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57th Annual Westernaires Horsecapades

You can't have Westernaires without the West! 2010's Horsecapades had plenty of both during its variety of entertainment.

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Nearly half a thousand horses galloped the sand of the National Western Stock Show’s Events Center in November, entertaining packed crowds with a dizzying array of riders, tricks, flags and formations. It was the 57th annual Westernaires Horsecapades, a weekend of shows created to be the fundraising centerpiece of the historic Colorado organization, and if you didn’t leave impressed, well … you didn’t have a pulse.

Billed as a “multi-sensory experience, combining fast moving horses, colorful costumes, music, quickly paced action and, most importantly, the most amazing group of teenagers you may ever encounter,” the show did not disappoint thousands of fans buying tickets to one of the four performances held on the weekend of November 6-7, 2010. Those teenagers not only displayed their skill and effort for the fans, it was also for the financial survival of the organization.

“(Horsecapades) is the only fund raising we do,” revealed Westernaires Director Glen Keller on the importance of the weekend for everyone involved. “We use that show and the revenue from that show to operate our program for an entire year. It is, in other words, critical.”

On the topic of the Westernaires organization doing its part to keep the culture of the West alive and kicking through shows like Horsecapades, Keller was passionate in his description.

“There is so much about the old west,” he began. “You can call it the code of the west, you can call it whatever you want to call it; there are so many values wrapped in what the people that came west had. They just lived the life of honesty and value and if you can’t pass that along to young people today, I really fear for what our society could become. So the old west traditions – a man true to his word, sticking up for what is right – that’s what we are about, and these kids all live that life and they understand it. It’s a pretty good way to be.”

Participating teenagers showed their passion for the western culture throughout the show, starting with running flag formations and keeping the action going with bareback riding, roman riding over flaming torches, cavalry charges, pyramids on horseback and just about anything else a horse fan could imagine. Despite the ease with which they seem to pull it off, the polished finished product didn’t just arrive that weekend; it was the result of countless hours of preparation and hard work throughout the year.

“They practice … every Saturday during the summer and every other Saturday during the winter, unless it’s a Red Division team, which is the one that performs on the road. The (Red Division) practice every Saturday all year long, so it’s 52 practices a year,” explained Chris Jenks, a 25 year volunteer with the Westernaires. Jenks owns and runs a busy chimney sweep business, but sacrifices his off time to help train teens participating in the Roman Riding specialty. “If they are in a specialty like Horse Roman, that’s another hour every other Saturday,” he added about the time spent prepping their horseback skills. “Some kids are in four or five specialties, so they’re out there every Saturday all day.”

All that practice paid off big-time for Horsecapades, as contributing teens dazzled everyone in attendance. It wasn’t just the crowd who enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship, however, the Westernaires liked being a part of it as much as the fans enjoyed watching them.

“They look forward to it because it’s a chance to perform,” offered Jenks about the teens’ enthusiasm for the quartet of big weekend shows. “The kids that are not on the Red Division teams that get to travel, that’s basically the only time they perform in front of a crowd. That’s a big deal for them; it gets them psyched up to show people what they’ve actually learned.”

The Westernaires themselves backed up Jenks’ opinion.

“It is so much fun, because it’s basically all your friends and you’re performing for people and when you get the crowd going it’s actually THE best feeling,” enthused Nick Walton, a Red Team member for four years who also performed in a multitude of specialties like Riders of the Steppes, Latigo, Trick Riding and Cavalry.

Asked about the frenetic pace during four shows of non-stop action, Walton had a humorous reply.

“We’re constantly (going),” he began with a laugh about the pace behind the scenes at Horsecapades. “I like, get out of the arena, go to my quick change area, get into a new costume and get ready to go again. I start to get muscle cramps,” he continued about the experience. “I just want to go home and pass out, (but) it is definitely worth it.”

Past Westernaire members felt much the same way.

“The Horsecapades shows everything the Westernaires do,” said Jessi Yoakum back in 2006, when she was 18-years-old and ready to graduate from the program. “I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.”

“It’s definitely my favorite event,” agreed Westernaire alumni Brian Davis in a previous interview. “You get so pumped and eager to be there. It is the main event every year (and) it’s a lot of fun.”

Not only is the Horsecapades show a rewarding experience for those involved, being a Westernaire all year long carries its own set of rewards.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jenks regarding the subject. “These kids learn responsibility. Actually the organization is not about horse riding, it is about teaching kids how to take care of horses, how to present themselves before an audience and how to have self-esteem and be proud of what they do,” he added with conviction. “Horses are kind of a secondary way to get there. So the best part of it is seeing the kids through the years become one with their horse.”

“The best part for me in the personal sense is seeing kids succeed,” offered Keller from his 27 years experience as Westernaires Director. “Kids need to learn how to succeed. They don’t need to learn how to fail. At our place, in our organization, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching them how to succeed in what they do. Year after year we reward good effort and good success and on balance, that is what it really is all about.”

“We’re always glad to show our banners,” Keller summed up with pride. “We travel the country in the summertime with these kids. We carry the Colorado name across the country. Although there are other (organizations) that do it, there isn’t anybody of the size and scope that we are. We still like to claim we’re the best and we like to show it off. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of the effort these kids make. I think I can be pretty darned pleased with the effort these kids make.”

With that effort, coupled with the dedication of top-notch volunteers throughout the year, the pulse of the West beats strong through the Westernaires, and Horsecapades makes sure it stays that way.

Nearly half a thousand horses galloped the sand of the National Western Stock Show’s Events Center in November, entertaining packed crowds with a dizzying array of riders, tricks, flags and formations. It was the 57th annual Westernaires Horsecapades, a weekend of shows created to be the fundraising centerpiece of the historic Colorado organization, and if you didn’t leave impressed, well … you didn’t have a pulse.

Billed as a “multi-sensory experience, combining fast moving horses, colorful costumes, music, quickly paced action and, most importantly, the most amazing group of teenagers you may ever encounter,” the show did not disappoint thousands of fans buying tickets to one of the four performances held on the weekend of November 6-7, 2010. Those teenagers not only displayed their skill and effort for the fans, it was also for the financial survival of the organization.

“(Horsecapades) is the only fund raising we do,” revealed Westernaires Director Glen Keller on the importance of the weekend for everyone involved. “We use that show and the revenue from that show to operate our program for an entire year. It is, in other words, critical.”

On the topic of the Westernaires organization doing its part to keep the culture of the West alive and kicking through shows like Horsecapades, Keller was passionate in his description.

“There is so much about the old west,” he began. “You can call it the code of the west, you can call it whatever you want to call it; there are so many values wrapped in what the people that came west had. They just lived the life of honesty and value and if you can’t pass that along to young people today, I really fear for what our society could become. So the old west traditions – a man true to his word, sticking up for what is right – that’s what we are about, and these kids all live that life and they understand it. It’s a pretty good way to be.”

Participating teenagers showed their passion for the western culture throughout the show, starting with running flag formations and keeping the action going with bareback riding, roman riding over flaming torches, cavalry charges, pyramids on horseback and just about anything else a horse fan could imagine. Despite the ease with which they seem to pull it off, the polished finished product didn’t just arrive that weekend; it was the result of countless hours of preparation and hard work throughout the year.

“They practice … every Saturday during the summer and every other Saturday during the winter, unless it’s a Red Division team, which is the one that performs on the road. The (Red Division) practice every Saturday all year long, so it’s 52 practices a year,” explained Chris Jenks, a 25 year volunteer with the Westernaires. Jenks owns and runs a busy chimney sweep business, but sacrifices his off time to help train teens participating in the Roman Riding specialty. “If they are in a specialty like Horse Roman, that’s another hour every other Saturday,” he added about the time spent prepping their horseback skills. “Some kids are in four or five specialties, so they’re out there every Saturday all day.”

All that practice paid off big-time for Horsecapades, as contributing teens dazzled everyone in attendance. It wasn’t just the crowd who enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship, however, the Westernaires liked being a part of it as much as the fans enjoyed watching them.

“They look forward to it because it’s a chance to perform,” offered Jenks about the teens’ enthusiasm for the quartet of big weekend shows. “The kids that are not on the Red Division teams that get to travel, that’s basically the only time they perform in front of a crowd. That’s a big deal for them; it gets them psyched up to show people what they’ve actually learned.”

The Westernaires themselves backed up Jenks’ opinion.

“It is so much fun, because it’s basically all your friends and you’re performing for people and when you get the crowd going it’s actually THE best feeling,” enthused Nick Walton, a Red Team member for four years who also performed in a multitude of specialties like Riders of the Steppes, Latigo, Trick Riding and Cavalry.

Asked about the frenetic pace during four shows of non-stop action, Walton had a humorous reply.

“We’re constantly (going),” he began with a laugh about the pace behind the scenes at Horsecapades. “I like, get out of the arena, go to my quick change area, get into a new costume and get ready to go again. I start to get muscle cramps,” he continued about the experience. “I just want to go home and pass out, (but) it is definitely worth it.”

Past Westernaire members felt much the same way.

“The Horsecapades shows everything the Westernaires do,” said Jessi Yoakum back in 2006, when she was 18-years-old and ready to graduate from the program. “I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.”

“It’s definitely my favorite event,” agreed Westernaire alumni Brian Davis in a previous interview. “You get so pumped and eager to be there. It is the main event every year (and) it’s a lot of fun.”

Not only is the Horsecapades show a rewarding experience for those involved, being a Westernaire all year long carries its own set of rewards.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jenks regarding the subject. “These kids learn responsibility. Actually the organization is not about horse riding, it is about teaching kids how to take care of horses, how to present themselves before an audience and how to have self-esteem and be proud of what they do,” he added with conviction. “Horses are kind of a secondary way to get there. So the best part of it is seeing the kids through the years become one with their horse.”

“The best part for me in the personal sense is seeing kids succeed,” offered Keller from his 27 years experience as Westernaires Director. “Kids need to learn how to succeed. They don’t need to learn how to fail. At our place, in our organization, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching them how to succeed in what they do. Year after year we reward good effort and good success and on balance, that is what it really is all about.”

“We’re always glad to show our banners,” Keller summed up with pride. “We travel the country in the summertime with these kids. We carry the Colorado name across the country. Although there are other (organizations) that do it, there isn’t anybody of the size and scope that we are. We still like to claim we’re the best and we like to show it off. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of the effort these kids make. I think I can be pretty darned pleased with the effort these kids make.”

With that effort, coupled with the dedication of top-notch volunteers throughout the year, the pulse of the West beats strong through the Westernaires, and Horsecapades makes sure it stays that way.

Nearly half a thousand horses galloped the sand of the National Western Stock Show’s Events Center in November, entertaining packed crowds with a dizzying array of riders, tricks, flags and formations. It was the 57th annual Westernaires Horsecapades, a weekend of shows created to be the fundraising centerpiece of the historic Colorado organization, and if you didn’t leave impressed, well … you didn’t have a pulse.

Billed as a “multi-sensory experience, combining fast moving horses, colorful costumes, music, quickly paced action and, most importantly, the most amazing group of teenagers you may ever encounter,” the show did not disappoint thousands of fans buying tickets to one of the four performances held on the weekend of November 6-7, 2010. Those teenagers not only displayed their skill and effort for the fans, it was also for the financial survival of the organization.

“(Horsecapades) is the only fund raising we do,” revealed Westernaires Director Glen Keller on the importance of the weekend for everyone involved. “We use that show and the revenue from that show to operate our program for an entire year. It is, in other words, critical.”

On the topic of the Westernaires organization doing its part to keep the culture of the West alive and kicking through shows like Horsecapades, Keller was passionate in his description.

“There is so much about the old west,” he began. “You can call it the code of the west, you can call it whatever you want to call it; there are so many values wrapped in what the people that came west had. They just lived the life of honesty and value and if you can’t pass that along to young people today, I really fear for what our society could become. So the old west traditions – a man true to his word, sticking up for what is right – that’s what we are about, and these kids all live that life and they understand it. It’s a pretty good way to be.”

Participating teenagers showed their passion for the western culture throughout the show, starting with running flag formations and keeping the action going with bareback riding, roman riding over flaming torches, cavalry charges, pyramids on horseback and just about anything else a horse fan could imagine. Despite the ease with which they seem to pull it off, the polished finished product didn’t just arrive that weekend; it was the result of countless hours of preparation and hard work throughout the year.

“They practice … every Saturday during the summer and every other Saturday during the winter, unless it’s a Red Division team, which is the one that performs on the road. The (Red Division) practice every Saturday all year long, so it’s 52 practices a year,” explained Chris Jenks, a 25 year volunteer with the Westernaires. Jenks owns and runs a busy chimney sweep business, but sacrifices his off time to help train teens participating in the Roman Riding specialty. “If they are in a specialty like Horse Roman, that’s another hour every other Saturday,” he added about the time spent prepping their horseback skills. “Some kids are in four or five specialties, so they’re out there every Saturday all day.”

All that practice paid off big-time for Horsecapades, as contributing teens dazzled everyone in attendance. It wasn’t just the crowd who enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship, however, the Westernaires liked being a part of it as much as the fans enjoyed watching them.

“They look forward to it because it’s a chance to perform,” offered Jenks about the teens’ enthusiasm for the quartet of big weekend shows. “The kids that are not on the Red Division teams that get to travel, that’s basically the only time they perform in front of a crowd. That’s a big deal for them; it gets them psyched up to show people what they’ve actually learned.”

The Westernaires themselves backed up Jenks’ opinion.

“It is so much fun, because it’s basically all your friends and you’re performing for people and when you get the crowd going it’s actually THE best feeling,” enthused Nick Walton, a Red Team member for four years who also performed in a multitude of specialties like Riders of the Steppes, Latigo, Trick Riding and Cavalry.

Asked about the frenetic pace during four shows of non-stop action, Walton had a humorous reply.

“We’re constantly (going),” he began with a laugh about the pace behind the scenes at Horsecapades. “I like, get out of the arena, go to my quick change area, get into a new costume and get ready to go again. I start to get muscle cramps,” he continued about the experience. “I just want to go home and pass out, (but) it is definitely worth it.”

Past Westernaire members felt much the same way.

“The Horsecapades shows everything the Westernaires do,” said Jessi Yoakum back in 2006, when she was 18-years-old and ready to graduate from the program. “I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.”

“It’s definitely my favorite event,” agreed Westernaire alumni Brian Davis in a previous interview. “You get so pumped and eager to be there. It is the main event every year (and) it’s a lot of fun.”

Not only is the Horsecapades show a rewarding experience for those involved, being a Westernaire all year long carries its own set of rewards.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jenks regarding the subject. “These kids learn responsibility. Actually the organization is not about horse riding, it is about teaching kids how to take care of horses, how to present themselves before an audience and how to have self-esteem and be proud of what they do,” he added with conviction. “Horses are kind of a secondary way to get there. So the best part of it is seeing the kids through the years become one with their horse.”

“The best part for me in the personal sense is seeing kids succeed,” offered Keller from his 27 years experience as Westernaires Director. “Kids need to learn how to succeed. They don’t need to learn how to fail. At our place, in our organization, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching them how to succeed in what they do. Year after year we reward good effort and good success and on balance, that is what it really is all about.”

“We’re always glad to show our banners,” Keller summed up with pride. “We travel the country in the summertime with these kids. We carry the Colorado name across the country. Although there are other (organizations) that do it, there isn’t anybody of the size and scope that we are. We still like to claim we’re the best and we like to show it off. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of the effort these kids make. I think I can be pretty darned pleased with the effort these kids make.”

With that effort, coupled with the dedication of top-notch volunteers throughout the year, the pulse of the West beats strong through the Westernaires, and Horsecapades makes sure it stays that way.

Nearly half a thousand horses galloped the sand of the National Western Stock Show’s Events Center in November, entertaining packed crowds with a dizzying array of riders, tricks, flags and formations. It was the 57th annual Westernaires Horsecapades, a weekend of shows created to be the fundraising centerpiece of the historic Colorado organization, and if you didn’t leave impressed, well … you didn’t have a pulse.

Billed as a “multi-sensory experience, combining fast moving horses, colorful costumes, music, quickly paced action and, most importantly, the most amazing group of teenagers you may ever encounter,” the show did not disappoint thousands of fans buying tickets to one of the four performances held on the weekend of November 6-7, 2010. Those teenagers not only displayed their skill and effort for the fans, it was also for the financial survival of the organization.

“(Horsecapades) is the only fund raising we do,” revealed Westernaires Director Glen Keller on the importance of the weekend for everyone involved. “We use that show and the revenue from that show to operate our program for an entire year. It is, in other words, critical.”

On the topic of the Westernaires organization doing its part to keep the culture of the West alive and kicking through shows like Horsecapades, Keller was passionate in his description.

“There is so much about the old west,” he began. “You can call it the code of the west, you can call it whatever you want to call it; there are so many values wrapped in what the people that came west had. They just lived the life of honesty and value and if you can’t pass that along to young people today, I really fear for what our society could become. So the old west traditions – a man true to his word, sticking up for what is right – that’s what we are about, and these kids all live that life and they understand it. It’s a pretty good way to be.”

Participating teenagers showed their passion for the western culture throughout the show, starting with running flag formations and keeping the action going with bareback riding, roman riding over flaming torches, cavalry charges, pyramids on horseback and just about anything else a horse fan could imagine. Despite the ease with which they seem to pull it off, the polished finished product didn’t just arrive that weekend; it was the result of countless hours of preparation and hard work throughout the year.

“They practice … every Saturday during the summer and every other Saturday during the winter, unless it’s a Red Division team, which is the one that performs on the road. The (Red Division) practice every Saturday all year long, so it’s 52 practices a year,” explained Chris Jenks, a 25 year volunteer with the Westernaires. Jenks owns and runs a busy chimney sweep business, but sacrifices his off time to help train teens participating in the Roman Riding specialty. “If they are in a specialty like Horse Roman, that’s another hour every other Saturday,” he added about the time spent prepping their horseback skills. “Some kids are in four or five specialties, so they’re out there every Saturday all day.”

All that practice paid off big-time for Horsecapades, as contributing teens dazzled everyone in attendance. It wasn’t just the crowd who enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship, however, the Westernaires liked being a part of it as much as the fans enjoyed watching them.

“They look forward to it because it’s a chance to perform,” offered Jenks about the teens’ enthusiasm for the quartet of big weekend shows. “The kids that are not on the Red Division teams that get to travel, that’s basically the only time they perform in front of a crowd. That’s a big deal for them; it gets them psyched up to show people what they’ve actually learned.”

The Westernaires themselves backed up Jenks’ opinion.

“It is so much fun, because it’s basically all your friends and you’re performing for people and when you get the crowd going it’s actually THE best feeling,” enthused Nick Walton, a Red Team member for four years who also performed in a multitude of specialties like Riders of the Steppes, Latigo, Trick Riding and Cavalry.

Asked about the frenetic pace during four shows of non-stop action, Walton had a humorous reply.

“We’re constantly (going),” he began with a laugh about the pace behind the scenes at Horsecapades. “I like, get out of the arena, go to my quick change area, get into a new costume and get ready to go again. I start to get muscle cramps,” he continued about the experience. “I just want to go home and pass out, (but) it is definitely worth it.”

Past Westernaire members felt much the same way.

“The Horsecapades shows everything the Westernaires do,” said Jessi Yoakum back in 2006, when she was 18-years-old and ready to graduate from the program. “I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.”

“It’s definitely my favorite event,” agreed Westernaire alumni Brian Davis in a previous interview. “You get so pumped and eager to be there. It is the main event every year (and) it’s a lot of fun.”

Not only is the Horsecapades show a rewarding experience for those involved, being a Westernaire all year long carries its own set of rewards.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jenks regarding the subject. “These kids learn responsibility. Actually the organization is not about horse riding, it is about teaching kids how to take care of horses, how to present themselves before an audience and how to have self-esteem and be proud of what they do,” he added with conviction. “Horses are kind of a secondary way to get there. So the best part of it is seeing the kids through the years become one with their horse.”

“The best part for me in the personal sense is seeing kids succeed,” offered Keller from his 27 years experience as Westernaires Director. “Kids need to learn how to succeed. They don’t need to learn how to fail. At our place, in our organization, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching them how to succeed in what they do. Year after year we reward good effort and good success and on balance, that is what it really is all about.”

“We’re always glad to show our banners,” Keller summed up with pride. “We travel the country in the summertime with these kids. We carry the Colorado name across the country. Although there are other (organizations) that do it, there isn’t anybody of the size and scope that we are. We still like to claim we’re the best and we like to show it off. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of the effort these kids make. I think I can be pretty darned pleased with the effort these kids make.”

With that effort, coupled with the dedication of top-notch volunteers throughout the year, the pulse of the West beats strong through the Westernaires, and Horsecapades makes sure it stays that way.

Nearly half a thousand horses galloped the sand of the National Western Stock Show’s Events Center in November, entertaining packed crowds with a dizzying array of riders, tricks, flags and formations. It was the 57th annual Westernaires Horsecapades, a weekend of shows created to be the fundraising centerpiece of the historic Colorado organization, and if you didn’t leave impressed, well … you didn’t have a pulse.

Billed as a “multi-sensory experience, combining fast moving horses, colorful costumes, music, quickly paced action and, most importantly, the most amazing group of teenagers you may ever encounter,” the show did not disappoint thousands of fans buying tickets to one of the four performances held on the weekend of November 6-7, 2010. Those teenagers not only displayed their skill and effort for the fans, it was also for the financial survival of the organization.

“(Horsecapades) is the only fund raising we do,” revealed Westernaires Director Glen Keller on the importance of the weekend for everyone involved. “We use that show and the revenue from that show to operate our program for an entire year. It is, in other words, critical.”

On the topic of the Westernaires organization doing its part to keep the culture of the West alive and kicking through shows like Horsecapades, Keller was passionate in his description.

“There is so much about the old west,” he began. “You can call it the code of the west, you can call it whatever you want to call it; there are so many values wrapped in what the people that came west had. They just lived the life of honesty and value and if you can’t pass that along to young people today, I really fear for what our society could become. So the old west traditions – a man true to his word, sticking up for what is right – that’s what we are about, and these kids all live that life and they understand it. It’s a pretty good way to be.”

Participating teenagers showed their passion for the western culture throughout the show, starting with running flag formations and keeping the action going with bareback riding, roman riding over flaming torches, cavalry charges, pyramids on horseback and just about anything else a horse fan could imagine. Despite the ease with which they seem to pull it off, the polished finished product didn’t just arrive that weekend; it was the result of countless hours of preparation and hard work throughout the year.

“They practice … every Saturday during the summer and every other Saturday during the winter, unless it’s a Red Division team, which is the one that performs on the road. The (Red Division) practice every Saturday all year long, so it’s 52 practices a year,” explained Chris Jenks, a 25 year volunteer with the Westernaires. Jenks owns and runs a busy chimney sweep business, but sacrifices his off time to help train teens participating in the Roman Riding specialty. “If they are in a specialty like Horse Roman, that’s another hour every other Saturday,” he added about the time spent prepping their horseback skills. “Some kids are in four or five specialties, so they’re out there every Saturday all day.”

All that practice paid off big-time for Horsecapades, as contributing teens dazzled everyone in attendance. It wasn’t just the crowd who enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship, however, the Westernaires liked being a part of it as much as the fans enjoyed watching them.

“They look forward to it because it’s a chance to perform,” offered Jenks about the teens’ enthusiasm for the quartet of big weekend shows. “The kids that are not on the Red Division teams that get to travel, that’s basically the only time they perform in front of a crowd. That’s a big deal for them; it gets them psyched up to show people what they’ve actually learned.”

The Westernaires themselves backed up Jenks’ opinion.

“It is so much fun, because it’s basically all your friends and you’re performing for people and when you get the crowd going it’s actually THE best feeling,” enthused Nick Walton, a Red Team member for four years who also performed in a multitude of specialties like Riders of the Steppes, Latigo, Trick Riding and Cavalry.

Asked about the frenetic pace during four shows of non-stop action, Walton had a humorous reply.

“We’re constantly (going),” he began with a laugh about the pace behind the scenes at Horsecapades. “I like, get out of the arena, go to my quick change area, get into a new costume and get ready to go again. I start to get muscle cramps,” he continued about the experience. “I just want to go home and pass out, (but) it is definitely worth it.”

Past Westernaire members felt much the same way.

“The Horsecapades shows everything the Westernaires do,” said Jessi Yoakum back in 2006, when she was 18-years-old and ready to graduate from the program. “I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.”

“It’s definitely my favorite event,” agreed Westernaire alumni Brian Davis in a previous interview. “You get so pumped and eager to be there. It is the main event every year (and) it’s a lot of fun.”

Not only is the Horsecapades show a rewarding experience for those involved, being a Westernaire all year long carries its own set of rewards.

“I think it’s very important,” said Jenks regarding the subject. “These kids learn responsibility. Actually the organization is not about horse riding, it is about teaching kids how to take care of horses, how to present themselves before an audience and how to have self-esteem and be proud of what they do,” he added with conviction. “Horses are kind of a secondary way to get there. So the best part of it is seeing the kids through the years become one with their horse.”

“The best part for me in the personal sense is seeing kids succeed,” offered Keller from his 27 years experience as Westernaires Director. “Kids need to learn how to succeed. They don’t need to learn how to fail. At our place, in our organization, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching them how to succeed in what they do. Year after year we reward good effort and good success and on balance, that is what it really is all about.”

“We’re always glad to show our banners,” Keller summed up with pride. “We travel the country in the summertime with these kids. We carry the Colorado name across the country. Although there are other (organizations) that do it, there isn’t anybody of the size and scope that we are. We still like to claim we’re the best and we like to show it off. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of the effort these kids make. I think I can be pretty darned pleased with the effort these kids make.”

With that effort, coupled with the dedication of top-notch volunteers throughout the year, the pulse of the West beats strong through the Westernaires, and Horsecapades makes sure it stays that way.


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