Ranching Heritage Breeder: Phipps Land and Livestock

Ranching Heritage Breeder: Phipps Land and Livestock

This Nebraska horse-breeding program is built on a tradition of good horses.

Foal standing in a grass pasture

text size

The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Andrea Caudill

Longevity is a key indicator of quality, and with more than 100 years of breeding experience behind it, Phipps Land & Livestock has both longevity and quality on its side. 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder is located in Whitman, Nebraska, in the state’s famed sandhills, and is operated by Gary and Glenda Phipps. Gary’s ancestors arrived in the Sandhills in 1886, and began ranching on their current land in 1905. The ranch’s current caretakers oversee a diverse cattle operation that includes cow-calf pairs, yearlings and a heifer development program. 

The horses necessary to work these cattle have grazed the land for generations, too. The Phippses foundation registered mare was the 1955 sorrel mare Moke Oak, who is still in the blood of three-quarters of their broodmare band. Today, they run about 14 broodmares on the ranch that. in 2011, was officially awarded an AQHA Legacy Award, given to breeders who register foals for 50 consecutive years. 

A few of the Phippses' most influential foundation sires include two sons of Dynamo Leo named Mr Dynamo and Leo Dynamo, and the foundation-bred palomino Gold Deposit. 

Even though Leo Dynamo was foaled in 1964, his influence can still be seen in the horses today. 

“One is the good bone, the shape of the withers and the really good hind leg on good feet,” Gary says of how he can pick them out of the pasture. “The geldings we had out of that Leo Dynamo horse we used for years were really sound horses. I don’t think we ever had one go lame.” 

The same went for Gold Deposit, whom they crossed on their Leo-bred mares, “that was really a magic cross,” he says. 

Bloodlines for Rodeo Horses

The Phippses focus on breeding a versatile and sound horse, and their horses have gone all the way to the National Finals Rodeo, RFD-TV's The American, Lazy E Timed-Event Championships and found homes with loving families as their everyday horses. 

“The ideal horse for us is the original all-around horse,” Gary says. “I want a horse I can go out and ranch on, that someone can buy and go rope on or 4-H on, they can go barrel race. I still believe a horse that is balanced can go do anything.” 

Phipps Land and Livestock Stallions

Their current stallions include the AQHA Best Remuda-winning Stuart Ranch-bred son of Real Gun named Seven S Smokin Gun, the Paddys Irish Whiskey son He Drinks Whiskey and their homebred PLL Irish Vaquero, a grandson of Frenchmans Guy who carries their foundation blood along his tail-female line. 

Raising Foals on the Range

The horses are bred and raised on the range, and the Phippses allow their youngsters a long time to grow up. They are foaled in late spring, gathered as weanlings and taught to lead and give to pressure, but then are turned back out and are not weaned until the first few months of their yearling year. 

“They winter out and learn a lot out with the mares,” Gary says. “These colts learn a lot about where to put their feet, about the trails, badger holes, creeks, soapweeds, washouts. They learn how to handle their bodies and their feet.”

When the youngsters come back in, they are taught to be respectful members of society, as their lessons in leading and basic manners are reinforced, taught to bend laterally and drop their heads, give to pressure and these basics. 

“They are turned out in a 2,500-acre pasture to finish growing up,” Glenda says. “Most of the time, they will walk up to us out there when we go check on them.”

The horses bred at Phipps Land and Livestock sell quickly, mostly to repeat or word-of-mouth customers, with almost all of them selling as weanlings or yearlings. 

“We raise horses that we can use on the ranch, that fit us really well,” Gary says. 

The Next Generation of Phipps Horsemen

 Gary and Glenda have three children and nine grandkids, and the entire family still has ties to horses. Daughter Heather Johnson has two daughters that both ride. Son Brett, who helps on the ranch, has four children, and the ones that are old enough are already proving themselves as top help on the ranch. Gary and Glenda's youngest son, Wade, has three kids. 

Glenda is working on breeding horses for all of her grandkids.

“There are nine of them, so it will take a little while,” she says with a laugh. 

But their breeding program has already been in place for over a century, and is still going strong. There is plenty of time.

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.