Catching Calves and Catching Hearts

From Wildona, CO, Ashlynn Thompson stepped foot into the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) stadium arena for the first time with her Catch-A-Calf, Moose.

Growing up raising market show goats, Thompson wanted to try something outside of her comfort zone. Putting down the goat halter and picking up the Catch-A-Calf application this new adventure began for young Thompson.

The NWSS Catch-A-Calf program started in 1935. The contest quickly grew from then into what it is today. Participants apply to “catch-a-calf”, feed it and return their animal a year later as a market-ready livestock animal at the National Western Stock Show.

Due to COVID-19 the program was adjusted this year. Individuals who applied for the program were drawn to determine who would be receiving a calf for the year.

Thompson was thrilled when her name had been selected. This marked the beginning of her journey with cattle. Thompson stated that she has learned many things while participating in this highly rewarding program. She has learned how to both fit, and feed steers. Thompson has also found a love for teaching other individuals what she has learned throughout her time having her Catch-A-Calf.

“Cuddling with Moose has to be my favorite thing to do with him.” said Thompson. “He is much softer than my pillow which makes laying with him that much more tempting.”

Thompson stated that although Moose can have an attitude, he is ultimately her best friend. Through the Catch-A-Calf program Thompson has been introduced to new opportunities with cattle. As this next show year slowly creeps forward Thompson will not be continuing with the Catch-A-Calf program but hopes to continue to show cattle and participate in the Catch-A-Calf program, again, soon.

Thompson will be exhibiting her Catch-A-Calf project on January 9, 2022, at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO. If you would like to be a part of the Catch-A-Calf program next year visit for more information. Applications for 2023-2024 will open next summer.

By Tori Huckaby, 2022 NWSS Media Scholar