Layne Billadeau of Billadeau Quarter Horses shares some tips on heading south and explains why you should consider making a trip to Arizona.
24 hours and 1740 miles. That’s the time and distance it takes the Billadeau family to travel from their ranch in Parshall, North Dakota to their home in Forepaugh, Arizona. Now, imagine doing that with various loads of horses, cattle and dogs throughout August to November every year. That’s a significant amount of time and distance for one to travel with their animals.
So why make a haul like this every year? Troubles are bound to occur when traveling from border to border. Extreme weather, tires popping, truck troubles, and traffic are just a few of the bumps along the way that the Billadeau clan has experienced when headed south. Nevertheless, Layne is adamant that the Arizona sunshine is worth it all.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” exclaimed Layne.
For close to 20 years, Billadeau Quarter Horses has been raising outstanding all-around prospects by crossing cow-bred studs on racing bred mares. Within their program, they currently have four cow-bred stallions that are of breeding age: Shiners Suduko, Ima Hired Gun, Exagereyt, and Smart Shinin Spook (along with two yearling stud colts they are very excited for). They also own 35 head of broodmares and lots of weanlings, yearlings, and young ones. By November 1 of this year, every single horse from the ranch in North Dakota will be relocated to Forepaugh.
“There are a lot more opportunities down there when it comes to the breeding side of it,” said Layne.
Layne credits the warmer climate for allowing them to foal out in late January to early February, versus having to wait until later in the year to foal out like they would have to in North Dakota.
“Our colts are bigger, stronger, and just healthier overall when we foal them out in Arizona,” he explained.
Location is another huge factor.
“Up north, our closest vet who does equine repro and AI is 3 hours away. That’s a little bit of a jaunt when you’re in the middle of breeding season.” (One should note that the closest Walmart to Parshall, North Dakota is 60 miles). “Down south, we take everything to Dr. Sicilia Grady at Durango Equine Veterinary Clinic in Buckeye where it’s only about an hour away. It’s a lot closer and a lot more accessible.”
The ability to compete throughout the winter has also helped elevate the Billadeau program.
“In the winter you can ride, but there just aren’t many places to compete throughout the winter in North Dakota,” he explained. “In Arizona, and especially around Wickenburg, you are guaranteed multiple places to go rope, run barrels and compete at any time.”
Forepaugh, Arizona is only 20 miles from the “team roping capital of the world”, Wickenburg.
Over the past 9 years, the Billadeau’s have learned a thing or two about traveling southbound and down.
“Make sure you’ve got your impact wrench, blocks, and jacks for your rig. For our horses, we make sure we’ve got a vet box full of all the necessary medication for any problem that might arise.”
He also highlighted how vital water is to ensuring success on your journey. “We always have water tanks on our rigs. I think we usually have about 80-100 gallons of water in the back of the truck.”
“You never know when you’re going to need to stop or where,” he stressed. Packing hoses, tanks, buckets, etc. has saved the Billadeau clan from a lot of predicaments before.
Layne and his wife Codi, have two daughters who attend school full-time at the Wickenburg Christian Academy.
“We usually have to make our first trip around August 1 to get the girls down there in time for school, and we start moving everything back to North Dakota around May 1”.
For the Billadeau family, their location is heavily dependent on the season and what that season entails for farming. Layne’s dad Wade his brother Jarred and mom Michelle keep the family farm running throughout the fall after Codi and the girls head down, and then migrate south as soon as they are done harvesting all of their crops. The family is back in North Dakota by spring for planting season with the exception of Codi and the girls, they hold down the south place and horses until the girls are out of school.
If you’ve ever been in the North from mid-October on, you can understand why the family hustles to load everything up and head south. The climate of North Dakota and the climate of Arizona are very different by this time of the year; the Billadeau’s (who have spent their fair share of time in North Dakota blizzards and winter weather) are ready to get everything out before the first snow hits.
“We’ve made more trips to Arizona over Halloween than we care to admit.”
When asked about some of the greatest lessons learned over the course of the past several years commuting back and forth;
“Don’t ever expect. If you plan on pulling in at 8 PM, you’re bound to run into trouble and will always end up pulling in at 2 AM with your trailer full of horses,” Layne said with a laugh.
The Billadeau’s might not recommend having expectations for your trip, but they are insistent on having a plan A, plan B, and Plan C for your travels. “We always have back up plans for where we are going to stop. With as many horses as we haul, you have too.”
This doesn’t just include knowing where to stop but having your documentation in order as well.
“It’s just as easy to have your papers in order. Why would you risk it? If you think they’re not ever going to stop you- you’re wrong,” explained Layne.
“You can prevent so many head aches and so many problems by planning. Having your paperwork, checking over your rig before you leave, and making sure everything is running properly.”
Billadeau Quarter Horses has been raising high quality horses for years, and Arizona has truly been an essential part to their program and its success.
If you are interested in finding out more information on Billadeau Quarter Horses, make sure to check out their facebook page, or visit: https://www.billadeauquarterhorses.com/.
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