Saturday, February 6, dawned bright, clear and beautiful. And it’s a good thing; we were going to a parade and certainly didn’t want any rain! The Texas Hill Country Stock Dog Association was invited again this year to be a part of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Western Heritage Parade & Cattle Drive. In all, there were 36 groups participating, but ours was the only one that involved sheep. There were some twenty of them, big-eyed at all the noise and activity around them. (I loved the Super Bowl commercial with the talking sheep; can't you just imagine what these would say if they could speak!)
The six handlers and dogs herded our sheep through downtown San Antonio to the delight of the crowds lining the parade route. Three very experienced dogs did most of the work, keeping our little flock (mostly) in the center of the street, stopping them when they got too close to the “riding steers” and the herd of longhorn cattle in front of us. The three less experienced dogs, Rue among them, were kept on leash and helped to move the flock along.
The staging area was under I-35 at Houston Street. While we waited for the parade to begin, the sheep hung out at the far end of their enclosure, watched closely by the six border collies.
To be sure that the sheep were as festive as the dogs and handlers, Ken put red bandanas on a couple of them.
The Jack Sellers Bexar County Palomino Patrol & Drill Team lined up near us. Their beautiful palominos were decked out in way more silver than I could have carried. They were splendid as they pranced down Houston Street.
Then it was time for the parade to begin and out came the longhorns. I’m not sure how many there were, but they came in all sizes and colors, including several small calves. Flanked by cowboys on horseback, they made a real statement.
Then came the riding steers. And if you haven’t ever seen one of these behemoths with horns that can measure seven feet from tip to tip, sporting a saddle and bridle and carrying a rider, you won’t believe your eyes.
These guys were beautiful, and as well-behaved as any saddle horse.
And then it was our turn. Out came our sheep, kept on track by Kaige, Mac and Jack (and helped, of course by their handlers, Ken, Jo Anne and Cindy).
Scott, Marilyn and I followed with Belle, Jen and Rue, who were very disappointed that they couldn’t get closer to “their” sheep but glad to have a part in the action. Jen, at 4 1/2 months, was interested in the sheep, but was also happy to stop along the way to let the kids give her a pat.
Here are some shots of our trip through downtown SA as we waved at the crowds and dodged the “cow pies” left by our friends the longhorns.
When we had to stop to keep the sheep from running into the longhorns, the dogs circled the flock on command to keep them in a group. The crowd was really impressed, especially since most commands were given by whistle and each dog had to respond to his own handler’s instructions. The cacophony of whistle tones and the whirling dogs and sheep made for a very exciting scene.
At the end of the parade route, a trailer was waiting for our sheep. They wasted no time in jumping in, very glad to be back in a familiar environment.
I didn’t see much of the rest of the parade, but John got pics of quite a few of the participants. He especially liked these lovely senoritas,
and this cowboy and vaquero.
There were plenty of other riding groups and clubs.
And when it was all over, the seven of us regrouped at a nearby Mexican restaurant which allows dogs on its patio. The food and chilled beverages were much appreciated after a very busy morning.
The border collies were all tired and happy, and napped in the shade. Little Jen was so sound asleep that we had to shake her to wake her up when it was time to go.
It was a great day and we look forward to next year.