Thursday, February 17, 2011

Omak Horse Race. Nebraska’s Homestead National Monument. Trailer Wall Done!

Yesterday, I showed a video of motor homes racing, today it is about horses racing.

Last night on RV-Dreams chat ( the subject of the Omak Stampede came up, so I looked it up:

"The World Famous Suicide Race" at Omak, WA.

"image of suicide race In 1935, Omak Stampede Publicity Chairman, Claire Pentz searched for an exciting event to add to the young rodeo. He heard about a wild and dangerous mountain race that the local Indians (Colvilles) had been running for many years in the Keller area. It was about that time that Grand Coulee Dam was structured, which flooded the Keller Salmon Days area and race course. After discussing it with local Tribal leaders, and the rodeo board, Pentz originated the Suicide Race. The first race was held in 1935, the second year of the rodeo.

Except for safety measures that have been added, the race is run today as it was in 1935 – no holds barred – on a course that starts 50 feet from a sandy bluff across the Okanogan River from the Stampede arena. Horses and riders race 225 feet down the bluff to the river, swim or wade across and dash 500 yards to the finish line in the center of the Stampede arena. Changes made in recent years require the wearing of life jackets, ban alcohol and drugs for riders or animals, require riders to be at least 16 years of age and animals to be at least five (to assure fully developed bone structure).

The course has been widened at the bottom of the hill to eliminate a bottleneck and a limited number of racers are allowed. The horses and riders are numbered with reflective tape to ensure visibility during the night hours. There are also rules concerning animal conditioning, practice runs and elimination heats to limit the field and give contestants experience prior to race time. The horses are bred from sturdy stock and most are raised solely for the race. As in early days, most contestants are young Indians from the Colville or local Tribes. To these outstanding riders and athletes, the race is a “rite of passage” and is a continuation of tribal ritual and tradition. "
More at:

Sounded pretty cruel to me, but the ASPCA and the Humane Society are keeping an eye on them.
"Every summer, the town of Omak, Washington, hosts the Omak Suicide Race. Horses and riders charge down a 210 foot , 60-degree slope at full speed, then swim 50 yards across a rocky and rapidly flowing river, and then charge back up a similar hill. If you survive this gauntlet, you get to do it for two more heats plus the final over a total of four days.

Growing protests about the cruelty to the horses who run the race, and increased concern over the ethics of the event, have prompted several major corporations, including Wal-Mart and Diageo PLC (the maker of Crown Royal whiskey, Captain Morgan rum, and Smirnoff vodka), to withdraw longtime sponsorship this year."  More at:

A different kind of horse race:

Chasing the Dream

Nebraska’s Homestead National Monument celebrates the independent farmers who shaped the American landscape.
By Amy Leinbach Marquis

"On December 31, 1862, Daniel Freeman was mingling with land officers at a New Year’s Eve party in Nebraska. But he wasn’t just socializing; he had an agenda. A Union army scout, Freeman was scheduled to report for duty in St. Louis, Missouri, in a matter of hours—but he envisioned a much different future: The Homestead Act, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln the previous May, was slated to go into effect the next day, granting 160 acres of free, federally owned land to anyone who had never raised arms against the U.S. government.
In return, recipients would build a home, grow crops, and learn to sustain themselves on the land; if they succeeded, the land was theirs to keep after five years.

It was the quintessential American Dream, and Freeman wanted a piece of it. So he convinced a clerk to open the General Land Office shortly after midnight and file his claim, making Freeman one of the first homesteaders in U.S. history.

As novel as it seemed, homesteading wasn’t a new idea, but it was a controversial one. Since the Revolutionary War, the distribution of federal land had been random and chaotic, and the result was often overlapping claims and border disputes. By 1803, when the United States bought 800,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River (the “Louisiana Purchase”), it was clear that the government needed a better plan. Thomas Jefferson, president at the time, envisioned a nation of small, independent farmers—a “poor man’s country,” he called it, with potential to become “An Empire for Liberty.” Most northerners supported Jefferson’s view, but southerners feared it would threaten their plantation model, which relied on slavery. Industrial leaders in the east worried they’d lose cheap laborers to the promise of free land.

Half a century passed before any kind of homesteading legislation was introduced in Congress. The House of Representatives tried pushing bills through in 1852, 1854, and 1859, but the Senate defeated each one. In 1860, a law passed through both chambers only to be vetoed by President Buchanan. Finally in 1862, the act gained the support it needed to become law. When Lincoln signed the bill, he set the tone for a free country, signaling a critical victory for the Union in the midst of the Civil War.

But for the new farmers tasked with taming wild landscapes, the honeymoon wore off fast. Homesteaders faced crippling droughts, severe storms, prairie fires, and grasshopper infestations. Inadequate farming equipment shattered in deep-rooted prairie grass. Winters were brutal and unforgiving.
“People talk about our country’s strong work ethic and determination, and I think those qualities can be traced back to homesteading,” says Mark Engler, superintendent of Homestead National Monument in Nebraska. “To be successful on a homestead, you had to have an unstoppable work ethic—because if you stopped, you failed.”

More than half of America’s homesteaders did just that. But they contributed in different ways, like building up and populating western cities. And where some failed, others succeeded, so by the time the Homestead Act was repealed in 1976, homesteaders had claimed more than 270 million acres of land in 30 states, from Florida to Alaska. As many as 93 million Americans today are thought to be descendants of homesteaders.

Most impressive, however, was the diversity behind the movement. The Homestead Act didn’t just apply to white men—it offered the same free land to women, before women were even allowed to vote, and to immigrants who had yet to declare citizenship.
Even former slaves could file for land, and approximately 100,000 African Americans took the government up on its offer, including a Kentucky native named Robert Ball Anderson. While his first attempt at farming failed around 1870, he returned a few years later to claim more than 2,000 acres in western Nebraska. His success was so inspiring that it drew others to the area, and by 1910, Omaha, Nebraska, boasted the third largest African-American population in the west.

“[These slaves] went from being property to owning property,” says Blake Bell, a historian at Homestead.
But freedom for some Americans meant enormous losses for others. The U.S. government had long been pushing American Indians off their land—and that removal was still happening during early homesteading. Not only did tribes lose their land; they were forced to abandon their culture. Their children were stolen away, placed in Caucasian schools, and forbidden to speak their native language; when they returned several years later, they could no longer communicate with their parents.

“What happened in the west wasn’t unique to U.S. history,” says Bell. “The removal process had been going on for more than 200 years. Homesteading was a great opportunity for many people, but the U.S. government took that land from American Indians before giving it away.” Another grave consequence stemmed from the idea that these natural lands somehow needed to be “improved.” Even Lewis and Clark, whose illustrations of western landscapes sparked an early conservation movement, failed to grasp the importance of prairie ecosystems. “When Jefferson asked why they came back with only one picture of the Great Plains, they claimed there was nothing out there,” Bell says. “Even though the land had been sustaining other cultures for thousands of years, Americans didn’t think it was being used effectively. It just didn’t fit the country’s agricultural mindset during that time.”

But history offers valuable lessons, and legislators in Beatrice, Nebraska, are giving it another go with the Homestead Act of 2010, which recently became law. Although the emphasis is no longer on farming, empty city plots offer modern homesteaders a place to build a home and pursue their dreams without degrading the land. Applicants range from individuals interested in developing small-scale alternative-energy sources on their property, to retired folks seeking peace and quiet.

Staff at Homestead are also working with the University of Nebraska, the National Archives, and to digitize historic homesteading records. “Economically, socially, and politically, homesteading is woven into the fabric of our nation, and we have just barely begun to scratch the surface on a lot of these stories,” Bell says. “We’re excited about the day we’re able to wrap our heads around what this really meant for our country.”


Roni wanted me to bathe her black lab, so I picked her up with her dog, when I drove dSAM_0660-2own to get Jay.

Jay replaced some boards on our little bridge that needed attention, while I bathed the dog.  
Roni said that Big Girl doesn't like a bath, though really I shower them with a hand held shower, to make sure all the soapy residue is gone.  Big Girl loved her shower in this 46" tub.  There is a rubber mat in the bottom, so she felt safe.
"Big Girl" is too big to go in my dog drying cage, so I toweled her off best I could, and Roni walked her home. 

But it meant that Jay and I hadn't got our day's plan of campaign on the cargo trailer sorted out yet. 
There wasn't enough time left to work on the 'dreaded' window, so we just installed two more panels on the walls.

Hooray!  One wall was completely done today.


pidge said...

Rusty still bounces around when we bathe him, but he doesn't really seem to mind it all that much. He doesn't like the drying though. He would rather run from one end of the RV to the other to dry off. I insist on drying him part way though.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Hi Pidge,
I have bathed 'bouncers' once in a while, so that is why there is a leash attached to a hook screwed firmly in the wall on the right end. I have their head facing that way, so that I can hold their heads up, with my left hand, while I rinse with my right, to avoid getting water in their eyes. Works for me.