Registered Quarter Horses
Our ranch has raised registered horses, both Paints and Quarter Horses, for decades. For the past 10 years we have been partnering with Lynne Taylor of Shepherd, Montana in his breeding program for stout, athletic ranch horses. Lynne owns two outstanding AQHA stallions, Roanys Tomcat and Awesome Pete. There are not many men alive today who have the practical horse experience that Lynne has. Right out of high school he went to work for Bud Kramer at Cohagen, Montana. Bud and Bobby Kramer at that time ran about 3,000 head of horses. Lynne later went to work gathering loose horses for the BLM in the Missouri Breaks, then for 20 years managed the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge. During this time he was also a PRCA saddle bronc rider, bull rider, team roper and for over 35 years, he was a top pickup man.
While it has been
copied by others, Lynne originated the idea of crossing Bub Nunn's
Hancock line of horses with Bob Shelhamer's line-bred Oswald horses.
This has created a unique confluence of working cowhorse blood. I
The open, windswept country between Melstone, Montana and the Missouri Breaks north of Winnett, Montana is cow country and is best traveled horseback. It takes a special type of horse to pack a man and work a cow on this range and for years folks thereabout knew the very best came from Bob Shelhamer and Bub Nunn.
Nunn says he was “wanting a Hancock horse pretty bad” when he went to a Jayne Harris horse sale in Recluse, Wyoming in 1985. A stranger approached him and pointed at one big roan weanling. “That’s the only stud colt ever saved out of Roan Prairie,” the man said. “I picked up Cheyenne on Roan Prairie and he was the best pickup horse I ever rode.” The colt had been consigned to the sale by noted breeder Roy Cleveland and was named “High Rolling Roany.”
Bub Nunn had his Hancock horse.
Almost 50 years ago Bob Shelhamer went to Kansas to look at a Bill Cody stallion. While there all anyone wanted to talk about was a match racehorse named “Oswald.” But no one knew where the horse was and some speculated he’d died from abuse. It was said the horse was often matched three times a day then used in rodeos all while being kept in a chicken coop. Shelhamer returned to Montana with Oswald on his mind. A few years later he learned that Walter Clark of Forsyth had found and obtained the horse. A deal was struck, and Shelhamer had the bloodline he’d perpetuate through four decades. “I was a happy camper when I got Oswald bought,” Shelhamer says.
In 1990 Lynne Taylor had retired from managing the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge for the BLM and was planning to begin breeding stout, athletic cowhorses. Having earned his living horseback since he was a teenager, including many years picking up broncs, Taylor knew what he wanted. One day at a Billings horse sale he bumped into Nunn who was selling three of his High Rolling Roany colts. Lynne couldn’t stay for the sale but he made sure someone bought him all three.
The best of these was “Roanys Tomcat.”
Taylor began putting together a collection of mares, many of them blue roans with a Poco Pine background, while day-working for large ranches in central and eastern Montana. The more he worked for the Shelhamer ranch the more impressed he became with their line of Oswald horses. They were all the same: stout, fast, tough, and packing more ‘cow’ than a litter of Blue Heelers.
When Bob retired from the horse business Taylor acquired one of the best young stallions left in the remarkable Shelhamer program. He purchased Awesome Pete, the last colt out of the top-producing mare, Gin Blaze, to put on the red and blue roan daughters of Roanys Tomcat.
Though found by Clark in Kansas, the Oswald story actually beings in Oklahoma where the 1945-model stud won the Oklahoma Futurity and set a track record that stood for four years. Once he had him, Shelhamer took the gentle stallion straight to the arena. “He was the best dogging horse I ever rode,” he says. He was also used in the roping events and barrel racing.
Oswald’s successor was his son, Oswald Pete. The third horse in this royal line of ranch stock was Mr. Pete Oswald, known affectionately as “Junior.” But these weren’t merely related on the top side of the pedigree. Shelhamer had started a line-breeding program that finally culminated with Awesome Pete. “I took line-breeding as far as it could go,” he says. The result is a large pool of Peter McCue blood, Oswald himself being a line-bred Peter McCue. Shelhamer’s breeding program had a definite plan. “I bred ‘em for years to get a lot of cow in ‘em,” he says.
There is no lack of cow in Nunn’s Roany horses either.
“I saw something once I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes,” says Nona Nunn, Bub’s wife. “Bub was working heifers in the corral on Roany and two tried to get by him. One tried to go behind Roany and he stuck his leg out to block it.”
The Hancock line of horses have always been known for being unusually athletic for their size – Red Man, and his son, Blue Valentine, being two of the most noted progeny – but some were considered a bit ornery. Many believe this stigma originates with Joe Hancock having a half-Percheron dam,. But there was no bad blood in Roany. “Nick Mothershead started Roany,” Nunn recalls. “After the first saddling he called me. ’I thought you said that horse had never been rode,’ he said. He hadn’t, I told him. “ On his first ride Roany had behaved like a broke horse.
The dam side of the Nun program included mares from his previous stallion, Apple Jax, an own son of Two-Eyed Jack.
Because they were iron-spirited ranch horses, a few of the Shelhamer horses were also thought to be a tad rank. “Oswald was as kind as a kitten,” Bob recalls. The horse was, in fact, so timid, it was hard to pasture breed him.
No program is infallible, but the colts from Taylor’s Roanys Tomcat are noted for their good minds and those daughters crossed on Awesome Pete produce unusually gentle colts. The first time Taylor rode Awesome Pete the horse was a three-year-old and Lynne was helping a rancher ship calves. One soggy heifer calf broke from the bunch. Lynne roped the calf and Awesome Pete dragged it into a stock trailer.
Undoubtedly, the equine world’s most under-rated athlete is the rodeo pickup horse. They have to be strong, quick, agile, and fearless. They are the modern “war horse.”
Roanys Tomcat and Awesome Pete come from top rodeo horses and they’re producing the same. Taylor picked up regularly on Roanys Tomcat before he quit that game a few years ago, and now PRCA pickup man Duane Gilbert of LaGrange, Wyoming spends his summers rescuing rough stock riders while mounted on horses purchased from Lynne or borrowed from Lynne’s son, Tim Sonberg.
At jackpot team ropings Taylor ropes both ends off Roanys Tomcat and any one of a number of his get. Other Taylor-bred horses are performing all over the nation in rodeos, team pennings, on ranches or standing at stud. (See Deegan Tomcat at www.millirionfarm.com)
A word about the mares: Lynne’s program is built around his own select females and the mares of a few friends. These horses carry the foundation blood of Poco Bueno, Skipper W, Coys Bonanza, and Two-Eyed Jack (among others) and the running blood of Easy Jet, Go Man Go, and Rocket Bar. They’re top mares, and while many are colored in popular shades, they are chosen for soundness, confirmation, disposition and bloodlines. Color is only the frosting.
The only real problem with the Taylor horses is one of nomenclature. If you call Lynne and ask about his horses he only knows them as “Bub” and “Bob.” “Bub” is the roan Hancock horse and “Bob” is the Shelhamer stud.
They are registered as Roanys Tomcat and Awesome Pete, but to Lynne and Marion Taylor they’ll remain Bub and Bob. And those nicknames are the heart of their program. It is a Cowhorse Confluence, the blending of decades of horse sense from the lives of two old Montana cowmen, Bub Nunn and Bob Shelhamer. So it is only fitting the horses carry the names of the men. After all, for many years they carried the men themselves.
Awesome Pete ("Bob")