A patient man with horses, Buster works his horses slow and easy and takes about 15 months to make a finished cutting horse. All of his horses, even the finished ones, get several days of ranch work every week. In fact, he never works his horses in an arena more than four days a week. And then, each horse only gets three or four minutes of actual cutting. Arena cutting is hard work for a horse, and too much will sure “burn” a horse up and cause him to turn in some dull performances. The regular ranch work gives the horses variety which also helps keep them sharp.
As a result of Buster’s training program, his horses are “honest” workers and anyone can ride them. Even a novice cuttin’ horse rider can step on, do nothing but sit tight, and the horse will do a top job. And once Buster’s horses are trained, they stay trained. As to the equipment he uses, he breaks his horses with a hackamore, then moves them into a bit – using, of course, the Buster Welch cutting horse bit sold through the Ryon Ranch and Saddle Supply in Fort Worth. He never uses a tie-down, tack collar, or similar equipment.
Even though Buster quit school at 14, he has carried on a do-it-yourself education program, especially in business and ranch management. He regularly reads such news and business publications as the Harvard Business Review since he feels that books and magazines are a tremendous key to knowledge. He adds, “The English language is the greatest asset a person can have, because a person limited in vocabulary is limited in his thinking.”
This Texan readily admits that ranching is one of his greatest pleasures. And he means ranching, not farming that involves irrigating, putting up hay, harvesting crops, or feeding hogs. Buster raises Angus cattle, some Herefords, Angora goats, sheep, and a few horses. His own Ranch is located in some of the best cattle producing country in Texas. The Boyd Ranch, which he leases, has more rugged country and a lot of thick underbrush, making it suitable for running goats and sheep with the cattle. A sharp man with a pencil, Buster figures that as a result, this ranch has seven paydays instead of the conventional one (when the calf crop is sold). The seven: two shearings from the goats, one shearing from the sheep, one goat crop, one lamb crop, one calf crop, and income from the horses.
Raising cattle is also an asset to Buster’s training -program. He estimates that during a year, he uses about 2,000 yearling heifers and steers for cutting. They also come in handy for his cutting horse schools which are just starting. Each school is limited to 10 enrollees, but even that number will require a lot of fresh cattle since each school runs for 10 days.
During his schools, Buster will work with each rider and his horse, and will cover all phases of cutting horsemanship and training- from starting the horse to developing him to his fullest capacity as a finished horse. This, of course, can’t be done during the 10 days, but the rider will know how to go about his “homework” when he gets home! And he will have learned from a man who is a master in his field, and who is also one of the finest, friendliest fellows you’ll meet anywhere!
In January of 2006, Buster Welch was the second recipient of the Western Horseman Award. Highlighted in the editors notes, Buster was chosen “because he embodies values we take very seriously: He’s a true western horseman, unquestionably authentic, an educator, and someone with a great story to tell.”
Written in “The Abridged Buster Welch”, Buster’s three favorite horses were: Peppy San Badger (“Little Peppy”), Marion’s Girl and Haidas Little Pep. “Little Peppy” of course wasn’t born until 1974, 9 years after this article was published.
This article was originally published in the February 1965 issue of Western Horseman.