This winning WRCA team is all about focus and forward movement
WR Roving Ambassador
Photos by Connie Jo Mitchell
John ‘Jack’ Culley, a self-described “ furriner” from the rugged north border coast of England who came to New Mexico in the 1880’s and lived as a cowboy and trail boss for many years. The old gent described cowboyin’ in the country that make up the one million acres of the Singleton Ranches as an “intense and unforgettable experience”.
“You had your choice between hot and dusty or freezing and wet.” But Culley tells us, “it is that experience that changed men forever”!
As fences brought a close to free ranging cattle in this and other parts of the country, cowboyin’ changed too. Gone were the days of the 100 square-mile roundups, but on the Singleton~ San Cristobal Ranch in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, descendants of the line of the first cattle are still on the ranch today and the cowboy way of life is alive and well preserved by a new breed of old school hands like current ranch manager Grant Mitchell.
Born 60 miles north of the ranch he now manages with his wife, Connie Jo, and their two young cowboys, Trey (15) and Sterlin (11). This 1998 vintage Red Raider (Texas Tech University) also captains the Singleton Ranch Rodeo Team. The Singleton Team who finished 5th place ( Swenson Land & Cattle Stanford, TX placed first) at Ranch Rodeo’s January 14th season opener, Best of the West Ranch Rodeo in Ft. Worth, TX, has been to the WRCA World Championships three times. Winning the NM State Championships in Roswell in 2008 and 2009 and the Dalhart, Texas ~XIT Ranch Rodeo in 2016 this past year guaranteed these hands their trips to Amarillo. With just a few roster changes, Grant has captained the same crew of Jeff Bilberry, Brad Shadle, and father Gregg and sons Jacob and Wesley Gudgell, for the decade or better since they have been competing.
As work on their respective operations is spread out across several counties and provides all these team members a pretty full plate, it’s working together throughout the seasons that provide these full time cowboys the practice they need to remain competitive year after year.
A man whose strong Faith drives everything he does, Grant smiles when he says, “We don’t have a bad day. No ‘drama’ is really what characterizes our team and what makes us the winning team we are. If someone flubs a loop or lets “trash” over the line on a sorting, well, we take it all in stride and move on to the next event, fresh.” In addition to that, putting the right guys in the places they do their jobs best” could also be considered their strategy for the 2017 WRCA Ranch Rodeo season. Open communication and frank discussion among all the members, no matter their seniority, complete the team’s winning design.
In addition to their unconventional strategy, the AQHA’s 2012 Remuda of the Year winner, Singleton Ranch Horses, provides a string of working partners for each team member to do their jobs best. The WRCA Ranch Rodeos also provide a great place to showcase what they raise on the ranch. Tried and true “Doc’s Hickory”, “Highbrow Cat”, “Dual Pep”and “Metalic Cat” horses hit the arena in their work clothes, with good minds, big hearts and full of cow, never letting either this ranch rodeo team or the great family audiences down at events that are truly crowd pleasers.
Day ends; come glinting campfires,
Tonight not a wind is stirred;
You can hear the boys on guard if you listen,
Singing to the herd. ~ Jack Culley 1889