Ranch horses, ranched: Lauing family, Blunt, South Dakota
For four generations and over 100 years, the Lauing family has raised horses and cattle on their ranch in Blunt, South Dakota. Today the ranch is best known for its Quarter Horse program which features Blue Valentine, Hancock and Driftwood lines. In January, the ranch is honored by the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association as 2021 Producer of the Year.
âFrom the family history, my grandfather, Hank, who had a good instinct for horses, had one of the first Quarter Horses recorded in this area and he came from Texas by train,â explains JD Lauing, the fourth generation to live. the family farm. âGrandpa never transferred this horse to his name, he had a racing pedigree of sorts. I tried reaching out to people who might know what his bloodlines were, but everyone was just calling him Chalky. The registered horses that we have now are certainly because of my dad, he’s been doing it all his life, showing horses at the South Dakota State Fair.
For over forty years the ranch has recorded Quarter Horses and during that time many horses have come and gone. JD recalls going through a pile of papers of horses his father, Bernie, has owned over the years and seeing notable bull names like Peppy San and Docs Prescription. Although the focus of the breeding program has changed somewhat from the start, creating beautiful horses with straight legs, good disposition, brains and athletic ability have remained a constant for Lauing’s breeding program.
Some of the foals they have sold over the years have made names for them in professional rodeo, such as Woodrow Sniper Leo and LR Hancocks Two Bugs, two geldings bred by Hancocks Two Boys who are now used as pickup horses by Randy Britton, or as LR Hancock Roan Star, owned by the Westphal family which has been used not only for ranching but also for bull lassoing, rodeo queen riding competitions, team lassoing and the breakaway. But big wins aren’t what matters most to Bernie, instead he takes great pride in watching the horses he raised lead his children and grandchildren to success in the arena, from the Little Britches Rodeos at the professional rodeo, as well as the ranch. Horses like Dakota Star Pat and Dakota Billy Star among many others have gone from grandchild to grandchild.
Bernie’s first notable stallion, which the whole family, including JD’s siblings, agreed upon, was Billy Star Pat, a 1985 red roan stallion by a Roan Bar stud and bred from ‘a Watch Joe Jack mare.
âHe was the kind of horse that when you sold something from him you could never hear from people again until the horse got old or they lost him and then all of a sudden the phone. would ring and people would ask, ‘Do you have any more?’ JD says.
For a while, the Lauinges used cut horse lines, featuring a son of Young Gun from a three-quarter sister of Smart Little Lena, as well as a full son of Haidas Little Pep from the champion of the NCHA, Millie Montana. While they added cow and athleticism, they didn’t quite have the size and bone the Lauinges were looking for.
âWe’ve been a bit spoiled with Billy Star Pat,â JD says. âHe was an excellent sire of a brood mare and sired a lot of roans. We started to look around and entered the Hancock and Blue Valentine horses, crossing the Driftwood lines. “
That was over twenty years ago. Today, many mares in the brood mare group still trace their origins to Billy Star Pat, Revue Hancock and Hancocks Two Boys, but each year fillies are selected and added to the group to maintain the direction the equestrian program is taking. Stallions like Blue Fox Hancock and his own brother Hancocks Red Fox, Mr Junewood and Revue Hancock have had a huge influence on foal productions, but Lauing’s favorite stallion remains Bonny Blues, a 2001 bay roan by Roan Ambrose and by Bonnie O Blue.
“Bonny is picture perfect, lots of bones, nice eyes, big hip, short pastern and cannon bones, puts a good brain on his foals and you can cross him on foundations, cow type mares and they are exceptional, âsays JD, adding that his descendants are all ready to do whatever you ask of them due to their laid back personalities and athleticism.
However, all of the stallions on the ranch produce good foals, with a lot of research and emphasis on each stallion based on how well they can compliment certain mares. When Bernie and JD are looking for stallions to buy or retain from their crop of foals, they look for all the usual things like conformation, disposition, size, athleticism, and brains, but they also put a lot of stock into the young prospect’s mother, explaining that each step, from birth to breaking the halter to riding a young horse, are all springboards to finally discover what will be the resulting offspring and what qualities some mares already have brought to their offspring.
âYou’re lucky to know if you have a good breeding stallion by the age of eight to ten,â says JD. âIt’s a long process and that’s why we attach great importance to the mare. Every good stallion comes from a very good mare.
Each spring, Bernie and JD are forced to decide which fillies should be selected to eventually join the brood mare group, which foals could make breeding or mating prospects and which foals to include in the annual production sale held in Springfield, Missouri with other partners across the country.
The Lauinges have learned over the years, through the guidance of a good friend and mentor in the horse industry, Sam Schultz, that if it doesn’t hurt a little to sell, you don’t do it right, and every year when JD puts foals on sale he remembers those words and the fact that you just can’t keep them all.
To add to the decision-making, in 2021 they launched a new concept on the auction, inspired by JD’s experience as a 13-year-old boy when he was bullied into bidding against adults at the a sale of horses. Now a lot is added to the production sale for children only for bidding. Children must be present and the foal is accompanied by a one-year subscription to the AQHA Youth. Next year, the Lauinges hope to take advantage of the Kids Bid and offer it as a purse.
Behind the brand, with Bernie and JD, two talented women. Bernie’s wife, Genie, who in addition to helping with herding chores, takes care of all the paperwork for the AQHA, is their social media administrator, updates their website and takes a lot of their stuff. photos, and JD’s girlfriend, Becky Amio, a rider who starts 2 years old and prepares the sale and promotion of each horse.
Horses have always been a part of the ranch and the Lauings say they feel blessed to continue the legacy the family started on the South Dakota prairie more than a century ago.
âMy dad started this program well and it’s something that has treated us well, so we’re just going to keep raising good horses,â said JD.