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Rodeo Riders, Ranchers Seek Babbitt Colts

Tonalea special education teacher Ella Farrell tries to get to Spider Web Camp from her home near the Utah border every July for the Annual Colt Sale. This year, she made her third Babbitt Ranches purchase, a palomino from the reputable “Cowboy Drift” bloodline.

“My brother advised me,” she said. “He works with the UofA Cooperative Extension Service and advises people on agriculture. He tells me that Babbitt Ranches has quality horses. The auctioneer said the colt has the potential of being an athletic rodeo horse. I’m confident in my choice, and with good care and good training, it should be a high performing horse.”

Farrell was among the crowd of spectators filling the stands in front of the Colt Sale corral on Saturday, July 8, about 30 miles north of Flagstaff. Her palomino, along with bay, sorrel and buckskin foals, will stay with the mares for a year to grow and learn how to maneuver the rocky Northern Arizona terrain.

Farrell plans to give her newest colt to a niece, a 14-year-old rodeo competitor. Her two previous Babbitt colts also were given to nieces.

“It teaches them responsibility: taking care of horses, cleaning their pens, feeding them, making sure they have water. It teaches them how to be nurturing, how to build a trust relationship with animals.”

Babbitt Ranches auctioned 27 foals bred from six stallions bearing the legendary Hashknife brand, which has been a symbol of solid, smart horses since 1884.

The highest bid came in at $5,200 for a buckskin from the “Cashn a Little Drift” lineage. The second highest sale was Babbitt Ranches Manager Vic Howell’s pick, a bay with an “Ikes Bar Drifter” pedigree that sold for $5,000.

Prospective buyers arrived hours early. Returning customer Brian Kemp, a Canadian rancher, was among the successful bidders. He bought four colts. “I didn’t plan on it,” he said after driving from eastern Ontario to pick up the six Babbitt horses he bought last July. “I came down to take the others home.”

Kemp first learned about Babbitt Ranches through an article in Western Horseman magazine. He now owns 10 Babbitt colts, two studs and eight mares. “I have my breeding group that I wanted: high quality, unspoiled quarter horses. I enjoy going to the sale. It’s always fun and I really appreciate the people around Babbitt Ranches. They are easy to work with and so pleasant.”

In the late 1940s, the Babbitts started the Hashknife Horse Breeding Program to produce reliable working-ranch quarter horses. The Annual Colt Sale became a community event in the early 1990s, after word spread and visitors increasingly drove out to the ranches to view the horses and try to buy them.

As has been the tradition in recent Colt Sales, Babbitt Ranches made one-pound packages of CO Bar premium ground beef available again this year in exchange for donations to Vista Hospice. FBN


By Bonnie Stevens, FBN


Photo caption: Babbitt Ranches Annual Colt Sale draws hundreds of spectators to Northern Arizona on the second Saturday in July.

Photo by Madison Rolley

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