Miller Land & Livestock of Big Piney, Wyoming, is the 2018 Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year. The award, which is presented by the American Quarter Horse Association and the AQHA Ranching Committee, recognizes the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders who continue to uphold the ranching tradition.
The ranch is managed by Mike Miller, along with his wife, Tara, and their sons, Will and Wes. Based in Big Piney, Wyoming, on the west central side of the state, the Millers run about 2,000 cow-calf pairs and 1,800 yearlings on land that some of which was first ranched in the late 1870s and has been in their family for 124 years. The Millers brand their cattle – Irish Black, Hereford and Angus crosses – with the historic “67” brand. Their operation is spread out and requires many miles of riding. Cattle are moved around, worked and doctored regularly all year long.
“It is a horseback outfit,” said Mike.
Their American Quarter Horse breeding program has existed since AQHA was founded in 1940. Most of the Millers’ horses have spent their lives as working ranch horses, but they include notable show, rodeo and other competitors. Mike is a very accomplished non-pro in National Reined Cow Horse Association competition, with earnings of more than $600,000 – most earned aboard homebred horses and all self-trained. Among the horses bred on the ranch is the late Playboys Buck Fever, a son of Freckles Playboy that the family bred, competed on and owned. Playboys Buck Fever earned around $60,000 in competition and has sired the earners of more than $356,000 in reined cow horse competition, including two NRCHA superior reined cow horses. The ranch currently breeds 15-25 mares per year.
“The Miller family has proved its dedication to ranching for generations,” said AQHA Director of Ranching Kim Lindsey. “They breed high-quality cattle and ranch horses, and are a model of an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.”
This award is open only to Ranching Heritage Breeders who exemplify the ranching lifestyle. Ranching Heritage Breeders are working cattle ranches that produce five or more registered American Quarter Horses each year for ranch work. Nominees for the award are chosen by their peers, with the winner chosen by vote of the AQHA Ranching Committee.
The 2018 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year award will be formally presented to Miller Land & Livestock at the 2019 AQHA Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. The Millers will receive a custom-designed buckle from AQHA’s Awards Recognition Concepts to mark the achievement. For more information on the AQHA convention, visit www.aqha.com/convention.
The ranch will be featured in the March American Quarter Horse Journal.
To learn more about the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.