Glenn Cochran, M.D., has cowboy blood. His grandfather worked cattle across Montana, his father ranched in Texas, and all three men rode Quarter Horses. The third-generation rancher began training and breeding his own Quarter Horses in the 1960s. Now, Glenn trains horses and tends 100 head of cattle on his Twin Creeks Ranch near Caldwell, Texas.
"It's in my blood to work with horses and to work cattle," says the man who works his ranch by day and serves as an emergency-room physician by night. "I was always interested in cattle-bred horses - competing in calf-roping contests and reining. Horse training was my first career before I started medical school at Baylor."
With such a western-themed past, you'd think Glenn's horse herd would be made up entirely of the Quarter Horses he first knew. Think again. Glenn stands a Quarter Horse stallion and thinks highly of the stock-horse breed, but you're most likely to see him on a smooth-riding Peruvian Paso while checking his fenceline.
Why the change?
When his wife, Sallie, decided she wanted to ride Peruvians in the early 1980s, Glenn became the area's Peruvian Paso trainer and breeder. The breed's smooth, propelling motion and the feeling of floating over rough terrain sweetened the switch.
Now, the Cochrans work to promote Peruvian Pasos and show off the horses' little-known capabilities. Of the family's 40 horses, more than half are Peruvian Pasos. When it's time to check cattle or help a neighbor gather, the Cochrans mount their Peruvians to get the job done.
"If I'm getting a colt ready for a Peruvian show and I suddenly need to go check cattle, I won't stop and get one of my Quarter Horses," Glenn explains. "If I'm mounted on a Peruvian, I just stay on and go. They work just like the Quarter Horses. Plus, I think cattle work really helps them keep their minds active if they're to be show horses. If they can do ranch work - open and close gates, work cows, go through mud - simple things at shows aren't going to bother them."
For the complete story, pick up a copy of the August issue of Western Horseman.