About Cattle Drives in Montana
Ranching is a heritage. It is handed down through parents and grandparents, taught by example, and learned through hard work. Joe and Iris were married in 1949 and looking forward to their first child they each worked hard to saved enough money to buy their first 6 mother cows. Over the next 15 years they grew their herd as well as their family, leasing pasture on the Dryhead Ranch and in Red Lodge, Montana always looking and working toward owning their own ranch.
In 1967 Joe and Iris jumped at the opportunity to purchase the Schively Ranch and centered their cow herd on their own ranch. Tucked on the eastern slopes of the Pryor Mountains, deep in the heart of the Crow Indian Reservation, the Schively was lush, secluded, and most importantly theirs. For the next 20 years Joe and Iris raised cattle, children, leased more land, expanded and brought their dream to fruition. In 1983 they hosted their first guests on a cattle drive holiday which began a tradition and enterprise that is still strong 35 years later. Cattle drives from Wyoming into beautiful Montana pastures were the main attraction where we met many wonderful people. Sitting in a cook tent during a three day snow storm Joe and a guest from California created a partnership to buy a ranch and about a year later in 1989 Joe received word from a realtor friend that the Dryhead Ranch was coming up for sale. A few phone calls later the ranch was owned by the new partnership and it completed a childhood dream Joe had always wished for. The Dryhead Ranch let Joe and Iris expand their cow herd and grow their guest business while including their children in the operation of both of these ranches.
Joe began growing his Quarter Horse breeding program during these years. He was running 80 head of guest horses and he wanted to breed his own cow horses that the guests could ride. So Joe began reading up on blood lines and buying studs that would work well with cattle. The opportunity came to sell the Schively Ranch in 2001 and make the ranching operation smaller and more manageable and closer to Wyoming where our winter pastures and homestead roots were based. Joe passed away in 2005 leaving his wife of 56 years, 6 married children, 28 grand children, and 56 great-grandchildren. With Joe and Iris’s legacy firmly established the ranching and farming operation is the same today with three of his children working in the ranching business together with Iris and owning farming businesses separately in Wyoming. Four generations have lived and worked on the Dryhead Ranch. The guest business operates each year as cows move into and out of the Dryhead Ranch and have grown from 6 cows to 1000 cows and calves, bulls, and heifers. The horse program has produced money earners, competitive athletes, valuable brood mares and solid ranch horses. Joe and Iris’s sons and daughters and grandchildren and now great-grandchildren are working to pass on this legacy. YOU, too can experience the Dryhead Ranch legacy when you visit us for a cattle drive vacation.
Cattle Drives in Montana
Cattle drives are a romantic western story from the 1860’s when cattle began moving into Montana from all over the country. Ranchers soon learned that it took a heartier cow to live in Montana with deep snow and below freezing weather and mountainous terrain than Texas and some of the other places they came from. But the cattle drive thrill has never died away. Today many people from Europe and Australia still come to Montana to find an authentic cattle drive and experience the weather and challenge of riding a horse and driving cows. Dryhead Ranch moves our cattle 50 miles from our farm pastures in Lovell, Wyoming to our ranch meadows on the eastern slopes of the Pryor Mountains in southern Montana. It is still as challenging as it was in the 1860’s with unpredictable weather and cows with calves that get tired and want to lie down behind a bush. Wind that blows your hat off and rain that soaks to the skin after a long day of pushing cows to the destination place. There is no place to stop until we reach the holding pasture where water and feed are hauled for the night. The next day can be hot and dusty as the weather in Montana changes quickly. Moving cattle down the trail can be perfect for beginning riders as cows move only as fast as the calf will walk. But at the lead of the cows there is lots of work for faster riders who can be sent ahead to move neighbors cows out of the way of the main herd. Come ride with us and achieve that bucket list dream you have been longing to experience on that cattle drive holiday.
One of my favorite images from MT last summer at the Dryhead Ranch was chosen as the Opening Shot in this month’s February 2020 issue of Western Horseman magazine! Watching James ride Yeller and rope his calf was truly one of the highlights of my trip. The determination and seriousness on his face is priceless! Lol Good thing two grown cowboys were nearby to help out. -Pam Gabriel Photography
The future belongs to the few that are still willing to get their hands dirty. Thanks to all the farmers and ranchers for keeping us well fed. -PhyllisBurchettPhoto
So excited to open the May edition of Western Horseman magazine April 2020. It be honest, during all of the craziness that is currently happening, it’s been very hard for me to stay positive about my small business. The opening shot couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Stay healthy and happy, my friends! I hope to photograph you all in the coming months. -Hilary Bishop