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Snake River Stampede Celebrates Twenty Years Of Precision Horse Riding In The Dark In Nampa

Elizabeth Smith

It's the 20th anniversary of the Snake River StampedersNight Light Drill Team, an all-volunteer group of precision riding horsewomen who perform in the dark, covered with colored lights, every year at the annual Nampa rodeo.

The Snake River Stampede has been around for 102 years in Nampa and features all the rodeo favorites of roping and riding.

Jimmie Hurley is the Executive Secretary of the Stampede. She says in 1997 the event was moved from it's outdoor arena to the indoor Ford Idaho Center. She says some people were disappointed at the move indoors so she created a new event, designed to make the most of the new venue.

"They just felt it would never be the same indoors, so I wanted to give them something indoors that they couldn't have outdoors. So I created a drill team and put lights on them and their horses and rode them in the dark, which to my knowledge had never been done," says Hurley.

The girls and horses were decorated with multi-colored strings of Christmas lights that first year and rode in the dark, to the delight of the crowds, Hurley remembers.

"We've just sort of had to invent ourselves as we went along because there was no one to ask how to do it," Hurley says.

Since then, they've come back every year to the Stampede, been to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas five times and made an appearance at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake.

"It's just gone beyond anyone's expectations," says Hurley.

The volunteers start practicing their new yearly routine each March, Hurley says, riding every Monday night until the Stampede in July. She says there are tryouts every year.

"We start out every year with a new team and a new drill and new colored lights and a new show every year," Hurley says.

She says the Stampeders are a favorite of fans.

"We do have a following and there are people who come just to see them," Hurley says.

Hurley knows rodeos--this year is her 41st anniversary with the Stampede. She started in 1977 and has been involved ever since. She says the light show on horseback is something special.

"It's just something unique you don't see at most places and we're kind of proud of it," Hurley says.

Watch a performance of the Stampeders from 2016 below. The Stampede runs through Saturday night.

https://vimeo.com/184608866">Snake River Stampeders 2016 from https://vimeo.com/user35460553">Elizabeth Smith on Vimeo.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.

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