Winning the Foal Lottery: AQHA’s Youth Horse Development Project

September 17th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

The American Quarter Horse Association hasn’t forgotten its roots, or the horses that helped to build the association into the premiere stock horse registry. Through the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Youth Horse Development Project older youth members have the opportunity to receive a weanling from a recognized Ranching Heritage Breeder, thus promoting the stock that started the Quarter Horse’s rise to fame.

There are Ranching Heritage Breeders across the world (a list can be found HERE) and there are also youth looking to become a horse owner in just as many countries. While at the Open Box Rafter Sale in Rapid City, South Dakota, on September 8, four AQHA youth members received weanling horses from Jim Hunt of Open Box Rafter Ranch, a heritage breeder. Among those eager youth was Colorado resident Emily Scoles.

Jim Hunt discusses the weanling picked by Emily Scoles. AQHA President Johne Dobbs stands behind her.

Jim Hunt discusses the weanling picked by Emily Scoles. AQHA President Johne Dobbs stands behind her.

Emily was a typical horse crazy young lady, and at the age of 12, her parents granted her wish to receive a horse. In fact, she got a registered Quarter Horse mare. At 16, she rescued an unregistered gelding that was not trained. With her parent’s support and a trainer’s help, Emily turned him in to a successful barrel horse. Now, she was embarking on another adventure with the Youth Horse Development Project (YHDP)  under the Ranching Heritage Breeders Program.

“I knew about this program last year through an email from AQHA, but I wasn’t able to participate,” Emily says. “I knew I’d be interested this year so I downloaded the application and got started. There are 13 kids in the country that receive a free baby. The AQHA geographically looks at where the recipients are and what would work for them to pick up a horse from a breeder. But, there are seven more people selected to purchase a horse from one of the breeders at $700, which is a good deal. The breeders sign up for the program, too. It’s not like AQHA tells them to give away a horse. They sign up and the Hunt family is so generous doing this for us.”

The application process is rigorous: an essay and documented proof of the facility where the horse would be house. If the horse is given to an applicant, that applicant must send monthly progress reports to the breeder. The AQHA would expect no less of a member interested in promoting the breed.

“[AQHA] is very interested in animal welfare so we have to assure the Hunt’s and insure that get these horses are going to families take good care of them so the horse’s can go on and be viable prospects,” says AQHA President Johne Dobbs, who was on hand to present the four youth members with their foals. “The Hunt’s have been very instrumental in this youth ranching heritage program. This gives the kids an opportunity for a well-bred horse, a nice horse, to raise as a prospect. It’s a really good group of horses. As the president, my platform is youth and I’m interested in getting all children exposed to horses, from ranch kids to showing. I say that we want every child to love a four-legged animal with a long tail.”

The four youth recipents stand in the back row, to the left of Joanie Hunt, Johne Dobbs and South Dakota AQHA representative Larry Larson. Kneeling are AQHA's Brandon Black and Open Box Rafter Ranch owner Jim Hunt.

The four youth recipents stand in the back row, to the left of Joni Hunt, Johne Dobbs and South Dakota AQHA representative Larry Larson. Kneeling are AQHA's Brandon Black and Open Box Rafter Ranch owner Jim Hunt.

Programs like the Ranching Heritage Breeder and the YHDP go a long way to promoting horses to all kinds of potential riders, not just ones focused on the show ring. The horses are not being given away willy nilly to any kid hoping to get a hand out. The purpose of the project is outlined on AQHA’s YHDP rules: “This project will showcase the stock being bred and raised by AQHA Ranching Heritage members. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity for youth to become engaged in the horse industry at a fundamental level that will be fun and educational.”

It may seem like homework to send in a monthly progress report, but it goes a long way to encouraging ranches to participate in the program. Jim Hunt says their three-year involvement has enriched the Hunt family with new friends.

“Number one, we gain some new friends. The horse business is a people business,” he says. “You’re not just giving something away because horses are hard work. We gain new relationships and new friends, and our horses get to go to homes and be promoted. It’s good fro everybody. This is the third year for us to do this program. We keep up to date; the kids are required to give us a monthly progress report. Through emails and pictures we watch the horses grow and connect with the kids.”

One thing Hunt can say for certain is that the horses and the kids connect, and Emily is the prime example. Prior to the ceremony, she gave a description of her “perfect” horse.

The youth members wait to receive their weanling horses at the Open Box Rafter Sale in Rapid City, South Dakota.

The youth members wait to receive their weanling horses at the Open Box Rafter Sale in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“I’m definitely looking for a timed event prospect,” she says. “I’m looking for something not huge because my gelding is big, but something with a motor and agile. They all seem great! There are four fillies and two colts, all with impeccable bloodlines. I’m hoping for a filly because I could potentially go on and breed her, and we don’t have the facility to keep a stallion.”

Shortly after the ceremony presenting her with a sorrel, striped-face filly, she was out in the pen loving on the horse. The filly is by French Flit who is by Frenchmans Guy, exactly the bloodline Emily hoped to get for a barrel prospect. The filly is  out of Sugar Chileta, a daughter of Sonny Sugar by Sugar Bars with Driftwood on the dam side. To say Emily was excited is to vastly downplay her emotions.

“I can’t even think straight! I feel like I won the lottery! I got a little sorrel filly with great bloodlines for barrel racing,” she says. “I was just out loving on her and she is super sweet. I’m so excited! This is a great program!”

This 2013 sorrel filly by French Flit and out of a Sonny Sugar mare headed home to Colorado with Emily Scoles.

This 2013 sorrel filly by French Flit and out of a Sonny Sugar mare headed home to Colorado with Emily Scoles.

Emily is just one of 20 youth that will aid AQHA in promoting its ranching roots through the YHDP. Next year, another 20 young members will step up to the responsibility of horse ownership. For more information on the program or to download the application click HERE.

(All photos by Darrell Dodds)

End of an Era – The Rose Ranch Dynasty

August 20th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

Last weekend was exciting, historic and a touch sad. Carol Rose dispersed her herd of top-notch performance bred mares and foals, horses in training and two of her stallions. On Thursday, nearly 1,000 people arrived at Rose Ranch in Gainesville, Texas, to roam the barns, gaze at the royally-bred horseflesh and watch 33 performance prospects in the sale preview. Rose’s resident trainer, Jay McLaughlin, rode all but two of the prospects, making for a long night. Helping him hold the cattle herd were three world champions—Oklahoma cow horse trainer Todd Crawford, Texas cow horse trainer Ron Ralls and world champion roping trainer Bobby Lewis of Oklahoma.

Friday the sale kicked off at 9 am, and the first horse out of the sale ring brought $90,000. Lot 33, A Shiner Named Sioux, brought $850,000 from Texas’ Aaron Ranch. “Sioux” is by Shining Spark and out of the mare Docs Sulena. The 1998 stallion, Shiners Lena Doc, a full brother to A Shiner Named Sioux, brought $190,000 from a Hungarian bidder. Many other lots sold for six-digits and the crowd never thinned from standing-room only. Tack and equipment sold Saturday morning, and the crowd was much smaller but enthusiastic as they hoped to get a piece of Rose Ranch memorabilia.

Carol talks about the decision to disperse and why she is keeping only 5 horses, including Shining Spark, in the August article, “End of an Era.” Here are a few photos from Thursday and Friday at the sale, and a video of Todd Crawford and Bobby Lewis discussing this historic event.

Reflecting on a Legend Video

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Jay McLaughlin prepares to show 31 of the 33 performance preview horses on Thursday.

Ron Ralls, left, and Bobby Lewis assisted in the sale preview on Thursday.

Ron Ralls, left, and Bobby Lewis assisted in the sale preview on Thursday.

Jay and Sioux show off for the preview crowd on Thursday. Todd Crawford holds herd.

Jay and Sioux show off for the preview crowd on Thursday. Todd Crawford holds herd.

Prospective buyers and spectators looking to be part of history roamed Rose's barns Thursday through Saturday.

Prospective buyers and spectators looking to be part of history roamed Rose's barns Thursday through Saturday.

Carol Rose watches as Lot 3 goes through the sale ring.

Carol Rose watches as Lot 3 goes through the sale ring.

Carol Rose and Jay McLaughlin watch Shiners Lena Doc in the sale pen. The stallion showed off to the crowd, prancing and rearing. Carol says, "He loves people. He loves a crowd. Look how beautiful he is."

Carol Rose and Jay McLaughlin watch Shiners Lena Doc in the sale pen. The stallion showed off to the crowd, prancing and rearing. Carol says, "He loves people. He loves a crowd. Look how beautiful he is."

For full sale results, visit carolrose.com.

Writing for the Brand: Meet Contributor Ryan T. Bell

August 7th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

Montana-based writer and photographer Ryan T. Bell provides Western Horseman readers with tales of Russian cattle ranches and Mongolian adventures, and he is the magazine’s resident expert on all things backcountry. Readers often comment on the uniqueness of Bell’s life and express a desire to tag along on his adventures. Here, Bell talks about his background and what he hopes to write about in the future.

(Courtesy Elisea Miciu)

(Courtesy Elisea Miciu)

WH: Tell us about yourself and your background. Before you wrote for Western Horseman, what was your creative outlet?

I’m a product of the Rocky Mountains. I was calved in New Mexico, pastured in Colorado, and finished in Montana. Anywhere a Douglas fir tree grows, I feel at home. I was raised in the city, but have lived in the country since graduating from college 15 years ago. I owe my love of all things cowboy to my grandfather, a Presbyterian minister with a cowboy fetish. He did his best to brainwash me with gifts of cowboy paraphernalia for Christmas and birthdays.

I’ve been writing most of my life; well, ever since penning a love poem to a girl named Molly in the second grade. And I’ve been at it ever since. Really, I need a creative outlet from writing because when art is your profession, it can be all-consuming. My outlet is ice hockey. My fanaticism for the sport borders on neurosis. In Canada, there’s a long tradition of hockey-playing cowboys. I like the black-and-white photo of National Hockey League legend Bobby Hull bucking hay on his Ontario farm. I think cowboy work and hockey have a lot in common: fluid speed, reading the opponent, circular movements to corral an object (puck or steer), and fast action that culminates in a violent pinnacle.

WH: What about the Western lifestyle drives you to write about those living and working in it?

From the vantage of everyday life, the West may look fixed and rooted. But step back and you can see that the region is made up of many micro-cultures in a constant state of flux. By traveling to the West’s hidden corners, and writing about the people who work the land, I get a more complete sense of the whole. The key, I believe, is to revisit in order to see the faces grow old, new ones get born, and to hear the insights of those who’ve observed time’s passage. It’s journalism by strobe light.

WH: Many of our readers followed the “Comrade Cowboy” series (in the July, August and December 2011 issues) with interest. You have traveled to exotic locations, such as Russia and South America. What are some of the lessons you have learned traveling to those ranches, and is there a certain article you wrote that struck a chord?

Cowboying in Russia was a terrific adventure, and I enjoyed documenting this odd moment in Western history. My travels to Argentina and Mongolia were equally adventurous, but in a “foreign observer” sort of way. In Russia, we had this bizarre task of teaching Russian villagers the cowboy trade. It forced us to look deep inside ourselves, to ask what the profession was about, both in technical and philosophical terms. Of course, the Russians had their own technological and philosophical points of view. It was the definition of culture clash, and the resulting tensions made for such great storytelling that I’m expanding “Comrade Cowboy” into a book.

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WH: Which of your articles has had the biggest impact on you, either personally or professionally?

The profile I wrote of Joel Nelson [for the November 2010 issue]. I admire him, as a cowboy and a philosopher. In nonfiction writing, biography is the master form because it presents the greatest challenge: capturing the essence of another human. Joel has lived an interesting life, which he communicates well through poetry and in everyday conversation. Writing that story, I felt like a rawhide braider with perfectly beveled strings. But the strands were too many to fit, without making a 100-plait rope. That article impacts me because it represents the potential for good storytelling. When I read it, all I see are the strings I left out—a fractional essence of the person I came to know over two days. It serves as a reminder to try my hardest on every article I write.

WH: Is there a country, ranch or subject you hope to write about soon?

My wish list is as long as it is odd. I have this harebrained idea of riding horseback through downtown Detroit, to learn about the survivors of a bankrupt city. I dream of training my own elephant and riding it through the Alps to retrace the route Hannibal’s war elephants followed when he invaded Rome in 200 B.C. It’d also be fun to ride with the camel trainers of Egypt and Morocco. Besides those, I kinda wouldn’t mind going to Oregon.

Bell wrote about venturing into Mongolia's "Nomadic Heart" in August 2012.

Bell wrote about venturing into Mongolia's "Nomadic Heart" in August 2012.

See Ryan’s latest feature contribution, “Coming of Age, Horseback,” in the September issue. You also can experience the West each month through his column, “Backcountry Insight,” in the Hands-On Horseman section.

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For more information on Ryan T. Bell, visit ryantbell.com

Writing for the Brand: Meet Contributor Kathy McCraine

July 9th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

Long-time readers recognize Kathy McCraine’s byline on ranching articles and images, especially those focusing on Arizona, this contributor’s home state. McCraine infuses her Western Horseman articles with a sense of authenticity, as she has experienced many of the challenges in ranching first hand. One example of her dual photography and writing runs in the July issue—”O RO: Throwback Outfit.” Here, Western Horseman visited with McCraine to get acquainted with this regular contributor.

Contributor Kathy McCraine.

Contributor Kathy McCraine.

WH: Tell us about yourself and your background. Before you wrote for Western Horseman, what was your creative outlet?

I have been involved in writing and photography ever since I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism. Over the years, I have been editor of the Record Stockman, Brangus Journal, Arizona Quarter Horse and Arizona Cattlelog. I published the Arizona Rancher at one time, and have also written and published a couple of books, most recently Cow Country Cooking: Recipes and Tales from Northern Arizona’s Historic Ranches. For many years I owned and operated Livestock Communications, one of the first livestock advertising agencies in the country. I’ve always enjoyed having a hand in all aspects of publishing, from the writing and photography to layout and design.

WH: What about the Western lifestyle drives you to write about those living and working in it?

I was raised on a cattle ranch in Arizona, so I never considered any career that didn’t involve ranching. My husband, Swayze, and I have always ranched, and currently operate Campwood Cattle Company, running about 1,200 head of cattle and a small herd of registered Quarter Horses. I enjoy the lifestyle as much as I do writing about it. Our country is becoming so urbanized that more and more ranches are being lost to development every day. Fewer and fewer young people want to dedicate themselves to a life that is physically hard and monetarily unrewarding. I really have the desire to document the Western lifestyle before it is gone. The added bonus is getting to meet and become friends with so many wonderful people around the country.

WH: What are some of the lessons you have learned traveling to ranches, and is there a certain article you wrote that struck a chord?

Coming from Arizona, I had to marry a Louisiana man to realize that not all good cowboys come from the West. We have also ranched in Mississippi and Florida, and though cowboys in other parts of the country may sometimes do things a little different, there are good hands and good horsemen everywhere. One of my earliest articles for Western Horseman, written in 2000, was about our Mississippi ranch. One of my all-time favorite stories, “Creole Cowboy,” which appeared in the October 2011 issue of Western Horseman, is about Louisiana cowboy Darryl Guillory and his cow dogs. Riding in the marshes with him to gather a bunch of wild cattle was about as much fun as I’ve ever had, and Darryl has now become a very close friend.

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WH: Which of your articles has had the biggest impact on you, either personally or professionally?

Rather than a single article, I think the entire body of articles and photography I’ve done on Arizona’s famous O RO Ranch over the years means the most to me, both personally and professionally. Part of the ranch is the Baca Float #5, an old Spanish Land Grant, and at 257,000 acres it’s one of the largest, most remote and certainly most rugged ranches in Arizona. We are neighbors, and for the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to be one of the few photographers allowed on the place, and as far as I know, the only one to write about it in the last two decades. I’m especially proud of the photo story I did for the July 2013 Western Horseman, “O RO—Throwback Outfit.”

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WH: Is there a ranch or subject you hope to write about soon?

I hope to continue writing about and photographing the O RO Ranch, but I would also like to go into south Louisiana to photograph more Cajun and Creole cowboys and ranchers because so little has been written about them. The terrible hurricanes over the past few years have wiped out many ranch families, but I expect those that have hung in there have some amazing stories to tell. I got just a taste of that when I went to the huge Gray Ranch in southwest Louisiana and collaborated with Ross Hecox on the story “Water World” for the May 2013 issue.

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Form and Function on Display with TCAA’s Wilson Capron

June 28th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley
(photos courtesy Wilson Capron)

(photos courtesy Wilson Capron)

In October, cowboy craftsmen and gear collectors from around the world converge on the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Cowboy Crossings. The goal for members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association is to preserve and promote the skills of saddle making, bit and spur making, silversmithing, and rawhide braiding, and the role of these traditional crafts in representing the cowboy culture of the American West. Each year they hold an exhibition and sale featuring highly sought-after bits, spurs, saddles and more. It takes the craftsmen days and sometimes even months to create these pieces.

Western Horseman followed bit and spur maker Wilson Capron of Christoval, Texas, as he created his latest showpiece and the process behind making functional art.

Western Horseman: The mouthpiece of this bit looks quite traditional, yet when you look at the shanks, the large bottom rings on the bit seem unusual. Tell me about the design, function and your method behind the bit.

Capron: As far as I know the bit was originally made by August Buerrmann in the early 1900’s.  I simply duplicated the look. Function wise, the mouthpiece is not real special. It doesn’t have a whole lot of tongue relief in the port and it has tapered bars. Where the bars join to the port, the radius is fairly small which adds a little intensity to the bit.

The enlarged rings make for a slower signal. The big bottom ring allows the rein itself to have a lot of distance to move when you pick up your hand. This requires more hand movement to engage the bit. The top ring is pretty big, too, allowing a lot of movement up there in the bridle ring. The purchase is fairly short, so that adds a little leverage, but the rein can move up the ring so far that there isn’t much leverage.

WH: You describe this as a Globe-style bit. Can you explain what that means and talk about the base material?

Capron: I’m not sure where the name comes from, maybe because the large rings resemble the globe.

The material used to create the bit is 4130, steel I regularly use in making bits and spurs. The material used to create the top and bottom rings is hexagon in shape. In the photo you can see two flat sides of the material face outward. One side of the ring is inlayed with silver and the other I did a traditional firearm-engraving boarder in the steel. By using the hexagon it allowed me to do some decorative elements on the bit that would have been very difficult if I had used round stock.

TCAA Globe Bit 2013_0008-1

WH: When engraving and adding silver or gold, what was your initial design and did the bit come out like you planned? Can you explain this style of engraving and does it have a name?

Capron: The design was fairly straight on. My initial drawing is my planning stages. I make my drawings one-and-a-half times to scale so that the width of my pencil line is less critical and I can make my lines a little bigger. This can create a problem, like a kid at a buffet line; my eyes are too big for my stomach and I can’t fit all the things I do in my drawings into my engraving. But, those are minor things in the leaf structure or the number of leaves within a scroll. From what I remember, the layout of my scrolls and the flow stayed the same.

One challenge came when I put a flower above and below my concho in my inlay. I had an idea of what I wanted and it is a process called demascene, but the area was too small to hold the gold in place and I had to change it up. I went with a raised inlay technique, and it looks just the same. It was difficult because it was a small area.

I took artistic liberty to do what I pleased with this engraving and design. I’ll take an old, traditional design and decorate it to my taste. I left the architecture and steel work the same to create a traditional bit, and then decorated it to represent my interest. The engraving comes from my study of firearm engraving. I look up to the engraving of Winston Churchill, an American engraver from Vermont. By looking at his work I have adopted this style to fit into my work where a more traditional Western bright cut is normally used.

TCAA globe bit 2013_0019

WH: How long did it take you to make the bit?

Capron: It took about15 years… That is kind of an unfair question. There is a given amount of hours [you can put into] this particular bit, and for me I did a little over 100 hours. But, in order to create what I did there, it took 15 to 20 years of study before I built this bit. There was a famous Italian artist painting on the beach. A lady walked up behind him and said it was the most beautiful painting she’d seen and asked the price. When he said $10,000, she wanted to know how long it had taken to do it. The artist said 30 years plus three hours. When you ask someone how long it took you do to create a piece, does it really matter? Yes, it is interesting to know how long, but there is a lot of learning to get to that point. To answer your question though, it took exactly 109 hours and 15 minutes.

WH: Yearly, you make many show pieces such as this bit for events like the upcoming Cowboy Crossings. How do you stay inspired?

Capron: Well first I was asked to create this bit by a fellow TCAA member for a collaborative project, so I really didn’t initially have the inspiration for this bit. The project will be a first for our show that we are excited to unveil. I hope everyone will come see the completed piece.

Inspiration comes in many different forms and I’m always surprised by where it comes from. Creativity is one of the single greatest challenges as a bit and spur maker or designer. I like simply elegant. My goal is to create the simply elegant and also to keep it fresh. I want people to see one of my pieces from across the room and know it is one of mine, but that they have never seen me do something like that. Inspiration comes from the orders I do on a daily basis. People will ask me to create specific pieces for them under a budget. Sometimes I can add a little bit more to what my customer can afford, and that leads to a show piece that is simply elegant but is more than my original design. Function creates inspiration an awful lot. Determining why minor changes can create drastic functional differences is challenging and inspiring.

One thing I did different on this bit, I engraved the steel where it meets the silver. Often we engrave a border to define that line between materials, but I went ahead and engraved a boarder design in the steel. The design is an old, traditional boarder. I’m sure this has been done before, but it was a new twist for me.  As I move through [my career] the new twists or challenges are smaller in a way. The first time I made a Santa Barbara spade it was a big deal. Now, the little challenges are smaller [in design] and I am trying to do more elegant elements on a simple scale.

TCAA Globe Bit 2013_0030 close up

For more information on Cowboy Crossings visit HERE.

More information on Wilson Capron is available at wilsoncapron.com or at tcowboyarts.org.

Writing for the Brand: Meet Contributor Walter Workman

June 6th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

For the past few years, Walter Workman’s name has appeared frequently in Western Horseman. The photographer, and newly-turned writer, showcases his view of the Western life. In the June issue, Workman contributed “Neighboring,” depicting the way Colorado ranchers come together to help complete brandings. I sat down with Workman to get some insight on where he came from professionally and why shooting cowboys is now his life’s passion.

Texas photojournalist Walter Workman.

Texas photojournalist Walter Workman.

WH: Tell us about yourself and your photography background. Before you shot for Western Horseman, what was your favorite image or some subjects you loved to shoot?

My family was one of those that always had a camera on trips so I was around photography. In high school, I started shooting school sports and really got into sports photography. I went to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California, for photography school and through that did some wonderful internships in fashion, sports and some event photography. I shot almost everything from fashion models in Europe to fire fighters in the United States.

I always sold myself[to employers] as someone who could shoot in any location and solve problems, get in the right position and understand the light. I try to apply that whether shooting travel photos or fashion. I’m probably the only photographer that has shot in Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris and a cattle drive in West Texas. You bring the same kind of problem solving skills to both kinds of shoots.

WH: What brought you to the Western lifestyle and what drives you to shoot iconic Western images?

I moved back to Texas about five years ago and was seeing a woman who’s family had a ranch founded in 1851. She invited me to accompany her to a branding on the ranch. I’m sure they were thinking I’d sit on the fence and take photos with a point-and-shoot. But, that weekend resulted in a  seven-page photo essay in Western Horseman, “The Swenson Ranch Revival.” I went out and started photographing these cowboys—and I’ve documented forest fires and other events—but quite honestly, that weekend was a fantastic shoot. The guys were in their teepees and had a chuckwagon, and it was one of the best shoots of my life. I got some great photographs but I also really enjoyed it.

After that ran, a neighboring rancher invited me to his ranch, went out there and got more photo essays published, and I was off and running. These ranches and cowboys are cool to photograph, fun to hang out with, do great work that makes for great images and, really, who doesn’t like hanging out with cowboys.

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WH: Moving into a different industry comes with change. What are some of the things you’ve learned on the road and is there a story behind any of your lessons?

Doing this, I probably drive 50,000 miles a year. I am comfortable being outside and have camping skills, and I think that is important. I keep water and power bars in my car and can stay out a few days if I need to. You have to learn to be comfortable and be able to function without having to stay in a four-star motel. Some people have a hard time with that. I’ve done photo shoots in towns that are so small they don’t have any motel at all. You get comfortable rolling with the punches and learn how to get through different terrain and weather and not be discouraged. It goes back to problem.

I got into this later in life and had ridden horses minimally in the decades prior. One thing I took as a great compliment was when I was shooting on the Babbitt Ranches in Arizona. I was taking pictures in the pens with colts and doing this and that. At the end of the day we were having dinner [story author] Jennifer [Denison, senior Western Horseman editor] made a comment that she couldn’t believe I was in the pens walking around with all the young horses. I said the cowboys were in there and they could have kicked me out. Then [Babbitt Ranches Manager] Vic Howell said something really nice.

He said, “Some people go out there and you know they might not be as comfortable with the horses but will go into the pens. We will say to them to get out after a minute or two so we can work, but Walter was aware of what was going on around him.”

I took that as one of the highest compliments from a rancher or cowboy. I looked like I knew what I had been around animals all my life. You have to be aware of your surroundings when you are taking pictures and know what is around you.

WH: What story has had the biggest impact on you, and what subject would you most like to shoot?

You know, the photo essay with the most impact has to be the first on the Swenson Ranch. I had never shot cowboys before and it has literally changed my life. It opened the door for me and I now have all these great friends, and I do consider them friends. I met them by taking pictures for the magazine. Also in that, I got some of the best cowboy photos I’ve taken in the past five years from that first 48 hours of shooting.

If I could do a series of portraits of camp men—guys living out by themselves in the bunkhouse—out 50 miles from cell phone coverage, that would just be something fun to do. A series of portraits of cowboys that work alone mainly.

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To see Workman’s latest article, pick up the June issue of Western Horseman. For more information or to see Walter Workman’s work, visit Facebook.

Rope Ready with Tyler Magnus

May 13th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley
With proper equipment to aid both he and his horse, Tyler Magnus makes a successful roping run.

With proper equipment to aid both he and his horse, Tyler Magnus makes a successful roping run.

Rope horse trainer and competitor Tyler Magnus lends his expertise to the June issue’s “Synch Before You Swing,” starting on page 65. In the article, Magnus provides way to better your roping ability through improved horsemanship and properly adjusted equipment. The Mason, Texas, horseman helps all levels of ropers and their horses to improve through clinics at his ranch and through his television show on RFD-TV.

Position the tie-down between the corner of the mouth and jaw bone, says Tyler Magnus.

Position the tie-down between the corner of the mouth and jaw bone, says Tyler Magnus.

Here, this nine-time National Finals Rodeo-qualifier and two-time NFR average winning heeler opens up about two of the most important pieces of equipment a roper uses to compete. In the first video, Magnus describes the different tie-down he uses and why a specific type can benefit a horse.

“The tie-down is for balance; it is a tool,” Magnus says.  “I hear from old timers all the time, and I grew up thinking this too, that they wouldn’t own a horse that had to have a tie down. Well, I don’t own a horse I can’t take the tie down off of. If I want to go rope, then I put it on, and if I want to go outside to ride or work cows, then I take it off.”

Whether a leather noseband or rawhide covered in leather, the nose band can improve the balance point the horse uses to make a fast turn.

Magnus focuses on correcting the equipment before roping pens of steers. Without correct equipment to aid a run, the horse and rider work against each other.

The more you have to use your left hand [to pull the reins] the less you can use your right to rope,” he says. “In a nutshell, the more you can get a horse to do for you the less you have to worry about.”

In this video, Magnus talks about common bits he uses on a variety of rope horses.

For more with Tyler Magnus, pick up a June issue of Western Horseman, visit TylerMagnus.com.

Danny Stephens – Dual Threat

April 8th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

It is interesting where the story ideas for everything from a feature to a section article can come from. Western Horseman has a small staff, though we try our best to cover all regions of the Western world. Through trips and the contacts we make, often one of the editors receives a call about a great horseman, craftsman or other article candidate. While not all work out, one particular idea made it into our May issue.

Danny Stephens is a successful rope horse trainer and skillful bronze sculptor. His work is featured in “Clay and Calves” starting on page 109. I learned about Danny while purchasing feed at my local store, Needville Feed. Mr. Nulisch often tells me jokingly to run an article on him, and that would be entertaining, but this trip he told me about Danny. I competed in high school and youth rodeo with Mr. Nulisch’s daughter, and his son graduated a few years ahead of us. Mr. Nulisch’s son had a horse in training with Danny, and I looked into both the roping and sculpting background of this potential source.

What I found was an accomplished 65-year-old humble, south Texas cowboy who studied sculpting techniques not at art school, but under the watchful eye of Jim Reno, a Texas legend himself. It took little time to pitch the article and then visit Danny on a trip to my parents home near Bay City, where Danny lives.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with Danny and his wife, Jimmie, that hot, muggy day. I learned his artistic process and he roped a few calves for us. More over, Danny’s enthusiasm for both aspects of his lifestyle stuck with me far after the interview.

“I try to tell a story with every piece,” Danny says. “I try to do more than just a big wreck, you know? The goal is to try to preserve what the cowboy looks like right now. I enjoy the horse business as much as my art, and it has given me ideas for my [sculpture] subjects. I’m not as well known as some of the other guys because I’ve been training and riding horses since I was small and I truly love it. I wouldn’t trade what I’ve done.”

Take time to read about Danny Stephens, his art and his life in the May issue. I for one will hear about Mr. Nulisch’s great idea for years to come, I’m sure. But, it goes to show that ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere, even at the feed store.

Hear Danny discuss advice he received from Jim Reno and his goal with each sculpture in the video below. (Photos by Ross Hecox)

To subscribe to Western Horseman, click HERE. For more information on Danny Stephens’ art, contact him at  dannystephensbronze at hotmail.com.

A Top Hand

March 11th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

The April issue of Western Horseman features a gulf coast day-working cowboy named Marty Rosenquest. Marty’s story is interesting, and one that we at the magazine love to spotlight. Though he didn’t grow up horseback, Marty makes his living working ranches that range from 100 to 10,000 acres in the Victoria to Wharton, Texas, area.

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Along the way, Marty formed M&M Cattle Company, a ranch rodeo team that is now well known in the competitive arena. In 2008, the team’s best year overall, Marty won at least five top hand awards at ranch rodeos such as the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo. Their success continued, but 2013 is looking to be another banner year for the members of the M&M team.

“We still hold our own and do pretty good,” Marty says. “I love to rope, though I don’t team rope anymore. I’ve had lots of little tricks that gave us an edge, but everybody’s learned my little tricks. It’s very competitive now.”

But, M&M is hanging in there with the competition. Already the cowboys claimed the top title at the San Antonio ranch rodeo qualifying them to compete against full-time operations like the Bell and Tongue River ranches at the Champion Ranch Rodeo last Saturday, March 9, at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. The top three teams from the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo and the Houston LIvestock Show & Rodeo ranch rodeos vie for the overall champion title.

While M&M didn’t take home the win Saturday night, they did place second in the Invitational County Ranch Rodeo earlier in the day. Marty and team members Cole Applegate, Cody Cerny and Cody Rosenquest, Marty’s son, gave their all in the champion event. Josh Baros joined the Rosenquests and Applegate in the county ranch rodeo. Here are a few photos of the M&M team on their way to the second place finish in the Invitational County Ranch Rodeo.

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Cole Applegate has the "wild cow's" tail, Josh Baros is barely discernible on the head, and Cody Rosenquest has the rope while Marty milks at the Houston ranch rodeo.

Be sure to read Marty’s story in “Gulf Coast Cowboy” starting on page 68 of the April issue. You can watch the M&M Cattle Company compete at the All-Around Ranch Rodeo Challenge in Glen Rose, Texas, June 6-8.

For complete results from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo ranch rodeos, visit rodeohouston.com.

AQHA Versatility World Show has an International Flair

March 6th, 2013  / Author: Kate Bradley

Gaucho. Kuhhirt. Cowboy. No matter the name, the competitive spirit is the same. At the 2013 American Quarter Horse Association Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship held during the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, two international riders represented the reach of Western stock horse culture.

Andre Weber traveled from his ranch near Baden-Baden, Germany, to compete in Houston, Texas, aboard a horse he had only ridden for one week prior to the show. From the south, Alvaro Lucena traveled from Argentina to compete in both the open and amateur divisions on two different horses. Both men represent not only their countries, but the growing interest in stock horse competition.

Andre Weber and Josephs Catchem All compete in ranch trail.

Andre Weber and Josephs Catchem All compete in ranch trail.

“This is the second year I come here to show,” Lucena says. “We qualify in Argentina, but it is very complicated to bring horses here. I am riding a very nice mare [The Queens Pistol] that I rode last year, and the gelding is from Mozaun McKibben. I am very happy with the horses I got to show here.”

Lucena, like Weber, traveled to the US shortly before the show and practiced on the mounts he would ride. Lucena placed 11th in the world on Show Biz Sug, owned by McKibben, and finished 12th aboard Balance Ranch’s The Queens Pistol in the open.

Alvaro Lucena and Show Biz Sug make a cut in amateur ranch cutting.

Alvaro Lucena and Show Biz Sug make a cut in amateur ranch cutting.

The short time to ride was not daunting for Weber. He rode Josephs Catchem All, owned by Jimbo Humphreys, to the reserve world championship in the amateur division.

“I enjoyed myself at the show,” Weber says. “I like this big horse very much; he is incredible. I always thought big horses may be hard to turnaround, but he knows how to work and manage his body.”

Weber won the ranch riding and ranch conformation on his way to the reserve title. It is the third year he competed in the event. The first year, he rode a horse furnished by Kim Lindsey of Dickens, Texas, and the second and third years Humphreys furnished the mounts.

“I don’t really have to help him out much,” Humphreys says of Weber. “Andre comes over about a week before and just rides. I point out what cues work best for the horse, but he knows what he is doing.”

Weber receives the amateur ranch riding first place.

Weber receives the amateur ranch riding first place.

Indeed, Weber raises Angus and Quarter Horses on his German ranch. He and his wife compete in versatility competitions in Germany, and 8 years ago founded a ranch horse club affiliated with AQHA.

“We have up to 25 in the open and 25 competing in the amateur,” he says. “We started a beginner class so that people who have no idea about it can learn. I’ve always liked the cowboy but the show horse riding is not my deal. I want a horse that can do everything because it helps you during your work outside. It makes a horse relaxed and open-minded.”

Lucena’s motivation for involvement in stock horse and versatility shows sounds similar to Webers—enlightenment and enjoying the horse. In fact, McKibben traveled to Argentina three years ago to conduct a 10-day versatility clinic at Lucena’s home. It was a unique learning experience for all involved.

“The people are so warm, friendly and open,” McKibben says. “When we first got down there, we couldn’t find a rope in the whole of Argentina! We had to call home and ship one, but it wound up being their favorite thing. They love roping. Since that trip, I’ve become good friends with Alvaro. He’s a good guy and is really good for the sport.”

The sport of versatility may be relatively new to Argentina, Lucena says the first versatility show was held in 2011 and only two were held in 2012, but he feels it speaks to the heart of the gaucho—Argentina’s cowboy.

“We are in a period of needing to teach the Argentine people,” he says. “We need to introduce the class to gauchos, and then we can all learn. We are working very hard to introduce the competition. It is important to show the work we do and to look for a complete [working] horse. Not only a reining or cutting horse, but a complete horse.”

Lucena prepares to rope in the amateur working ranch horse class.

Lucena prepares to rope in the amateur working ranch horse class.

Each man takes home not only ribbons from the world show, but also new riding skills and friends within the stock horse industry. Soon, the Western world may get smaller as the international community embraces and promotes the versatile stock horse.

For complete results from the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show, visit aqha.com For information on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s horse events, visit rodeohouston.com