If you’ve read the previous two posts, you’ll know my mom and I spent the Fourth of July holiday weekend visiting my cousin (her sister’s boy) and his family in Capitan, New Mexico, (population about 1000). We got up bright and early to go into town for the big Fourth of July Parade.
There had been a hard rain Friday morning in Capitan and the parking lot at the arena where the rodeo was ongoing was a morass. Neither mom nor I are all that keen on rodeos anyway, and one look at the state of the parking lot ruled out the rodeo.
However, the volunteers at the Capitan Public Library, which include my cousin and his wife, were selling hot dogs, cold drinks — and books! — during the Fourth of July celebrations, all proceeds to benefit the library. A room in the library was set aside for the sale of donated books which were either duplicates, or there was no room in the library for them. Five bucks a bag — Yes, please! My mom and I each both bought a bagful. We found some good seats and settled in for the parade. The “main street” of Capitan is a highway –US 380 — and the state police blocked it off, establishing a detour around the parade route for highway traffic for the duration of the parade.
The young man in the blue shirt has Down syndrome and is blind, but his enthusiasm was boundless and he enjoyed the parade very much. At the end of the parade were fire trucks from the Capitan fire department as well as some from Carizoso and from the Forest Service and Lincoln County, all whooping and hooting their sirens. Kind of hard to make a video when you’ve got your fingers in both ears against the noise!
For those not familiar with western style riding, the western saddle is built for working cattle. The saddle has a wooden frame for strength, which is covered with leather for comfort. Affixed to the front of the saddle is the saddle horn for snubbing the rope used to lasso cattle for branding, castrating or dehorning. The stirrups are heavy, wide, and long, so that the rider is practically standing in the saddle. Cowboys typically spend all day on horseback, so the length of stirrup is for comfort as well as stability. The rider holds both reins in one hand, usually the left, leaving the right hand free to perform other tasks, such as using a rope, or opening or closing a gate. A good cow horse responds to the pressure of a rein laid against its neck to indicate that it is to go left or right. A light pull means stop. A harder pull means back up. You will note that some of the horses in the video tended to hold their heads low, with their necks stretched out horizontally. These are probably cutting/roping horses there for the rodeo. A good cutting horse has “cow sense” and watches the cattle as they are being worked, helping the rider cut out particular cows, and keeping them from rejoining the herd.
Some more pictures of my cousin’s house and land.