angle-left Raising Kids on a Ranch

Raising Kids on a Ranch

Ranch kids get well acquainted with hard work, traditions – and a whole lot of freedom and fun.

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Family traditions are part of the weave of ranch life in the West, fostering the passage of knowledge between the generations who take part in this unique way of life.

So what’s it like to grow up on a big outfit where your “yard” stretches endlessly to the horizon in every direction, and you see way more horses and cattle than people? The Neubert family can shed a little light on that.

On a journalistic visit to the Neubert family ranch, freelance writer Tom Moates gained a first-hand look at a current generation growing up on the ranch, and how Jim Neubert and his siblings carry on the same traditions that raised them. 

  • Family traditions are part of the weave of ranch life, fostering the passage of knowledge between the generations who take part in this unique way of life. Learned skills can turn into lifetime careers. “My dad was in charge of the horse program (when I was growing up). We’d help him break them to lead when we were little.” 
  • Childhood heroes don’t come from the TV screen. “Growing up there, we didn’t have any television. Pretty much all our heroes were either guys that worked on the ranch or friends like the Dorrances. Once in a while, Tom Dorrance would come over there, and everybody talked about how good a hands those guys were. So growing up, that was your heroes.”
  • Hard work and character are traits taught early in life. Jim started his first horse when he was 8. The next year, as the kids were halter-breaking nine yearling colts, an extended rainy period set in. Jim says he hardly weighed 50 pounds, and with work on the ranch temporarily at a standstill, his father suggested he play around with starting those young horses under saddle for something to do.
  • Starting young, problem solving is a daily routine and expectation. “I was too short to saddle (the colts),” Jim says, “but I would get a bucket and get them saddled up, longe them both ways and get them up to the fence and get on them. Trot them around both ways, get my rope down, I had a piece of plastic I could pack around. I put 10 rides on all of them. I was pretty little. Rode them all with my pony saddle and pony bridle.”
  • Ranch kids don’t get “fenced in.” Jim’s life as a ranch kid revolved around horses – and renowned horsemen. “I liked it. It was pretty much total freedom.”

Tom Moates is a freelance writer from Floyd, Virginia. Visit www.tommoates.com to learn more about his books.