Archive for November, 2008

Hugh Jackman finds Australia in Texas

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Where did Australian native Hugh Jackman go for a crash course on handling cattle on horseback for his starring role in the just released blockbuster Australia? To Texas, with cutting horse trainer and fellow Aussie, Roger Wagner.

In the movie, Jackman plays a cattleman named Drover, who convinces co-star Nicole Kidman, as a widowed English aristocrat, to join him in a drive from central Australia to the coast near Darwin with 2,000 head of cattle, as the Japanese are preparing to bomb Pearl Harbor and Darwin.

Craig Emerton, a former Australian NCHA cutting champion, was the horse and cattle wrangler for the film and hooked Jackman up with Wagner at Rock Creek Ranch, Weatherford, TX.

I caught up with Wagner in Fort Worth at the NCHA Futurity, where he is currently a first go-round leader on Stray Katz and Asscher Cat, both owned by Rock Creek Ranch.

“We got him started sitting on a horse in the arena while I was working some horses,” said Wagner, who found it necessary to tell Jackman the first day that he had put his spurs on wrong. “He’d watch me work some horses and every now and then, I’d kick one in there for him and he’d try to make it stop and hold it there. (more…)

Boyd Rice and Never Reylinquish lead NCHA Futurity 1st go-round

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Never Reylinquish, pictured in action this afternoon, lived up to her name today, as she took the lead with 222 points in first go-round competition of the NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth. Ridden by 2008 NCHA Derby champion Boyd Rice, the Dual Rey daughter was fast, fluid and on the money.

“She just stopped and waited and brought her nose around every time,” said Rice, who scored 218 points on Monday riding Third Cutting, by Boonlight Dancer, for Carl and Shawnea Smith. “She felt good and sure controlled everything.”

Never Reylinquish is owned by her breeder, Don Ballard, Sugar Land, TX, who is slated to ride her in the NCHA Futurity Amateur division next week. Her dam, Look Never Mind, is by Squeak Toy, who is out of a Thoroughbred race mare.

Never Reylinquish is a full sister to Neverey, the earner of $120,000. A full brother, 4-year-old Rey Never Mind, a finalist in the 2008 NCHA Limited Open Derby, is consigned to the NCHA Futurity Select Seasoned Cutting Horse Sale on December 9, at Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth. (more…)

Ms Peppy Cat breaks year-end earnings record

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Ms Peppy Cat, owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup, Clovis, NM, and ridden by Pete Branch, broke the all-time year-end earnings record Friday on the last weekend of the World Championship point year. Her total of $122,659 eclipses Cash Quixote Rioís previous record of $121,731, set in 1990 with Kobie Wood.

“I started the year with a bunch of green horses and they just kept getting better,” said Branch, who picked up momentum with every major stock show at the beginning of the year. In the end, including Ms Peppy Catís winnings, Branch and his assistant, Zack Combs, earned nearly $300,000. “We haven’t been to one aged event,” he added. “I didn’t even know that you could win that much money on the weekends, but we sure have.” In David Hart’s photo above, Shane Decker (left) is pictured with Ms Peppy Cat, Zack Combs and Pete Branch. (more…)

Hog wild about cows

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Cutters believe that “cow sense” is bred into their horses through generations of selective breeding. What then are we to make of Squeaky (Johnny†Hanson photo), a feral hog that helps round up cattle on Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan’s ranch south of Houston?

China Grove Ranch manager Mike Veara found the spotted orphan in a back pasture two years ago and gave the piglet to his grandson to raise. Without prompting, Squeaky took to ranching as if he was born to it. It might be said that he saved his bacon by bringing home the beef, except for the fact that he prefers his pizza with pepperoni.

Click here to see Squeaky at work and enjoying pizza, after a job well done.

General Lee’s Traveller

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Research for a recent post “Horses of Gettysburg” piqued my curiosity about Robert E. Lee’s mount Traveller, which he purchased as a 4-year-old gelding in 1861. The gray gelding had already distinguished himself at two and three as a blue ribbon-winning saddle horse at the Greenbrier County Fair.

Bred and foaled on the farm of a former sheriff of Greenbrier County, VA, the gray colt, originally named Jeff Davis, was sired by the famous Kentucky racehorse Grey Eagle, who lost a notorious match race in 1839, after being fouled in the stretch by the fleet-footed Louisiana-bred Wagner. (more…)

Creature comforts

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

This touching photo of an orphaned baby rhesus macaques and its inseparable friend reminds us of the comfort and companionship offered to us and many other species by what some humans refer to as “dumb animals.”

The photo, which appeared in Audubon magazine, was taken at a nature reserve on Neilingding Island, not far from Hong Kong. The island is home to over 1,000 rhesus macaques, a protected species in China.

Pigeons have shared a bond with humans for over 5,000 years as message carriers in war and peace. Ancient Greeks used pigeons to relay results of the Olympic Games and the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo was first delivered to England by a pigeon.

Click here to find out more about homing pigeons; for more details on the photo, click here.

Horses of Gettysburg

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I recently stumbled across a great made-for-TV documentary series called Horses of Gettysburg. It first aired on PBS in June 2007, but if you, like me, missed it, you can watch all 12 installments on youtube or purchase the DVD. Filmed in high-definition with period photographs and battlefield re-enactments, it tells the story of the estimated 72,000 horses and mules that were used during the Battle of Gettysburg. (more…)