BELT - Faith, family, horses - the trinity of Ashley Quarter Horses.
Forty years of quality horses, all starting with Louise Horn in the spring of 1976, when the first Ashley Quarter Horse was born.
It’s a family affair yet wouldn’t be possible without guidance from Lanell Ashley.
“You have to have vision and discipline," Ashley said. "Starts with the mares. You've got that mare has not only half the genetics, but more than half the genetics. They also have a learned behavior coming off that colt. If that mare is rotten to other horses and to other people in sort of aggressive in her culture, they’re going to be that way as well. So, you've got to start with a good foundation of good, quiet, calm gentle mares.”
That’s where it all begins. But horses are only a small portion of the family business which is guided by their faith.
“If we all turn it back to our lord and savior, that he put us responsible for taking care of these animals. I think that’s the biggest thing I’d like to teach my daughter and my grandson, is that these belong to him, and we are just stewards of them. It is our responsibility to be good to them. Husbandry of his animals.”
He’s taught his daughter, Shaylin O’Neil, well. She is next to take over the operation, following that, her son, Yukon. She is gaining the knowledge of her father for different pedigrees and genetics that can create the quiet disposition in an Ashley Quarter Horse. She reminisced on following in Grandma Lou’s footsteps.
“It's just so rewarding, just knowing that she's the basis of all of this. And really, it was just natural instinct just instilled in me that, you know, the horses were our passion and that was the way my family was going to make a living.”
There are a total of five people living on the ranch between Shaylin and her dad. Her mom, Kelly, her husband Jonathan, and their son Yukon. All of which play vital roles on the property.
Yukon is at best help when he’s at grandpa’s side.
Jonathan wasn’t born into the Ashley family, and he has been taught valuable lessons while working on this ranch
“You don't take your own needs into account. You got to take theirs into it first. So, it's a big upbringing, but it's also very nice because it instills better things with this younger man that most kids won't have a chance to.” Sharing about his son Yukon.
"It's not always easy. There are tears shed and stuff like that, but it's all part of it and we love it. And at the end of the day, everything's good and it's just fun to be around family," Shaylin told MTN News.
Family is the foundation in the success of this business.
Kelly has watched her husband for many years fulfill his passion for breeding horses.
“This is all he's ever wanted to do is raise horses… the genetics end of it. He's fascinated by genetics and how everything kind of meshes together," Shaylin said about her husband Lanell.
Yukon is a man of few words, as any good cowboy is. He shared his love for his favorite cowboy John Wayne, quoting The Duke, “If you’re looking for trouble, I’ll accommodate you.”
There is no doubt as this boy grows up, he could cause a little trouble.
For now, he’s only worried about horse, Booners. “Boone” as they call him, is the type of horse Dale Brisby rides, something that Yukon needed to point out.
For now, Yukon is still guided by his dad Jonathan on a lead rope, his control for the horse isn’t there yet.
When you look into his eyes, there is a love that only one who rides horses can understand.
“I get to do it with my mom and dad… I love my mom and dad," shared the young cowboy.
Grandpa Lanell shared, “I’m happy my grandson shows such an interest…”
The quiet disposition on the Ashley Ranch in Belt is something spiritual.
A cool breeze blowing prairie grass, a crisp view of Tiger Butte, and surround by a band of broodmares leaves a man, woman, or cowboy, at peace.
“It’s a wonderful life.” Shared Kelly.