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No place like Home

Auction at ranch in Clark a benefit for locals and Canadian operation

— Home Ranch owner Ken Jones and Canadian equine rancher Gord Jessiman stood on both sides of a 5-month-old mare in a small livestock pen.

Jessiman held a long pole with a blue flag. He tapped it on the ground and waved it, while Jones stood still, holding a rope he hoped to attach to the horse’s bridle.

The horse was nervous and didn’t want to get close to either of the men. Besides getting the bridle put on and receiving her shots, this was as much human contact as she had ever encountered. The animal reared and made quick turns in the small pen, as if warning the two men to stay away.

“This is what we call good guy, bad guy,” Jones said.

The young mare was afraid of Jessiman, who was the bad guy. But she eventually became comfortable with Jones, the good guy. As soon as she faced Jones, he attached the rope around the bridle, surprising the horse and Jessiman, who jumped suddenly.

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“You didn’t know I was that fast,” Jones said, following with a laugh.

“I kind of thought something like that would happen,” Jessiman replied.

The mare was one of 80 young horses from Jessiman’s ranch in Rosalind, Alberta, that was trained at the Home Ranch in Clark last week and put on the auction block on Saturday. However, these animals don’t come from the typical equestrian ranching operation.

Jessiman breeds horses for the pregnant mare urine program. The urine of pregnant mares has high amounts of estrogen in it. Medical companies collect the urine and use the estrogen to make a medication to relieve menopausal symptoms. It’s a big business many Americans don’t know about.

The foals at the Home Ranch were conceived in the program.

“There are so many of these horses in Canada,” Jessiman said.

He brings them to the Home Ranch in Clark because more people will be interested in buying them.

“With the sale down here, we’ve worked hard to improve the bloodlines. We believe there is a market down here,” Jessiman said.

Jessiman and his foals have made the trip to the Home Ranch for the past five years, after previously meeting Jones in Canada.

Jones said he learned about the PMU project and the young foals available for auction through the dude ranch association he belongs to. While in Canada, he was interested in making contacts with some of the ranchers in the program.

“I just drove into Gord’s place and we hit it off,” Jones said.

As it turns out, auctioning the horses in Clark is a benefit for locals as well as for Jessiman’s operation. Jones said about 75 percent of the foals are sold to people who live in Northwest Colorado.

The average price per animal last year was $675, but many of the horses go for $300 or $400.

“You can wind up getting a real nice deal,” Jones said.

But locals aren’t the only ones coming to the auction.

“We’ve had people come from all over to buy them,” Jones said.

Many of the people who helped train the horses for the auction are interested in buying the animals. Groups from Maine and Texas were checking out the animals and teaching them to be led all last week.

Lindsey Frick and her family have come to the Home Ranch for several years to buy several of the horses.

She said her family is looking for quality and temperament and usually find good horses at the auction.

The Home Ranch’s wranglers and guests trained about 25 animals a day for the auction. Less than an hour after Jones lassoed the young mare, the animal was following his lead.

“If you do it in a way that helps them, it doesn’t take long,” ranch wrangler Sonia Melko said.

She was working with a horse named Duchess.

“She reared up and was crushing against the panels just a little while ago,” she said.

Now the animal affectionately sniffed Melko’s hat and trustfully reacted to hand and rope commands.

“She learned that I wasn’t a scary person,” she said.

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