Butterflies, skunks and snakes await vistors to the rodeo grounds.
Sarah F. Morgan
Visitors to the 69th annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo may encounter animals beyond the traditional bucking horses and bulls, calves in the arena and pigs and goats in the petting zoo.
At Horse Discovery, two beautiful Arabian show horses, half-sisters Khricket and Kiss Me Kate, were being groomed meticulously by their caretakers.
These equine beauties were not bred to buck but to stun the audiences with their finesse and graceful, dance-like movements, said Jeanene Pegg, specialist in Arabian horses and owner of Pegg Training and Boarding Stables, in an interview.
Isabelle Guevara, a horse-riding student of Pegg’s, rode Kiss Me Kate in costume and Carolyn Patrick, another horse-riding student, showed off Khricket’s canter in English dressage in an hourlong show on horse discovery.
Khricket and Kiss Me Kate are no ordinary pedigree either.
They are granddaughters of Khemosabi, one of the greatest Arabian stallions in America, Pegg said.
She said Arabian show horses are the best cared for of all the horses at the stock show and rodeo.
“This is not a picnic,” she said about taking the horses to the grounds.
“It puts stress on them to be in a tiny stable for three weeks. They’re used to being out in a field.”
Pegg hopes to promote Arabian horses to fellow horse lovers and inspire the next generation of riders.
She boards Arabian horses and gives riding lessons.
In the Butterfly Encounter in the Wildlife Expo, hundreds of monarchs and painted ladies fluttered around admiring children’s heads.
The Lurie family has displayed more than 300 butterflies across the country for five years; Each butterfly has a lifespan of no more than 30 days.
Mike Waschek, an adult member of Texas 4-H, chaperoned his daughter Jessie, 9; Hope Berry, 11; and Grace Bettencourt, 12, throughout the exhibit.
The girls are also members of Texas 4-H, a youth volunteer organization celebrating Youth Day at the stock show and rodeo.
Youth Day was Feb. 10, where the youth members of 4-H; FFA, a national organization formerly known as Future Farmers of America; and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America come together to showcase their organizations on the grounds.
They held out foam paint brushes dipped in sugar in hopes of luring a butterfly with a meal.
“The 4 H’s stand for ‘head, heart, hands, and health, ’” Hope said.
Texas 4-H and the National FFA Organization will also host events such as calf scrambling and the Agricultural Science Fair at the stock show this year.
The Wildlife Expo exhibits a myriad of wildlife native to Texas, including prairie dogs, armadillos and opossums.
At Zoomagination, Michael Magaw from the Texas Zoo draped a blue indigo snake around his arms and neck while his partner, Jesse Salinas, cradled Diego, a furry striped skunk, who was “disarmed” so he couldn’t spray his pungent odor.
The Texas Zoo is a nonprofit organization in Victoria that focuses on educating and entertaining people by connecting them to Texas wildlife.
The Texas Zoo often houses protected species, such as the blue indigo snake, that were kept as pets illegally, Magaw said.
The 69th San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo will continue through Feb. 25. Grounds admissions are $10 for a daily ticket and $20 for a season pass.
For information and a schedule of events, go to www.sarodeo.com.