AQHA 50-Year Breeder: Curry Cattle Co.
When you’re out in the middle of nowhere, a good horse is a good friend.
“We got into Quarter Horses with my father,” says Greg Curry, 62, whose Curry Cattle Co. has registered more than 470 American Quarter Horses over the past 50 years. “My parents had four children – three boys and a girl – and we were out in the middle of nowhere with not enough to do, they thought, so in 1967 Dad bought 10 mares and a stud off Shorty Suitor Quarter Horses. Horses gave us something to do, let us be connected, go out and participate in rodeos, horse 4-H and local things when we were kids, so the social aspect was a big part of it. That was our start.”
Greg and wife Rhonda are still out there, raising Quarter Horses and beef cattle on 20,000 owned and leased acres at Buffalo, Alberta, 180 miles east of Calgary. Married three years ago, both are from families that homesteaded on the prairie, Greg’s grandfather in 1909 on land that his brother Clayton still ranches on and Rhonda on a ranch her great-grandfather established in 1901 to raise and race Thoroughbreds.
It’s cowboy country.
“We have rodeos and team ropings, barrel racing and saddle bronc riding,” says Greg, whose son, Scott, works on the ranch when he can get away from his job in town. “So that’s mostly what my good horses are used for.”
Curry Cattle Co. has had a lot of good horses. Greg has owned, leased or bred to whatever stallions he thought would work. He and Rhonda both have their standout horses from the Curry program.
“Zany Alberta was one of my favorites,” Greg says. “She was an ’89 model, from an old line of mares we had. Her maternal grandsire was Poco B Andy, the original stud we bought from Shorty, and we bred her to Rocky Sue, one of the original mares we bought from him. Down the line came ‘Gunsmoke’ from a mare I took out to Smokey Skipjack, a son of Mr Gun Smoke at Sandy Ridge Stallion Station. Right after I first rode her, Gunsmoke hurt a back leg and I didn’t get on her for a year. When I threw a leg over her a year later, I knew that I hadn’t been on anything that good in the time between. When I’d take her to the roping arena, I wouldn’t have to score steers – she was so connected to me. I have some great memories of that old mare. Gunsmoke had 10 foals, and I’m still riding her last one, an 11-year-old gelding, Smokey Whiskey, by our old stud Alamitos Peppy.”
And Rhonda: “The horse I currently ride is 23 years old and he’s still the fastest horse on the ranch. His pasture name is ‘Remington’ but his registered name is Hot Pickin Up Speed, a gray gelding by Greg’s old stud Speedy Hot Taco. Remington might be a little horse, but he has more gears than one can imagine and he lives up to his name. He would have made a great barrel racing horse, as he can turn on a dime and loves to run. Galloping on that horse is like floating on the wind – I trust him with my life. Living and working with these magnificent animals is a lifelong love.”
Understanding them is a lifelong endeavor.
“In the late ’60s and early ’70s, exotic cattle breeds were coming in,” Greg recalls. “Me and my brother would AI several hundred cows every July and get a string of horses broke at the same time. When Ray Hunt came up here, that was a big, big deal to me. I went to the first clinic and forgot how I ever rode a mile before that. I was the youngest brother in my family and that gives you a little different perspective on life. Some of that Ray Hunt stuff was just what I was looking for. Like Ray said, it takes a lifetime to live a lifetime, and as you go, you live and learn, learn and live.”
“Greg only uses horses to work cattle the ranch – there are no quads or motorbikes” Rhonda says. “It’s amazing to live and work on a beautiful ranch and use horses like our forefathers did a 100 years ago; stepping back in time when you’re out there moving cattle. No motorized vehicle will ever do it better than Quarter Horses.”
“We live way out in the middle of nowhere, so there isn’t a lot going on,” Greg says. “But we have our horses, and that’s what I know and what I like. Horses have probably been the biggest part of my life. Raising them was never really the priority of the ranching business – more of a sideline thing, businesswise – but the horse I rode that day was usually what I was thinking when I went to bed.”
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A pasture or lot with plenty of grass or bedding and windbreak is important when calving in the cold.