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The Natural Horsemann – Arkansas Family Trip

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By Steve Stevens

About two weeks ago we got a chance to take a family business trip. Our client and friend had moved her horses up to her beautiful property that backs up to the Ouachita National Forest near Mena, Arkansas. We went up there more as a consultant for the best way to work her horses on and around her property.

We started the first day of the trip with some family time spending the night in Broken Bow, Okla. We woke up early in the morning on the second day to explore Beaver Bend State Park. The weather was nice and cool and Beaver Bend seemed to really be a special place. If you guys follow us at all, you know how important it is to us to get out in nature and remind ourselves that the world does not center around us.

We took the kids on their first little hike in the forest and it started to rain through the tall trees.

I am not sure how much the kids enjoyed it, but Amanda and I were able to take some deep breaths and let go for a few minutes.

We arrived in Mena later that afternoon and we followed our friends, Terri and Ed, back to their property in the forest. They had rivers and lakes and trails all over the place. We were spoiled. Terri had set us up for some glamping (a fusion of glamour and camping). The camper sat in front of the fire pit which would be the site of our children having their first roasted marshmallow and s’mores. Thank you Terri and Ed!

First s'more for Violet. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

First s’more for Violet. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

While the kids went for a ride on a paddle boat on the lake and fed fish, I finally had to go to work. We started working the little dun filly in the round pen that overlooks the beautiful lake. I think Terri was so happy to have us there and was more interested in hanging out with the kids than working. We pushed through going over her horse’s foundation work and called it a day.

I got up early the next morning and sneaked down to the lake to watch the fog lift before everyone else was up.

Terri had really wanted us to work on getting her mare Cheyenne across a bridge that led to the lake that she was having trouble with. Her horse definitely didn’t want to get close to it. There was water on one side and kind of a bog on the other. So I jumped down in the bog and worked her around the bridge, not trying to force her on the bridge, just made it difficult for her by moving her feet. When she went towards the bridge I would take the pressure off. Before long she stepped on and a few minutes later she was walking across it with no problem.

Steve and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

Steve and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

I showed Terri some exercises to do around the lake and then thought maybe it would be fun to see if Cheyenne would get in the water. It took a little work, but once she was in the lake she didn’t want to get out.

It was a special moment for myself and Terri. Then we switched, and she put Cheyenne in the lake herself. Terri and Ed built this beautiful lake themselves and didn’t realize that (in my opinion) they built the lake for their horses.

Terri and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

Terri and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

We can take advantage of riding on our property whether it is one acre or it is backed up to a national forest. But we need to always use our common sense by making sure that our riding area is safe in relation to our horses and our own ability. Start simple and build out.

This is a hard one for people to live up to, but if you can’t walk, trot and canter your horse in a safe enclosed pen, you probably aren’t ready to ride out in more difficult areas.

Thank you again Terri and Ed for the wonderful adventures.

The Steven's children feeding the fish. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

The Stevens’ children feeding the fish. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

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Joe N. “Buzz” Thorp to Receive Ranching Heritage Association Working Cowboy Award

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Joe N. “Buzz” Thorp, a cowboy who has worked on ranches from Tennessee to Montana and New Mexico to Texas, will be the sixth recipient of the Ranching Heritage Association (RHA) Working Cowboy Award presented during the annual National Golden Spur Award Honors on Saturday, October 5, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center in Lubbock, Texas. 

“The RHA Working Cowboy Award is designed to recognize an outstanding individual who makes his living primarily horseback, caring for livestock on a daily basis,” said Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the Ranching Heritage Association and the National Ranching Heritage Center. “Buzz Thorp represents all of the facets of the working cowboy award. He is a cowboy’s cowboy, a teacher and a true representative of our cow-country values.” 

The Ranching Heritage Association, a nationwide non-profit membership organization supporting historical preservation and educational efforts through the National Ranching Heritage Center, presents the prestigious recognition on an annual basis. The award honors a working cowboy skilled in all aspects of ranch work and respected by the ranch crew and ranching community. 

“Our Board of Directors believes it’s important to recognize those folks who brave all kinds of weather and conditions to ensure that work on a ranch gets done,” Campbell said, noting that award nominations for Thorp described him as a multi-talented working cowboy who has served for decades as a role model for younger cowboys in trade and character. 

“More than a cowboy, Buzz is a cowman and a steward,” stated Rob A. Brown, who grew up working with Buzz on the R.A. Brown Ranch. “He is a horseman and a conservationist with expertise in so many areas that this letter could be filled merely listing them out. In my view, at the most fundamental sense, Buzz is a teacher.” 

Thorp worked for his father, B.F. Thorp, in Throckmorton County in Texas while growing up. He also cowboyed for his uncles and cousins during that time. He worked for the Muleshoe Cattle Company while attending Texas Tech University, where he graduated with a degree in animal husbandry in 1954.  

At age 21, Thorp managed Ridglea Angus Farms in Dickson, Tennessee, before returning to Throckmorton where he worked for the R.A. Brown, McClusky and Birdwell ranches. He also ran his own cows and trained horses. In 1974, Thorp became the cow boss at Spanish Creek Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. From there, he moved to manage yearlings on Jones Ranch at Wagon Mound, New Mexico. Thorp managed the McKee Ranch in Galisteo, New Mexico, before returning to Texas to manage ranches in Palo Pinto, Throckmorton and Baylor counties, including the Wagon Creek Spade Ranch outfit. Thorp managed that division of the Spade Ranches for 10 out of the 12 years he worked there.

Recognized as an outstanding stockman, horseman and teacher, at age 91, Thorp continues to be in demand to day-work on neighboring ranches, including the R.A. Brown Ranch. A notable horse trainer, Thorp has trained horses that have gone on to successful careers on ranches and in the arena, including for his grandson, Wesley Thorp, who is a two-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association heeling world champion. 

“As his grandson, childhood stories were often told about his days working cattle and training horses,” Wesley said. “He’s [had an influence] on many great ranches such as Haythorn, Swenson and Browns. He is an all-around hand and one great cowboy. The impact he has had on my team roping career is one that will last forever.” 

“In addition to his technical skills, Buzz is also an outstanding leader and mentor,” said Kelli Brown of the R.A. Brown Ranch. “He is always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with others, whether they are seasoned ranch hands or newcomers to the industry. His patience and dedication make him an asset to any neighbors and friends. I am thankful that he has mentored numerous generations of our Brown family, including my husband and sons.” 

Thorp’s lifetime of cowboying accomplishments will be honored at the National Golden Spur Award Honors on October 5. Sponsorship packages for the National Golden Spur Award Honors, including table sponsorships, are currently available. Individual tickets for the National Golden Spur Award Honors will go on sale to the public August 8. For event details visit goldenspurhonors.com.  

  

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Farm and Ranch Injuries

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

In January, I attended the Oklahoma Veterinary Conference. While waiting for one of the sessions to start, a classmate of mine commented how many of the attendees walk with a limp, used a cane, and/or have damaged hands. We all agreed that working with animals is hard on the body. In general, anything associated with farming and ranching is dangerous.

Most farmers and ranchers know that agriculture is a dangerous occupation. According to United States Bureau of Statistics, workers involved in agriculture, forestry, and fishing had the highest occupational fatality rate in 2022. The fatality rate of 23.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers for this group is much higher when compared to the overall occupation fatality rate of 3.7 per 100,000 FTE. Most of the agriculture-related fatalities are associated with transportation, such as tractor overturns, and vehicle crashes, but a fair number involve livestock.

To read more, pick up a copy of the March issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Jesses Jewelz

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By Jesse Kader

Comfy and keep it western. That’s the name of the game this month. It’s hot and who wants clingy clothing? This jumpsuit is perfectly comfortable and relaxed without forfeiting the fashion. Dress it up or keep it casual. See this and more at www.jessesjewelz.com.

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