Wagonhound Land & Livestock
The first question most will ask is “What kind of dog is a Wagonhound?” Actually, it’s not a dog at all, but the part of a wagon that affixes the hitch to the front axle. Many ‘hounds’ were broken by the wagons that traversed the rugged Laramie Mountains, which lie to the north of the Wagonhound Ranch. Art and Catherine Nicholas hosted the CAA from June 3 through 6, 2008, at the ranch just outside of Douglas, Wyo., about 55 miles east of Casper. An unusually wet spring brought a bright green hue to the land, and spring grass that will carry livestock and wildlife well throughout the remainder of the year.
CAA members and guests arrived at the ranch on Tuesday and were greeted by Art, Catherine and the staff. After getting situated in one of the homes on the ranch, most checked in at the covered arena where they were matched up with their mount for the Wednesday ride. Horse manager Kevin Meyer and his crew put together an impressive remuda for the riders. The Wagonhound is well known for its horse operation, with many Wagonhound-bred colts being shown nationally in cutting, reining and versatility ranch horse competitions. The newest CAA member, Tim Cox, has ridden the ranch on numerous occasions and knows the staff well. Tim and his wife Suzie arrived at the ranch a couple of days early to work with Kevin and Matt Kelly to match up the riders to the horses.
On Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., a few early risers took advantage of the invitation to view the ranch by air. Chief Pilot Dan Simonek took the eight passengers airborne for a big circle around the ranch, pointing out the landmarks and letting everyone get a good aerial look at the creeks and lakes that were full from the spring rains.
Wednesday morning came with some ominous gray clouds overhead, but the cool morning had everyone excited to head ‘up-mountain’ for a day on horseback. It was a good day to tie a slicker onto the back of your saddle. Riding past the lakes with geese and goslings swimming about and out into the open range, everyone was happy to be underway. Art and Matt led the riders up the trail past archeological sites and other cabins to the lunch destination, Mountain Home, where the cook crew had a hearty meal waiting. No sooner had lunch finished than the rains started and out came the slickers. For the desert cowboys, it was a fun time to finally unfurl the slickers and get to ride in a nice spring rain.
Oreland Joe and his horse separated company just a few hundred yards shy of the main lodge. Unfortunately, his wrist caught most of his weight as he returned to earth and it required a trip into town to get x-rayed and set. At times like these, the CAA is glad and honored to have someone like Dr. Red Duke from Houston, Texas, along with us. We’re happy to report that Oreland is on the mend and recovering.
Wednesday evening the matched teams of draft horses were hitched to the fully restored wagons and transported the CAA members and guests to the Nicholas’ home for a tour. The impressive art collection contains work by many of the CAA members.
Thursday morning, the steady rains started about 5 a.m. and continued throughout the day. The CAs met at the bunkhouse for the semi-annual business meeting, which concluded about noon, just in time to head back to the main lodge and meet the wives who arrived by bus from Casper for lunch and tour of the ranch. The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the guests as the wives took in the impressive lodge and the lunch that had been prepared. The hosts were presented with their gifts from the CAA and the wives were off for tours of several homes and a late afternoon tour of the main house before heading back to Casper on the bus.
Meanwhile back in the lodge, the CAs and guests enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime CAA version of Woodstock with Red Steagall, Don Hedgpeth, CA President Bill Nebeker and Herb Mignery all taking turns on the guitars and going through their extensive repertoire of cowboy songs, ballads, oldies, poems and stories. The entertainment started at two in the afternoon and except for an hour break for happy-hour and supper, it went until late in the evening when at last all of the songs had been sung. It was a special afternoon and one that anyone in attendance won’t soon forget.
Guests joining the CAA members at the Wagonhound included honorary members Bill Rey, Red Steagall, Don Hedgeth and Steve Todd. Other invited guests were Dr. Red Duke, Greg Brown of Cowboys and Indians magazine and Men’s Art Council representatives Tom Ryan, Chairman of the 2008 CA Show and Vice-Chair Chris Gooch.
Learn more about the ranch and the horse operation at www.wagonhound.com.