Bill Brewster

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April 29, 2011
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Montana: Three Forks Horse Drive celebrates a western experience

A traditional spring project to trail lease horses from winter pastures to the Montana Horses home ranch has evolved from an annual chore to a celebration of ranching in Montana for both the horses' owners and dozens of paying guests from around the world.

The 8th annual horse drive in the Three Forks area of Gallatin County was staged April 22-24 with several hundred horses trailed from pastures southwest of the Willow Creek ranching community through Three Forks to the Clarkston ranch over the course of two days. A mixed roster of participants included owners Kail and Renee Mantle, several working cowboys from area ranches, and twenty-five paying quests that came from a half-dozen states and England.

The adventure was also captured by photographers, assorted writers and video crews during the three-day event, besides the more than thousand spectators who lined the streets in Three Forks as the horses moved down Main Street. On Saturday, a number of food vendors and western-style stands complimented the products sold at the community's retail stores and helped turn the drive into a true western happening.

Renee Daniels-Mantle, who owns Montana Horses along with her husband, Kail, said the horse drive went through a metamorphosis after it started. The Mantles moved large numbers of horses each spring and discovered, in the process, that the project was a novel idea for people who were not familiar with herding and handling the free-spirited animals.

"We found that many of our clients who leased our horses each season were not hard-core horseman and they were intrigued," she said this week. "For them, it was a unique and exciting experience. Handling large numbers of horses and cattle has turned into a lost art and it's an experience that non-livestock people never obtain, so it becomes a way to obtain an entirely different level of horsemanship."

The Mantles could have continued to just use local help from the ranching community and simply lease their horses to dude ranches, outfitters and others requiring additional livestock for the summer, but an overwhelming demand from people who wanted to be part of this unique western experience began to surface.

"We were simply encouraged to keep expanding it," Daniels-Mantle said.

Under the program that has developed over the last few years, paying riders show up ahead of time and are housed in wall tents along a creek near the large pasture where the horses are kept before being moved to the home place.

The day before the final gathering, guests help move horses from the 8,000-acre pasture to a smaller holding pasture for the night. That night, guests and crew return to the camp for a traditional dinner party with music, a camp fire and some authentic tales about western ranch life. The morning of the drive, the expanded crew moves the herd onto the county road and guides them toward Willow Creek and finally to Three Forks on Saturday where they are pastured for the night. The next morning, the horses are trailed through Trident to the ranch pastures above the Missouri River near Clarkston. The two-day drive covers a total of 38 miles.

A traditional spring project to trail lease horses from winter pastures to the Montana Horses home ranch has evolved from an annual chore to a celebration of ranching in Montana for both the horses' owners and dozens of paying guests from around the world.

The 8th annual horse drive in the Three Forks area of Gallatin County was staged April 22-24 with several hundred horses trailed from pastures southwest of the Willow Creek ranching community through Three Forks to the Clarkston ranch over the course of two days. A mixed roster of participants included owners Kail and Renee Mantle, several working cowboys from area ranches, and twenty-five paying quests that came from a half-dozen states and England.

The adventure was also captured by photographers, assorted writers and video crews during the three-day event, besides the more than thousand spectators who lined the streets in Three Forks as the horses moved down Main Street. On Saturday, a number of food vendors and western-style stands complimented the products sold at the community's retail stores and helped turn the drive into a true western happening.

Renee Daniels-Mantle, who owns Montana Horses along with her husband, Kail, said the horse drive went through a metamorphosis after it started. The Mantles moved large numbers of horses each spring and discovered, in the process, that the project was a novel idea for people who were not familiar with herding and handling the free-spirited animals.

"We found that many of our clients who leased our horses each season were not hard-core horseman and they were intrigued," she said this week. "For them, it was a unique and exciting experience. Handling large numbers of horses and cattle has turned into a lost art and it's an experience that non-livestock people never obtain, so it becomes a way to obtain an entirely different level of horsemanship."

The Mantles could have continued to just use local help from the ranching community and simply lease their horses to dude ranches, outfitters and others requiring additional livestock for the summer, but an overwhelming demand from people who wanted to be part of this unique western experience began to surface.

"We were simply encouraged to keep expanding it," Daniels-Mantle said.

Under the program that has developed over the last few years, paying riders show up ahead of time and are housed in wall tents along a creek near the large pasture where the horses are kept before being moved to the home place.

The day before the final gathering, guests help move horses from the 8,000-acre pasture to a smaller holding pasture for the night. That night, guests and crew return to the camp for a traditional dinner party with music, a camp fire and some authentic tales about western ranch life. The morning of the drive, the expanded crew moves the herd onto the county road and guides them toward Willow Creek and finally to Three Forks on Saturday where they are pastured for the night. The next morning, the horses are trailed through Trident to the ranch pastures above the Missouri River near Clarkston. The two-day drive covers a total of 38 miles.

A traditional spring project to trail lease horses from winter pastures to the Montana Horses home ranch has evolved from an annual chore to a celebration of ranching in Montana for both the horses' owners and dozens of paying guests from around the world.

The 8th annual horse drive in the Three Forks area of Gallatin County was staged April 22-24 with several hundred horses trailed from pastures southwest of the Willow Creek ranching community through Three Forks to the Clarkston ranch over the course of two days. A mixed roster of participants included owners Kail and Renee Mantle, several working cowboys from area ranches, and twenty-five paying quests that came from a half-dozen states and England.

The adventure was also captured by photographers, assorted writers and video crews during the three-day event, besides the more than thousand spectators who lined the streets in Three Forks as the horses moved down Main Street. On Saturday, a number of food vendors and western-style stands complimented the products sold at the community's retail stores and helped turn the drive into a true western happening.

Renee Daniels-Mantle, who owns Montana Horses along with her husband, Kail, said the horse drive went through a metamorphosis after it started. The Mantles moved large numbers of horses each spring and discovered, in the process, that the project was a novel idea for people who were not familiar with herding and handling the free-spirited animals.

"We found that many of our clients who leased our horses each season were not hard-core horseman and they were intrigued," she said this week. "For them, it was a unique and exciting experience. Handling large numbers of horses and cattle has turned into a lost art and it's an experience that non-livestock people never obtain, so it becomes a way to obtain an entirely different level of horsemanship."

The Mantles could have continued to just use local help from the ranching community and simply lease their horses to dude ranches, outfitters and others requiring additional livestock for the summer, but an overwhelming demand from people who wanted to be part of this unique western experience began to surface.

"We were simply encouraged to keep expanding it," Daniels-Mantle said.

Under the program that has developed over the last few years, paying riders show up ahead of time and are housed in wall tents along a creek near the large pasture where the horses are kept before being moved to the home place.

The day before the final gathering, guests help move horses from the 8,000-acre pasture to a smaller holding pasture for the night. That night, guests and crew return to the camp for a traditional dinner party with music, a camp fire and some authentic tales about western ranch life. The morning of the drive, the expanded crew moves the herd onto the county road and guides them toward Willow Creek and finally to Three Forks on Saturday where they are pastured for the night. The next morning, the horses are trailed through Trident to the ranch pastures above the Missouri River near Clarkston. The two-day drive covers a total of 38 miles.

A traditional spring project to trail lease horses from winter pastures to the Montana Horses home ranch has evolved from an annual chore to a celebration of ranching in Montana for both the horses' owners and dozens of paying guests from around the world.

The 8th annual horse drive in the Three Forks area of Gallatin County was staged April 22-24 with several hundred horses trailed from pastures southwest of the Willow Creek ranching community through Three Forks to the Clarkston ranch over the course of two days. A mixed roster of participants included owners Kail and Renee Mantle, several working cowboys from area ranches, and twenty-five paying quests that came from a half-dozen states and England.

The adventure was also captured by photographers, assorted writers and video crews during the three-day event, besides the more than thousand spectators who lined the streets in Three Forks as the horses moved down Main Street. On Saturday, a number of food vendors and western-style stands complimented the products sold at the community's retail stores and helped turn the drive into a true western happening.

Renee Daniels-Mantle, who owns Montana Horses along with her husband, Kail, said the horse drive went through a metamorphosis after it started. The Mantles moved large numbers of horses each spring and discovered, in the process, that the project was a novel idea for people who were not familiar with herding and handling the free-spirited animals.

"We found that many of our clients who leased our horses each season were not hard-core horseman and they were intrigued," she said this week. "For them, it was a unique and exciting experience. Handling large numbers of horses and cattle has turned into a lost art and it's an experience that non-livestock people never obtain, so it becomes a way to obtain an entirely different level of horsemanship."

The Mantles could have continued to just use local help from the ranching community and simply lease their horses to dude ranches, outfitters and others requiring additional livestock for the summer, but an overwhelming demand from people who wanted to be part of this unique western experience began to surface.

"We were simply encouraged to keep expanding it," Daniels-Mantle said.

Under the program that has developed over the last few years, paying riders show up ahead of time and are housed in wall tents along a creek near the large pasture where the horses are kept before being moved to the home place.

The day before the final gathering, guests help move horses from the 8,000-acre pasture to a smaller holding pasture for the night. That night, guests and crew return to the camp for a traditional dinner party with music, a camp fire and some authentic tales about western ranch life. The morning of the drive, the expanded crew moves the herd onto the county road and guides them toward Willow Creek and finally to Three Forks on Saturday where they are pastured for the night. The next morning, the horses are trailed through Trident to the ranch pastures above the Missouri River near Clarkston. The two-day drive covers a total of 38 miles.


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Tri-State Livestock News Updated Aug 14, 2012 04:01PM Published Apr 29, 2011 02:21PM Copyright 2011 Tri-State Livestock News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.