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Back In The Saddle: 119th Fort Worth Stock Show Opens

BJ Austin
Martha Jo Soule with her quarter horse Cash at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

The 119th Fort Worth Stock Show opened Friday. The annual 23-day event celebrates western heritage and life on the ranch with livestock competitions and sales. 

Friday was a day of firsts for Martha Jo Soule of Anna. It was her first Stock Show as a competitor. She and her quarter horse Cash showed their moves in the very first event: ranch horse riding.

“He’s a really nice quarter horse. He listens to me,” Soule says. “The ranch riding I like because it shows your ability to control your horse and do the correct gate.”

Controlling your horse in the arena is one thing. In the barn it’s another.

A horse in a nearby stall was a little unhappy about being there. On this, day however, there’s nowhere else Martha Jo Soule would want to be.

“We’re having a ball,” she says.

Soule has only been training and riding Cash for about six months, and says it’s a big deal to be at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

Nearby, Dolores Jimenez Smith brought her tiny 1958 vintage Shasta trailer full of designer western wear from Arizona. 

“This is the first time. We’re very excited to be here,” she said.

Smith has come to the quarter horse competitions and the Will Rogers Memorial Center, but somehow missed the big daddy of them all. 

“We just love you guys,” she said. “We love your cultural district. We love all the great restaurants. We love your community.”

Shanna Weaver, a Stock Show spokeswoman, says it’s unique to have a premier stock show smack dab in the middle of an urban cultural district.

“To be able to come and enjoy the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and walk across the street and go to the Kimball or the Amon Carter, all these world class museums,” Weaver said. “I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the country that you get that depth of cowboys and culture all in the same square footage.”

A recent study showed about three-quarters of Stock Show visitors are from out of town. Fort Worth officials say the show brings in about $56 million in direct spending each year.