- February 9, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
It was over 40 years ago and the big Civic Center was a brand new deal. I had been hired to take care of a stallion on the stallion row. That included feeding and watering him, cleaning the stall, exercising him and visiting with folks there to see the studs and book breedings.
At that time, the stallion alley went for the whole week of the Stock Show. The stud stalls were around the outside wall of the big area where the cattle shows and sales, horse sale, and suchlike were held, so it was a very busy area with lots of people traffic. By about day three, some of the studs had had their fill of it and were getting cranky. One even went full crazy and they took him home. The stud I was caring for was called Bar. He was AAA on the race track, a well broke ranch horse and a good team roping horse. Plus he was a pretty dun color with very good conformation and a gorgeous head. The best thing about him though, was his disposition. He was just a sweetheart. He enjoyed all the attention and petting at the Stock Show and never got crabby or loud. I rode him for several hours every morning out in the arena so he got some exercise too. I think he considered it a well earned treat to be there.
Each day of the show had a different breed of cattle featured. Back then there were several “exotic” breeds included in the shows, and were quite new on the scene, so they combined several breeds that day. During the changing of the breeds after the sale, the new cattle were brought in to the area where all of the activity was happening and it sure tested their dispositions.
I was in the stall with Bar brushing him and a young woman, very pregnant, with a toddler in a stroller and another a size bigger alongside were standing in front of Bar’s stall as she was looking at the pictures on the table. All of a sudden, pure bedlam broke out across the way and a very much on the fight bull came off the trailer dragging his handler. The bull was making lots of noise and jerked away from the guy with the lead and charged into the bulls tied in a row on that side. There were people everywhere and panic had broke out as this bull started mowing people down. He was gigantic and moving fast. I quickly opened Bar’s stall door, grabbed the lady, the stroller and the little kid and pulled them inside, latching the door behind them. She was horse savvy enough to know that a tiny stall with a stud horse wasn’t the best place in the world for her little family either, so she had shrunk back against the stall wall. I told her they were safe in there with Bar and picked the little guy up and set him up on the big horse. Bar nuzzled the toddler and got his face petted by her, the little guy was beaming and Mommy was about to faint.
The scene outside was pure chaos as the bull ran through the crowd and the other cattle. The young woman was scared, but, after a while, realized they were as safe as could be as Bar hadn’t moved a foot since they’d come to visit. He was loving the attention. Some of the other studs got wound up from the noise and excitement, but Bar didn’t.
After what seemed a long time, they finally got the bull caught and ran back onto the trailer he’d come off of and the gate closed. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt and the mess was soon cleared up. By this time, the young Mom was standing by Bar, petting him and holding the toddler up to pet him too.
Soon the toddler was on him with her brother. After a good visit, she was finally ready to exit the stall. She thanked me profusely for doing what I did, even though it had scared the daylights out of her at the time. She was very appreciative of being in a safe spot with her little ones during that scary time. Bar and I had enjoyed the visit with them and the little ones had loved getting to sit on a horse.
I had never doubted Bar but appreciated him even more after seeing the reactions of some of the other studs there. He was a pretty special stallion. Brains, speed and disposition all wrapped up into a pretty package. It’s a shame they can’t all be that way.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....