Christmas is a season of tradition, and no one knows that better than Michael Martin Murphey. The iconic, horse loving musician has worked diligently to keep alive the spirit of the first Cowboy Christmas Ball for more than two decades. This year, he launches into the next 20 years with his popular Cowboy Christmas Tour.
Sponsored by Spalding Labs the leading natural fly control company, Murphey and his acclaimed Rio Grande Band will spread Holiday Cheer through nearly 20 cities including a stop in Anson, Texas, where the Cowboy Christmas Ball originated in 1885. “The first time I came to the annual Cowboy Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas, where the community has celebrated the holidays with this event every year since 1934, I was floored that the community had worked so hard to keep it going,” Murphey said. “I fell in love watching the older couples dance and the dances being passed on to the younger people. It reconnected me to the tradition.” That tradition began on Christmas night, 1885, when arriving in Anson, Texas native New Yorker Larry Chittenden chronicled a dancing spectacle unparalleled in those days by composing the rhythmic, rollicking lines of The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball, a six stanza verse that is still remembered and anthologized in print and song. Modeling a show after the annual Anson event, Murphey took the celebration on the road, and has over the past two decades, performed the ball in such prestigious venues as Bass Hall (Ft. Worth, TX), The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK), the National Hispanic Cultural Center Journal Theater (Albuquerque, NM) and The Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University (Austin, TX).
As Cowboys Christmas new sponsor, Spalding Fly Predators is proud to be joining Michael in this cherished holiday celebration. Per chief fly guy, Tom Spalding, "We've been helping horse and livestock owners keep their facilities fly free for over 39 years. Michael's passion for ranching and horses makes him the perfect partner in our quest to spread the word about enjoying the cowboy lifestyle without flies. Concert goers can receive a free copy of our 2015 calendar featuring the gorgeous paintings of renowned Cowboy artist Kenneth Wyatt, and they'll be treated to an onsite traveling display featuring Kenneth's paintings as well."
This year's tour begins on Nov. 21 in Colorado Springs and will continue through December. Visit www.michaelmartinmurphey.com for a complete listing of stops on the tour. “The Cowboy Christmas Ball is steeped in everything I hold dear of growing up in Texas at Christmas time,” Murphey said. “All the old dances are here... the waltzes, the mazurkas, the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel... all these dances are still done here. The women make their own costumes and clothes and the men still wear string ties and frock coats. It’s a family reunion of friends. “This is my favorite season of the year,” Murphey continued. “We remember our fathers and mothers. We celebrate our children and we treasure our friends and the many blessings given by our Lord. It really brings out the very best in all of us.”
To register to win 2 VIP concerts tickets to a Michael Martin Murphey show when he is in your area click here.
See the newest Michael Martin Murphey video we've done in our video section.
Ever since I became a regular user of Spalding Labs’ Fly Predators, over 40 years ago, I have recommended them for fly control to my clients, my neighbors and my seminar audiences.
Invariably, those who heed my advice are satisfied with the results. However, occasionally, the response is unusual and sometimes funny.
For example, one of my clients had a serious fly problem. Like me, she lived in a canyon where the summer temperatures often rise to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a paradise for barn and house flies. So, I recommended Fly Predators.
Sometime later she telephoned me and said, “I just received my first shipment of Fly Predators. I can’t see them because they are buried in the shavings in the plastic container, but that’s not why I’m calling. I see dozens of little bugs in with them. I’m afraid that they will damage the predators. Maybe they already have, because I don’t see the predators. Maybe the bugs have killed the predators.
I reassured her, “No! Those are the predators. They are hatching, so it’s time to put them out on the manure piles on your place.”
“But,” she protested, “If those are the predators, how can they kill the flies? They are too small.”
“Oh,” I responded, “They are very efficient at killing flies. Nature is full of small organisms killing large organisms.”
“Really?” she exclaimed.
“Sure,” I said. “The smallpox virus is so small that it cannot be seen under an ordinary microscope, yet that virus has killed hundreds of millions of human beings throughout history. And, I have seen horses killed by rattlesnakes less than three feet in length. That’s just two examples of smaller organisms killing much larger ones.”
“You mean the Fly Predators are dangerous?”
“Yes,” I replied. “But not to us. Only to the flies.”
I have had several people ask me how I am able to teach horses or other equines, to allow dentistry (teeth “floating”) without resistance, using no means of restraint such as a twitch, or sedation or tranquilization. I will explain. You will see that it takes time and patience and empathy – BUT – eventually it saves time, effort, and the patient not only tolerates the procedure, but also can actually enjoy it.
The method I have used on countless equine patients, including my own horses and mules, is simply a variation of how I teach them to accept a bit.
First, I introduce the patient to the taste of a sweet substance, such as molasses, syrup, or honey. Initially, I put a bit on my finger and explore the lips, gums, and tongue. As soon as the patient tells me, “Ooh! That tastes good!” I put some on the dental instrument, taking all the time necessary for the horse to accept it.
Eventually the equine will, without hurrying the lesson, enjoy the instrument being placed in the mouth. I do not yet touch the molar teeth.
In time, using more sweetener, I can place the back (not the blade) of the dental float on a molar tooth.
At this point, I am not yet using a speculum. I use my free hand to hold the tongue and as a result, the jaws do not close. There is just enough space for the instrument to fit between the molar teeth.
When this is accepted without resistance, using dabs of sweetener (or apple sauce) on the blade to encourage allowing it in the mouth, I gently and slowly stroke the molar surface with the back of the float blade. As soon as I see that the patient is calmly licking and accepting instrument in its mouth, I gently reverse the float blade and softly begin to rasp the teeth. I do not increase the vigor, the force, or the noise until the patient calmly accepts it. Then I gradually increase the force I am using.
Yes, I just described a time-consuming procedure, but, if it is a procedure to be repeated again, it will eventually save a lot of time. Moreover, it is safer for both the equine and the doctor and less stressful.
Starting wild colts in my youth, I used a similar method to get them to quietly accept a bit in their mouths. I used the same concept to teach colts to accept many routine procedures.
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