The Ostrander Family of Box O Quarter Horses at Willow Creek Ranch wishes to welcome you to our program. Located in the beautiful heart of the “Nebraska Sand Hills” south of Gordon, Nebraska, “Willow Creek Ranch” is a working cattle ranch. We’ve worked at producing “high quality performance and ranch horses since 1982″.
We started with three mares that were granddaughters of “Happy Hancock”. These mares were pretty-headed and had fantastic minds that they passed on to their colts. In 1988 we purchased“Bar Heels Jack”, a “Three Bars” grandson. His colts have an excellent mind and a willingness to please that is a pleasure to work with. Most of our repeat customers on “Jacks” colts are returning because of their solid minds and ease of training. In 1994, we found and purchased “Roan Ambrose”, a “Blue Valentine” son, to add a stronger “Hancock” base. This has proved to produce extremely keen-headed, sharp-minded, broody daughters. Our mares have produced several outstanding individuals that are standing at stud in several states.
Our horses are not pampered in any degree. Colts are weaned and put on a grain mix and free choice hay from October thru March. When we have grass usually that following April, they are turned out and don’t see much grain again until they are brought back in and broke to ride. We start colts using a pressure/release concept, but spend very little time in a round pen. Most of their miles are put on in the pasture or calving lot. We try hard to get the colts to local brandings and drag calves to the fire on them. There is nothing like a branding fire, or pot, and kids wrestling to get young horses quiet and listening to you. Most of the time we spend on colts is covering miles and working cattle up an alley. Our horses are used and they “WORK FOR A LIVING”.
Each of our boys have started their local and 4-H showing careers with a colt that we have raised. These horses do not spend a lot of time in finish work, but have still performed very well. Stetson, our oldest, qualified in “Reining” on a four year old mare “Star” (“Trace a Roan Star“), the first year he was eligible for the“Nebraska State 4-H Horse Exposition”. Stetson qualified again on the same mare in 2000 and went in three events on her. He placed well in “Reining” and “Barrels”. We have gone on and used this mare for calf roping and heeling at high school rodeos. Jecca showed “Star” to a second place finish at the “Black Hills Stock Show” in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the “Ladies Rancher Division Working Ranch Horse Class” in 2006.
Sterling qualified in “Reining” in 2001 at the “State 4-H Horse Show Exposition” on a“Jack” son, “Barney”, and tied for first in the “Boys Junior Division” of “Reining”. “Barney” has been shown at local working ranch horse classes and the “Black Hills Stock Show”. Steele placed second on “Barney” in 2004 in the “Youth Division”. We also used “Barney” to head & heel and calf rope in High School rodeos. The boys use these horses at home in the crowding pen or roping calves at branding. We are currently competing in“Working Ranch Horse” classes in our area. “Barney” and Steele won the “Ranch Division” at the “Gordon Working Ranch Horse Class” in June of 2008. These classes highlight the versatility and athleticism of the horses we are raising. We aren’t winning consistently YET, but, we are placing well and learning as we go. At the “Black Hills Stock Show”, we showed two three year olds in the “Ranch Division” and placed 7th and 10th. It was our first time at a larger show with them.
My biggest news in the past year is having sold a horse “internationally”. I was contacted by Sue George, Wenallt, Crmarthenshire, Wales. Sue contacted me by e-mail after finding our web site. We corresponded for over a month before we agreed on what would best suit her needs and wants in a broodmare. She needed a mare that was well broke and had a disposition that loved people. We agreed on “Hot Heels Chico”, a mare we called “Missy” and that Sue now calls “Chico”. You can visit“Chico” at the Rockfield Quarter Horses site “http://www.rockfieldquarterhorses.com/CHICOpage.html“. Both our older boys used this mare as their first showing project. Steele, our youngest, won his first trophy on her in a Pre 4-H class when he was 6 years old. “Chico” has raised several top notch colts and I have a daughter and one grand daughter in my broodmare band.
“Bar Heels Jack” has been our senior stud for the past 18 years. We purchased “Jack” from the late Alan Melton who owned “Bar Heels”, a “Three Bars” son. “Jack” was a colt on his mom, and came up to us in the pasture when we were looking at Alan’s colts. We decided to buy him then because of his excellent disposition and black color. We have never been disappointed with his offspring. His colts are highly intelligent and are extremely personable individuals. They enjoy people and are willing to please. Each of our boys have started a “Jack” colt as their first colt to break. These colts are also extremely cowy. I have used them in the calving lot and have had to get an old snakey cow in with them in themiddle of the night. These colts don’t have to be shown what to do when they are pushing on a cow. We’ve started a few of the colts on roping and they have made us smile then also. All three boys use them in the arena now, and are getting along great with them. The best part is that these colts have grown with the boys. We started with 4-H projects and have moved into rodeo. The boys rope with the colts at brandings and in the pasture, and the horses have enjoyed each new aspect.
When we went looking for a stud prospect, we wanted a good-looking horse that would out-produce himself. We wanted to stay with old blood up close and add it to our “Hancock” base. We felt that“Jack” was an excellent choice. We sold a number of his colts to families to be 4-H prospects, and those prospects have grown into either broodmares or on into the rodeo world. “Jack’s” paternal grandmother is “Joan”, a daughter of “Joe Hancock”. “Bar Heels” is a full brother to “Bob’s Folly”. “Jack” has excellent papers and a disposition that can’t be beat. His colts have quite a bit of style also.
We have purchased two young studs that we feel will continue to enhance the athleticism and versatility of our program.
“SNW Heavens King” was purchased from Stan and Nancy Weaver of Big Sandy, Montana. This horsehas a phenomenal disposition and is so easy to work with. He is truly a people pleaser! He loves to get in the ground, and has a great stop!! He is working on cattle and showing a great deal of talent. He naturally rolls over his hocks and is really quick. We are enjoying hauling him to brandings and Working Ranch Horse classes. My 14 year old niece used him to round up a branding this Spring. We’re very excited and impatient to ride his colts.
In 2003 we started a bi-annual production sale with Lance Most of Ogallala, Nebraska. Lance has a wonderful set of mares and great individuals as studs to put on them. We own in partnership withLance “Colonel Tom Cat”. This colt has a bunch of cow and can really stop. Lance and I both agree that if a horse can’t move right, or wears you out to be on them all day, then it’s not worth breeding them. A horse is a pleasure to ride if they’re not pounding the ground. This colt, and the “SNW Heavens King” colt, flow in their movement, truly a pleasure to ride. Again, we are very anxious to get to ride their babies to see how they produce!!
The other aspect of our program that I want to point out is that “we USE these horses”. They honestly“Work for a Living”. We calve 700 head of cows out with colts (3 & 4 year olds) in the spring. Sometimes they are ready to handle the pressure, and sometimes not! However, after a week they have things figured out and we move on, usually right into branding season. We can attend about 5 or 6 brandings a year. If the two year olds are started, I will haul them along just for experience and maybe to roundup on. These colts are used some in June, but then we turn out and don’t ride much because of haying. We start fall work in September and get them in and expect to have the same horse we got off of in June. They may be rusty, but they are willing to do the task at hand. During a year that we are having a production sale, we do ride more in the summer months and have an intern to help with getting everyone rode. My point being – we ride them like most other people and those looking for a solid horse. We use them, turn them out for a month or two, and get back on expecting no problems! It works for us, and should work for you!!
We feel we are offering some true individuals with solid minds, that are willing to learn, and have the looks and color to turn heads. Have a look around, enjoy yourself, and let us know what you think of our program