As a full-time cowboy, Mark Voss spends the majority of his work days horseback. Years of long hours and many of miles spent in the saddle give Voss strong opinions about the characteristics he prefers in a good ranch horse.
His cowboying career has taken Voss to ranches across New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. In 1999, Voss was hired on by Bob Moorhouse as a camp man at the Pitchfork Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. He spent a few of his years at Pitchfork training and riding horses full-time before a few moves took him to Throckmorton, Texas, to work at Swenson Land and Cattle. Swenson’s was sold in 2021, but Voss and wife Johnna stayed put, leasing the ranch where they now run their own herd.
Within the west Texas ranching community, Voss has earned a reputation for having a good eye and being a good hand. Ranch horse breeder, Bill Smith, of Spur, Texas, has had the opportunity to work alongside Voss and to judge him when a ranch rodeo brings the cowboy to town.
“Mark just rides good horses,” Smith says. “He’s a cowboy who has taken advantage of the opportunity to be on a ranch and make those good horses, not everyone can do that. He’s shown, he’s cut a little, and he just knows what he’s after.”
Voss likes a good horse, and for good reason: it makes his job easier.
“Our horses are an important tool; we couldn’t gather these pastures on 4-wheelers,” he says. “You’ve got to have a tool, and the better tool you have, the more efficiently you can do your job. You know, if I was tearing down a motor in a pickup and I all I had was a crescent wrench, it would take a little while. Same with a horse, the better horse you have, the better you can do your job.”
Having made a living and earning a respected reputation for breeding and raising ranch horses, Smith knows that the best ones are worth appreciating.
“If you rode eight or ten good ones in your lifetime, you’re doing good,” Smith says. “We’ve all had ones we like, but never were your favorite. It’s a source of pride, when you have one you really appreciate.”
Voss agrees with Smith.
“A good horse gives a guy a lot of pride, whether you want to go day work or take one into town for a ranch rodeo, you want to be mounted.”
Since 2016, Voss has certainly been well-mounted, with his horse “Mucho” in his string. After trading for the bay gelding—registered as Mr TLC Rockstar—Voss has been a taking him to work and ranch rodeos across the state. To Voss, he is one of the best he’s had the opportunity to swing a leg over, saying, “He is up there the top five or six best ones I’ve ever had, and I’ve rode a lot.”