The Outside Circle: Leachman horse disaster, world records broken, rodeo reports |

The Outside Circle: Leachman horse disaster, world records broken, rodeo reports

With record highs and near record lows in a week’s time, it’s hard to know whether you need to shed off or hair up. I’m sure the vagaries of the weather played havoc with the crowd at the Black Hills Stock Show, too. At least it was split about half and half between nice and miserably cold. Of course, that pretty much describes our Northern Plains weather in general. Tends to weed out the riffraff.

Unless you’ve been incarcerated in a Venezuelan prison, you’ve probably heard about the big mess in Montana concerning Leachman’s horses. The famous-in-his-own-mind James H. Leachman lost his ranch to a U.S. Marshals Service foreclosure last summer and never moved his horses off of it. The new owners, for some reason, don’t feel it’s their responsibility to feed 450-700 horses (numbers vary due to the size and ruggedness of the area the horses are on making it difficult to count them), though they have allowed them to stay on the ranch, which I think is pretty open minded of them.

The Yellowstone County authorities were called to the ranch, called Home Place Ranch, which is about 16 miles east of Billings, MT, when it was reported that horses were starving to death there. Sheriff’s office personnel and a veterinarian found horses already dead, crippled horses that needed to be humanely destroyed, and young horses with identification bands around their legs which had essentially amputated the leg (also destroyed). Mares still have the 2010 colts at side, so they are in bad shape.

The Home Place Ranch consists of around 9,400 deeded acres and 30,000 acres leased tribal land, and it’s that combination that has made the removal of the horses and the jurisdiction of law enforcement a huge problem. The tribal land is checker-boarded through the deeded land and that leaves Yellowstone County with no jurisdiction on the sovereign nation lands of the Crow Tribe. It’s a sticky wicket indeed.

The end of January, Leachman pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty. He faces a total maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for those charges, and they can turn over to felony charges later. He is blaming everyone but himself in this, including the new owners. He claimed he was going to have a sale in the fall, but that never happened because he didn’t want to take the low prices horses were bringing then. He was supposed to remove the horses in July when the ranch sold, so the promise of a Hairpin Cavvy Fall sale may have been made just to keep everyone placated for a time. Who knows.

Some of the horses destroyed by Sheriff’s department personnel had been crippled for at least a year, so the sad state of the Leachman owned horses isn’t a new thing. Why anyone would put ID bands on still-growing horses is also a mystery. If one had to have ahold of them to put the band on, why not just put a number brand on them? It’s not like Leachman has an aversion to branding horses, as every Hairpin Cavvy horse I’ve ever seen has had numbers branded on nearly every corner.

As early as last fall, Montana Department of Livestock Eastern Area Manager Travis Elings hauled his own watertank to a pasture with 14 Leachman stallions in it that were completely without water. Where was Jim Leachman then? (Probably prancing around in his big hat complaining about how he’s been mistreated would be my guess.)

This isn’t his first brush with problems as he lost his cowherd due to shifty practices and left New York in 1970 after a big bankruptcy mess there. He’s no innocent victim.

Anyway, it’s a horrendous tragedy for the horses, but as usual, other ranchers and good hearted people are stepping up to the plate and hauling in feed and water for the horses. Well over $50,000 has been donated toward their care, as well as loads of hay. There have been air drops of hay into the remotest pastures, so they are eating. Keeping water available for them is really difficult though, what with the cold and the sheer number of horses. We all know that feeding horses hay without adequate water is dangerous due to the colic risk, but then, starving to death is a risk, too. They can eat snow as there’s plenty of that.

The NILE office is taking donations reach them at: 406-256-2495. I’ll keep you posted as to the developments in this situation.

A new World Record for 350-yards has been set by an AQHA five-year-old gelding named Strike It Quick. The time of :16:642 was set at Sunland Park on Dec. 30, 2010. The gelding earned a speed index of 110 for the effort. He is by Royal Quick Dash and out of Dreamit by Proudest Effort.

A new 660-yard record was also set by Cash At The Line on Dec. 21 at Hialeah Park. The time of :31:840 earned the gelding a 125 speed index. He is by Takin On The Cash and out of Gold At The Line (TB) by Strike Gold (TB).

The APHA named a Michigan bred gelding as World Champion Running Horse. The flashy sorrel tobiano called I Do One Two Three has a speed index of 102 and is by Judys Lineage and out of Hot Cash 123 by Takin On The Cash. Kind of makes one think the stock in Takin On The Cash might have seen a market spike!

At the Lincoln, NE PRCA Championship Rodeo, Jan. 28-29, South Dakota’s young guns left their mark. The saddle broncs were won by Ty Manke, Rapid City, with Chase Kukuchka, Belle Fourche tying for second. The bull riding was won by John Jacobs of Timber Lake with second going to Taylor Cowan of Ft. Pierre.

At the same time, the Rio Rancho New Mexico Stampede was on and Quinn, SD’s JJ Elshere won third in the saddle broncs. I’ll have results from Ft. Worth and Rapid City next week as they are still going on. I do know that the Northern Plains hands are pulling in lots of checks at both and making us all proud.

Having been driving in Rapid City for the last few days, I found this little gem of trivia pertinent. Did you know that in the average American’s whole life, you will spend an average of six months waiting at red lights? I can believe it.

Stay warm and we’ll talk some more next week. Send me your items of interest!

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