning statue (photo at the end of this post), huge, oddly placed at the entrance to the El Paso Airport.

I asked my best friend “What the hell is that?” She went on to tell me about the debate in the city over the statue (a quick search of the El Paso Times shows a debate raging in the letters to the editor as recent as a couple weeks ago). It was clear to me from first glance that it was a statue of Oñate. But there are still bad feelings about his “stern” rule to such an extent, that instead, it’s been decided to call the statue “The Equestrian”.

Really?

Here’s a quote from the El Paso Times regarding the Lipizzaner Stallions on a visit to El Paso, “Artist John Houser’s bronze Equestrian statue in front of El Paso International Airport was modeled after the kind of Andalusian horse that Juan de Oñate rode during his conquistador days in the Southwest.”

Modeled after? Really? No, it’s a statue glorifying Oñate.

The guy is part of the history of the Southwest (and especially New Mexico). We can’t deny it. But we also don’t have to like what he did to the indigenous people.

I have the same issues with the variety of missionaries who founded a string of missions along the edge of California. I know we owe these guys some debt of gratitude for settling the lands upon which we now live. Then again, they did this at considerable cost to the proud people who lived here first.

A few years back I visited the Mission in San Luis Obispo. At one part in the tour they even pointed out a tree in front of the place where the natives were hung if they refused to be converted. It sort of lent a pall to the day for me. I’ve steadfastly refused to visit any of the Missions since.

I don’t know what the right answer is. But I do hate the sort of politically correct “cover” that happens when people speak their truth. They say, “We shouldn’t glorify a man who tortured and killed our people”. So in response we get real cute and call it “The Equestrian” to make all those upset brown people feel better?

Now *that* makes me hostile.

Photo by Karen Fayeth

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