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Blizzard and Boo
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Once upon a time, there was a beauty and a beast…actually, it wasn’t once upon a time, but a current bond between Blizzard and “Boo”. A rare pair of an eight-year old registered Texas Longhorn, weighing in at 2,000 pounds and his sidekick Sally Jo Wilkins, “Boo”, who is 5’6” tall and 115 pounds of all heart. “That big steer loves her to no end and shows it. It is one of those things that you have to see them work together to believe, as a petite lady riding a steer can really turn heads,” said Doc Dison, owner and trainer of Blizzard.
Blizzard and Boo’s performances are determined and unyielding, bringing joy and astonishment to all audiences, as they perform under saddle, bareback or with just a bull rope and customizing acts to fit any need. Blizzard’s gentle nature and love of presentation make him the perfect crowd pleaser as he welcomes attention and photo opportunities outside of the arena. “He is an amazing animal and just loves people, especially women,” said Boo.
Doc, the grounds keeper for the Canon City Fair Grounds, purchased Blizzard when he was 13-months old and being used as a halter show steer. Through his progression of training, Blizzard has been used in cowboy mounted shooting, been roped off of, has done barrel racing and pole bending and was once rode in a performance act of “Ring of Fire”. “We had to shut that one down, because the fire wouldn’t work in an open arena,” Doc explained. He and Boo are now quite famous for their pedestal ending, where Blizzard – mounted by Boo, steps on a 13-inch tall pedestal with all four feet. “He is the only longhorn performing this act at this time,” said Doc.
The relationship began five years ago at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park near Canon City, Colo., where Sally Jo worked a living Indian village and Doc captivated tourists with gun fight acts and would take Blizzard as an additional attraction. “I fell in love with him and then Doc asked if I wanted to ride him. From there, an amazing friendship grew between me and this steer,” recalled Boo. “Now, if he could figure out a way of not falling through the floor, he would probably come in the house and live with me.” The two have gone on to performing at the Bad Boys Bull Riding Series in Canon City, the Westcliffe Stampede and the West Best Bull Riding in Penrose, Colo. “The name Boo was more of a rhythmic thing. It just flowed with Blizzard’s name and fit with my smaller size,” explained Sally Jo.
The consistent handling and gentle discipline of training has not been complete clear skies in the correlation. In August of 2011, while performing a salute to the bull riders-type act, Boo was bucked off of Blizzard. “Using a bull rope, I was to spin around on Blizzard’s back while he was standing on the pedestal and ride out of the arena holding a sign reading ‘The End’ for the finish,” explained Boo. “But when I turned around backwards, I had felt that I was too far back on Blizzard’s back and when I made the move to scoot toward the bull rope, I flanked him with both of my spurs and caused my own demise.” With the wind knocked out of her, and a later discovered bruised rib and kidney, Boo walked out of the arena that night. “Blizzard knew that he had done something wrong and my main concern was for him,” she said. Still feeling the pain in her back in February of 2012, Sally Jo made her way to the hospital for a checkup x-ray, where the result found was a fractured back in two places and severe Osteoporosis. “I’m hard headed, but doctors don’t listen to a pre-menopausal woman,” she said. “For that reason, I have started a blog called Boo News (The Osteoporosis Battle) on our website, blizzardandboo.com, to inform people of the things they don’t tell you or things to be aware of.”
With Boo in recovery, Blizzard went on the road in 2012. By 2013, Boo got back on her old friend. “I consider Sally Jo a dear friend and business partner and she has been relentless in accomplishing her goals. She wasn’t supposed to ever ride again, but she didn’t give up,” said Doc. “As for Blizzard, he just knows how to conduct himself and uses caution, while still doing what she asks. That in whole makes him a wonderful animal.”
The determination have the pair back working on the act that separated them for a short time. “Not riding, not going to happen. I just never gave up. I do see a huge difference between the rides – Blizzard is real at tentative and takes care of me,” said Boo at 50 years old. “We just have to end every day with me sitting on the pedestal and allowing him to love on me after each time.” …And they, continue, to live happily ever after…