THE SIEBEN FOUR
By Marylu Weber
This story started in 2008 when Whit Hibbard, a fourth generation rancher and Low-Stress Livestock Handling Instructor, came to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to share his livestock handling knowledge with the staff of the park. I had been invited to that workshop and had the privilege of riding with Whit when he gathered and penned 10 of the wild TRNP horses. At that time, a young blue colt came up to him and sniffed his hand. I told him he had to buy that colt and Whit took the bait. (Read “Whit’s Story” on this blog) Whit has never regretted that decision and calls Teddy one of the best ranch horses he has ever ridden. Teddy is admired and coveted by all the horsemen of the ranch. Whit’s nephew, Cooper Hibbard, says of Teddy, “He’s like riding a dream!”
After the suggestion by Whit, it was Cooper’s decision whether or not to add four more North Dakota Badlands Horses to Sieben Live Stock Company’s cavey of ranch horses. Whit told me Cooper would be calling me, but as busy as a “CEO in training” of a large ranch can be, he didn't call me until the night before the sale. Based solely on Teddy and what his Uncle Whit had said about the TRNP horses, Cooper was willing to take a chance and buy four wild 2 or 3 year old stallions, sight unseen. Though I knew the horses well, I wasn’t feeling entirely comfortable picking prospective ranch horses from the 103 being sold. When I asked Cooper how he would get them home, he mentioned a hauler named Steve. Surprising Cooper that I knew of Steve, I told him I had talked to Steve on the phone earlier that summer and liked him immediately. Knowing he was a experienced horseman and a good judge of horses I enlisted his help in picking horses for Cooper. While looking at the horses in the pens, Steve asked me if I knew Billie Rase; Billie was a lifelong friend of mine and someone I had always loved and admired. It turned out that Steve was married to Billie’s niece. Any friend of Billie’s was a friend of mine, so now I trusted him implicitly with helping me pick horses! Steve graciously gave me his list of 5 stallions he thought would make good ranch horses based on conformation and attitude in the pens.
Without knowing it, Steve picked four sons of Sidekick: Sage, a two year old gray overo, and Peace Pipe, a three year old gray out of Snip’s Gray, Hawthorne, a two year old, and Guitar, a three year old, both roans out of Embers’ Girl. His fifth pick was a sharp minimal sorrel overo, Bandit, out of Dolly by Cocoa. These were favorites of mine too, so I would bid to try to purchase four of the five. I was able to win the bid on both Sage and Peace Pipe with Sage going a little high and Peace Pipe a little low. I was at even money when Hawthorne came in. The bids quickly rose over my allotted budget, but I really liked the 2 year old colt’s docile disposition, so kept bidding and won him at $200 over budget. I was not to be so lucky with Bandit; his coat still glistened and he was already showing a lot of muscular development. Soon, at $1400, the winning bid was far beyond my budget. The young lady sitting beside us at the sale had set her heart on buying Guitar and I was not about to deprive her of that handsome young roan, so I quickly went to Steve to see what he thought of 3 year old Tomahawk who was just about to come into the ring. Steve gave his approval and I was able to fill out the order of four horses with Tomahawk. Steve was going to haul the four to Billings, MT yet that night, rest them overnight, and meet Cooper in the morning. I was a little nervous that I had gone $250 over budget, and that Cooper had never seen the horses; I wondered what he would think of them. The next day, when we were almost back home to Rapid City, I received a call from Cooper. He said he was “blown away” at the quality of the horses and thanked me for buying them for the ranch. The four young stallions were moving on to another stage of their lives.
Cooper drove back to Cascade, MT with the four young horses that would one day be part of the cavey of saddle horses serving the large cattle and sheep ranch his great, great grandfather, Henry Sieben, had established in 1909. He was excited to show the horses to the other three horsemen who would each work with one of the young stallions, gentling it and training it under saddle. Upon seeing the four stallions, the other men were also impressed with the four and marveled at how well built they were for horses bred and raised without human intervention. Whit Hibbard’s wife, Felice, a horse enthusiast and rider since an early age, loved Whit’s Teddy. She said, if the new colts were a fraction as good as Teddy they would be great ranch horses. She had been studying the Phanfare.com photo files of sale horses and was excited to see that some of her favorites were among the ranch’s new horses; she admired the sturdy build, good bone, and large healthy feet of the wild ones.
The first order of business was to get the four young stallions gentle enough to be gelded. Each man was to pick one stallion to work with. Iain chose the young gray overo, Sage. Brice liked the way Tomahawk was built; he would one day look like his sire, Silver. Cooper had his choice of Peace Pipe, Hawthorne. He liked them both, but Hawthorne walked right up to him so he figured Hawthorne picked him. Brent was to train Peace Pipe. The three other colts were pretty easy to get the first halter on, but Tomahawk was not very trusting. He was finally caught, sedated, and all were gelded, then all four were turned out in a large paddock to heal and get accustomed to life on the Montana ranch.
|Bryce and Tomahawk|
|Brent and Peace Pipe|