75-Year Breeder: Moorhouse Ranch

75-Year Breeder: Moorhouse Ranch

The ranch does things the old-fashioned way, including breeding and raising American Quarter Horses.

Moorhouse Ranch hass been breeding American Quarter Horses for 50 years. (Courtesy photo)

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By Richard Chamberlain for The American Quarter Horse Journal

The folks at Moorhouse Ranch do things the old way.

The Moorhouse cowboys use their American Quarter Horses every day, taking along the chuckwagon when gathering cattle and driving their remuda of fresh horses rather than hauling them in trailers.

They prefer the old way because it works, just as it has for more than 80 years. For much of that time, brothers Tom, John, Bob and Ed Moorhouse ran the cow-calf operation started by their father, J.C. “Togo” Moorhouse, and his brother Coleman in the mid-1930s. In 2000, the four brothers divided their shares in the ranch, and Tom and his son, Gage, and his wife, Laura, operate their share of land and livestock under the name Moorhouse Ranch Co. Tom’s wife, Becky, was also a big part of the ranch, prior to her death in 2012.

Moorhouse Ranch runs cattle in King and Knox counties in the Texas Panhandle and leased land in Wyoming.

Nearly all the 20 or so geldings used by the ranch to work cattle are bred and raised by the ranch, which breeds eight mares annually.

“The primary goal for the MRC remuda is to raise the best-quality ranch horses for our cowboys,” Tom says. “We do this through selecting quality pedigrees, quality breeding stock and quality saddle horses. Our horses are not only a tool used by our cowboys but are an enjoyable part of daily activity. We aim to continue improving our horses to be better at cow work, roping, quietness, stamina and versatility for any job.”

Moorhouse Ranch began building its remuda of registered Quarter Horses shortly after the 1940 formation of AQHA, with stallions originally entered in the stud book as Moorhouse’s Yellow Wolf, a 1939 dun by Humdinger; Moorhouse’s Red Wolf, a 1944 sorrel by Moorhouse’s Yellow Wolf; and Moorhouse’s Yellow Jacket, a 1945 dun by King George. (The two dun stallions now are listed in AQHA pedigrees as Moorhousesyellowwolf and Moorhouse’syellowjac.) “Yellow Wolf” was particularly influential, with more than 100 registered offspring. Perhaps his best was the 1959 dun stallion Yellow Coley, whose dam was out of a Moorhousesyellowwolf mare and consistently sired working horses with abundant stamina and cow sense.

Other prominent Moorhouse stallions were Zero Trouble Ace, a 1980 bay grandson of American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Parker’s Trouble; Blob Of Pep, a 1984 sorrel by world champion cutting horse Peponita; and Seven S Shining Gold, a 1997 sorrel by world champion reining horse Shining Spark who in 2001 was the top horse at the Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls and Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, and the following year was the AQHA versatility cutting champion at the Fort Worth Stock Show and won the junior division at the Ranch Horse Association of America’s Best of America’s Horse, also in Fort Worth.

“We’re looking for medium-sized horses with lots of bottom, action and cow,” Tom says. “We want good withers and black feet, a horse that travels smooth, is gentle and pulls from the horn. We have kept the good bloodlines and culled the weaker ones. Palomino is nice, too.”

The Moorhouse Ranch geldings are divided among the cowboys, who each are responsible for the health and training of their horses. In addition to working on the ranch, the horses are used in ranch rodeo and ranch horse competitions.

“We strive to be very competitive and want to leave each competition thinking we were very well mounted,” Tom says. “It takes good horses to maintain a cow herd. Ranch-type horses were integral to the foundation of the American Quarter Horse breed, and Quarter Horses are exceptionally well adapted to the duties of ranch horse. Not only is the Quarter Horse the most versatile of all breeds, it excels in specific ranch-related events such as cutting and roping. It’s only natural that MRC raises and rides American Quarter Horses.

“I thank God regularly that He has provided me with ranch life and a family that loves it, too,” Tom says. “As a breeder, we can only hope that the end result makes a mark in the industry as a whole.”