Since 1941, the Burk family has been moving cattle from their ranch in Squaw Valley, California, to their summer range in the Sequoia National Forest, an area that includes some of America’s oldest and largest trees. Last spring, I got to go along for the ride.
Even after a long, steady gaze, the scenery in Southeastern Colorado doesn’t have much to offer. Compared to the majestic mountain peaks found farther west and north, this area of the state appears to be a whole lot of nothing, with flat, dry and rugged expanses stretching for hundreds of lonely miles.
With a deep respect for Western traditions and cowboy values, Craig Haythorn runs a historic ranch, breeds top cow horses, wins in the arena—and has earned the 2008 Western Horseman Award.
Charged 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…
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.
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.