In a way no museum ever could, Public Broadcasting Service's Texas Ranch House series brought history to life for 10 strangers and one family in summer 2005. The 15 were chosen to travel back in time to 1867 Texas with a simple goal: gathering 200 head of maverick Longhorn cattle and driving them to market.
Dropped in Texas' Big Bend area for nearly four sweltering months, this ragtag gang of wannabe ranchers left their cell phones and microwave ovens back in the future. Instead, they settled for open campfires, a small house, an even smaller bunkhouse and more backbreaking labor than they could've imagined. The series, produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall to Wall Television, follows a format similar to previous PBS reality programming, such as Frontier House and Colonial House.
Among the Texas Ranch House group were few with any real horse or ranching experience. Texas rancher and U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle inspector Robby Cabazuela was easily the group's expert in such areas. Surprisingly, Swedish transplant Anders Heintz, who now calls Missouri home, was a close second. An animal-science major at Missouri State University, Anders has spent time on several American ranches and competes with his college's equestrian team. Past these two, horseback experience for many on the show ranged from little, at best, to none.
For the rest of this story, pick up the May 2006 issue of Western Horseman.