Ranching Heritage Breeder: Holzum Ranch

Ranching Heritage Breeder: Holzum Ranch

This spread is raising good cattle and good horses in the Golden State.

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By Andrea Caudill

Ranching has its challenges anywhere you go – but imagine attempting the challenge in the most populated state in America. 

Almost 40 million people call California home, including Tyler and Jennifer Holzum, who run a ranching operation based in Oakdale, in the San Joaquin Valley and about 100 miles east of San Francisco. There, they work to raise cattle on ranch land scattered across three states – it is safe to say that they, their livestock and their children are all used to highway miles.

Jennifer is a fifth generation California rancher, and other members of her family are also still involved in ranching in the area. 

Tyler is a Montana native and cattleman who moved to California more than 20 years ago. The two met and married, and are raising sons Gage and Ty as the sixth generation of their family, and as part of Ranching Heritage Breeder Holzum Quarter Horses. 

Ranching is a passion that runs deep for the Holzums, but doing so in their populated state requires a monumental level of management.

“Out here, we don’t feed any hay,” Tyler says. “We haul these cattle back and forth. We have cattle all over California, really, from one end to the other.”

“It’s a lot of micromanaging,” Tyler says. “A lot of getting your trucks lined up. You gotta take good care of your business, plan weeks ahead. It just takes calendars and days.” 

Their grazing land is scattered throughout California, Nevada and Oregon.

The land varies from big sagebrush flats with water and meadows, to steep, vegetative and rocky land.

Dogs and a good horse are a big help when it’s time to gather. 

The Holzums’ horse program got started when they realized that they could breed the kind of horses they wanted to ride for less than it would cost to buy them. It’s a program that requires a lot of horses.

“In the summer when we get busy, rodearing those cows, doctoring eyes, sorting, sexing, that country’s pretty big and boggy up there, and it takes a lot of horses,” Jennifer says. “We have like 13 horses that we raised that we’re using. For a little mom-and-pop deal with one employee, it takes a lot of horses.” 

They bought Codys Shining Spark, a palomino son of the great Shining Spark and out of a Joe Cody mare, and began raising them. Their program requires the horses to be tough, sound and willing to work.
 “Our horses need to stay sound, and be real trainable and built,” Tyler says. “You need to be able to take them to the jackpots, show them in the Ranching Heritage deals, and work all day on the ranch for your job. That’s what we’re going for. That’s been our bread and butter.” 

Their mares include cow horse blood, classic ranching and roping performance blood, and mares that produce good-minded “general public” type of riding horses. They raise about 15 horses per year. 

“We want to raise horses that go to homes,” Jennifer says. “That’s what’s made our program work the best, everybody knows we’ve got good horses, and talks about them. If a horse gets sold and they keep it and enjoy it until it gets retired out to pasture, you’ve done really well.” 

Their mares live out in green pasture, but when it gets close to foaling time, they are sorted off and brought in to pasture near the Holzums’ place and they foal on irrigated pastures. Once the babies are safe and healthy, they’re returned to pastures.  

When the babies are weaned, they are halter broke for 10 days before being turned back out. 

“They get (to grow up) in the hills, get out there, and live a pretty good life,” Jennifer says. “They have to get out there on their own for awhile. They have to slide and slip around and learn how to miss the squirrel holes and all that good stuff all on their own.”

“Our horses get a lot of exposure,” Jennifer says. “They see a lot of different kinds of country, they get hauled a lot, that’s before they ever get into arena. They get a lot done to them before they ever step into an arena. So when they do go show, it’s just another part of their job.”    

Among the horses the Holzums have raised is Rick Montera’s heading horse, Frosty Beer Mug, aka “Mugzy,” who has pulled in six figures in earnings, and rope horse Heza Sweet Frosty, another ranch-raised horse earning solid checks in the roping arena. They have many other horses specializing in roping and barrel racing, as well as ranch events, and countless more that are beloved members of peoples’ families.  
“Most of our horses go to forever homes,” Jennifer says. “The people keep them and come back when they’re ready for another one.” 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder program highlights working cattle ranches that breed high-quality American Quarter Horses primarily for ranch work. Horses bred by these ranches are given unique opportunities through Ranching Heritage competitions open only to these horses. For more information, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.