Courtesy of America's Horse
Story by Jim Jennings
Good Horses, Good Cowboys
Bogle Ltd. Ranches lie in the southeast corner of New Mexico. It’s in an area centered around Roswell, but reaching east to near Tatum and Lovington, south to Artesia, and north and west toward Corona. The property encompasses more than 840 square miles, better than half a million acres. Much of the land is plagued by drought, dotted with mesquite and cactus, and scorched by the hot summer sun. It’s where Hal Bogle established his ranching interests when he arrived in New Mexico from Tennessee in 1917, and it’s where his grandsons continue to ranch today. It’s also where some of the best ranch horses in the country reside.
Daylight is still more than two hours away when Wayland Newberry hollers at his houseguest. “Jim, you awake?” “Yeah,” I holler back, knowing full well that he realizes I’m lying. I also know that he’s probably grinning to himself as he steps out on the back porch to smoke a cigarette and wait for me to get dressed. A glance at the clock glowing in the dark room tells me it’s 3:50 a.m. I hustle into my clothes, grab my camera bag and meet him on the back porch. By 4:20 we are at the corrals and Wayland is catching a horse. At 4:30 we’re having breakfast in the headquarters kitchen, and by 4:40 the horses are loaded and we are headed for another part of the ranch. Wayland Newberry is foreman of the Turkey Track Ranch, one of three divisions that make up Bogle Ltd. He’s worked on the ranch for more than 30 years, and has been foreman since 1988. The Turkey Track makes up the largest portion of the Bogle holdings – 640 sections, more than 400,000 acres. Forty-five minutes later we join up with some other cowboys, including Stuart and Donald Bogle, two of the ranch’s owners, and the day’s work is planned. Light on the eastern horizon says dawn is not far off now.
Stuart and Donald Bogle, and their brother Scott, are managers of what was once known as the Hal Bogle Estate but today is incorporated as Bogle Ltd. Hal Bogle was their grandfather, and the three brothers inherited responsibility for the ranch from their father, Bill.
Headquartered at Dexter, New Mexico, a small town just south of Roswell, the estate is made up of three separate ranches plus a farming operation and a feedlot. Stuart manages the Turkey Track, which runs from the Pecos River east about 30 miles. Scott takes care of the Four Lakes Ranch, a 50-section (32,000 acres) operation between the towns of Caprock and Tatum, and Donald runs the Corona Ranch, 150 sections (96,000 acres) between Roswell and Corona. All three ranches are cow/calf operations, and the Corona Ranch also runs sheep. The ranches’ broodmares are primarily on the Turkey Track and the Four Lakes.
Also included in Donald’s responsibility is the feedlot. All three brothers pitch in and help with the farm.
“The farm is about 5,000 acres,” Stuart says, “mostly hay, corn and wheat. We sell all the corn and most of the hay to the dairies around Dexter, but we chop some of the wheat into silage and we’ll plant some sorghum silage to use at the feedlot.”
Cattle on the ranches number between 4,000-5,000 head, depending upon pasture conditions. For the most part they are crossbred cows with the base breed being Angus. There is one herd of straight-bred Angus cows, from which they raise bulls for the rest of the ranches, and they are using some Braford bulls. Mother cows make up the base of the operation, but they will occasionally run yearlings, too.
“Corona and Four Lakes are good yearling ranches, but at the Turkey Track water is too far apart for it to be good yearling country,” Stuart says. “We run yearlings on those ranches when we get some good rains.”
This is not the year for yearlings.
The sun is not yet up, but all the cowboys are horseback now. This morning they are moving the cattle from a pasture in which the grass is exhausted, into one that contains some oak shinnery brush that the cattle will eat. It should be enough to last them two weeks – two weeks that that particular herd won’t have to be fed.
For all practical purposes, it hasn’t rained for a year in southeastern New Mexico. An already harsh range country – annual stocking rate is just six cows per section – has been made even harsher by the drought. An occasional shower this past spring has given hope, but the clouds have always moved on, usually dropping a half-inch or less of moisture. Most of the dirt tanks are dry, and for water the cattle have to depend upon the windmills that bring it from far below the ground. The almost never-ending wind is a Godsend – it keeps the windmills turning.
Horses are the only way to work the cattle on the Bogle ranches. The terrain, especially on the Turkey Track, is too rough for any kind of motorized device. Hal Bogle’s first Quarter Horse stallion was a horse named Bogle. Foaled in 1939, he was by San Siemon and was brought to the ranch by world champion cowboy Bob Crosby of Roswell. Crosby was at a roping when he found the stallion in Stonewall, Oklahoma, on Dick Truitt’s place. Crosby called Bogle, who wired Truitt the money for the horse, and Crosby brought him to New Mexico. Bogle then became the base of the ranch’s Quarter Horse breeding program.
Bogle was followed by such sires as Midnight Red B by Midnight, Flashy Waggoner by Waggoner Snip, and others whose bloodlines go back to King, Old Sorrel, Begger Boy (TB), Red Buck, Chicaro Bill, Redman and Little Joe. In later years the Bogles used Jet Twist Deck by Easy Jet and Peppy Motor Scooter by Mr San Peppy. Many of these sires are still reflected in the bloodlines of the ranch’s broodmares.
Stallions being used today are Zan Parr Jet by Zan Parr Bar and Docen Colonel by Colonel Freckles. The stallions are turned out with their own bands of 15-20 mares in late March or early April, and picked up in July.
“Docen Colonel has really been good for us,” Stuart says. “He’s out of a daughter of Doc Bar, but he’s a pretty good sized horse, and he throws a little more size than a lot of horses that are bred that way. His foals have a really good disposition, and they are pretty athletic.
“Zan Par Jet is a good horse, too,” he continues. “We’ve been breeding him to a lot of the Docen Colonel fillies.”
With the exception of an occasional stallion prospect, the colts are all gelded and placed into the ranch remuda for the cowboys to ride. The better fillies are returned to the broodmare band, and the others are sold.
Stuart says, “Sometimes we’ll break the fillies and ride them a little, but we’ll definitely mess with them enough to be sure they’re the kind we want to keep. We’ll breed the fillies the first time when they are three.”
The Bogles try to keep their mares on decent pastures, but they are also supplemented throughout the year, and, of course, wormed and vaccinated.
This past spring they bred a few mares to two young stallions that they are trying for the first time. One is a son of Smooth Herman, Smooth Lee Royal, and the other, Doc Blue Twist, is a son of Docen Colonel that they raised. Stuart says that Docen Colonel is getting old now, and he sure wants to have a replacement for him when it comes time.
Also, Stuart will carry two or three of his best mares to outside stallions each year. The primary goal for the horse breeding program is to keep good horses under good cowboys. As a matter of fact, that’s always been their plan.