VIDEO: Brood Mare Herd, Spade Ranch

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This is a video snippet I shot during my two days on the ranch. See text below. – JFM

The Best Little Ranch Horse Herd in Texas

In the midst of a drive across the ranch, Spades Ranches CEO John Welch spots something off to his right—200 yards away, just inside a fringe of trees. It is the ranch’s brood mare herd. At the request of his passengers, he stops the truck so all can look.

The mares, seeing the truck at a halt, test the air and, satisfied, amble truck-ward, heads bobbing, tails swishing. Welch shakes a feed bag to add to the draw.

For the passengers, it’s the next thing to seeing a wild horse band. These mares go for weeks at a time, even much longer, out of sight of humans. This ranch is that big—spacious enough for herds to disappear in.

Sleek and supple-limbed, they snuffle the ground as they collect beside the trailer. No foals are to be seen, the mares’ offspring having been weaned already, and the next generation still forming inside their wombs.

The mares seem perfectly tame. But are they?

“Well, we ride the mares just enough… we get them broke… just enough to see if they’re gonna be good,” Welch said. “But as far as training them [for cow work], no.”

Welch said that after their bare-bones training early in life, they are turned out on the range and this is where they live out their lives, delivering and mothering foals.

Could these mares be ridden, then?

Welch smiled. “They’re not real… user friendly.” In other words, “They would kick the slobbers out of ya,” he said, perhaps only half-jokingly.

These mares, and the two ranch stallions (one of them a son of the renowned Peptoboonsmal), plus the “using” horses that get ridden regularly, comprise the Renderbrook portion of the Spade Ranches “remuda,” or horse herd. That equine contingent won the prestigious American Quarter Horse Association / Pfiser Animal Health “Remuda of the Year” Award for 2011.


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