Volume of visits
My cowboy and I made a little trek down into Nebraska this week and found a lot of the deep draws north of the Platte River still packed full of snow from the last big storm. Walls of snow along secondary highways where deep drifts had been opened by snowplows were as high as the vehicle in a few places. On top of that, a freshly-fallen few inches was melting fast, creating some very muddy conditions on the back roads. It was a beautiful sight to see, and everyone’s gratified and thankful to know freeze-up is going to find this good earth full of moisture.
We enjoyed visiting with longtime friend Lois Putman from the Dewey, SD area and her daughter LeAnn Ferley from Oelrichs, SD. They’re grandmother and mother, respectively, of World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Chad Ferley; who’s headed to the Wrangler National Finals rodeo sitting fifth in that event for 2008. With the money available in the go-’rounds and average during the WNFR, anything can happen. We wish Chad Godspeed in his quest for a repeat championship!
It was also our pleasure to visit with Chadron, NE area ranchers and loyal TSLN readers Jim Lees and his school teaching wife. Jim was kind enough to escort us to the Butler Professional Farrier School on Table Road out of Crawford, NE; as he was taking a couple stout geldings there to be trimmed and have a quarter-crack treated. We were privileged to meet the boss man himself – Doug Butler, PhD, CJF, FWCF – but since he was busy doing corrective shoeing for clients and we had other appointments to keep we didn’t get to visit long, like we’d have loved to.
That facility breaks upon your pine forest, a hay field-studded high-country view as suddenly as the Grand Canyon; and is nearly as impressive as the credentials and reputation of the resident guru. You can’t help wondering what it’s doing way out there!
I thought of that Field of Dreams line, “Build it and they will come” – which does seem apropos. Hopeful candidates for horseshoeing wisdom have been attracted from around the world. One student at work while we were there hails from Iceland; and Butler says his next class will be female vet grad students from the University of Iowa at Ames. Watch this publication for a feature story on the school and the teacher soon.
I spent a night almost at the foot of picturesque Chimney Rock, on the historic ranch of my friend Judy Durnal, widely known to tourists and lean-beef customers as “Ranchin’ Rosie.” At the same time, my cowboy was catching up on rodeo gossip and years of absence with our talented artist friend and former bronc rider Kidd McKillip east of Bridgeport. Kidd is elated about his nephew Ira McKillip winning the Nebraska State Rodeo Association bareback riding title and trophy saddle for the 2008 season at last weekend’s finals in Torrington, and has some mighty toppy rodeo photos of Ira hanging on his wall.
The reality of this being a “small world” slaps us in the face pretty often. While admiring Judy’s collection of family memorabilia, including her great-grandfather’s saddle, I commented on a rawhide riata displayed with it. She said she couldn’t remember the maker’s name, but he was an orphaned Blackfoot child adopted by wealthy anglo’s from New York – I said, “Oh, our friend Donn Davies!”
She confirmed that was the rawhide craftsman’s name; and I told her Donn mentored my cowboy in colt breaking, bronc riding and picking up broncs at Dayton, WY a few decades ago. Last time we saw him he was parade marshal of Cimarron, New Mexico’s 4th of July parade and we visited with him and Henny at Linda Davis’ CS Ranch picnic afterward. We’d also visited them when Donn was still active in his rawhide workshop in their home at Cimarron, and he’d gifted us with some handcrafted scarf slides showing his high-level braiding expertise. Before his passing they’d moved to Taos so he could be near the dialysis treatment center.
Speaking of that part of New Mexico, I was delighted to find a nice interview/profile on cowgirl Alice Moore from the Raton area in the November Western Horseman. The winter of 1959-’60 my folks and I drove into the Moore Ranch one windy, icy December day and bought three head of green-broke Skipper W-bred three-year-old geldings. We loaded them in the stocktruck with two geldings we brought from home – bound for a winter getaway at Mesa, AZ, where we spent a couple very enjoyable months riding those five, plus starting a couple two-year-old Poco Dell fillies we hauled down in the horse trailer. At that time you could ride unhindered form miles across the open, sandy desert – from Buckhorn Mineral Wells to Red Mountain, or more eastward clear to Superstition Mountain if you wanted to. Today there are precious few grains of sand in that whole area… it’s all under concrete and pavement, with cars by the hundreds roaring up and down.
We visited Alice and her mother Mary Moore again many years later when I interviewed them and took photos for a Quarter Horse Journal article about the ranch and their good Skipper W using horses. Alice is perpetuating those same solidly attractive yet athletic, good disposition Quarter Horse genetics to this day, and lamenting the possible need to downsize in view of the sticky horse market. One of those geldings dad worked with sold for a ranch horse that could cover country and was good on the end of a rope. The other two I rode made great barrel racing, pole bending, calf and team roping horses. I competed successfully on both of them, then sold the bay to Barbara Ivester from Douglas, WY, and the sorrel to Jack and Shirley Sedgwick of Cheyenne.
That gelding helped launch their son John Sedgwick into the horse show world, and he’s never looked back; having by now claimed countless honors across Wyoming, Montana and Dakota in both western and English disciplines. John is Wyoming’s current American Quarter Horse Association director, and has trained and exhibited countless good Quarter Horses since ‘Skipper’ – yet none of will forget that solid, willing gelding.
Alice Moore is justifiably proud of her horses being chosen runner-up for the AQHA’s Best Remuda award back in 1994. The New Mexico Quarter Horse & Cattle Grower’s Association presented her with their Best Remuda honor in 2005, so Mary figures she must be “doing something right.” Her recipe for success has certainly included a lot of hard work; but there may just be something in the water in that part of the country because a lot of good horses have been raised nearby.
That seems to be the end of this ol’ lariat rope for this week…
© 2008 Rhonda Stearns
Email Rhonda at firstname.lastname@example.org