In 2021, Born Ta Be A Cowboy (“Cactus”) became the first Ruby Buckle All Around Champion. Under the guidance of teenage sisters Jessica and Tessa Caspers, the 2016 buckskin stallion won more than $15,000 to win the title.
Jessica, now a high school sophomore, won the youth breakaway championship and placed in the 1D breakaway futurity average, while her older sister Tessa, now a sophomore at Black Hills State University, placed in the 4D of the open barrel race.
“It was a ton of fun,” Jessica, 16, said of the experience. “It was super fun to share that with Tessa since we both got to ride him.”
The talented young stallion has since won $13,531 in the breakaway roping alone at Ruby Buckle events to make his breeders Terry and Karen Gunn of Arrow Y Ranch in Wasta, South Dakota, the leading Ruby Buckle Breakaway Breeders.
“My dad started raising horses close to 50 years ago,” said Terry. “My family has just continued on with it.”
Cactus’ dam was raised on the ranch. Her mother was Orphan Cowgirl, a Cowboy Drift mare that the Gunns bought from Ramon and Faye Rankin. She was later bred to the Gunns’ stallion PC Boonlacious, a Boon Dox John, Sun Frost stallion they had bought from Cowan Brothers.
“We did everything on him, ranched and roped,” said Terry of PC Boonlacious. “My daughters ran barrels on him.”
They bred Boons Drift Girl, the PC Boonlacious, Orphan Cowgirl mare to Sadies BornToPerform, a son of Sadies Frosty Drift out of Dash Ta Fame mare, to get Born Ta Be A Cowboy.
When Cactus was a yearling he was sold to Nichols and Kara Casper’s Flying C Ranch in New Underwood, South Dakota.
“We’ve always bought some young horses, a lot of them from Terry,” said Nichols, who grew up making horses alongside his father. “We usually buy them young, ranch on them, and make them into whatever.”
Nichols had purchased Cactus with the plans to eventually geld the stallion, but he rode so well and was so well-mannered that he thought he was worth keeping intact.
“We want to keep his bloodlines going,” said Nichols. “My daughters have won a lot on the Boon Dox John horses and Sadies’ side, Jeff and Kristie Thorstenson, owned him. They’re neighbors of ours up here and they’ve helped the girls a lot with their barrel horses. I always wanted something of that cross.”
About that time, the Gunns had lost PC Boonlacious and a partnership was made on Cactus.
He was just a 2-year-old in ’20 when the Gunns and Caspers enrolled him in the newly launched, Ruby Buckle. While his first colts are just now riding age, the Ruby Buckles events have paid well for Cactus as a competitor.
“I’ve team roped on him and tied down some calves on him, but the girls have done a bunch on him,” said Nichols, who still uses the stallion on the ranch. “I let the girls take turns riding him. I kind of let them decide.”
In reality, Cactus probably belongs to Jessica, the second youngest of their four daughters which include Kassidy, the oldest who is finishing up her teaching degree at Black Hills State, and Izzy, the youngest, who is in junior high.
“Jess—Cactus has always been her baby and she takes care of him a lot of the time,” said Nichols. “She’s kind of got dibs on him. She babies him the most.”
“I just love him,” said Jessica, who started riding him when he was a 3-year-old. “He’s just the sweetest. His disposition is so nice and he has a nice personality. He’s so fun. I love riding him.”
While the family handled Cactus’s roping training, he was sent to Carrisa Shearer for the
barrel racing portion. Kassidy got the first crack at him on the cans at the Ruby Buckle in Salina and then Tessa ran him at the Guthrie, Oklahoma, Ruby Buckle after Jessica had roped on him earlier in the week.
“I started roping on him when he was 5,” said Jessica, who repeated at Ruby Buckle Youth Breakaway Champions in 2022. “I run barrels on him now. My sisters rode him more in the barrels than I did at first.”
So far, the only one that hasn’t competed on Cactus is Izzy, but perhaps her time is coming.
“We just tried to do a little bit of everything on him,” said Nichols. “He’s been pretty good at just about everything.”
Now, which daughter will be rope, and which one will run barrels at the upcoming Ruby Buckle Barrel Race & Breakaway Roping in April?
“I don’t know,” laughed Nichols. “You know how that is! Kass might run him at another one later. I’ll probably keep Jess on him since she’s going to run him through summer and the high school season. We’ve had them all switch around at one time or another.
“It’s been seeing him do good and seeing the girls do good on him. That’s been the [best] part of it.”
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