From Show Biz to the Show Ring

By Jim Merriam, written July 1973

Tyson DelJaysPistolIan Tyson in action on Del Jay’s Pistol.

The Canadian cutting horse industry is flourishing in many parts of that country, not the least of which is the highly industrialized portion of eastern Canada known as southern Ontario.

A major force behind it’s success in this area is one of Canada’s most popular television stars, country-folk singer Ian Tyson. But he is not the drugstore cowboy type. Ian Tyson possibly is eastern Canada’s most authentic cowboy, whose attitude towards cutting horses can be summed up by one word-enthusiasm.

Tyson is currently serving his second term as president of the Ontario Cutting Horse Association (OCHA). He suspects he was chosen for the presidency first time around because of his name. But there is no question that he was reelected for one reason only he has been good for cutting horses and cutting horse riders in eastern Canada .

Being named to head the Ontario association was a new experience for Tyson, who had never held office in any organization before.

“In this, I’m as active as I can be,” he said. “I decided if I was going to be involved in this I was going to do it to the best of my ability. And I’ve gotten back so much more than I’ve put into it.”

“I need contact with cattle people and horse people. It’s a very valuable thing. I treasure it.”

When he’s not cutting or working his 300-acre cow-calf ranch, Tyson is up to his ears in the fast-paced entertainment world. As host of The Ian Tyson Show, which finds its way into 770,000 Canadian households every Tuesday night on the CTV television network, Tyson is probably the best-known cowboy in the country.

Ian SylviaEntertainer-cowboy Ian Tyson and his wife, Sylvia. A songwriter of note (Four Strong Winds, for example), Tyson has been big in entertainment for ten years and with his wife Sylvia has had many hits both in Canada and the United States. Although he is a dedicated musician, he gives you the distinct impression that his first love is back at the ranch. In fact his tours and show tapings are scheduled so that he can be at the ranch during peak periods for calving, shipping, haying, etc.

Tyson runs about 50 cows on the 300-acre spread, about 50 miles east of Toronto. This past summer he added 50 steers which seem to have spent a lot of their time trying to outwit one of his cutting horses.

Last year he leased a Santa Gertrudis bull to breed to his Hereford cows and he has high hopes for the calves-if not in the stockyards, then in the cutting arena. He feels the wiliness of the Santa Gertrudis, mixed with the steady influence of the Herefords, will mean top quality cutting cattle. When cutting himself, Tyson prefers black cattle with a white face, although any beef breed is good, he said.

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