As manager of the 7S Stuart Ranch, Forst believes in the power of people.

Terry Stuart Forst took the reins of her family’s legendary ranch after her father passed away several years ago. Under her watch, the cattle operation has improved and the horse program has gained notoriety. She serves as president-elect of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, was named the 2007 Oklahoma Cattleman of the Year, and will be inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame later this month.

Terry Stuart Forst standing by doorway

I ALWAYS KNEW that this was what I wanted to do. My parents actually discouraged me in some respects— Daddy in particular, maybe because I was female. He believed certain things were for a boy or a son to do, not for a daughter. And that’s fine. But because of that, I always thought I had to prove myself to be worthy. So, I had this desire to be good at whatever I chose to do.

IT IS NOT A “ME THING.” Never has been, never will be. We have a great group of people [on staff]. Everybody’s got a job to do, whatever it may be that day. We all work together very well because we communicate.

DADDY LOVED to quail hunt, and I remember vividly one time my cousin and my dad were going hunting. But because I was a girl, I didn’t get to go. And it ate on me something fierce.

I LEFT THE RANCH for a while, which was good. The main reason I came back was to get the cow operation together. Daddy actually approached me about it, getting his calving percentages back to where they needed to be. Weaning weights were low and a lot of things were going south. I said, “I’m not going to work for you if I can’t help make this ranch successful.” I think Daddy was real pleased when I came home. We had a dream for this ranch, and it’s materializing.

EVERYTHING’S CHANGING around us, and if we don’t adapt and do a better job, we won’t be here. Whether you like it or not, you better grasp change willingly. I always heard my dad say, “This is the way we’ve always done it,” and I promised myself that I would never get into that.

THE PEOPLE YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH ought to complement each other. If you’re going to put a crew of people together, you have to respect their ideas and
the fact that they may have a better idea than what has always been done.

I DON’T ACT LIKE THE BOSS. I’m better at taking orders than giving them. But I have the general plan for everything. I’m the one that puts together the plans, the dreams, the vision of where we want to go.

A GOOD WORK ETHIC is most important. Good manners. Respect. Doing the best you can at whatever you do. You’ve got to try.

THE YEAR CHRIS [LITTLEFIELD] WON [the Working Ranch Horse Competition] in Abilene on Real Gun [2002], we also ended up third in the ranch rodeo. We had a pretty good year at Abilene. That Sunday night, we came home and had about 50 mares to palpate and breed. Somebody said, “That glory is short-lived.”

IT SEEMED LIKE WE GOT A LOAD of calves in about 10 minutes before each of those big storms came through this year. When the last load came in, there was a tornado warning, we were having a thunderstorm, the ice was coming down hard and fast, and it snowed a little. We figured we had every weather condition you could have that day, except sun.

IT’S NOT AN 8-TO-5 JOB,so you have to be pretty devoted, and you have to love what you do. But it’s good work. There are a whole lot more good days than tough days.

IT’S NOT A MAN or a woman issue. It doesn’t really matter who you work with as long as you respect everybody. I don’t think it matters what sex they are. There should be no difference, I believe. Except women are a little more emotional, I know that.

I DON’T WANT IT to ever be a gender issue because I respect what so many men have done. If I’m not qualified, I don’t need to do it. But if I am qualified and I think I can do a good job, by golly, I’ll dive in with everything I’ve got.


This article was originally published in the November 2007 issue of Western Horseman.

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