New Days, Old Ways

After 130 years, the JA Ranch remains one of Texas' legendary outfits. Now, the ranch's young crew addresses the challenges of ranching today while retaining an appreciation for the traditions of the past.

We've been long-trotting for almost an hour, and my horse, a stout 8-year-old gelding named "Pilgrim," doesn't even break a sweat. In the lead, foreman Tim Stout sets the pace. Once in a while his horse breaks into a short lope.

"The horse will tell you when he's ready to trot and when he's ready to lope," says Stout.

In tow are JA Ranch cowboys Steve Eytcheson, Cliff "Frosty" Foster, Quentin Marburger and myself. Through thick mesquite and juniper bushes, up and down draws and across sandy washes, there is no slowing down. While negotiating my way through the thorny brush, I now understand the full meaning of Eytcheson's casual comment earlier during breakfast: "We sure pan the country."

The only noises in the crisp and breezy fall morning are the pounding of the horses'hooves, their regular breathing, the jingling of spurs and the loud rustling of the brush against our leggings.

For the rest of the story, pick up the May 2007 issue of Western Horseman.