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The Agriculturist

Heritage Behind the Horse

Abrian Harris

The Heritage Behind the Horse

For members of the Texas Tech University Ranch Horse Team it"s more than just riding a horse and being a part of a team. There is a certain magnitude placed on their ranching heritage, one that will never fade. These members represent not only the brand of the Double T, but ride for a brand that runs much deeper. They represent their ranching heritage"part of their innate sense of being. They are the next generation to build upon a ranching legacy.

Three members of the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team"Jordan Williams, Parke Greeson and True Burson"agree perseverance is a word they learned at a young age and now strive for in everyday life.

Jordan Williams, a junior at Texas Tech and a seventh generation rancher, said growing up ranching you learn things that will stick with you for the rest of your life. The biggest obstacle he ever faced on the ranch was actually mounting up for the first time.

"As a young child, I started out with a pony. He gave me a negative connation for the whole idea of riding horses," Williams said. "You would be riding along and the next thing you know that pony would take you under the tree and leave you in the dirt."

Now two-time ranch horse national champion, Williams said he can"t imagine not riding. Growing up, he said he recalls always being pushed to work hard and be honest by the men he idolized most: his grandfather, Tom B. Saunders; his uncle, Thomas Saunders; and father, Perry Williams.

"Those men laid the path and taught me valuable lessons that helped shape who I am today," Williams said.
Williams said he is blessed to follow in the footsteps of these great horsemen and cherishes the heritage that has been passed on to him.

"They say that a horse is a direct reflection of its rider, which is true," Williams said. "But people look past the fact that a rider is a perfect representation of the hands that taught you."

Williams" family operation, Saunders Ranch, began in the 1930s and has been thriving ever since. Today, they run a cow-calf operation and take special interest in breeding and training horses.

"Being the only boy in my generation of the family, the legacy of our ranch rests on my shoulders," Williams said. "So coming here and hearing about the ranch horse team, I found it to be a great opportunity. I"m not only improving my horsemanship skills, but also promoting our horses and helping get our "brand" of horses out into the ranching community. I"m keeping our reputation and legacy alive."

Parke Greeson, a sophomore Ranch Horse Team member, credits his ranching heritage as inspiration for his future. Greeson is the great-great-grandson of the "Cow King of Southwest Texas", Thomas M. O"Conner who had ranch holdings in more than five counties, and has no plans on letting that name down.

Greeson said the ranch horse team has been pure inspiration to stay ture to his heritage and achieve life goals. He said being on the team has just fueled the fire to be more successful.

One day Greeson will be in charge of his family"s operation, Sarco Cattle Company, and said he places a high significance on the resources he receives from his time on the ranch horse team. He has an optimistic outlook on how the ranch horse team will help him improve his own operation and network with other major ranches.

At the moment, he is focusing on being the best asset he can be for the team, while striving for his personal successes in developing an ideal versatility horse. Greeson"s family raises cutting horses, and he saw a great opportunity in being a part of the Ranch Horse Team. He is now able to take fresh knowledge of horses and apply it to what he already knows.

"The team has allowed me the chance to develop horses that fit every aspect of a ranch horse," Greeson said. "I have been able to make a real nice versatility horse that can do it all."

Team member True Burson also credits the Ranch Horse Team with helping him apply horsemanship essentials to help make a horse.

Burson grew up on his family"s ranch, Burson Ranch, which has been in his family for more than 100 years. He has been riding his whole life and recalls that much of the work he did horseback required him just to get on and ride.

"My whole life I"ve seen the ranching side of things, and I was excited to get the opportunity to show my horse," Burson said. "Ranch Horse Team gave me the chance to show off what I knew and the opportunity to learn more."

Burson started his horse as a two-year-old, and this year on seven-year-old, Yella, Burson won non-pro cow horse this year at the Stock Horse of Texas show in College Station, Texas.

Burson said he attributes his ranching background, hard work, and all his successes today on the Ranch Horse Team.
"My dad always used to make us get up early and work horseback all day," Burson said.

He said he feels that his ranching background helped shape who he is today because his dad taught him to never start a job without finishing it. Burson said that one of the most important things he has learned is a strong work ethic. He applies this work ethic to the Ranch Horse Team and says he has learned to work hard with other members from different ranching backgrounds.

"We all bring something to the table," Burson said. "It"s cool to learn from other people"s perspectives."

Williams, Greeson and Burson agree that being a part of Ranch Horse Team is much more than the national titles they win. They have not only learned many beneficial aspects of working with horses, but they have also acquired lifelong friends, made fond memories and expanded their personal networks.

Williams, who has been showing horses most of his life, said one of the most exciting things about being on the Ranch Horse Team is getting show off the skills you have learned over the years and compete next to people you grew up idolizing.

"It"s neat to compete and see how you stand up to the men you have looked up to your whole life," Williams said.
One thing these men have discovered and all agree on is, you can learn just about anything from anyone throughout your life.

As Burson reflects back on his life, he said, "You can learn something from anyone in the world, whether it is the right or wrong thing to do. It is your choice what to take away from them and make it your own at the end of the day. "
All three of the Ranch Horse Team members are in concurrence with the idea that they represent the Double T brand. More importantly, they represent a long line of respectful heritage complete with timeless ranches, exceptional horses and hardworking cowboys who have paved the way for these young men.

Greeson defined this as, "Opportunities are once in a lifetime but success lasts forever. A smart man thinks fast and speaks slow, yet a wise man slows down enough to enjoy the sudden chance that makes a life turn."

These men took that sudden chance and are on the way to their own personal success that will one day be their legacy.

© 2012 Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education & Communications