In the stories they tell about their horse show champions, Smart Whiskey Doc and Black Hope Stik, you can hear how much Mike and Holly Major value their horses’ ranch savvy.

Project by Christine Hamilton and Ross Hecox



Mike and Holly Major have enjoyed great success showing their ranch horses, with their champion stallion, Smart Whiskey Doc, and his daughter, Black Hope Stik, at the top of the list.

But they are just as proud that those show horses have been used on their Major Cattle Company ranches from Colorado to New Mexico, gathering cattle out of sections-sized pastures and dragging calves at brandings.

Their horse-breeding program has earned an official designation as an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. Their program began when Mike bred his first mares 50 years ago.

In addition to an American Quarter Horse Association Select working cow horse championship, Smart Whiskey Doc has two AQHA world championships and one reserve in versatility ranch horse. He also claimed two World’s Greatest Versatility Horse titles at the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association national finals. More recently, he finished third in senior ranch riding at the 2014 AQHA World Show, and won the 2015 Stock Horse of Texas open world championship.

Black Hope Stik has two AQHA world championships and one reserve in versatility ranch horse. Few could forget Mike’s bridleless working cow horse ride on a young “Black Hope” to win the Project Cowboy competition in 2010; he went on to repeat the performance in a demonstration ride at the 2011 Road to the Horse colt starting competition.

Read the entire story, “Riding Stik Horses,” in the April 2017 issue of Western Horseman.

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