Alice Moore

ImageThis Raton, New Mexico, ranch woman took the reins of her family’s century-old ranch when she was just a teen.

The blood of Quarter Horse foundation sires Brush Mount, Quick M Silver and General Delivery still flows through horses wearing the Flying Y Brand. Alice Moore makes sure of it. The Moore Ranch matriarch has spent a lifetime making her horses better, calves heavier and grass taller.

It takes quite a bit of want-to and willpower to make it in the ranching business today. You have to make changes if you want to last.

My great grandparents homesteaded in 1872. The original ranch was 640 acres. Today we have 27,000 acres, 15 broodmares, and until the drought hit, 400 head of cows.

My grandmother came from Tennessee in an ox cart. I bet that was quite a trip.

I was going to go to vet school, but then my dad passed away. I was 17 years old. My mom and I ran the ranch from then on—she did all the inside work, and I did all the outside work. It’s a little hard to do both.

I was horseback by the time I was 2 years old. I rode a little, ornery Shetland pony. We had a lot of trees in the yard, and she used to knock me off every time we went around one. I was 5 when I got outside the yard and started punching cows.

I have a good hired man. He and I work the ranch. One hired hand isn’t much help, but it keeps us both busy, anyway.

My parents [Landon and Mary Moore] were Hereford people. But, before my mother passed away [in 1999], we started changing over to Angus. It made it real hard when buyers came to look at our herd and said the calves were nice, but they needed black ones.

I don’t have much time for vacation. I got to go to Yellowstone [National Park] in 1965. It took a day to get there. On the evening of the second day, my mother called and said

I’d better come home. We had gotten 14 inches of rain all at once. All of the creeks flooded and a bunch of cows washed away. It was a nice trip, but it was way too short.

We were runner-up for the American Quarter Horse Association Best Remuda Award in 1994. We won the Best Remuda Award from the New Mexico Quarter Horse & Cattle Growers Association in 2005. I guess we’re doing something right.

I want the horses I’m raising to be athletic and good-minded. They should be able to do a day’s work on the ranch or in the arena, and be able to watch a cow—not get run over by one.

The tree-huggers have really put a damper on the horse market. We’ve reduced numbers somewhat because of the drought, and might have to again. You don’t get a broodmare overnight. And the outstanding ones, you hate to dump them.

We used to put up all the hay with teams. We ran June to October. Now you can put up the same amount of hay in two weeks if you don’t get rained out or break down.

Two years ago, I fell out of one of the boxcars we use as feed rooms. It was wintertime and I spent the biggest part of the night there. I had turned the water on to fill the tanks. Luckily, it was so cold that the water froze. It missed me by six inches.

It took another hour to get an ambulance to come get me. The 911 dispatcher told me if I would go to the highway, they would pick me up. I told them if I could make it to the highway, I wouldn’t need them. I’d broken my hand, wrist and hip. I had a nice 30-day stay in the hospital and plenty of therapy.

I don’t have the luxury of spending a whole lot of time doing any one thing.

It takes 70 miles of pipe to get water down from the mountain for our stock. If a cow happens to break a float, I lose 30,000 gallons of water overnight.

I’ve seen good times and bad times in ranching. It’s all I know. I wouldn’t know how to do anything else.