This South Dakota rancher continues a family tradition of raising quality cattle, hard-working children and versatile horses.

Lainee Sampson represents three generations of raising cattle and horses. Raised 25 miles north of Wall, South Dakota, she grew up working cattle horseback with her parents, Greg and Lori Shearer, and siblings.

South Dakota rancher, Lainee Sampson, continues a family tradition of raising quality cattle, hard-working children and versatile horses.
Photo by Kate Bradley Byars

Like her mother and sister, she began running barrels at a young age, qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo four times. In college, she competed successfully on the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.

When she married TK Sampson in 2009, her parents gifted the couple four registered Texas Longhorns to start their own herd. They also received a Doc Bruce-bred mare named SX Letta Shasta Do It, who is a cornerstone in their breeding program that raises both ranch mounts and horses to market to barrel racers through the Pink Buckle Incentive Program.

In 2013, the Sampsons purchased Irish Pay, a 2004 bay stallion by Paddys Irish Whiskey and out of Raise The Pay, by Preferred Pay. Breeding the stallion to their broodmares, they raise horses that are gritty enough for ranch work, fast enough for Sampson to use in barrel racing, and versatile enough for TK to use as a pick-up man at rodeos.

With help from their two boys, Cooper, 9, and Kace, 8, the Sampsons handle all the day-to-day activities associated with running a commercial Angus herd and registered Texas Longhorn breeding program. Their remote ranch is based near Interior, South Dakota, on the southern edge of Badlands National Park.

It is getting hard to make a living off ranching. Any big decision we make is weighed on what could help Cooper and Kace.”

Lainee Sampson

I joke that the only reason TK and I got married is because he brought me out here and I couldn’t find my way home. I absolutely love it. I love being out and able to raise kids here on this land.

TK and I both shared a love for horses, and that was one reason I liked TK so much when we started dating. He is a super hand with them. Being able to have him start our horses is a plus.

My parents raised horses, my grandparents raised horses, and those bloodlines are still in our herd through a few broodmares.

All of my cattle know-how came from my dad. We did everything horseback, like AI-ing cattle, and it was time- consuming. But it was the best thing for our horses. It was long days, but we all looked forward to it. We handled everything horseback growing up, and we still do today.

We rode Doc Bruce-bred horses that were gritty and had a ton of try. To keep those bloodlines going is important to me. It is so hard to find something gritty that tries, and it makes up, for me, more than talent.

Our horses could run poles and barrels, do break- away [roping] and goat tie. All of our horses were also roped off of, and you could do just about anything on them. My dad and mom were big on the point they would not haul four or five horses around, but that we would have one horse that could do all the events.

We wanted nice horses, but I didn’t know about getting into the stallion business. Irish Pay changed all that. As soon as I saw him, I was in. His size, looks, personality and versatility—I don’t know how we could ever find another horse like him. Ever.

I do whatever needs to be done. I am a mom, and that is the most important job I have. But if things need done on the ranch then we do it as a family. I train horses to run barrels and we ranch.

I respect ladies so much that have a baby and a couple weeks later they are on a horse and back at it. For me, it wasn’t like that. I had terrible back problems. How long did it take me to get back to “myself” riding? Over 10 years. I had dealt with the back pain, but it had gotten much worse the last five years. A fusion wasn’t an option for our lifestyle, so I did research and found a doctor that did an artificial disk replacement. I can honestly say I finally feel back to myself.

Riding is fun again! I am 100-percent pain free. You don’t realize how bad something hurts until it doesn’t anymore.

My main goal is to enter rodeos and qualify for The American running barrels and roping on the same horse. I have one I think I can do it on.

Of everything we have done, the most important thing is that we raised these boys doing this life. They love it. Growing up, I remember working terrible long days and working my tail off, but
I never thought I didn’t want to do it. TK and I have never made them ride a horse or help move cows or sort bulls in 100-degree heat. But they are right with us and they never complain. It must be something bred in them. I love seeing that.

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of Western Horseman.

Write A Comment