Tyler Minor prepares for 2012 Black Hills Stock Show ranch horse & ranch rodeo competitions
As the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) prepares to kick-off next week, horse competitors are preparing for the event. Tyler Minor of Hyannis, NE is one such cowboy gearing up for the ranch horse competition. The Nebraskan and his team will also compete in the Ranch Rodeo Finals on Tuesday, Jan. 31, earning an automatic bid after placing third overall in last year’s event.
“The Black Hills Stock Show is something I have attended ever since I was little,” Minor explained. “My dad, Joe, has competed in the cutting event for years. That’s how I first got started.”
For the last six years, Minor has competed in the ranch horse competition, winning the rancher division four years ago on a horse he fondly calls “Yeller.”
“It was a tough competition,” Tyler recalled, “but I was very proud of Yeller. I trained him myself, and he may be one of the best horses I’ve ever had.”
Minor is looking to compete with Yeller in the open ranch horse competition this year. He is also bringing a younger buckskin horse, which he trained himself, for the rancher division.
“I really enjoy competing at the Black Hills Stock Show. I like the atmosphere, and the people you are around and have the opportunity to meet,” he explained. “It is just a relaxing, well put-together show.”
Minor and fellow teammates Ty Fish, Buffalo Gap, SD; Tim Vivion, Bingham, NE; and Tyler’s father, Joe; are excited to compete in this year’s Ranch Rodeo Finals.
“We are really looking forward to the ranch rodeo competition,” he said. “We are hoping to improve on how we did last year.”
Competing in ranch rodeos has become a highlight for Minor. “We have purchased our WRCA (Working Ranch Cowboy Association) cards the last two years, and have competed in a lot of sanctioned ranch rodeos. I just really enjoy being around the people at those events. Everyone there is really friendly, and it is almost like never leaving your place. The atmosphere can’t be beat,” he added.
Ranch rodeos also gives Minor’s horses a little more experience outside of the ranch.
“The buckskin I will be showing in the rancher division this year will be coming to town for the first time,” he explained. “Competing in the ranch horse competition will be good experience for him.”
Several colts are trained each year at the ranch. He and his father, along with two ranch hands, are currently riding 13 colts that are two- and three-year olds.
“Most of the colts we train will stay right here on the ranch, and compete in small events like ranch rodeos, ranch horse competitions or cuttings,” he said. “We sell a few horses, but we try to raise just what we can handle here on the ranch.”
At a young age, Minor’s father began teaching him everything he knows about horse training.
“When I was little, I was always on cutting horses,” he explained. “I had a good Paint horse that I would cut with when I was little. I competed in Nebraska High School Rodeo in bull dogging, team roping and cutting. I won the cutting two of the four years I competed.”
Since then, Minor takes part in the day-to-day activities of ranch life, and trains a few horses as time permits. The Minor Ranch is located in the Sandhills, where horses have to be tough to make it through long days of riding amidst soft hills that make up the terrain.
“We try to select horses that are tough, with a lot of bone and great dispositions,” he explained. “The old timers are always commenting on how hard it used to be to train a horse, and how they would buck, but we’ve been fortunate to raise horses that train easily and have good dispositions. Of these 13 colts we are riding, not one of them bucked. I think the key is working with them to build their trust.”
To balance ranch work and horse training, the Minors began breeding mares every other year to allow enough time to train colts. Most colts are halter broke as yearlings, and then brought in for training as two-year olds.
“When they are two, we like to start working with them by getting them used to saddle blankets, picking up their feet, and rubbing them to build trust. Earning their trust is the biggest challenge, but it is also the most important. They are scared when you first start training them, but when you earn their trust, they are ready to start learning,” Minor said.
It typically takes about two years for colts to be ready to compete in cutting, ranch horse and ranch rodeo competitions.
“We usually have them ready to compete when they are four or five,” he said. “Our horses are exposed to all aspects of ranch work, so we don’t have to spend a lot of extra time training them. What I like about what I do is I don’t even have to try and make a ranch horse. It just comes to them naturally.”