Rocker b Ranch in Barnhart, TX has been breeding horses since it was founded in 1871. The 173,000 acre ranch was originally named the Bar S Ranch but after Senator William Blakley purchased it in 1954 he changed the name to Rocker b Ranch. Then in 1964 he deeded the ranch to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. In the beginning, horses bred by the Rocker b Ranch had more of a Thoroughbred influence. That is until 1957 when the focus changed to raising quality American Quarter Horses and has remained as such ever since.
For about 30 years they didn’t focus as much on breeding horses but that decision was reversed in the mid-2000’s when they purchased a few quality stallions to once again begin building up their breeding program. As the program has continued to mature over the years the older horses with foundation-type pedigrees have been replaced by horses with more modern, performance based bloodlines. Recently they added two stallions, Boonlight Peppy and Lizzatella, with outstanding performance pedigrees to their roster. They said, “With these two horses, in conjunction with the fine band of broodmares we continue to assemble, we have the ability to produce horses that will not only be quality ranch horses but will also excel in a wide variety of aspects for potential buyers.”
Lizzatella (photo right; Lizzys Gotta Player x Most Stylish Mom), a 2011 Bay AQHA stallion, is a grandson of Docs Stylish Oak. Though Lizzatella has never been shown, the offspring of his sire have earned more than $2 million dollars. Their other stallion, Boonlight Peppy (photo below left; Boonlight Dancer x Miss CD Peppy), is a sorrel AQHA stallion and is the grandson of the infamous Peptoboonsmal. Boonlight Peppy has had limited showings in the NCHA and a few small local cuttings. They look forward to the possibility of showing him in the Stock Horse of Texas competitions in the future. His first foal crop is due in a few months and the Rocker b Ranch can’t wait to see them. Their newest stallion is RN One Curly Cat who is a son of High Brow Cat out of a One Time Pepto mare. They said, “We are excited to get him started and look forward to his influence on our remuda.”
Rocker b Ranch is a working cattle ranch. Therefore, they must have horses which can help their cowboys in their day to day tasks on the ranch. Purchasing enough horses to supply them with mounts is not a financially feasible option which is why they breed their own horses. Their foremost goal is to produce horses that can be used daily to accomplish the necessary tasks of a working cattle ranch. They went on to say, “With that in mind, we also aim to produce a horse that can be marketed to an array of potential buyers for a wide variety of tasks such as working cow horse, cutting, roping or even an all-around family horse. We strive to breed horses that have size and stamina, horses that are conformationally sound and possess a trainable mind and eye appeal. Cow sense, all-around athletic ability and agility are all necessary traits we look for.”
When the ranch was founded in the late 1800’s the main breeding practice was “pasture breeding” in which a stallion was turned out in the pasture with a band of mares. Cooled and frozen semen were not options back in those days. Today, the ranch still does a limited amount of pasture breeding but they enjoy the freedom of having frozen semen on hand when it’s needed. Such as when the stallions are in training or in competition.
“Through the SBS Affiliate lab, the 6666 Ranch, we receive important information regarding key breeding decisions we make with our stallions and mares. We have had a very positive experience with them. The 6666 Ranch is very knowledgeable about collecting and freezing our stallions and they are very easy to work with.”
Rocker b Ranch has continued to work closely with the 6666 Ranch since the 1940’s. They utilize frozen semen to breed their mares to outside stallions but also have frozen semen processed on their own stallions. They said, “Using frozen semen on outside stallions allows us to breed at facilities familiar to us (6666 Ranch) and breed to stallions they have stood in the past but no longer stand currently, or stallions that have died. It also allows us to breed to stallions that may not have cooled semen available, such as stallions currently showing.”
As the breeding program has continued to grow throughout the years the Rocker b Ranch is considered to be an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. Also, not only are they working on building their herd for their own ranch work they are also building a presence in the show arena. They have been active in the Ranch Horse of America (RHAA) and have qualified horses for the world finals. Recently, they have become active in the NCHA and look forward to building a presence in the Ranching Heritage Challenge and the Stock Horse of Texas.
Photo Credit: Boonlight Peppy photo by D. Jones, ranching photo by Carol Hutchison, Lizzatella and mare with foal photo taken by Sarah Webb