Horses of the Trainers Challenge
The “Douglas Lake Cattle Company” was founded June 30, 1886 and has been operating continuously since. In response to booming demand for beef in rapidly-growing Vancouver, the Interior stock industry went into high gear in the wake of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s opening, spurring on something of a golden age in BC ranching. Today the Ranch houses not only a large number of resident employees, it also accommodates the many tourists and fly fishing enthusiasts each year to enjoy the beauty of the lakes that are scattered within.
Douglas Lake Ranch is known as Canada’s largest working cattle ranch and has the single largest unit of open grassland in the Region. Douglas Lake Ranch’s ability to sustain such an impressive herd of cattle is derived from the careful management of the natural grasses including the indigenous Bluebunch Wheatgrass.
An equally important component of Douglas Lake Ranch is the Quarter Horse operation. The Ranch Remuda originated and was maintained by horses raised at the Ranch until the early 1960’s when the Ranch and Mr. CN Woodward became interested in the American Quarter Horse. After the purchase of Stardust Desire #0083564 and Peppy San # 0114978, which both went on the become NCHA World Champions, the Ranch started a whole Quarter Horse Division consisting of breeding, raising and training of the Quarter Horses with the focus being on cutting. With the death of CN Woodward in 1990, the cutting horse division of the Ranch was wound down.
Now the Ranch raises horses exclusively for its own Remuda, but is maintaining the bloodlines that the Ranch worked so hard to build in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In November of 2004, Douglas Lake Ranch was honored by the American Quarter Horse Association with the “Best Remuda” Award.
Douglas Lake Ranch has a staff of 16 -18 cowboys that are responsible for the movement and wellbeing of up to 20,000 head of cattle. All work is done with horses. Each cowboy has a string of around 10 head of horses that they will rotate throughout the year. During December—February two horses per cowboy are kept sharp shod because of the ice and frozen ground. As calving starts most of the cowboys will have 3-4 horses shod as the miles in a day start to build. This type of rotation means that no horse has to go to work 2 days in a row. During the busiest time and the longest miles, most horses only work 1 day per week.
The cowboys save their favorite horses for fall works when most of the sorting, weaning and shipping takes place. This is a time when the American Quarter Horse’s cow sense really shines. Being able to sit in a gate or in the sorting pen on a horse that likes it’s job as much, if not more, than the cowboy is a real treat. The Ranch mares are worked as well as the geldings. After proving they can do the work, some make it to the broodmare band. The Ranch stallions are also used for fall work.
With each cowboy typically requiring up to 10 horses in their own string, a horse breeding operation is an integral part of the Ranch operation. Presently the Ranch maintains approximately 300 horses, which includes 3 stallions and 30 broodmares. The broodmares are pasture bred. The stallions are turned out in May and brought back in by the middle of July. The mares foal from April to June. The foals get halter broke between 8-9 months, started at 2 years, lightly worked at 3 & 4 years and are working full time by the age of 5. Our goal of course is to improve our remuda with horses that carry that special cow sense quality.
We are proud to have the horse of The Douglas Lake Ranch as part of our Trainers Challenge!
You can visit their website at www.douglaslake.com