Ranching Heritage Breeder: T4 Cattle Co.

Ranching Heritage Breeder: T4 Cattle Co.

Six generations have shepherded Ranching Heritage Breeder T4 Cattle Co.’s breeding operation.

T4 Ranch of Tucumcari, New Mexico

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By Kaycie Timm

Not many people can say they live and work on land granted to their family by the Homestead Act of 1862. But since 1902, when widow Yetta Goldsmith Kohn and her four children arrived in Montoya, New Mexico, six generations of the same family have made their living on the land now comprising the T4 Cattle Co. near Tucumcari, New Mexico.

During that 119-year period, the family has also been breeding American Quarter Horses, and the ranch is now an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.

As mercantile store operators, the family also established Kohns Cattle Co. and began breeding Hereford cows, buying a set of cattle and rights to the T4 brand in 1915. Currently, Yetta’s great-grandson Phil Bidegain serves as the T4’s general manager, along with his wife, Laurie. 

Historically, T4 horses have played a major role in daily ranch life. Howard Kohn, Yetta’s oldest son, purchased the first mares for the T4 in 1910, starting a herd the offspring of which still to this day roam the ranch. After Howard died, his widow, Clara, married Dr. Thomas Hoover, with whom she continued to manage the ranch.

In 1942, Clara began registering the geldings in the T4’s growing remuda. Clara’s daughter, Yetta, and her husband, Phillip Bidegain, continued Clara’s pursuit, starting in 1950 by getting the T4’s broodmares inspected for registration. 

The T4’s herd began with two stallions, Bay Joe, a 1939 bay by Red Joe of Arizona and out of Goldy By Four Flush; and Carajo, a 1947 sorrel by Duke Baca and out of Penca by Little Mike. 

From the T4’s inception to present day, ranch managers have chosen their breeding stallions based on disposition, structural soundness, cow sense, endurance and genetics. By remaining true to these key components, the T4 has continually produced stock that exemplifies the traits for which American Quarter Horses are most loved: versatility, intelligence, soundness and hardiness. 

“T4 horses have been bred to work cattle,” Laurie says. “They were carefully bred to traverse hard terrain, pack cowboys, maintain good conformation and, most importantly, have good cow sense.”

Because the ranchers of the T4 rely heavily on their remuda for daily activities and working cattle, these characteristics play a major role in the family’s choice to breed American Quarter Horses.

“We could use other breeds of horses, but without the level disposition, toughness and what we call cow-ability, our jobs would be so much harder,” Laurie says. 

In addition to contributing to various facets of daily ranch life, T4 horses have also excelled in competition.

Montoya Azina (Alejos Mr 81-Montoya Omega by Cara Rojo) took Scott Bidegain to three New Mexico high school rodeo and 4-H all-around cowboy year-end awards.

The cross of their stallion Young Fox and Docs Lady Bandit (Freckles Bandito-Genuality by Genuine Doc) produced Montoya Imagine, a 2000 sorrel mare who placed in the top 10 at the National Reined Cow Horse Association pre-futurity with Tucker Robinson; and Montoya Master, a 2004 sorrel gelding who has earned more than $60,000 with team roper Jason Thomas. 

Bred and raised on the T4, Montoya Circlette, a 2012 bay mare by Nu Circle N Cash and out of Pastels Pretty Peppy by Pastels Smart Lena, also performed well at the 2015 NRCHA Open Futurity, with top 20 finishes in the open and limited open.

As the Bidegains continue breeding, they look forward to producing many more successful ranch horses and arena competitors from up-and-coming sire Montoya CD (High Brow CD-Pastels Pretty Peppy by Pastels Smart Lena). 

Today, Phil and Laurie’s sons, Scott and Donnie, manage the ranching and farming portions of the operation, respectively. Scott’s two oldest children, Addison and Kiptyn, frequently work cattle on horseback alongside their father, while the youngest, Tenli, has already become a proficient rider. Donnie’s children, Haylie, Blake and Conner, also enjoy saddling up their T4 horses when they aren’t helping their father. 

For six generations, the Bidegain family in the T4 Cattle Co. name has endured many hardships and celebrated numerous victories. Through it all, their love and dedication to the breed they love has remained unwavering. 

“As a family-owned operation, we all work hard to maintain our high standard in ranching, farming and raising fine American Quarter Horses,” Laurie says. 

That’s what the T4 Cattle Co. has done for more than 100 years. And they hope to do just that for many more years to come. 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder program highlights working cattle ranches that breed high-quality American Quarter Horses primarily for ranch work. Horses bred by these ranches are given unique opportunities through Ranching Heritage competitions open only to these horses. For more information, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.