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Ranching

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ImageCharged with supplying horses for one of the largest cattle operations in Idaho, cow boss Monte Funkhouser taps into top performance horse bloodlines.

Dust and cattle swirl around a young sorrel colt working hard in the branding corrals. It’s late afternoon in July, and it’s hot.

Monte Funkhouser eases the 2-year-old into the herd, tosses his loop around a hefty solid-black calf, dallies and turns toward the middle of the pen. As the young horse lugs forward in a straight line, one of Funkhouser’s cowboys slips behind and heels the calf. In an instant, the calf is stretched out on its side, and the ground crew swarms around it…

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The T4 Cattle Company, a family-owned and -operated cattle ranch in New Mexico, has outlasted recessions, fires, death and countless droughts through sheer deter- mination and a close connection to the land.

After 130 years, the JA Ranch remains one of Texas’ legendary outfits. Now, the ranch’s young crew addresses the challenges of ranching today while retaining an appreciation for the traditions of the past.

Only a handful of ranches in the West send out a wagon anymore. Most places aren’t big enough to justify the experience. Finding cowboys willing to sleep in a teepee for six weeks isn’t easy, either. But for the Spanish Ranch in Elko County, Nevada, sending out the spring wagon is a way of life.

I caught up with Ira Wines, buckaroo boss at the Spanish Ranch, in early May of 2006, just 10 days before his spring works began.

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For Bill and Carrie Weller of Kadoka, South Dakota, success in the horse business is all about athletes and atmosphere. As far as prestigious horse sale locations go, the Kadoka, South Dakota, rodeo grounds is probably never going to make it onto anyone’s “top 10” list.

That’s not to say there’s anything shabby about the setup. The grounds themselves are well groomed and in good repair. What’s more, they’re put to use regularly for local rodeos and horse shows.

The problem lies in the arena’s geographic location.

 

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Ranching in central South Dakota can be both breathtaking and backbreaking. The Cowan family has learned what it takes to survive while building one of the most successful horse programs on the Northern Plains.

Mike Major of Fowler, Colorado, the source for "Make a Major Improvement," our September print feature on shoulder control, has spent his entire life horseback and working cattle. The ranch-raised horseman brings all that riding experience to the competitive arena and has since he was a youngster.

 

No doubt, our February 2007 feature about Three Bars Guest & Cattle Ranch in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, "A Canadian Horseback Adventure With Options"appeals to many in search of the perfect riding vacation. However, wrangling the perfect summer job at such a ranch often holds a certain amount of appeal, as well.