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KLAMATH Bull & Horse Sale
By LEE BEACH, Herald and News 1/26/12
With the smell of leather and livestock; rapid-fire tempo of the auctioneers; pounding hooves of horses; kids, cowboys and cattle dogs attempting to outwit goats, calves and cattle, there’ll be something for everyone Feb. 2-5 at the Klamath County Fairgrounds. The 52nd Annual Klamath Bull and Horse Sale is a weekend with competitions and events for the entire family to see and enjoy.

The sale originated as a way to bring quality bulls to cattlemen in the Klamath Basin and improve the quality of the stock grown here. It attracts consignors from many states.

“It’s such a big, important part of our agricultural community,” said Don Hagglund, one of the event organizers. “It takes a year-long effort to put it on.”

The cattlemen also hope to show community members more of their way of life, giving them “the opportunity to meet the people who produce the food that feeds the nation … and witness the tradition and culture of their Western heritage,” according to the event brochure.

Ready for the ring

Bulls and horses brought to the sale are “sifted” — graded and judged, and according to Adra Campbell, an event organizer, only the best quality livestock is accepted for consignment. There are 107 bulls in the catalogue this year, and after the sifting process, she estimates perhaps 90 will make it to sale.

Two auctioneers, Trent Stewart from Redmond and Eric Duarte from Beatty are returning to conduct the bull and horse sales.

“They make it exciting and they’re very fast,” Hagglund said.

“Purebred bulls are worth a tremendous amount of money,” said Campbell. She attributes the state of the economy, fewer people in agriculture and bulls being sold directly off ranches for driving up the cost, and she feels there is more demand for high-quality certified bulls.

At the 2011 sale, 54 pen and halter bulls sold for a total of $188,250. The top price was $5,800, with an average price of $3,486.11. Thirteen horses were sold last year, with a top price of $7,100, and an average price of $3,691.67.

Potential purchasers evaluate a bull “about half on how it looks,” according to Campbell, “and half on the numbers.” The numbers are based on the history of the bloodline and the potential to sire healthy calves of a certain size and weight for easy births to heifers.
Cow dog trials

One of the most entertaining parts of the competitions are the cow dog trials, according to Ambrose McAuliffe of Fort Klamath, who raises cow dogs.

About 50 dogs are entered in the open (more experienced) and ranch dog (novice) classes. Border collies are the dominant breed, and an experienced dog might recognize 200 or more words or commands, said McAuliffe, “and we’ve hardly scratched the surface of how capable they are.”

The challenge is for the handler, on horseback, to communicate with the dog what it has to do to handle obstacles like chutes, panels or pens in the arena in about 7 or 8 minutes, including moving cattle from one point to another, earning points for each obstacle.

“It’s a delicate balance,” he said. “It comes around to who draws the best cattle to work with his dog, and finding the feel between the cow, the dog, the human — and a good horse is important, too.”

Other ranch skills contests

Other ranch skills contests include the Big Loop contest. This competition highlights the art and skill of working cowboys. The event attracts competitors from Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and California. Teams are judged on style and technique within a time limit to complete the required loop skills.

“It’s a real Western cowboy’s contest, said Don Hagglund, one of the event organizers. “It’s an old culture of roping — in a slow, safe way that creates less stress on the cattle.”

The kids’ goat branding contest is a fun event for youth 12 and under, including categories for youth 7 to 12-years-old and 6 and under. Teams of three youngsters have to catch a goat and “brand” them (put a paint mark on them).

During open branding, more experienced cowboys form teams to outwit four calves in a pen. The teams have to capture the calves just as they might at a roundup when they are branded to identify the ranch to which they belong, rope tie each one head and heel and, in this event, brand them with paint.

“It’s an actual skill needed when working on a ranch,” said Hagglund. “It’s a part of the Western ranch culture.”

The rodeo event is more a competition among experienced cowboys displaying the skills used in everyday life on a working ranch than rather than bucking broncos and bull riding.

For horse lovers

There are two events for those who love to watch the partnership between the working ranch hand and his horse.

At the sale horse challenge, 11 horses consigned to the sale compete in skills that would give potential buyers a view of how good a working ranch horse they would be. They are required to open and shut a gate, walk out to the arena, do a pattern of moves; then a heifer is led into the arena and the horse will be expected to work the heifer as would be necessary on a ranch.

Stock horse class is a contest for working ranch horses not consigned for sale at auction. Open snaffle is for younger horses, and there also are bridle and ranch horse events. In the latter, a horse and rider box a cow, take it down the fence, pen it, let it out, rope it and go to the gate.

Western Trade show

Local vendors as well as some from as far away as Nevada and Canada will have displays of Western clothing, food and ranch supplies. Many of the vendors are returning favorites according to Jennifer Wampler, an event coordinator.

Water for Life benefit

A benefit auction for Water For Life will be offered between the bull and horse sales. Water for Life is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting agricultural water rights while advocating responsible stewardship of the land. Numerous items have been donated for the auction, including a silver inlaid bridle and a saddle.

“It’s (the organization) to preserve our water rights and for legislative advocacy. It’s for people who contributed to the organization and others interested in water issues,” said Don Hagglund, an event organizer.
West Coast bulls to vie for top honor
Bull and Horse Sale to begin Feb. 2
by JOEL ASCHBRENNER, Herald and News 1/26/12
Producers from all over the West Coast will bring their bulls to Klamath Falls for the Klamath Bull and Horse Sale. This year, 108 bulls will see the auction floor.

It’s competitive, with each bull in the running to be Supreme Champion, the title given to the top bull of any breed at the sale.

Algoma-area ranchers Glenda and Lee Stilwell’s bulls have taken the crown each of the past two years.

“It’s a lot of luck,” Glenda said. “There are a lot of good cattle at the bull sale every year.”

It’s mostly genetics that make a prize-winning bull, Glenda said. She and her husband are selective when breeding their herd, aiming to develop bulls that are athletic and ready to work for cattle producers, she said.

Having an event like the Klamath Bull and Horse Sale, which begins Feb. 2, is important for local producers, Glenda said. It allows local ranchers to buy bulls from other regions that have different genetics and qualities, and it gives small-time local bull breeders a chance to market their animals to buyers from all over.

“The Klamath bull sale I think is really important, especially for small producers,” she said. “It’s a great place to get your name out there and see how your product stacks up against other stock from around the region.”

The Stilwells are auctioning a 2-year-old Limousin bull at this year’s sale. Glenda led the allblack, 2,000-pound animal from a barn stall to a pen Tuesday morning. The bull is almost showready; he just had a bath and a haircut. He’s been halter-broken so someone can lead him by rope.

“ Present at ion is important in an enterprise like this,” Glenda said.

Glenda also sits on the Klamath Bull Sale Committee, which helps organize the annual event. A three-member panel will score all the bulls at the sale and pick champions for each breed and a supreme champion. A third consecutive win isn’t likely, Glenda said.

“The first time we won, we told ourselves it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

The Stilwells run about 70 head of cattle on their ranch, Country Inn Cattle Co., about 10 miles north of Klamath Falls near the eastern shore of Upper Klamath Lake. They have seven yearling bulls ready to go to market this year.

Glenda has been selling livestock at the event since she was a teenager. For the past 20 years, she’s been raising bulls with her husband for the sale. Her great-grandparents raised cattle in the Algoma area after settling there in the 1890s and her grandfather used to buy bulls at the event.

“It’s something that has been important to our family for a long time,” she said about the sale.

H&N photo by Joel Aschbrenner

Glenda Stilwell will auction her 2-year-old Limousin breed bull at this year’s Klamath Bull and Horse Sale. Her bulls have won Supreme Champion at the event each of the past two years.




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