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CS Cattle Company

The Davis family of New Mexico continues to run a ranch that was started by today's managers' great-grandfather.

Story courtesy of America's Horse
By Jim Jennings

When Frank Springer topped a rise and looked down on the little village of Cimarron, New Mexico, in February 1873, two things immediately struck him -- the snow-covered peaks to the west, and the rolling short grass prairies to the east. It was a beautiful sight to a young man from Iowa, who had come west the year before as a lawyer for the Maxwell Land Grant. Living in Las Vegas, New Mexico, he had ridden north to Cimarron to take care of some company business, and immediately fell in love with the country. As a matter of fact, Springer was so struck with the area that that same afternoon he bought 1,000 acres six miles east of Cimarron, on some of the prettiest pasture land he had ever seen.

That first thousand acres became the basis for the 180,000-acre CS Cattle Company, which last year earned the Best Remuda Award, presented annually by AQHA and Bayer Corporation to the ranch that is judged to have the best remuda of horses. It was Frank's brother Charles who gave his initials to the ranch's name after he joined Frank in 1878 and became manager of the ranch.

Managership of the CS Cattle Company has remained in the family to the present time. Charles Springer was succeeded by his nephew Hank, Frank's youngest son, and Hank was succeeded by his older brother Edward. The title then went to Les Davis, a grandson of the ranch's founder who took over in 1946. Les ran the ranch until he died in May of this year. He was succeeded for the present time by his wife, Linda, who had lived and worked on the CS for 48 years. She is also the daughter of Albert Mitchell, who served four terms as president of the American Quarter Horse Association and who had run both his own Tequesquite Ranch and the famed Bell Ranch, both located in eastern New Mexico. Given all that family history in the ranching business, it's not surprising that each of Les and Linda's six sons and daughters have returned to the ranch where they serve as vice presidents in charge of specific divisions of the company.

The history of the CS remuda goes back to 1890, when Frank Springer bought at auction two young English-bred Thoroughbred stallions -- Uhlan II by stakes winner Uhlan, and Ute Chief by Maximilian -- along with 12 fillies, also Thoroughbreds. These horses became the basis for the ranch's herd, but the blood was strengthened in 1912 when Hank Springer bought from Quarter Horse foundation breeder Billy Anson a horse they called "Little Joe." Not to be confused with the Little Joe of South Texas fame, the CS's Little Joe was by Harmon Baker by Peter McCue and is known in AQHA records as Old Joe 2.

Through the years, the ranch continued to add to and upgrade its horse herd, and in the 1920s, manager Ed Springer took advantage of the U.S. Army's remount program. In an effort to obtain cavalry horses, the Army provided mostly Thoroughbred stallions free of charge to ranchers. Then, if the ranchers decided to sell the resulting foals, the Army got first choice. Among the Thoroughbred stallions with which the CS was provided was Chimney Sweep, the sire of Brush Mount.

Brush Mount was one of those that Springer declined to sell to the Army. He used him on some of the ranch's mares, but the stallion ended up in the possession of Hank Wiescamp of Colorado and then the nearby Moore Ranch of Raton, New Mexico. Brush Mount became one of the early foundation sires of AQHA. Among his get was Gold Mount, the sire of Maddon's Bright Eyes, one of the top Quarter running horses of the 1950s and the world champion running horse in 1951.

When Les Davis took over the ranch in 1946, he realized what his uncle Ed Springer had also known: Raising cattle was not the only way to make the ranch pay. There was also money in horses. In addition to selling to area ranchers, Les began to market the horses on both coasts as mounts for polo players and as hunter/jumper prospects. Then, with his good friend Albert Mitchell serving as AQHA president from 1946-48, he also saw the advantages of having registered horses. At that time, the Association was inspecting horses for Quarter Horse conformation before they could be accepted into the registry. In 1948, Les sent word to Amarillo that he had horses ready for inspection. Forty-three of 60 CS mares were accepted and given registration numbers, and thus began a breeding program that has continued through the years. In 1998, the CS Cattle Company was recognized by AQHA as being a Legacy Breeder, one who has registered horses for 50 consecutive years.

Today the CS runs about 25 broodmares, breeding to five different stallions on the ranch. Mr Snooper is the senior sire. He is a Double Bid-bred stallion they have used for a number of years. Mr Remind is by Letters Reminder by Doc's J Jay out of a Mr Snooper mare, and SD Skippa Rooster is by Skipa Donor out of a Quincy Bar-bred mare.

LH Red Hot Affair is a Colonel Freckles- and Sonny Dee Bar-bred stallion, and Doctor I Smoke is by Mr Gunsmoke out of a daughter of Doc's Hotrodder.

In addition, two mares this year were hauled to outside stallions.

With 2,200 mother cows, and another 2,000 or so stocker cattle on the ranch, the ranch managers feel that horses are necessary. "We use our horses all year long," says Kim Barmann, a daughter of Les and Linda Davis and vice president in charge of the Clayton Place. The Clayton Place is one of the ranches that make up the CS Cattle Company. "We follow a time-controlled grazing management system, which requires us to gather and move our cattle from pasture to pasture throughout the year.

"In the spring, we work our calves by heeling and dragging them to a branding fire," she continues, "just like they did it on this ranch a hundred years ago. And we do it that way because we think it's the best."

Most of the horses in the saddle horse remuda are geldings. However, mares that are prospects for the broodmare band are started along with the colts and ridden until the owners determine whether or not a particular filly has the characteristics they want continued in their horse herd. Those that do are put into the broodmare band.

Besides Kim, other Davis family members with specific responsibilities on the ranch include Warren, the oldest son and manager of the Crow Creek division; Julia Davis Stafford, an attorney who handles all the ranch legal work and manages the cattle on the headquarters division; Randy, who is in charge of the hunting operations; Kirk, who handles all the ranch's machinery and oversees the farming operation; and Bruce, who manages the mountain ranch country and handles all the cattle buying and selling. Although each sibling has his or her own specific responsibilities, when it's time to work cattle at just about any place on the ranch, almost everyone is there, horseback.

The CS Cattle Company has been a family-run ranch from the very beginning, when Frank Springer brought his brother Charles out to manage things. It's still family run, and it's still in the same family. Frank would have to be proud.