On Ice: Governor Kristi Noem rides ranch horse in public appearances
Brandon Moody of Van Tassell, Wyoming, sold Ashwood Ice Man at the Black Hills Stock Show Summer Horse Sale on June 28, 2020. The name on the buyer number? South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.
While you may think a governor in the market for a horse to serve as a public-relations sidekick would be looking for flash and color, Noem was more interested in an honest cowboy horse, which she found in this blaze-faced sorrel gelding.
Noem and Ice made a viral splash online and in media as the pair made appearances at rodeos and other functions, supporting South Dakota traditions and Noem’s stance that the state stay open for business, in spite of COVID. They were a highlight of Professional Bull Riders Team Challenge Championship in Sioux Falls while carrying the American flag, and in late September, Ice and Noem were along for the ride at the Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.
Noem set out to purchase two horses early this year, with the intent of using them at such occasions in South Dakota. Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, says that her mother had her eye on two horses at the Full House Horse Sale in Gillette, Wyoming on June 19. They did buy one, but missed the bid on a second horse.
Still looking for that perfect mount, Governor Noem got a tipoff from Jim Hunt that there would be a solid horse in the upcoming BHSS Summer Sale. She followed his suggestion and bought Ice live online.
The seller had no idea the governor was interested in his horse. “After I sold him, Jim Hunt announced that she had bought him,” Moody said. He was surprised, maybe even intimidated, but was confident in his horse’s abilities.
Ice, who comes from champion halter class bloodlines (by Ashwood Ice Clu, by LT Kid), had been exclusively ranched on by Moody and his brother. Kevin Moody bought the gelding from Frank and Deb Mitzel and doctored calves in a feed lot south of Colome, South Dakota, before selling him to his brother.
Brandon said, “He was a little bit green when I got him, but I kept going with him. He was awesome. When I started roping and doctoring yearlings on him, he was really cool. That calf would switch leads or something and he would switch every lead. Just run to a calf and pin his ears back.”
At 7 years old, Ice had seen every aspect of ranch work, from trailing yearlings to branding calves. Moody was also confident enough to let his three-year-old daughter sit on him while being led around. His toddler son rode him, and his wife use him on the ranch. For the Moodys, he was a trustworthy horse for the family, as well as handy when there was doctoring to be done.
Once during calving, Moody was in a bind. A cow needed a calf pulled, but she was too far from the yard to run her in, and it was dark. Using the only help he had, Moody roped the cow swiftly and went to work. Ice held the rope for over a half an hour while Moody pulled the calf and repaired a prolapse. “He’s just a pretty cool horse. Just real honest,” Moody said.
Governor Noem agrees. Peters said, “When she bought Ice, she kind of just fell in love with him. As soon as she got him, she could tell that he had been raised on the ranch, he was the real deal, and had a good head on his shoulders. “He’s just very collected. That’s exactly what she was looking for in a horse. No matter what you did on him, you could trust him,” Peters said.
Peters was with her mother during the Annual Buffalo Roundup. “That was a crazy experience. We knew going into it, the horses would react different. The buffalo are going 100 miles an hour, whips are cracking, there’s so much going on. Ice was excited, but he kept his head,” she said. “Ice is just such a good all around horse. He has no spook in him.”
It was Moody’s first consignment to any Black Hills Stock Show sale, and a memorable one at that. “It’s what I’m trying to do, is make nice horses and sell them,” he said.
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As a routine management matter, the Teddy Roosevelt National Park plans to remove a few horses from its herd.