The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has honored Wyoming breeder Miller Land & Livestock for 75 years of breeding American Quarter Horses.
Now into its sixth generation, the ranch is guided by Robert “Mike” and Tara Miller. Mike Miller is the fourth generation to tend the “seas of grass,” less than 100 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.
“We feel grateful, but we also feel a great responsibility to try manage and continue making the right choices for these bloodlines,” Tara Miller said.
One of the ranch’s most recognizable names is the late Playboys Buck Fever, a 1999 buckskin stallion by Freckles Playboy and out of Tsarina Chexanic (by Reminic).
The Millers bred Playboys Buck Fever, introducing him to National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) competition, with Mike Miller as the trainer, in 2002. Playboys Buck Fever earned more than $62,000 in his show career, according to Equi-Stat. Playboys Buck Fever went on to become an NRCHA Supreme Reined Cow Horse, the association’s highest honor, and sire to two other Supreme Reined Cow Horses, both bred and trained by Mike Miller. As a sire, Playboys Buck Fever’s offspring put together an Equi-Stat record of more than $375,000.
“We spend most time on our horses … on our [ranch] and a good horse makes our work just so much more enjoyable,” Tara Miller said. “We showed for pleasure, but we couldn’t compromise on what we needed for ranch work. Smooth, endurance, good traveler, large enough to handle any job.”
Today, the ranch has produced more than 900 registered foals, according to AQHA, and keeps a broodmare band of 20.
“We’re trying to raise our own stallion out of our favorite Buck Fever mares,” Tara said.
The Millers manage 115,000 acres, including acreage from the Bureau of Land Management and land under forest permit.
Tara Miller has faithfully documented the family’s history on the ranch’s web site, miller67.com.
Located in Big Piney, Wyoming, the outfit came to be in 1895 when patriarch James “Jim” Mickelson, a Danish immigrant, purchased the Circle Ranch from Otto Leifer.
The human-equine partnership has been part of the Miller Land & Livestock since the 1800s, using draft horses to plow the sagebrush and plant hay. According to the Miller Land & Livestock website, four-horse hitches were used to pull hay mowers.
Second-generation rancher Mildred Mickelson Miller was the first to introduce Quarter Horses to the Miller Land & Livestock.
“Mildred got in on the ground floor of the American Quarter Horse Association. In the Association’s first year, 1941, Mildred had three of her broodmares inspected and inducted into the Association,” according to the ranch website.
A quick study, Mildred Miller purchased Quarter Horse stallion Blue Dog and today, according to the ranch website, Miller Land & Livestock has only missed registering Quarter Horses two years since the breed’s inception. Using a brand that dates to 1879, Miller horses sport a 67 on their left hip.
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