Horse trainer brings west Texas to northern Iowa
NORTHWOOD, Iowa (AP)--It's a nice afternoon under a big blue sky at Monty Bruce's ranch.
Bruce rides a Quarter horse, teaching it to cut a cow out of a herd as cowboys once did to get the animal to a vet, move it to a different pen or take it to a stockyard.
The feel is West Texas cattle country.
Not quite. This ranch is near Northwood, just south of the Minnesota border.
"We kind of created our own little brand of Texas up here, I guess,'' Bruce said with a smile.
The 38-year-old Austin, Texas, native is a gentle, patient, horse-whisperer, making raw horses into performance champions at the Monty Bruce Training Center.
In effect, Bruce teaches other people's horses to dance with cattle: to turn a cow along fences, back straight up, spin in tight circles and skid to a quick stop in the deep sand of his arena.
He also breaks in colts as trail horses for pleasure riders and offers clinics and general riding lessons.
"I just started riding horses for people up here,'' he said. "Thought I'd quit when the horses stopped coming in. They kept coming in. We've kept busy.''
Bruce and his wife, Amanda, met in the early 1990s while Bruce was on a rodeo circuit in southeastern Minnesota.
They moved to the Northwood-area ranch about nine years ago.
They have four children: Mikayla, 15, Kaid, 14, Cutter, 11, and Brodi, 10, and assorted dogs, cats, horses and bison.
The bison are used in those cutting exercises; they closely simulate a cow's movements--and cattle wear out faster under that heavy workload.
"Bison just keep goin' and goin','' Bruce said.
The former rodeo bull-riding champion has guided horses to championships in various competitions, including world and reserve titles in rein and working cowhorse competitions.
Jim Wilson of Plymouth, who works his horses at the Bruce Center two or three days a week, said Bruce excels at solving horses' problems, such as claustrophobia.