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August 6, 2019: Money Talks

We prepared to leave the auction grounds at 7 a.m. I did dawdle some. I ambled over and looked at two heifers who were standing quietly in a wait pen. One looked old, grandmotherly. My heart went out to her. I wanted to put her in the trailer and take her home. Does this sound familiar? Her younger buddy was wild eyed and obviously quite scared. I also checked out the auction area. Outside, lots of pictures of bucking broncos -- inside, a small ampatheater – the onlookers, in padded seats, had an excellent view of the detainees.

I agreed with Pete that this was no place to linger. We were reminded of this as a stock truck pulled up to the auction gate. I could smell the trailer waste, even with the window rolled down. Smelled like pigs to me. It sure seemed a far cry from the Bob Marshall Wilderness area. Yes, indeed, we were back in civilization. Why do they call it civilization? It does not seem civilized to me. Herefords are not currently the breed of choice, so these two had a strike against them.

We first attempted to load Raudi who quite clearly had been unnerved by the sound and smell of the trailer. Pete tied her to the side of our trailer Pete suggested we go and get the other two. I said no, we should first load up Raudi who was now uncharacteristically airborne.

Auction house bronco

We pulled out into traffic, down Highway 16, stopping to eat breakfast at a visitor center, one with trees and well-tended grounds. And on we went, the hunt for water was on. We were, after making several stops, sent in the direction of the Lions Campground. By now it was again hot. The desk clerk, a teenager, already had the bearing of a cold hearted administrator. She looked annoyed when we said that we needed water for the horses, and even after we pleaded our case, she did not give in. She finally called a higher up, a very easy going woman who said “sure, the hose is on the side of the building.”

And on we went, our destination was Hinton, Alberta, where we’d heard that there was a rodeo grounds. The sun disappeared and an oncoming storm rolled in. We drove through a nasty hail/sleet rainstorm that rivaled the one in Fort Collins. I was scared – we could not see the road in front of us. Finally, it let up, somewhat. We pulled into the rodeo grounds, which thankfully were easy to find. I found a series of panel enclosures on the far side of the grounds. The pens were clean, and there was room in one of them for all three. Ours had a grassy footing – the far side rodeo ground footing was muddy and gloppy. Three black steers and a dark, flea bitten gray rodeo horse stood in the mire, heads down.

We unloaded the horses and put their rain gear on them. Pete then went to get a pizza. I waited for him in a pavilion adjacent to the arena. It was full of red picnic tables. Outside, a woman rode her horse, in the rain, around and around the large enclosure; then she did a handful of barrel runs. She was wearing a cotton hoodie, no helmet – looked a bit chilled. The rain ran off the horse’s mane and tail. He looked to me to have resigned himself to what was obviously a senseless activity on the part of his rider.

She did stop after each run, to check her time on her cellphone.

The rain cleared up shortly after Pete returned. Fog remained. Later, much later, a truck and a trailer pulled up next to us. We learned that the Shields were barrel racers, and doing the barrel racing circuit. When I mentioned to the woman, who was the competitor, that a woman had, earlier, been out practicing, she looked very nervous. “That’s what you have to do if you want to win,” her husband said. Practice in gloppy footing in the rain.

Next: 216. 8/7/19: The Prince George Agriplex

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