Montana Horses Magazine | January 15, 2021 | Volume 2 Issue 3

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) ( ONTANA HORSES V All Horses. All Montana. | January 15th, 2021 | Volume 2 | Issue 3

Movie Making STEALING BROOMTAILS A Movie with a Mission 12 WESTERNS IN 12 MONTHS MAGIC IN MOTION Madison MacDonald


cover artist >>> erin van dyke


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This month’s cover photo is by photographer, horsewoman, entrepreneur, and ranch mom, Erin Van Dyke.

grew up in Helena and always had a passion for horses and photography. I always told my mom I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up, so she bought me a nice Canon camera in 2016 as a Christmas gift after years of using starter cameras. I ran outside and just started taking pictures of my horses. I built on what I thought looked good in a photo. Eventually I started booking high school senior and family photos for some locals, as well as my family and friends. Since I have a pretty nice backyard for scenery and wildlife, I obviously enjoy taking photos of them, but I’m the most passionate about taking photos of horses. I try to create images that are difficult to get or unique. My mom had photography books that I skimmed through, but I’m more of a hands-on learner. I took a photography clinic in Winston with Mark LaRowe, who is a fantastic mentor. Recently I’ve progressed to taking sale and advertisement conformation photos of horses, cattle and bulls. I’m usually carrying my camera or riding a horse. I also sell my images in canvases and prints and book portrait sessions. I’ve been riding horses for 20 years. No one else in my immediate family rode or even owned horses. But my grandpa, Larry Broadwater, had a ranch and a handful of retired horses and my mom, Judy Broadwater, always loved horses. We used to go to the carnival, back when they had pony rides. I wanted to spend every ticket I had to ride those ponies. Knowing how much I wanted a horse, she bought me my first one when I was 10 years old. I rode every day after school on the few acres we had and spent all my spare time with my horses. In high school I began to rodeo after telling my mom I wanted to barrel race. We purchased an experienced gelding and I quickly grew out of him. I then started roping on a mare I already owned, and taught her how to do pole bending. My mom was my number one cheerleader and helper, as well as my dad, Rick Broadwater. I also had some great coaches during high school rodeo. Kelly and John Hanson always helped at practices and have been great mentors. I took barrel racing lessons from Janet Erickson after we purchased a nice OOT mare from Illinois. Together, my mom and I travelled to as many high school rodeos as we could to make State Finals my junior and senior years. We had some great times together, met lots of wonderful people, and made lots of memories. During college I had the opportunity to ride cutting horses, so tried my hand at that, too. I met my husband David in 2013. Together we became entrepreneurs and started a horse and cattle business called WMR Livestock in Whitehall. We run our own herd of about 200 head of registered black angus cattle. His specialty is selling registered black angus bulls. We were selling yearling bulls with my father-in-law, Ron Van Dyke. This November, David and I ventured out on our own and started an annual 18-month bull sale. We balance each other well. He is more of an analyst, and I’m the type that pushes to the moon and get through it as I go. cont. page 7


SPECIAL ADVERTISING RATES FOR BREEDERS 25% off any size ad Check out call (406) 579-4060 or email


Who makes Montana horses? The next issue will feature Montana horse breeders. We’ll discuss what and who makes Montana horses better than any, and why. Tell us about yourself. Register your breeding program at (bottom of home page) so that you can appear in the next issue and on the website. -2-




2 cover artist >>> erin van dyke

Madison MacDonald-Thomas

10 breed >>> andalusians


33 health >>> ways to weigh a horse

How dude ranches and the Montana Film Office play a role in film

37 column >>> the profitable horseman


41 nutrition >>> feeding pregnant mares

A movie with a mission

44 find it >>> outlets

24 12 WESTERNS IN 12 MONTHS Montana horsewomen and actors, Amber Rose Mason and Jenna Ciralli, star in Travis Mills’ ambitious film project

V ) ( ONTANA HORSES magazine

All Horses. All Montana.

46 profile >>> cooper taylor

EDITOR Renee Daniels-Mantle | ADVERTISING AND DISTRIBUTION Mark LaRowe | CONTRIBUTORS Writers: Renee Daniels-Mantle, Mark LaRowe, Doug Emerson, Dr. Nerida Richards, Dr. Stacie Boswell Photography: Mark LaRowe Photography, Stephanie Westover/ Westover Photography, Erin Van Dyke, Ebbie Hansen/Rocken Zen Rodeo Photography, Fred McClanahan, Wild Mane Photography, Todd South, Ethan Confer

PUBLISHER Montana Horses, Inc. PO Box 405 Manhattan, MT 59741 Montana Horses is published every 4 to 6 weeks and available free at locations throughout Montana. Please let us know if you’d like to have it in your place of business. Subscriptions are also available. We welcome story, photography and event submissions. For advertising information, see or contact us. (406) 579-4060 | | No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission. Copyright © 2020 Montana Horses, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA



e beginning of a new year, a birthday, death, election, quarantinedinduced self-reflection, a profile setup anything can cause us to pause our forward motion and glance up, looking for a street sign to confirm we’re going the right way or are even on the correct map. Like this short no-agenda trip (first time in almost 30 years) to see my parents that’s causing me to shrug off deadlines, squander all my frequent flyer miles, and risk making my dog think I’ve abandoned him forever (thank you, Wendy!) so that I can stay a little longer and really spend time with them, instead of someday regretting I didn’t. It doesn’t take much to prompt the big questions: What is my purpose? Why am I here? What’s really important? Thankfully, Alex Trebek (rest his soul) isn’t asking, “Is that your final answer?” We can change our minds and reroute. For most, there is a guide that pulls and directs us, over obstacles, through complications, around uncertainty, toward something. There’s always a reason, even if we can’t put it in writing. This issue is full of stories about people who have been led - by family, passion, joy, love, divinity, determination, even stubbornness to accomplish. To do. To become. Not surprisingly, the common thread has to do with love of horses. Montana horses.

We’re all a little crazy about something. In these stories, being horse-crazy has led to some amazing achievements. Enjoy. Renee Daniels-Mantle, Editor


cont. from pg. 2 David and I had our daughter Rylee in 2016 and son Blake in 2018. We love taking our kids out on the ranch with us, riding horses, 4-wheelers, boating, giving them as many fun experiences as we can. Since having my wonderful kids, competing horseback around the state has taken a backseat. Instead, I focus on breeding barrel horses. I started by breeding my high school rodeo mare “Roxy.” Since then, I purchased broodmares with bloodlines I like, such as Dash Ta Fame, Queen’s Coin, Sun Frost, Dash For Perks, Firewater Flit, A Streak Of Fling, etc. I also purchased my stallion Famous Gold Coin to solidify my breeding program. I raise and sell a handful of babies every year. My ultimate favorite barrel bloodline is the immortal #1 barrel race producing sire, Dash Ta Fame. My stallion, Famous Gold Coin, has produced offspring with recorded Equistat earnings in excess of $300,000. He is a son of Dash Ta Fame out of Queen’s Coin. Queen’s Coin herself won almost $10,000 on the track. She is also a producer, with offspring earnings in excess of $350,000. My favorite cross for a baby is a Dash Ta Fame sire crossed with a Sun Frost dam. I also breed other barrel pedigrees as well, because I realize not everyone prefers what I do. I like to have some versatility in the babies I raise. Around here, we use our horses for ranch work. But I also want to be able to do some breakaway roping in the arena, and have a competitive barrel and pole bending horse. I like to ride with my reins down on the horse’s neck and ask them to do something without a bunch of nonsense. I want them to stay quiet until I ask for more.

Find out more about Erin Van Dyke, her photography and registered barrel racing, roping, and ranch quarter horses and registered black angus cattle at:

Erin, Rylee, Blake and David Van Dyke. Photo by Mark LaRowe



breed >>> andalusian


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LEFT PAGE Fresona Roy sporting some of her many championship ribbons

RIGHT Howard Peet showing Fresona Roy

FAR RIGHT Sheilah Melsness with two of her Andalusian champions

If the Andalusian is regarded as the Horse for Royalty, then surely Fresona Roy (pictured on opposite page) is the Queen of the Andalusians. She reigns as the 2016, 2017, and 2018 International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) Grand National Champion Senior Mare and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse of the Year. No small feat, this exceptional mare has proven herself to be the quintessential Andalusian. And she lives right here in Montana at Sleeping Willow Ranch outside of Stevensville. That is something of which Larry and Sheilah Melsness, her owners, and Montana can be very proud.

BELOW RIGHT One of the many fine foals bred at Sleeping Willow Ranch

Photos by Stine Photography and Peet Equestrian

Montana’s own Sleeping Willow Ranch offers Andalusians and Aztecas, plus a beautiful location to enjoy Western Equitation.

Considered by many horse-crazy young girls, the film industry, and frankly this writer, to be one of the dreamiest horses on the planet, the Andalusian breed is also one of the oldest. In 1567 Spain, King Phillip II began a concentrated breeding program to refine a horse that represented all of the best and purest traits of the Baroque-type, horses who had already been honed for centuries in Andalusia. The result - the Andalusian, Pura Raza Espanola or the Pure Spanish Horse (PRE). In America, these Spanish horses were brought over by the conquistadors and their influence can be seen in almost all of the popular breeds today. But, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the registered PRE could be exported from Spain. The official Spanish Stud Book remains there and Andalusians worldwide undergo a rigorous authentication process, administered by vets from Spain, to be accepted for registry with the ANCCE. If you’ve never had a moment when watching something beautiful has effected you physically, seeing an Andalusian in motion will bring an adolescent crush-like flush to your cheeks that is almost a little embarrassing. They are truly gorgeous. Bred for movement, beauty, and intelligence, it isn’t surprising that they were highly skilled in battle and bullfighting —brave, strong, willing, fast, sound, and athletic. Today, they bring their versatility to nearly every discipline, including cattle and ranch work (after all, they originated in original ranch country), show jumping, carriage driving, and competitive dressage. They are leggy, with good bone, range from 15.1 to 16.2hh and have a body that lends itself to natural collection. There are over 4,000 breeders in Spain producing horses that are a source of pride. Here, there are only a few and so the Pura Raza Espanola is somewhat of a rare jewel. But, glittering like diamonds, Andalusians and Aztecas (Andalusians crossbred with quarter horses or paint horses), adorn the 300 acre Sleeping Willow Ranch.


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TOP RIGHT Sleeping Willow horses at sunrise

MIDDLE Honroso MIBXIV with carriage, a sire of several SWR foals

BOTTOM Sheilah Melsness and Falconera Roy working cattle

Photos by Peet Equestrian

Larry and Sheilah Melsness started in the horse business because of their love of the PRE Horse. After establishing Hipica de Pacuar, their PRE Andalusian breeding ranch in Costa Rica, they purchased Sleeping Willow Ranch in Stevensville, MT to provide a world class breeding and training facility for the Spanish horse. Sleeping Willow Ranch imports their foundation stock from one of the most renown breeders in Spain, and competes in the USA and Costa Rica. Each year, they offer around dozen youngsters for sale, usually between the ages of 1 to 2 1/2 years. Despite their exotic origin, these are true Montana horses - bred here, raised here, trained here, and sold right off the ranch. They are not treated like hothouse flowers. They run like real ranch horses, unblanketed and alongside their cattle. Because of this, they sell to a wide variety of buyers, from breeders to cowboys from all over, though most of their Andalusians go out of state. According to Sheilah, they have horses for all levels of riders and with a range of prices, but they do not leave the ranch until they meet her standards. She has a rule, “If they are not ready, they are not for sale.” That means they are mannerly, respectful and kind. They are well-behaved and trained at the proper level for their age to lead and tie, be easily trailered, vetted, groomed and handled. Her horses “have a tremendous work-ethic and they like to learn.”

Sleeping Willow Ranch’s priorities are:

Breeding quality Andalusians of superior bloodlines in diverse styles and colors

Beauty and mind of equal importance

Early hands-on approach, foals handled from day one, gently, quietly, consistently

Excellent nutrition program

Training through patience, repetition and consistency, with well-defined boundaries for appropriate behavior

They believe “horses are creatures of habits and it is our job as owners to teach them good habits so that they grow into well-adjusted horses.” In addition to their hay, sheep, cattle, and horse breeding operations, Sleeping Willow is heavily involved in Working Equitation and offers their arena for clinics, jackpots, and practice. They conducted the Under the Big Sky Working Equitation Buckle Series, Trisha Reed Clinic, and the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month put up a course where, for $20, participants can practice. Look for more WE competitive opportunities this spring. If you’re interested in learning more, contact them. They’re proud to share their treasures.

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MAGIC IN MOTION Story by Mark LaRowe

“It is a beautiful thing when a passion and career come together.” ~ Madison MacDonald-Thomas

Photo by Fred McClanahan


Photos by Ebbie Hansen

maging riding your favorite horse through a rolling field filled with flowers. Your horse is at a full gallop with the sun warming your Rocken Zen Rodeo face and the wind whipping through your hair. You hang on Photography tightly but enjoy the thrill and exhilaration it brings.

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of, or experienced, that sensation and freedom? Now imagine that same ride, but this time you’re hanging upside down and the sky is under your feet. A few centimeters from the top of your head, the hard ground of a tight rodeo arena speeds past you, your hair sometimes dragging in it. You’re turning in circles, bright spotlights are in your face, a large cheering crowd blurs by you. Sound like a cowboy’s worst nightmare? That is what Madison MacDonald-Thomas (aka Magic in Motion) does for fun and a career. One of the top equine trick riders in North America, Madison has been hard at it now for 21 years, since the age of six. A regular act on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit, Magic in Motion is a 10-time NFR dress act, typically performing with her amazing horses three to five nights each year. She’s also been nominated for the PRCA Dress Act of The Year three times. Originally from Calgary, Madison’s mother, Debrah Opsahl-MacDonald, was a producer of Wild West shows for the Calgary Stampede. Madison used to attend these shows specifically for the trick riding portion. At an early age, she began pestering her mother to let her take trick riding lessons. “They thought I was crazy,” she recalls, with a mischievous grin. But, somehow they managed to convince Jerry Duce of The Flying Duce Sisters out of retirement and into the role of a trick riding teacher. Magic in Motion was born.


profile >>> madison macdonald-thomas ) ( Madison’s first horse was a pony named Snowball. Other than wanting to buck, lie down, and stay in the barn, Snowball did “ok.” At least it wasn’t too far to fall. Then came Pal when Madison was nine. A reject cutting horse, the palomino and Madison butted heads. “That horse tested me. And then tested me some more. He made me the rider I am today.” The pair grew into a formidable team and dominated the local gymkanas. “He became an unstoppable force once he figured out the pole bending pattern. I won all my buckles on Pal. He’s very special to me and carried me to my trick riding career.” By then she was also performing her trick riding act at various Canadian Professional Rodeo Association events. Clearly not a “one-trick pony,” Madison continued to grow into an Photo by Fred McClanahan accomplished multi-event rodeo competitor. As a high school athlete in Alberta, Madison excelled at barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, and team roping. She was a Junior High School National Rodeo Finals qualifier, as well as a two-time High School National Finals Rodeo qualifier, riding Pal, who competed bridleless in the pole bending event. Pal died shortly after their last High School Finals appearance. “He’s very, very special to me. A truly multi-talented horse,” she recalls. Off season, Madison continues to compete in barrel racing and has her eyes set on mastering the sport of team roping. Madison’s first true trick riding horse was Number One, a buckskin gelding bred as a reining horse. They were together for 15 years. “I could put anyone on Number One and he would be fine. He had so much trust.” Next came the palomino mare, Chick. Originally obtained for her high school rodeo events, Madison converted Chick to a trick riding horse after a year. “Chick was a very fast learner. It only took one week for her to become perfect on the pattern. And it was in a small arena.” Madison continues, “Chick was my first WNFR performing horse. She had never made a run with pyrotechnics and when we arrived in Las Vegas they asked if we could do it. I was a little nervous, but on our first practice run, Chick never flinched. She was rock solid.” Chick was officially retired from trick riding after the 2018 NFR.

Another horse in her stable of solid animals is Vegas. A 20-year old black gelding, Vegas was a runaway head horse. They have now been working together for nine years. Madison remembers that things didn’t start out quite so smoothly. “He always wanted to shortcut. We were always fighting each other. Now, he’s the best horse in my pen. He’s calm and can really handle the pressure, and makes my job that much easier. It is almost like he’s saying, Let’s get in, get out, do our job, and be done with it.” A capable multi-horse pen is very important for Madison. “I’ve performed in hockey arenas, convention arenas, and a wide variety of rodeo arenas. And they are all different. I carefully choose which horse to ride largely on the layout, size, and other characteristics of each venue.” In addition to pursuing her passion for trick riding, Madison is also a trick riding instructor. “I’ve always loved teaching. I was actually going to university to become a teacher. I was enrolled in 2012 at Tarleton State in Stevensville, TX. I started as a business marketing major but decided to pursue a degree in education instead.” cont. next page -

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Because her true joy resided in trick riding, it made sense to combine her love of teaching and her passion. At the behest of her best friend, Keagan Thomas, who she married in 2016, Madison is now happily training young people in the event. In 2019, she and Keagan were on the road for six consecutive months from May through October, plus the month of February. This stretch included training clinics in PA, NC, TX and IL, and more than 70 trick riding performances at rodeos across the country. They logged 80,000 miles pulling a four-horse, living quarters trailer with stock, feed, and family, in a six month span. It is a life less glamorous than it appears on TV or the arena. As all dedicated rodeo contestants know, it takes commitment, relentless effort, long days and nights, constant training, practice and lots of teamwork. And Madison would rather not talk about the fuel bill. A highlight in Madison’s career was her first invitation to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2011. “It was such an honor and a dream come true.” She continues to perform at some of the largest and most prestigious western events across the country such as the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Madison is most proud that she performed on four different horses at the WNFR, all of which she trained. The Last Chance Stampede Rodeo in Helena was one of her very first PRCA events. She remembers her favorite fondly, “I’ve always loved performing in Helena. There’s just something about the arena, the energy of the crowd, and their response to my act. I guess it just always feels like a homecoming to me. And now that we’ve chosen to live here, I guess it always will be.” Madison and Keagan recently moved to Helena where they purchased a home and have begun to settle into the community, as best they can with their schedule. She offers clinics on Monday evenings at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. Sessions typically run about two hours and there is a group of enthusiastic young girls in consistent attendance. Her clinic schedule is always expanding. She will be conducting clinics this year in Alberta, Joliet and Malta (MT), Stockton (MO), Abilene (TX), Denver, and several locations in Texas and elsewhere. Plus, three trick riding horse-training sessions in PA, OK and British Columbia. Look for Madison and Magic in Motion to make a return trip to Helena and watch for her down that rodeo road. Photo by Ebbie Hansen Rocken Zen Rodeo Photography

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“YOU ARE BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE.” Horse thieves used to be hung for stealing a man’s horse, but when wrong and right aren’t black and white - it takes the courage of youth to make a difference. Stealing Broomtails: A movie about defending our beloved horses. Help us shine the light on theft and protect our horses. Join us now as an investor. Be a part of a movie with a mission and earn your share of the proceeds from this wonderful family-oriented story.

Contact us at:

in montana >>> dude ranches


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from left: trail ride at K Lazy 3 by Mark LaRowe pen of cattle at a branding by Stephanie Adriana Westover Montana cattle drive

vacations that are horse -themed. That translates into bookings at guest ranches.


LOCATION, LOCATION How Montana guest ranches star, and the Montana Film Office plays a part, in film. From the MONTANA DUDE RANCHERS ASSOCIATION Western movies have long inspired folks worldwide to take a western ranch adventure vacation. Westerns date back to the early 20th century through the 1960’s and beyond. The films have commonly centered on the life of the cowboys and cowgirls who ride the range to watch over their land and cattle. Although the Wild West depicted in some of the films no longer exists, it still creates a desire to experience the western way of life. If you have seen movies such as A River Runs

Through It, The Horse Whisperer, Always and more recently The Revenant, you have had a glimpse of the beauty of Montana. Since the 1897 feature The Tourist Train Leaving Livingston, Montana has been the backdrop for numerous productions including films, television movies and series, as well as documentaries. DRA member, Hawley Mountain Ranch was featured in a couple of scenes in A River Runs Through It. Now movies can be found on Netflix, Hulu

and many other online applications. For example, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs used Bannack State Park as one of the locations in the production. Montana is chosen for the spectacular scenery and unusual locations. The decision for producers to film here doesn’t happen by chance. Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer explains how it all works, “Since 1974, the Montana Film Office has been working with producers to showcase the incredible natural beauty of the state, and

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we seek to expand film production by advertising Montana at film festivals both domestically and internationally, placing print and digital advertising in industry publications, and promoting our small businesses. For example, we’ve worked to bring part of the visual look of the series Yellowstone to Montana, and the season three premiere was watched by over six million people. Many of the viewers will be intrigued by the Montana landscapes and want to visit, and potentially book

We also field calls from producers looking for specific locations. Rural Montana can fit their requirements, as we saw in a recent episode of Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup, filmed at the Rocking Z Guest Ranch, and other RFD-TV shows that dive into the history of Montana.

We keep a photo database of locations on our website, and anyone can be listed. We use all kinds of resources to assist producers, from finding tame donkeys and camels (yes, we have some here) to assisting with guiding producers to the correct permitting offices and agencies around the state. With our mix of National Parks, National Forests, Wilderness Areas, Refuges, BLM, DNRC, and private lands, it can be intimidating to navigate. We seek to

make that process as smooth as possible. It’s a pleasure to know and work with all of the wonderful people we meet, and nothing makes us more thrilled than to see Montana in the movies or on television.� It is the responsibility of the MFO to ensure the state is film friendly. They work with producers to find locations that fit their script and serve as their liaison through every phase of their production. Producers have come to depend on the MFO

to help navigate permitting, regulation processes and location nuances. In the film industry, time really is money. A state’s willingness and ability to assist film productions often becomes a factor in choosing their location. To learn more about how the Montana Film Office helps Montana ranches, ranchers, and horsemen become involved, or to get your assets listed, visit:

cont. pg. 20

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Every year Montana hosts many productions, from documentaries and television series to short and feature-length films. The most recent is Yellowstone on the Paramount network. Shot in southwestern Montana, the series stars Kevin Costner as family patriarch, John Dutton. The fictional drama series follows the Dutton family who control the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S. and must contend with constant attacks by land developers, clashes with an Indian reservation, and conflict with America’s first national park. The 1991 film “City Slickers” depicts the adventures of three friends who go on a cattle drive and created a renewed interest in experiencing a western adventure. Thanks to cattle ranchers throughout the west who accept guests to help out with the herds, anyone can experience the real west. There are four members of the Montana Dude Ranchers’ Association that offer the opportunity to work with cattle:

Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch is an upscale guest ranch on the border of Yellowstone National Park, south of Livingston, MT. The ranch offers trail riding and moving cattle, and to top off a busy day of riding the range you can treat yourself with a variety of massage treatments. A trip to Yellowstone National Park is a must while you’re in the area; plan to spend a full day to explore the numerous features in the park. Hubbard’s is located near two natural hot spring resorts, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone Hot Springs, so you may want to treat yourself to a soak in the hot springs after a long ride.

Bonanza Creek Ranch www.bonanzacreekcountry,com is nestled in the hills near Martinsdale, MT. There is no nose-to-tail riding here, giving you the opportunity of riding to your own ability as you move herds of cattle. Riding is the main activity with morning and afternoon rides as well as day rides. You’ll climb the high range, through the woods along Bonanza Creek and canter across open country. And for the ladies, cowgirl retreats are offered annually so check out the website for more information. Other activities include hiking, fishing, and massages. There is a hot spring close by in White Sulphur Springs about a 45-minute drive from the ranch. Museums and cultural attractions nearby are also worth a visit.

Dryhead Ranch | is located north of the Wyoming/Montana border within view of both the Pryor and Bighorn Mountain ranges, providing breathtaking views in all directions. Guests arrive in Billings then take the scenic drive southwest to Lovell, WY then north to the ranch. From Lovell to the ranch, you’ll drive through the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Reserve, the Big Horn Canyon Recreation Area, and the Caroline Lockhart Ranch. Take the time to stop and enjoy them, it’s likely you’ll see a wild mustang or more along the way. The Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center is located in Lovell and is worth a stop before you head north. Dryhead offers cattle and horse drives and ranch weeks. You’ll have a great time moving cattle and horses as you ride the open range in this beautiful area. If rounding up a herd is your thing, this is the place!

Sweet Grass Ranch | is located north of Big Timber, MT and lies in the shadow of the picturesque Crazy Mountains. The ranch dates back to the 1880’s and has been preserved by maintaining the ranch’s historic buildings and the untarnished landscape. The ranch is open from June through September when they round up the cattle from mountain pastures and move them before the snow flies. Join them for exceptional horseback adventures, authentic cattle work, and recreational opportunities such as hiking, wildlife viewing and fishing in lakes, streams, and ponds.

The mission of the Montana Dude Ranchers' Association is to promote the western way of life, to share the ambiance of Montana and its distinct history, to improve the well-being of member ranches and to assure guests a quality ranch vacation experience. They promote stewardship of our natural resources and enable member ranches to achieve their individual goals by doing collectively that which cannot be done individually. - 20-


commentary >>> renee daniels-mantle ) (

STEALING BROOMTAILS Making a Movie with a Mission

Commentary by Renee Daniels-Mantle


he horse gene - you’re either born with it or not. I have been a horse-crazy girl all my life, the kind of crazy that plastered my bedroom walls with posters of horses instead of bands or teenaged heartthrobs, played with Breyer horses instead of baby dolls, read every book and subscribed to every magazine that existed about them, thought horse sweat, fly spray, and saddle soap were heavenly perfumes, and spent hours on end horseback, alone, wandering aimlessly “cooling out my horse,” while really making up stories in my head of worlds and adventures with my horsey friends, mostly (all) the imaginary kind. My reports and speeches were about horses. Getting a new halter for Christmas confirmed the omnipotence of Santa and my stellar behavioral scorecard. I day-dreamed like it was my job. I lived in my head with fantasies full of heroism, daring deeds, mystery, adventure, friendship, teamwork, young love - Nancy Drew and Velma meet Lara Croft at Hogwarts kind of fantasies. All with horses. Recently, I ran across a box of books from my childhood. The covers of Stolen Pony, Blind Outlaw, Star of Wild Horse Canyon, Sea Star, The Blind Colt, and Mystery of the Water Witch brought on the palpable kind of memories carried by a familiar scent, a vivid dream, or too much champagne. So, I was over the moon when the esteemed producer, writer, director and actor Robert Kollar told me about his plans to make the film Stealing Broomtails this summer. Just what the doctor ordered for 2021 - a wholesome, feel-good, classic, kid catches caper. All about horses and made in Montana. What more could a girl want?

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Robert Kollar is not your normal Hollywood showbiz wiz, even though he is one. He’s lived in Montana for years and been involved in the Montana film scene just as long. This isn’t his first full-length feature film made here. He recently finished Take Two, a story without the “all persons fictitious” disclaimer. It’s about a decadent Hollywood film producer who bottoms out in LA and loses everything, then decides to leave and seek a new life. He discovers he has a daughter he never knew existed and together they learn the meaning of sacrifice, the love of a father, and God’s sovereignty in the midst of despair as they struggle to save each other.

Hollywood is not obligated to authentically represent Montana or the horse industry, but real damage can be done by fiction that perpetuates fantasy fairy tales about our realities. As Stealing Broomtails settles itself into the Montana horse world and prepares to film, they are taking great care to accurately represent the subject matter and listen to good information and qualified opinions.

It was through this “life altering” that he developed his company, Movies With A Mission/Cornerstone Productions, LLC. With Stealing Broomtails, Mr. Kollar hopes to accomplish a mission. He explains it best, “MOVIES WITH A MISSION/ CORNERSTONE PRODUCTIONS is a group of Christian artists committed to sharing the Gospel through the production and development of films. Our focus is to tell true life stories that will stir the hearts of believers and bring the unbeliever into an encounter with Christ. We are convinced that stories of brokenness, redemption, and God’s love encompass deep human experiences that not only draw viewers into an exciting adventure but also to the Lord Himself.” At a time when violence, deception, and sex sell tickets, Stealing Broomtails is like a warm porchlight and crackling fire in the middle of a blizzard. It’s the kind of show you aren’t embarrassed to watch in front of your parents, or kids. Almost Disneyesque, it reminds me of those old classic horse mysteries I used to read - the ones that still bring a smile when unearthed after 40 years. The movie, according to the website, is about, “A remote small town in Montana, set near the Canadian border, that finds itself in the sights of modern day horse rustlers. Local authorities will have to rely on a band of misfit teenagers playing the unlikely heroes to unravel their plans and corral them in the act. With a strong bond to a very special horse and their love for the Montana way of life, the teenagers are inspired to ride into danger, unaware they are being sought after by the authorities, and save the day – leaving their worried parents to come to terms with their own faults in parenting. This film will roundup your heart while setting free your inner child’s sense of wonder.” I’ve read the script. Despite its treatment, it’s about a whole lot more than that. It also touches on controversial topics, like horse slaughter, parenting, alcoholism, corruption, theft, trespassing, interagency and international

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relationships, wild horses, racism, helmets, and the influx of non-residents to Montana. Among other things. It has all the hot button topics most of us don’t bring up in mixed company. At first, I was suspicious of Stealing Broomtails. Who calls horses “broomtails” anymore? And wouldn’t that term be considered offensive to horses everywhere? Of course, doubting a feel-good kid film made by a philanthropic Christian film company made me feel like a shoe. Though Hollywood is not obligated to authentically represent Montana or the horse industry, real damage can be done by fiction that perpetuates fantasy fairy tales about our realities. Case in point: Yellowstone. Montanans might know most of it is horse manure, but it’s entertaining, highly profitable, and what are a few doubtful people when six million love it? At least it is fickle about what class of Montanans it villainizes. (Full disclosure: I did watch and enjoy Yellowstone, but I knew it was fiction.) I assumed no film producer could possibly understand the complexities of equine issues. So, I asked some questions, told them what I thought and they told me. MWM/Cornerstone is serious - about their mission, being authentic, and doing good. Kollar is careful to be accurate, educated, and understanding. He listens. He’s willing to change and to explain. After hours talking, he brought me around like an apostle. I’m a believer.

Robert Kollar (4th from top left) and crew on set, filming in Montana.

My suspicions were needless. Stealing Broomtails is not a social, political, or religious commentary. It’s just a story about a horse-crazy girl and an adventure. It’s a simple, feel-good, family show. Moral v. Immoral. Evil v. Innocent. Our heroes are virtuous. The lessons are pure. The characters are wholesome. The bad guys are doing bad things, the good guys good, and the transformations are believable. It can do no harm and in fact intends to do good. The script will be sensitive and bring some topics into the light that can take the heat. Bonus, I’m fairly certain I’ll still be welcome at a Farm Bureau Federation meeting. Like his last Montana film, this process is very personal for Kollar. He and his daughter have a special relationship that developed through a lot of grief and hardship, but resulted in a real-life happy ending. She will star in this film. His love for this movie, his art in general, and Montana resembles that for his family.

Stealing Broomtails offers merchandising opportunities, including this replica of a figurine portraying “Shakespeare” - the starring horse and recurring imagery in the movie.

Most importantly, about MOVIES WITH A MISSION/CORNERSTONE PRODUCTIONS, Kollar say this, “It is our desire to donate the proceeds from our films to seed the Lord’s kingdom locally and worldwide by teaching God’s Word to orphaned and at-risk youth, while providing them with personal training in all areas of the arts, as well as supporting other global missions. We believe each individual possesses God-given gifts; We would like to see those gifts and abilities acknowledged and developed to their greatest potential for His glory.” Although financial contributions are sought and necessary, we know that the power of prayer carries the greatest value. We ask for your prayers and support in these endeavors. We appreciate any effort to link arms with us in praying for God’s guidance, favor and provision in all aspects related to these films. If you would like, please let us know you have joined us through prayer by clicking on our Donate or Contact Pages, so we may honor your contribution and be strengthened by your support.” Stealing Broomtails is scheduled to be filmed this summer near Lewistown. Montana Horses will be following it with “Who shot JR?” intensity and will keep you up to date about the progress of our little pet project. There are multiple opportunities to get involved. MWM wants to help those with talent become introduced to the arts, when they otherwise might not have the opportunity. They also seek investors and offer opportunities, like merchandising, for financial contributors.

Regardless of your religious or political beliefs, this project is an opportunity to entrench the real Montana horse community in a film that the world can see. It is an opportunity to have our truth heard. We can’t cause awareness or make a change unless we elicit it. We have an opportunity to ask the film community to take a look at our reality. And it is a chance to get kids involved in the film industry when it otherwise wouldn’t be possible. It’s a chance to indulge that kid in all of us who wants to be part of an adventure, a good cause, and pursue our horse-craziness. From MWM, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 GOD’S WORD ENRICHING LOCAL AND WORLD COMMUNITIES THROUGH FILM - 23-










Bastard's Crossing Texas Red She was the Deputy's Wife Counting Bullets A Guide to Gunfighters of the Wild West The New Frontier The Woman Who Robbed the Stagecoach The Pleasant Valley War The Wilderness Road Tales of the Natchez Trace Heart of the Gun The Adventures of Bandit and Wild Wes

Story by Renee Daniels-Mantle


ow would you define an anomaly in 2020, when being struck by lightning or hit by a Mack truck wouldn’t have been surprising? Travis Mills. With the completion of his epic project 12 Westerns in 12 Months, this writer and producer has seen the golden tiger and can look back on the year as one of the best in his already impressive career. Unphased by a global pandemic, world-wide shutdowns, economic upheaval, and murder hornets, Mills remained steadfast in a mission that began in 2014: make twelve Western feature films in twelve months. In 2020. And why such a lofty goal? “I found the idea ambitious and a little crazy. Sometimes I think it takes crazy ideas to make progress and definitely to get some attention. I knew that people would hear about it and say, What the hell is he thinking? but also be intrigued enough to follow my journey. On the other hand, I love Westerns. It's one of my favorite genres and there's no way better to explore it than with twelve very different films. Back in the day, John Ford learned to make movies, great movies, by making a ton of silent films. I believe in working at a fast pace and producing lots of content so this was the perfect project for me to take on.” Travis wrote, directed and produced all of the movies under his 12 Westerns, LLC in association with his company Running Wild Films. He also acted in several. The last film, Heart of the Gun, wrapped on schedule in December. Appropriately, one film will premiere each month throughout this year. In addition, several have already been Travis Mills, creator, writer, director, producer of 12 Westerns in 12 Months shown here selected to show at film festivals and they are available for purchase at acting in Heart of the Gun. Photo by Todd South and to stream on Amazon Prime. To purveyors of Westerns, any good one has horses and purists are sardonic about the quality of horsemanship. Unlike the John Ford and John Wayne days, it’s now rare to find an actor who can actually ride. This is not the case with these 12 Westerns. Travis cast some incredible horsemen, including Montana’s own Amber Rose Mason and Jenna Ciralli. These actresses can unabashedly list horsemanship as one of their special talents. Amber Rose Mason appears in Heart of the Gun, which was the last of the 12 to be filmed and is scheduled to be shown in November of 2021. It is the most personal of the 12 to Mills, about Travers, a doctor who deserted his military post, searching the frontier for the wife who left him. His quest is thrown off course when he saves Sarah, a woman left for dead after a wagon raid. With the cavalry, the law, and deranged outlaws on their trail, Sarah and Travers set off together to find this missing woman. Heart of the Gun is a psychological thriller and a romance drama wrapped in a gritty Western setting. It was also inspired by his own life. Travis Mills has a very transparent, engaging process with his audience and recently wrote in his blog on, “Heart of the Gun is my most personal Western, probably my most personal film of any kind to date. It emerged from the ashes of a breakup back in 2014. It was a brutal relationship, full of passion but also toxic on many levels. It left me broken and full of anger. One of our crew and cast called it a “dark romance” and that it is. I’d argue that it is not dark but real, about the kind of struggle many of us face in love. The script has changed a lot over the years, evolving most when I looked at it in 2019 after taking a break for a few years. By the time we started production on December 5th, I believe we were working with the strongest story I’ve ever written.” Montana horsewoman, Amber Rose Mason, was cast as the leading lady in this very personal film. In addition to being an outstanding actress, one who Travis says is “one of my favorite people to work with. I love that she can ride a horse as well as anyone else on set and she's a tough, beautiful woman, perfect for a Western.” She’s the real deal. When she’s not acting, she works on a cattle ranch near Alder that runs about 1200 head of mother cows and she handles 800 head from calving to shipping. She also started In The Beginning Colt Starting nine years ago and starts colts for the public. Amber often uses her horse saavy in film. She’s wrangled for a few TV shows and was head wrangler on an LA based film called Two Eyes. She remembers, “I worked very hard on set and when an actor dropped out I was given the opportunity to step in and fill the role. I still remember running around bridling horses and shoveling manure in my costume. I’m always impressed by my "kids," one day they go from roping an 1800lb cow out in a field to packing an LA actor around and dealing with the chaos of film sets the next. “I grew up in Virginia City. My family has always been involved with horses so I grew up bareback riding anything I could stay on. When I was ten, I auditioned for the Virginia City Opera House. That started an 11 consecutive summer run finishing with three summers at the Brewery Follies down the street. I graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in acting, a BFA in costume design and a minor in scenic art. I went to LA for three years, came back to Montana when my

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the University of Montana with a degree in acting, a BFA in costume design and a minor in scenic art. I went to LA for three years, came back to Montana when my most dedicated fan and beloved mother was diagnosed with cancer. I needed a flexible job so I could help her, so I started taking on colts. Now it offers me the flexibility I need for filming but gives me a reliable income. “I saw an audition on Facebook for the 12 Westerns. They were looking for a red head, or someone that would be willing to go red. I sent in an audition, was asked to read for another of the 12 Westerns, but ended up getting cast in this one, thankfully. This script has a ton of action and a lot of horseback riding. This is the first film I've done that really showcases my talent. The shoot was set to film in June but got pushed back to December, because of COVID. COVID has definitely made logistics for filming very difficult and sometimes frustrating. Fortunately we filmed at a secluded ranch in Arizona near Payson.” None of the 12 Westerns were filmed in Montana, but Travis explains, “I considered Montana, but ultimately had to make these films in places where I had the most available resources. Since meeting Amber and another Montana actress, Jenna Ciralli, I've been fascinated with the idea of filming in Montana and hope to do so very soon. Based on my experience of working with them, I am quite impressed with actors from Montana. They have been two of the most professional people I've worked with in a long list of actors. ”

Montana actress and horsewoman, Amber Rose Mason, in Heart of the Gun. Photos by Todd South

Jenna Ciralli, actress, producer, and writer, is also a native Montanan and lifetime horsewoman. She spent 13 years in New York City living the life of an actor, but she and her husband moved back to Montana to reside in Livingston. “Horses gave me early confidence and resilience while growing up in Montana, literally, the opportunity to get back in the saddle again -- a skill I would use again and again as an actor pounding pavement in New York City. My horse Silky May was 1/2 Quarter Horse and 1/2 Arabian, a bit of a mutt on the horse-show circuit but we just flew together. I remember one year earning a high point belt buckle with three rubies in it. It makes me cry just thinking about it because it symbolizes the profound relationship I had with that mare. We came up, together.” Jenna stars in The New Frontier which filmed in July. "The New Frontier is Travis Mills' experimental film in the line-up of 12 Westerns. It deals with supernatural

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cont. page 29-

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Amber Rose Mason (l) and Jenna Ciralli (r) in a photo by Ethan Confer, styled by Allyson Adams

Jenna Ciralli while filming The New Frontier, photos by Todd South bottom left, headshot of Jenna, photo by Marcelle Pallais

themes in a timeless, Western setting with three female leads. I play one of the leading characters, Morgan. This film has a unique femininity within a traditionally masculine landscape. Travis is studying female rivalry and ownership, as well as individual rites of passage, and the deep bond of female familial relationships. He and his cinematographer, Jared Kovacs, brought an artful, black and white, European aesthetic to the film. They studied Ingmar Bergman films. The footage is beautiful and I am really proud of it. It required riding double on horseback and working with Todd South, the horse wrangler, and his horse, Lucy. My scene partner Elley Ringo and I had to hit very precise, hairline marks for the camera on Lucy and she really delivered. “Travis Mills is a force of nature and a complete badass. To be clear, filmmaking is really, really, really hard. And somehow, during a pandemic, his resourcefulness and limitless passion greenlit 12 feature films. He has created a safe core team and community that hone their filmmaking chops with each project. Unlike Hollywood, he doesn't throw money at things, he throws ideas instead and that gives his stories urgency and creative freedom. His doership is just mind-boggling.” The film world might be monstrous, but the Montana horse world is not, so it isn’t surprising that Amber and Jenna have worked together before. Jenna says, “Amber Rose Mason is a real deal cowgirl-actress and one of my favorite colleagues. She lives the roles she plays. Girl can ride, rope and wrangle in her sleep. As an actress, Amber helped model for me what combining a passion for film with a quality of life looks like. They don't need to be mutually exclusive, but in fact feed one another and create a deeply-rooted foundation. Amber is brazen and genuine in this respect and her example gave me the courage to move back to Montana from New York City and come back to the land and animals that I love. Turns out, you are even better at your craft when grounded in your element.” At a time when multi-million dollar, big budget Yellowstone graces the cover of every equine magazine and dropping Kevin Costner’s name is an indulgence few can abstain from, real Montana horse people are looking for real heroes. Travis Mills, and our heroines Jenna Ciralli and Amber Rose Mason, might be the answer. However, 12 Westerns is not big-budget. All 12 films have a one million dollar budget. It is Travis Mills’ belief that it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of money to make good art. But, despite the fact that they are in post production and the good art has been made, they’re still gathering up the budget. They have created a fundraiser at westerns, where you can contribute $1 or $1million to help. It’s a project worth supporting. Jenna Ciralli, Amber Rose Mason, and Travis Mills, and the entire cast and crew of 12 Westerns have done the impossible. They are anomalies in an anomalous year. They brought real cowboying back to Westerns, made masterpieces on a small budget, and kicked 2020 in the teeth with the heel of their boots. Get the word out. Go see these movies. Support this accomplishment by donating. Find more information at:,, and at Find Amber Rose Mason at and Jenna Ciralli at

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Call 406.579.4060 advertise Breeders only—25% off any size ad in the Feb/Mar Breeders Issue. - 30 -

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health >>> ways to weigh


) (


Montana winters are tough for horses. As we learned in last month’s article, they have quite a few physiologic strategies for staying warm. One of the things a horse needs to stay warm is adequate fat coverage, which can be difficult to see under a horse’s thick winter coat. This month we will talk about weight monitoring and next month we will talk more specifically about feeding strategies for thin horses or hard keepers.

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clockwise from top left: areas of the body evaluated for fat coverage when Body Condition Scoring a horse proper placement of a weight tape for monitoring this horse has a weight of 1190, based on the number lined up with the tape (it’s just underneath the metal marker)

Of course, in a perfect world, if we are monitoring a horse’s weight, we would simply weigh him. However, that’s obviously not feasible – you cannot just stand him on your bathroom scale! There are two main ways to practically monitor a horse’s weight: body condition scoring (BCS) and weight taping. A body condition score (BCS) is a method for tracking the fat coverage and condition of animals when a scale is impractical or unavailable. It’s been used for over 30 years and has stood up in multiple court cases of neglect across the country. To BCS a horse, fat is evaluated over 6 areas of his body: crest/neck, withers, spine/loin, behind the elbow, barrel/ribs, and tailhead. A scale from 1-9 is applied in each area, then the average is calculated. In the winter, with a thick hair coat, it’s hard to tell fat coverage vs. fur coverage, so a horse must be felt and palpated and not just visually observed.

When we are working to help a horse either gain or lose weight, I advocate using a weight tape weekly and recording the number. It seems like we can be pouring feed to one, and it’s hard to tell we are making a difference, but again, the weight tape will catch the trend before our eye does. Knowing we are making progress prevents us from feeling discouraged. If a horse is stable, it’s still important to monitor him regularly - once monthly is reasonable - so that he doesn’t gradually gain or lose condition unnoticed. With weight monitoring through body condition scoring and weight tapes, we can adjust a horse’s feeding and exercise regimen for ideal health. These tools help us get horses through our frigid winters with enough fat to stay warm and comfortable.

A BCS of 1 is extremely emaciated, and the animal has almost no body fat, with his spine and bones showing clearly. A BCS of 5 is moderate or ideal and the animal has just the right amount of fat coverage and is round over his spine and rump. Finally, a BCS of 9 is a very obese, and the horse will have patches of fat and an obvious crease down his spine and rump. A 700-pound pony is very different from a 700-pound Quarter Horse. Describing a horse by his weight alone doesn’t give a clear picture. But, if you say that a horse has a BCS of 2, that’s a clear mental image of his condition.

Dr. Stacie G. Boswell is a veterinarian, board-certified in large animal surgery and has an interest in equine welfare. She practices in Belgrade, MT and is the author of The Ultimate Guide for Horses in Need.

Weight taping is another way to estimate a horse’s weight. For most horses, a weight tape gives an excellent weight estimate. They are useful for monitoring trends of the condition of an individual horse at home. A change in BCS score on a horse can have a range of 35-50 lbs or so; weight taping will catch trends sooner. To use a weight tape, it should be placed around the horse’s barrel just behind his elbow and perpendicular to the ground.

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column >>> the profitable horseman


) (

Wordless Negotiating Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting By Doug Emerson Negotiating for price and terms when buying or selling is uncomfortable for most. Whether you’re selling a horse, buying a truck or negotiating for starting a colt, dickering for price and terms, once commonplace, is rare and even considered rude by some. Negotiating, not to be confused with the negative term “horse trading�, is not about beating your opponent up for a better price. Negotiating is a way to arrive at a deal where both parties benefit and is not exclusively about price. I recall a story of my own experience when I was a newcomer to negotiating trying to close a deal with a seasoned buyer. After multiple back and forth offers and counter offers over price and terms, I assumed a deal was done until the buyer prospect objected. cont. page 38

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Let silence be your invisible negotiating tool. It works.

"Can't you do any better on the pricing?", he drawled slowly. My mind raced through the possibilities: should I counter with $100 off, 5% off, 30 day terms or maybe even 10% off? What to do I questioned over and over in my mind in a span of just a few seconds. And then I remembered the power of "the silence technique"

And this is the way society has evolved into evaluating conversations. If the dialogue stops, if there is dead air, then something is wrong or it's broken. As you talk business and put an offer or counter offer in front of the buyer or seller, a silence or lack of response, will make you automatically think "It's not working, I've got to sweeten the deal" and you break the silence and begin talking. Silence is Powerful! Never assume silence is a form of rejection. It's a signal of thought taking place, nothing more. It's a waiting game for decisions. The impatient negotiator who makes concessions before hearing a response from the opposing buyer or seller is bidding in an auction with himself. He will never know that he would have had a deal with his first offer if he'd just waited a few more seconds.

With great conviction and a calm voice I said, "No, the price I gave you is my best price." At that point I was done talking. I was afflicted with temporary lockjaw until the prospect answered yes or no to my firm stand. The silence of dead air was paralyzing while I waited for what seemed to be an eternity for my sales prospect to respond. And, eventually he did respond. "Okay, I'll take it", he consented. The "he who speaks first loses" silence technique of negotiating had worked once again! A co-worker introduced this “he who speaks first loses� phrase to me some time ago. In simple language: present your best price offer for an item and then shut up. Shut up means: no talking, silence, bite a hole through your lip if you have to, but calmly wait for the buyer or seller's response. You see, in our North American society, silence is an uncomfortable element in a conversation. We cannot tolerate "dead air". Most likely as a result of too much radio and TV listening and viewing, the lack of sound has conditioned us to believe something is wrong. The radio station must have stopped broadcasting. The television station has a transmission problem. Things are broken because there is silence.

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As you negotiate for price and terms in any type of sale or purchase, keep in mind the power of silence. Begin to test your capacity to feel uncomfortable with awkward silence in a conversation. Resist the temptation to play traditional negotiating tennis by returning each verbal volley immediately. Let silence be your invisible negotiating tool. It works.

About the author: Doug Emerson, the Profitable Horseman, consults, writes and speaks about the business half of the horse business. Visit

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nutrition >>> feeding pregnant mares




By Dr. Nerida Richards for FeedXL

Pregnant mares carry your hopes and dreams, be it for the next big champion or just a quiet riding companion. Regardless of what you are breeding, good care of the mare during her various stages of pregnancy has long term impacts on both her and her foal’s long term health and athletic capacity. Here are some tips for feeding pregnant mares to keep them healthy and breeding sound, strong and athletic foals:

DON’T LET MARES GET FAT Mares in their early stages of pregnancy don’t need many, if any additional calories than they needed when they weren’t in foal. All mares are different, so to really know how much feed your pregnant mares need you should condition score regularly. Pregnant mares should ideally be maintained at a condition score of 6 and should not be allowed to exceed a score of 7. Having mares too fat can:

Reduce their milk production when they foal.

Put unnecessary strain on their hooves and joints, making them heavy and uncomfortable.

Lead to difficulty foaling (though this isn’t necessarily proven to occur).

Make it difficult to fall pregnant again, particularly if a mare is forced to lose weight just prior to or immediately following foaling.

As mares progress through their pregnancy their requirement for energy and protein does increase, so you may find you need to feed additional feed to maintain their body condition score. If you are feeding pregnant mares, get in the habit of running your hands over them every time you feed them. Doing this means you will quickly pick up if they are putting on more condition than they need and will allow you to adjust their feed intake accordingly.

DON’T LET MARES GET SKINNY A pregnant mare shouldn’t be allowed to drop below a condition score of 5. Mares that are any lighter will fall away quickly after foaling, reducing the body energy and protein reserves for milk production and also switching off the reproductive cycles, making it difficult or impossible to get in foal again. Thin mares may also be more susceptible to disease.

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Again, get in the habit of running your hands over your mares to assess whether they need more feed to hold them in the desired body condition. If you notice their ribs becoming easier to feel or their topline and rump starting to fall away, you will need to increase the amount of feed they are getting. Because so much room is taken up in the mare’s abdomen late in the pregnancy you will likely need to feed high energy grains or high energy fiber feeds that use ingredients like sugarbeet pulp or soybean hulls to allow them to increase their energy intake enough to hold their body condition. High fat feeds are also useful for late pregnant mares.

MAKE SURE MINERAL AND VITAMIN REQUIREMENTS ARE MET Meeting the mineral and vitamin requirements of pregnant mares during early and late pregnancy is crucial to:

Promote the sound development of their foals.

Prevent deficiencies like iodine that can affect the thriftiness and survival of newborn foals.

Prevent problems in the mares like retained placenta and the associated laminitis.

Maintain a strong immune system in the mare and foal.

Maintain the long‐term health and soundness of the mare for future reproduction.

While pregnant mares can often be maintained on good quality pasture with little additional feed, without supplementation of minerals, a pasture‐only diet will almost certainly have quite dramatic deficiencies of copper and zinc and depending on the geographical location may also be very deficient in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine and selenium. If the mare doesn’t receive the additional minerals she needs to support herself and her growing fetus she will draw them from her own body reserves. However if she is required to do this for many consecutive breeding seasons it will eventually have implications for both her and her future foals’ long‐term health, soundness and athletic ability. One study has shown that foals born to mares early in her breeding career have less structural problems than foals born later in that mare’s life, which may indicate that over consecutive pregnancies, mares can run out of reserves of minerals that directly impact the sound development of her foals. FeedXL allows you to quickly and easily determine your mare’s requirements for these critical minerals as well as vitamins and helps you make sure the diet you are feeding is meeting her requirements through all stages of pregnancy.

FEED HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN During pregnancy a mare requires high quality protein to meet her own requirements and those of her growing fetus. If the pasture your mare is on is of low quality (for example pasture that has matured, gone to seed or browned off), add some high quality alfalfa hay to raise the quality of protein in the forage component of her diet. If you are using supplementary feeds on low quality pasture, select feeds that use legumes and oilseeds with quality protein, including soybean, lupins, faba/field beans and canola meal. Low quality protein sources like cottonseed meal shouldn’t be used for pregnant mares. FeedXL will help you make sure you are feeding enough good quality protein to your mares to produce healthy foals and will also stop you from overfeeding protein which will make your mare’s diet very expensive.

MAKE THE MOST OF PASTURE IF YOU HAVE IT Pasture is an excellent source of energy and protein. Feeding a diet that relies largely on pasture has two main positive effects. The first is it will make for an economical diet, with pasture being one of your cheapest feeds available. Secondly, a high fiber diet will keep your mare’s gastrointestinal tract healthy, reducing the risk of problems like colic (something to be avoided in a pregnant mare).

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To really know what is in your pasture and what your mare needs in addition for her diet to be balanced, you should have your pasture tested for energy, protein and minerals levels. Once you have had your pasture tested we can enter the results into your FeedXL account so you can see what is in and what is missing from your specific pasture. Then you only need to add what is missing from the mare’s diet. If you rely on hay for your mare’s main source of forage this too can be tested and the results put into FeedXL.

SUMMARY Because it is so often said that a pregnant mare needs little more than a horse at maintenance, it is sometimes mistakenly thought that mares and particularly early pregnant mares can be fed diets of forage only with little or no supplementation. However while a pasture or good quality hay diet may be sufficient to maintain your mare’s bodyweight, it will almost certainly be lacking in critical nutrient including minerals that can determine if your foal is born structurally sound or not. Keeping mares in the correct body condition, making sure you meet mineral and vitamins requirements from day one of the pregnancy, feeding high quality protein and using pasture when you can will help you to breed sound foals that are healthy and full of life when born. It will also mean your mares can remain healthy and able to produce strong foals with good structural soundness year in, year out. Being pregnant may not appear to be hard work, but it will take a toll on your mare’s body if she is not properly cared for.

DEDICATED TO SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF There’s a lot of information on feeding horses out there – some of it’s accurate, and some of it’s not. At FeedXL it is our mission to educate horse owners so that they understand nutrition better and can make more informed feed choices. We cut through all the marketing bias and personal opinion and get to the facts. Our articles are always easy-to-read and backed by science. We hope you enjoy them and can use the information in them practically, with your own horses.

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Montana Western Fur Company


Giddyup Tack and Feed



East Slope Veterinary

Headley Family Feed


Way Out West Design and Gifts

Zula Lynn AirBnB



Latigo and Lace


Mannix Store

Outfitters Supply


North Valley Ag Supply

Western Ranch Supply


Shipton’s Big R

Cowpoke Ranch Supply

Billings Livestock Sale

Valley Irrigation and Supply

Connolly Saddlery


Buckaroo Businesses

Cowpoke Ranch Supply

Rand’s Custom Hats




Rocky Mountain Supply

Rocky Mountain Supply

Belgrade Community Library

The Den


Atomic 79

Four Corners Saddlery

Frecker’s Saddlery


Frontline Ag

Harvest Moon Saloon


Belt Brew Pub

Spotted Dog Saloon



Mountain Good Cafe

Rocky Mountain Supply


Madison Foods

Carter’s Boots

Willie’s Distillery


Yesterday’s Pharmacy & Soda Fountain'

Boot Barn Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate, Jean White

Shedhorn Sports FAIRFIELD

Gallatin County Courthouse MVD Mountain View Co-op Hall & Hall Properties

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True Value Hardware

find the magazine >>> outlets Cozy Corner Cafe


Wild Horse Trading Post

Venture West Real Estate


Glass Slipper Lounge

Colleens Country Store


North 40 Outfitters (East & West)

R Bar B Arena

Outfitter Gear List

Rocky Mountain Supply

Mountain View Co-op

First Community Bank


Broadwater Tack

Grizzly Saddlery

Lakeside Tavern




Libation Station

Delaney’s Landscape Center

Montana Mad Hatters

King’s Arena


Milliron Tack



Valley Boot and Saddle

Mountain View Co-op

Lakeland Feed & Supply

Majestic Arena

Lane’s Boot, Shoe, and Saddle Repair

Bitterroot Brewing Bitterroot Chamber & Visitor Center Bos Saddlery Larry’s Tractor, Trailer, and More

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profile>>> cooper taylor

By Mark LaRowe Photos by Wild Mane Photography


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COOPER TAYLOR “A well-paid traveling circus. A bunch of grown men playing like kids.”

That’s how Ennis, MT native, actor, stuntman and cowboy, Cooper Taylor, describes his life in the film industry. Raised in a family immersed in movie making, a line of work that was like kid’s play to him, he never really had to grow up. His father, Buck, had a role in Tombstone with Hollywood A-listers like Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott. Buck also played Newly O’Brien from 1967-1975 in the iconic TV show, Gunsmoke. His grandfather, Dub, had roles in over 300 Hollywood Westerns. His mother is childhood actress Judy Ann Nugent. Two of her best-remembered roles were as Jet Maypen for the “Walt Disney Presents: Annette” serial on The Mickey Mouse Club and as little Ann Carson, the blind child who flew around the world with Superman on the Adventures of Superman. Cooper was raised on a ranch with horses and learned to ride at an early age. He remembers helping many neighboring cattle ranchers with chores as he grew up in the Madison Valley. After high school, Cooper turned to team rope as a hobby and it soon became something at which he excelled. In 1996 he won the Ben Johnson Celebrity Team Roping at the Lazy E Arena in Edmond, OK. Ben, an academy award winner and PRCA rodeo champion, presented Cooper with the championship saddle that day, just before Ben passed away. That saddle is cherished by Cooper. A lover of western heritage, he takes pride in his family’s involvement with so many western-themed movies and productions. You may have seen Cooper swashbuckling in the deck battle scenes of Master and Commander; Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe. He recalls that the most fun he ever had on a movie set was during the production of The Patriot, with Mel Gibson as the protagonist. “We got to dress up as revolutionary era soldiers and run around in the woods. A bunch of grown men playing like kids. We were a well-paid traveling circus,” Cooper says with a laugh. Currently, Cooper has a major role in the monster hit TV series, Yellowstone, where he plays a stunt double for the character Rip, portrayed by Cole Hauser. Whether it is acting, performing stunts or working cattle with his family and friends, he’s always grateful to make it through safely and unhurt. “After all,” quips Cooper, “you can replace a stunt man, but you can’t replace an actor.”

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