Question for the ranchers and cowboys out there - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-23-2013, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Question for the ranchers and cowboys out there

Would you hire someone who has no experience working on a ranch, but can ride well, works hardd is willing to learn? What's the most important thing you'd look for hiring?
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-23-2013, 08:29 PM
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I would and other ranchers do. Depends on what job needs to be done on what I hope to find in a hand.

Cow camp job? Needs to be really highly skilled in handling cattle and keeping, or getting, them healthy.

Home ranch? Some one to work with me (or one of my friends)? Strong, common sense, sense of humor, flexible, willing to do things that aren't horseback.

Honestly, I suggestion for someone wanting to learn the cow business is to go work at a feed lot for at least 6 months. You will learn so much about cow health and handling cattle. You'll learn to appreciate the calm ones and how to keep yourself and the wild cattle safe.

You'll also meet lots of other people in the industry and probably get a good lead on a ranch job.

Feedlots are a better way to break into ranching than a dude/guest setting.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-23-2013, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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And are feed lots generally willing to take on and train inexperienced people?
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-23-2013, 11:33 PM
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And are feed lots generally willing to take on and train inexperienced people?
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If they can ride and act like they'll work: yes.

It can be hard work. What has to get done can't wait on weather like it can sometimes on a ranch - less flexibility.

Can offer more opportunity to learn about driving various pieces of equipment or provide opportunity to learn mechanical/electrical things. All good skills to offer when you move to ranching.

And we haven't discussed the smell. Some people can deal with it fine. Others think it's awful. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

Oh. Great work for young horses and a lot of pen riders make money on the side taking in outside horses.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-23-2013, 11:45 PM
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I agree wholeheartedly with Boots. Riding pens would be a great place to start and most feedlots have a high turnover rate so they are almost always hiring. My brother worked in one for almost 10 years and I've done a fair amount of daywork in a couple nearby lots.

Like Boots said, you learn how to spot a sick one and how to tell them from a chronic (a cow that has bad lungs or something that can't be treated) and how to treat whatever sickness they have. Most the lots around here have their cowboys spend time in the vet clinic on-site to learn what drugs treat what and how much each cow should get...and how often. Mostly learning basic vet treatment for common ailments.

Working in there, you'll learn how to handle cattle, both sorting and driving/gathering, and how to keep things cool. IMHO, it's a great place to work if you enjoy that type of work and are willing to work hard.

The cons, as Boots said, it doesn't wait for the weather to break. You're riding pens when it's 20 below zero and blowing snow and when it's 115 and the wind is blowing 60 mph. Horses and humans alike tend to be prone to sinus and respiratory tract infections due to all the dust they breathe in all the time. The hours can be very long. My brother worked in a very large lot and he would average 15-16 hours a day. I worked in mostly small or starter lots and would average 12-13 but would occasionally get to 15. You're starting as soon as it's light enough to see (sometimes before if you're shipping...that gets done by flashlight LOL) and you don't stop until you're done, no matter how long it takes.


BUT, all that work can turn out a dang good cowboy with some time and in 30 days, you'll have a very broke, handy, and savvy horse. You learn a lot and you get really good at the job really quick if you listen and learn.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-24-2013, 12:02 AM
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All you need is a good work ethic and be willing to work under very adverse conditions. It is hot in the summer, cold, wet and muddy (well, that ain't mud) in the winter, the hours are long and the work can be miserable.

If you can work hard and listen more than you talk, you will get along just fine.

Some feed yards will teach you from scratch if you are a hard worker and express a willingness to learn the work. Others require a lot of experience. They will start you our processing and handling cattle on foot. If you work into being a 'pen rider', you have to furnish your own horses and saddles.

Here is a link to the help wanted classified of the High Plains Journal. It is a very well known weekly magazine that comes out of Dodge City Kansas. It has a LOT of help wanted ads. All the feed yards advertise in it.

Farm and Ranch Classified Listings
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visit us at www.wolferanch.com
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-24-2013, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-24-2013, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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I live in Ontario but I'm planning on heading out west and finding work out there. That's why I'm asking, what kind of employment in that kind of industry I could find. I know a couple people out there but have no real community until I meet more people. I definitely know how to work hard, but do you think the fact that I come from so far would set me back at all?
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-24-2013, 07:05 PM
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The ranchers I know are willing to take a chance on someone with little to no experience. But you better be ready to work hard and be willing to do anything anytime without gripping. You also better be ready to "ride for the brand" meaning work comes first no matter what. In ranch work there is really no "I'm off", things go wrong most of the time when you should be sleeping. Cows get out, storms happen, fences break not during "work hours". Most of the ranchers I know are not BIG outfits, they may only hire one maybe two hands for the summer, so those hand need to be there when they are needed, not off running around town. Good luck. If you are really ready to work I know a ranch here in Montana that hires a ranch hand for the summer houses is provided. They are a great couple. you can privet message me if you would like more info.
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