The Pelley Ranch was started in 1910 - 1911 by Carol’s Great-grandparents and Grandfather Pelley when the Flathead Indian Reservation was opened up for homesteading. It has been passed from generation to generation through the years. The ranch started out raising Shorthorn cattle and moved on to raise both registered and commercial Polled Herefords. As times changed so did the herd. We are now raising Hereford/Red Angus cross cattle. Over the years, the ranch has expanded with the purchase of more land and with that, the cattle herd was also expanded. At the present, there is approximately 10,000 acres of land, and it supports 300 - 350 head of cattle. Because of the size and terrain of the ranch, horses have always had an important role in the operation of the ranch. We use our horses to sort cattle in the corral, to check cows during calving, to gather in the fall for shipping, to check cattle on summer and fall pasture, to drag calves to the branding fire, and whatever else that needs to be done from the back of a horse. We do not specialize our horses for a single job. All of our ranch horses have to be able to do it all. They are just like people with an all around job. There are just some jobs that they like to do better than others.
In 2008, because of some unexpected circumstances, we sold our herd of commercial cattle and we have moved on to new endeavors. Some of those endeavors still include using our horses for the same ranch work that they were used for when we still had our cattle.
Both of us have been around horses all of our lives. From growing up around horses, we have a deep affection for our horses. That is one of the reasons that we started raising horses. We started raising Quarter Horses for our own use with just two or three mares. We added a couple of breeding stock paint mares to the program. One thing has lead to another, and we have added more Quarter Horse and Paint mares. In the fall of 1998, we purchased our Quarter Horse stallion, Mite Go Mitey (Bullet). In the spring of that year, we had purchased a mare that was bred to him and we liked the foal so well, that when we found that Bullet was for sale, we just had to have him. In January 2003, we purchased our first Paint stallion, Sonnys Black Parker. We where only able to have him for one breeding season. In 2005, we purchased Kings Olympic Joe. Because of unforeseen circumstances, we lost King in September of 2010. We are expecting his last foals during the spring of 2011. We were very happy with Kings foals, as he did what good stallions do. He out produced himself.
We believe that both our mares and stallions need to work on the ranch, so that we know what their potential will be. The stallions are ridden in between breeding seasons. We ride our mares from the age of two until they are 4 or 5 years old, depending how well they can do the ranch work. We then retire them to the brood mare band, unless it is a mare that is really special, and then she may never become a brood mare.
When we are looking to purchase a mare or stallion, the first thing we look for is disposition. We feel that they have to have a gentle disposition, especially the mare to pass on to their offspring.
Next, we look at confirmation. We look at how the horse is built and the size of the horse. We typically look for a horse that will mature between 15 and 16 hands, with good bone, nice lines, and weighs anywhere from 1100 - 1400 lbs. We try to pick horses that have nice heads that are easy on the eye. We then hope that the horse also has some brains. We usually don’t find that out until we get them home and start to work with them. The last thing we look at is the horse’s papers.
I hope that what we have told you here, will tell you something about us and our horse program. More can be said, but it would take up to much space and your time. If you have any questions about us or our program, we welcome hearing from you. If you see a horse that you like, you are more than welcome to contact us or better yet, make arrangements to stop by and look at our horses. The coffee is always on, and we like to show our horses.