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In the News - Friday, April 22, 2011


Three Rivers Roping:
It’s a spring thing

  Since April 1995, the Commonwealth has featured a succession of roping articles that have dealt with the evolution of the sport and its ranching roots right here in Kaweah Country. The sport of roping has enjoyed resurgence recently thanks to several annual roping events that place a premium on fun for the whole family.
   When it comes to this type of event, none do it better than the Three Rivers Lions. For two decades, Jim and Karen Waggoner, stock contractors and event producers from the Circle N in Tulare, have worked tirelessly to ensure that Three Rivers is, simply stated, “The biggest little roping in the West.”
   Those who rope in Three Rivers know full well the meaning of that phrase on T-shirts and jean jackets in arenas all over California: “Roping: It ain’t no rodeo.”
   For this anniversary issue of the Commonwealth, Brian Rothhammer, staff writer, took a trip through the TKC archives. Here’s some of what he found...

Lions Team Roping:
A Three Rivers tradition

   Indeed, the origins of the local roping go back to the annual spring picnics of the 1880s. Back in those pioneer days, local ranchers, residents, and cattlemen would gather at or near the present-day Lions Roping Arena each year for horseshoe throwing, baseball, food, and foot races. By autumn 1890, the Kaweah Colony had established their Advance Camp at a site in the vicinity of the present Redstone Ranch, just up-canyon from the arena. Colonist Annie Haskell described the area lovingly in an article she wrote for the original Kaweah Commonwealth in October 1890.
   Though the colony disbanded in 1892, many colonists stayed on at Kaweah and with their neighbors continued the tradition of spring picnics through the early 20th century. By the 1920s, the event had grown to become the annual May Day Picnic, held the first Sunday of May. With so many ranchers and cattlemen in the area, it was realized that a proper arena was needed to hold equestrian competitions.
   In 1937, local rancher Lee Maloy built a roping arena at the end of what was then called Jefferson Davis Field (the old airport where all though horse trailers will be parked this weekend). Forrest Homer, John and Dick Britten, Earl McKee Sr., Kelley Ogilvie, Skinny Kirk, Jim Kindred, Ted Bartlett, and Joe Carmichael all had a hand in constructing the arena and made regular use of it through the decades.
   After the annual May Day festivities of the 1940s, folks would mosey over to the arena to witness equestrian feats of derring-do. Stake races, the forerunner of today’s barrel races, were often held. In 1947, the Three Rivers Lions Club was organized, with Lee Maloy and many of his riding and roping friends as charter members.
   Today’s timed events like roping and branding are variations of the work these men and others like them did from the saddle on a daily basis. With their experience in and passion for roping, it was only a matter of a few years before the Three Rivers Lions Club took the reins to stage the first Team Roping event.
   The Three Rivers Current, a predecessor to today’s Commonwealth, announced on April 14, 1950, that the first Lions Team Roping event would take place the following Sunday.
“Admission for the car is 50c… Entertainment will consist of… quarter horse racing and team roping.” Top ropers including Will Clay and Clay Carr, while racers Ray Buckman and Lee Maloy were top billed.
  “Proceeds of the affair will be used by the Lions to buy a movie projector for the use of the community.”

Writing Roping
   The first “Roping issue” of the new Commonwealth (April 21, 1995) featured a tribute to the late Lee Maloy and early roping recollections by his brother-in-law Earl McKee Jr., who resides in Three Rivers to this day. According to Earl, it was neighbors and friends and folks in the local cattle business who made roping what it is today.
In the early days, it was all about seeing who had the best horse.
  “They would let a guy get on a buckin’ horse, and then they’d pull the blind and turn him loose,” Earl recalled. “The main thing was to see who could ride the horse.”
   Earl said it was also great fun to see who had the best bridle horse by putting each mount through figure eights, slides, and backing the horse up and turning him around just like they do in the horse shows today.
   The “stake race” determined that whoever could ride through the stakes the fastest was the best rider, Earl said.
   In 2006, a TKC story told of Linnie Lu Hardin (1927-1990). On Halloween night 1949, Three Rivers teens Linnie Lu, Edena Bradshaw, Bob Leake, and Mark Grenfell were involved in a tragic automobile accident when they were struck by another vehicle. The wreck left 19-year-old Mark Grenfell dead and Linnie Lu badly burned.
   When the Lions began to organize the roping events in spring 1950, Lady Lions Blanche Maloy, Pansy Kirk, Muriel Kenwood, Edna McKee, and Muriel Barton were among those who decided that the first team roping would be a benefit to help defray the expenses of Linnie Lu’s care at Stanford.

Roping today
   Since that time the Lions of Three Rivers have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for dozens of scholarship recipients and other beneficiaries. During the recent past, the Three Rivers Lions have contributed to Three Rivers Union School, Volunteer Fire Department, Three Rivers Historical Museum, Bread Basket, Woodlake High School, Comfort for Kids Project, Smile Train, American Cancer Society, and dozens of others.
   Today’s team roping events utilize the handicap system to pair up competitors based on a riders’ skill level in order to balance out the contests. The American Cowboys Team Roping Association ((ACTRA) devised the system in the 1980s, and it has been credited with bringing about a resurgence in the popularity of their beloved sport.
   Come on out to Lions Arena this weekend for some good old fashioned family fun. See you all there.

So you want to live in the country, do ya?

Here’s what you’re in for:

  Originally published September 2004 in The Kaweah Commonwealth and being reprinted by request:
   City slickers, flatlanders, and tenderfeet, beware. If you’re thinking about moving to these parts from Southern California, the Bay Area, or some other overcrowded concrete jungle, don’t expect the cows to smell sweet, electricity 24/7/365, fast-food or home delivery of same, or your recyclables and green waste to be picked up curbside.
   There’s a document called the “Code of the West” that has been ratified in some counties in the western half of the U.S., beginning with Larimer County, Colo., in 1996. The code credits western author Zane Grey as its inspiration for his account of the men and women who had an unwritten code of conduct of integrity and self-reliance that guided their decisions, actions, and interactions.
   The code has since been localized and amended to suit several individual rural counties. Its primary purpose is to inform current and prospective property owners about the challenges of the rural lifestyle.
   The introduction to the Code of the West offers this advice to fleeing city dwellers:
  “It is important for you to know that life in the country is different from life in the city. County governments are not able to provide the same level of service that city governments provide.   To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated and informed decision when choosing to purchase rural land outside the boundaries of incorporated cities.”
   Here are some excerpts from the document that parallel life in Three Rivers and much of the unincorporated foothills areas of the Sierra Nevada, so take note:

  —Emergency response times (sheriff, fire, medical care, etc.) cannot be guaranteed.
  —There can be problems with the legal aspects of access, especially if you gain access across property belonging to others. It is wise to obtain legal advice and understand the easements that may be necessary when these types of questions arise.
  —Extreme weather conditions can destroy roads.
  —School buses travel only on maintained county roads that have been designated as school bus routes by the school district. You may need to drive your children to the nearest county road so they can get to school.
  —In extreme weather, even county-maintained roads can become impassable.
  —Natural disasters, especially floods, can destroy roads, bridges, and culverts.
  —Standard parcel delivery can be a dilemma and overnight package delivery is not really “overnight.”
  —Some roads are one lane only. Drive slowly, cautiously, and be prepared to back up when necessary.

  —Cellular phones will not work in all areas.
  —Sewer service is not available, [so] you will need to use an approved on-site septic system.
  —The most common sources of water in rural areas are private wells.
  —Power outages can occur in outlying areas with more frequency than in more developed areas. A loss of electric power can also interrupt your supply of water from a well. You may also lose food in freezers or refrigerators, and power outages can cause problems with computers as well.
  —Trash removal can be much more cumbersome and expensive in a rural area than in a city. It is illegal to create your own trash dump or incinerate your refuse, even on your own land.

The Property
  —You may be provided with a plat of your property, but unless the land has been surveyed and pins placed by a licensed surveyor, you cannot assume that the plat is accurate.
  —Fences that separate properties are often misaligned with the property lines. A survey of the land is the only way to confirm the location of your property lines.
  —The surrounding properties will probably not remain as they are indefinitely. The view from your property may change.
  —If you have a ditch running across your property there is a good possibility that the owners of the ditch have the right to come onto your property to maintain the ditch.
  —Water rights that are sold with the property may not give you the right to use the water from any ditches crossing your land without coordinating with neighbors who also use the water. Other users may have senior rights to the water that can limit your use.
  —It is important to make sure that any water rights you purchase with the land will provide enough water to maintain fruit trees, pastures, gardens, or livestock.
  —The water flowing in irrigation ditches belongs to someone. You cannot assume that because the water flows across your property, you can use it.
  —Flowing water can be a hazard, especially to your children.
  —The development of lots or portions of lots may be affected by geological hazards, frequent flooding, wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes.

Mother Nature
  —The physical characteristics of your property can be positive and negative. Trees are a wonderful environmental amenity, but can also involve your home in a wildland fire. “Defensible perimeters” of 100 feet from homes and buildings is the law in California.
  —Steep slopes can slide in unusually wet weather. Large rocks can roll down and trees will fall.
  —North-facing slopes and canyons rarely see direct sunlight in the winter.
  —The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of heavy precipitation.
  —Spring runoff can cause a very small creek to become a major river.
  —Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors. Most are positive additions to the environment. However, even “harmless” animals can cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents. Rural development encroaches on the traditional habitat of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, bears, mosquitoes, skunks, raccoons, deer, and other animals that can be dangerous and you need to know how to deal with them. In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance and know that if you do not handle your pets and trash properly, it could cause problems for you, your neighbors, and the wildlife.

  —Land preparation and other operations can cause dust.
  —Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors.
  —Agriculture is an important business in Tulare County. If you choose to live among the orchards, farms, and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect county government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agribusiness neighbors.
  —Livestock can be dangerous. Bulls, stallions, rams, boars, etc., can attack human beings. Children need to know that it is not safe to enter pens where animals are kept.

Horse Stories: Avoiding equine gastric ulcers

  Contributed by Pacific Crest Equine veterinary field services.
   Gastric ulcers are a common problem among horses. It has been hypothesized that up to 50 percent of foals and one-third of all adult horses housed in stalls may be suffering from mild ulcers, and over 90 percent of racehorses will have moderate to severe ulcerations.
   However, ulcers are not specific to high performance horses or those who compete frequently. Even trail horses out in pasture can be afflicted with ulcers.
   A horse’s stomach has a design that makes it quite prone to developing ulcers. The stomach is divided into two sections, a “glandular” portion that produces the hydrochloric acid that aids in digestion and a “non-glandular” portion where the esophagus empties food into the stomach.
   The glandular stomach also secretes a thick, protective layer of mucous that helps prevent ulcers from forming.
   Unlike humans, whose acid secretion is stimulated by eating, a horse constantly produces hydrochloric acid in its stomach. This suits the horse well when it has the ability to graze throughout the day, but can be detrimental for horses that only receive one or two large meals during the day.

   Clinical signs for ulcers can be vague and non-specific. Typical signs include a decrease in appetite, eating slowly, weight loss, a poor hair coat, mild colic symptoms, lying down more than usual, poor performance, or even a change in behavior or attitude. Often, those horses with attitude changes will become cinchy or reluctant to move forward off the leg. If the ulcer is severe enough to cause bleeding, a mild anemia on bloodwork can be apparent.
   The only definitive way of diagnosing a gastric ulcer is through endoscopy. After your horse is fasted for 24 hours, a camera is passed into the stomach (just like when tubing a horse), and a light source allows the veterinarian to view the horse’s stomach. The ulcer is then graded by severity, ranging from I (mild) to III (severe).

   There are several treatment options for ulcers. The first treatment options are oral omeprazole products such as Gastrogard or Ulcergard, which are proton pump inhibitors. These will prevent the stomach from producing too much acid.
   A second option is an H2 blocker, like cimetidine or ranitidine, which will block the signal that stimulates acid production. Any type of medication that acts as a buffer or antacid (equivalent to Tums) does not work effectively in the horse, as acid is produced continuously in the stomach and the buffering effect lasts only one hour.

Care and feeding
   The other important part of managing ulcers is the housing and feeding of your horse. Feeding your horse mainly roughage causes the horse to produce more saliva.
   This saliva will help to buffer the acid secretion in the stomach. Scientifically, it has also been shown in studies that alfalfa hay (as opposed to grass or oat hay) is better for preventing ulcers.
   Changing the feeding schedule to include several small meals throughout the day as opposed to two large meals will keep food in your horse’s stomach for a longer amount of time. This will give the acid in the stomach something other than your horse’s stomach lining to eat away.
   Allowing your horse to graze freely on pasture is another wonderful way of providing a constant source of feed for your horse. Lastly, just like people, decreasing the amount of stress in your horse’s life will help to achieve a happy, healthy, ulcer-free life.

Sequoia is California’s first national park

and the nation’s second… or is it?

  This is how history officially looks at the creation of the national parks: Yellowstone, 1872; Sequoia, September 25, 1890; General Grant (now Kings Canyon) and Yosemite, October 1, 1890.
   But here is how it really happened. Congress set aside Yosemite Valley as a park in 1864, but turned it over to the State of California for management. But the Yosemite designation is what planted the seed for the setting aside of special U.S. landscapes.
   Yellowstone became the first “national” park when it was established, but the vision was still unclear of how best to protect it from those who would exploit the resources.
   In 1875, Mackinack Island, Mich., became the nation’s second national park and remained so for 20 years and five years after Sequoia was established. In 1895, the area was given back to the State of Michigan.
   That means Sequoia, by default, moved into the number-two slot, having been created by an act of Congress in 1890 to save the giant sequoias from the threat of logging.
   More land was added to Yosemite and, one week after Sequoia was created, it was redesignated a national park.
   General Grant National Park was created under the same act as Yosemite. On March 4, 1940, General Grant was absorbed to become a much larger Kings Canyon National Park.
   This week in April is set aside each year to celebrate the vast, varied, and unique places that are our national parks. There are 394 of them.
   This vision has been shared worldwide. Today, more than 100 nations contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves.
   Although the first national parks set aside swaths of western lands (after Yosemite came Mount Rainier, 1899) and Crater Lake, 1902), today the national parks include areas of historical, scenic, and scientific importance. Today, the National Park System is comprised of more than 83 million acres in 49 states (only Delaware does not have a national park), the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
   Although Congress makes the final decision on national parks, it is usually private citizens who first bring an area to the attention of the public and the federal government as worthy of protection. In Sequoia’s case, it was Visalia newspaper editor George Stewart who led the rallying cry to save the Big Trees.
   John Muir is the most famous of the preservationists, known as the “Father of the National Parks.”

Where would the world be without Earth Day?

  The first Earth Day was held in April 1970. Today, it may be hard to imagine that before 1970 it was legal for a factory to spew black clouds of toxic substances into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby waterway.
   How was that possible? Because there was no federal EPA, no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. In fact, there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment at all.
   In spring 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to “force this issue onto the national agenda.” That year, 20 million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities.
   In Three Rivers on April 22, 1970, an Earth Day celebration was held. Adrian Green hosted the event at his hillside home along Sierra Drive.
   Scattered about were Three Rivers artists, musicians, cooks, kids, and more. Basically, they were doing what Three Rivers does every April: basks in the beauty of this little piece of heaven on Earth.
   The nationwide demonstrations had the desired effect. In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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