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.
Mike broke his first colt at age 7 and by 9 was starting many colts for use on the family's New Mexico ranch. He also jockeyed his father's horses in match races, but by 13 had outgrown that occupation. That's when he went to work for cattleman and cutter Bob Lee. A few short years later, Mike was running another ranch his father had purchased, and had begun showing cutting horses and attending junior and high-school rodeos.
Buddy Major, Mike's father and a top professional calf roper and rancher, shared his skills with his son. Mike, who still team ropes today, roped professionally for a few years and spent 14 years riding bulls and saddle broncs. Throughout the 1990s, he competed in ranch rodeos and by 2002 had focused on working cow-horse competition, followed by ranch-horse versatility events.
"But I've always ridden cow horses and always bred horses for ranch work and cutting," Mike says. "In a sense, I've been working toward cow-horse and versatility competition all my life, although I really got serious about it seven years ago."
In 1990, Mike purchased the old Flying A Ranch, which Gene Autry once owned and Harry Knight operated. There, Mike and wife Holly operate Major Cattle Company, which includes about 1,000 yearlings and a horse-breeding operation, as well as the mother-cow herd on their Belen, New Mexico, ranch.
The Majors' horse program continues a family tradition Mike's grandfather began in the early 1900s using U.S. Cavalry Remount stallions. Mike began his breeding program with a Leo- and Three Chicks-bred stallion, followed by a Mito Bars-bred horse and later a stallion with Beduino, Rebel Cause and Truckle Feature bloodlines.
The Major stallion line-up currently includes Smart Whiskey Doc, the 2006 American Quarter Horse Association Select World Champion Working Cow Horse and 2003 Open High-Point Ranch Horse Versatility Stallion, and Love A Little Devil and RPM Mr Stylish, who both have National Cutting Horse Association money-earnings, as well as AQHA points. Most recently, an own son of Shining Spark out of a Little Peppy mare has been added to the line-up.
"People like versatility and cow-horse competition, and riding pretty horses, so we try to raise horses that are structurally correct, but good-looking enough to halter-and perform, too," Mike explains.
"That's fun. I just hope I live long enough to ride all the colts when I do get them just like I want them."
Contact Major Cattle Company at 719-263-5540, or visit majorcattle.com.