This architect-turned-rancher makes the most of life in the Chihuahuan Desert, raising and shipping cattle in the Southwest and also competing in versatility events with her Quarter Horses.

Amanda Mayfield has worn many hats over the years: jockey, singer, architect, mom, wife, grandma, rancher, American Quarter Horse Association versatility competitor and a Superior Livestock Auction representative, just to name a few. Although her life has been full of adventures, at 74, she’s a dynamo with the energy of a much younger cattlewoman.

Architect-turned-rancher Amanda Mayfield, makes the most of life in the Chihuahuan Desert, raising and shipping cattle in the Southwest.
Photo by Abigail Boatwright

Amanda purchased her property in Animus, New Mexico, in 1997, and launched the J O Bar Ranch. Today, Amanda’s daughters are continuing her ranching legacy. Her daughter Erica Valdez and husband, Bobby, live at the ranch’s headquarters with their daughter Danli and manage the west side of the ranch, as well as the horses of AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder J O Bar Quarter Horses LLC. Her daughter Victoria Johnson manages the east side, which includes a pecan orchard, and she also takes care of cattle as part of the mother-daughter company Move Cattle LLC. In all, the ranch spans 64 sections and currently has 430 head of commercial Angus cattle.

Butch, Amanda’s husband since 1997, owns Mayfield Ranch, which borders hers. Her current focus — when she’s not shipping cattle across the state for Superior Livestock — is caring for Butch as he undergoes a second round of chemo for cancer he’s been fighting for nearly four years.

I didn’t really get involved in the cattle until I married Butch, and my daddy always said, “You could have bypassed the whole college thing if I knew you were going to be a cowgirl.” But I love to handle cattle, and that’s why Superior has been such a highlight for me. Ranching — I love to be on horseback and handling cattle, but Superior puts me on the ground, in the alley sorting cattle, and I just love it.

My parents helped me realize that you only get out what you put into it. If you’re sincere and honest, and you want it, you’re going to get more out of it. If you show an interest in something, give
it your best. Don’t do it halfway because you’ll only be cheating yourself.

I’d always been interested in architecture from the time I was in the second grade. I just love to design. The reason I quit my architecture job was to go on the road with a band as a singer. I did it for a while; it was a little derailment, but that’s what got me to the racetrack. While singing, I ran into friends who had a lot of horses going to the track, and I ended up galloping their racing Thoroughbreds.

My husband, Butch, has probably influenced me the most as a rancher because he’s so committed and dedicated. We did everything ourselves. Because of that, I learned how to do it all. I was on the ground with it. In fact, I was the one in the tower too, because I was the smallest, to climb the windmill. I learned my work ethic from him regarding the ranch, and being custodians of the land, harvesting native forage.

The worst horse accident I had was on the racetrack. I had a horse go down on the backside, and he ran over me. I broke several bones on the racetrack, but this one could have been really bad. I healed up, but that was a bad wreck.

I’ve been in the Southwest basically my whole life, and I like it down here. I don’t like the cold. Let’s face it, I’m a sissy. I live in the Chihuahua Desert, and it gets hot, but you just learn how to work around it. You work early, you work late, you take a break in the middle, and you just acclimate yourself.

My horse “Honey” has been really fun for me to learn and figure out. She’s from the 2022 AQHA Best Remuda O RO Ranch. I’ve been doing all the events on her, and I placed 10th at the AQHA Versatility Ranch World. She’s already qualified again this year, and I’m excited to take her.

I have shipped more than 113,000 head of cattle, and I have been on the road a lot. That’s a lot of miles and a lot of cattle, but there’s very few women who have had the opportunity to break into this. My entrance came through Butch because I was by his side, and then I just branched off. I picked up more and more, and now I have a great portfolio of dedicated producers, and we work hard to maintain a good buyer’s base.

I have a lot of innate energy. I’m outgoing, and I’ve never been bored, ever. Sometimes I’ll get a little restless. But watching Butch accept this terminal illness has been an eye-opener for me. Thank you, Lord, for my health, and shame on me for taking it for granted. That has been a big change in my outlook. I may not have tomorrow; today is a gift, and I’m going to do the best I can to be all I can.

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of Western Horseman.

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