If you are a casual television watcher, you may have heard of the TV series ‘Ultimate Cowboy Showdown’ hosted by country music superstar, Trace Atkins. In Season Three (2022) of the INSP Television and Entertainment Network series, The Powderhorn Ranch, located in Douglas, Wyoming was the chosen location to test the skills of these cowboys.
The Powderhorn Ranch is a family-run cow-calf operation, owned by Diamond Ranches, LLC, and run by Diamond Land and Livestock, LLC. Both companies are owned by the Diemer True Family. Four generations of the family live and work on the Powderhorn Ranch. The current ranch foreman and cowboss is Steven Gutenberger; he is married to Diemer’s granddaughter Hannah.
Diemer True’s father Dave began raising beef cattle in 1957 in the Laramie Range mountains. The original True Ranches grew to include a variety of properties in eastern Wyoming, including some farm ground and feedlots. In 2006 Diemer acquired the Powderhorn and simplified his personal goals for the ranch. One focus of the ranch is hospitality, but that is by invitation only. “We are not a typical dude ranch,” Diemer said. Instead, they host private events, retreats, and equine-related clinics. The ranch is also prime hunting country. His wife, Susie is the hospitality hostess and takes care of meals for their guests. During the filming of the competition, she provided 120 meals a day for a three-week period. There are sixteen hospitality rooms on the ranch, and all were filled during the filming. The ranch has one full-time employee to assist Susie. They also rely on high school and college students for part-time help.
American Quarter Horses are also an important part of the Powderhorn Ranch business, thanks to the program implementation by Kip and Christina True. Today, their daughter Hailey is the horse program manager, while her sister, Hannah, is her right-hand woman. The annual Diamond-McNabb Horse Sale is part of the horse operations, produced by well-known horse trainer Ken McNabb and the True family. The goal is to offer quality horses to fit the needs of any rider. McNabb also holds clinics and other events at the Powderhorn Ranch, and he was one of the judges for the Ultimate Cowboy Showdown.
The Powderhorn was chosen for the Cowboy Showdown in a roundabout way. McNabb was invited multiple times to compete in The Road to the Horse Colt Starting Challenge wanted a collegiate-level Road to the Horse Challenge. He accomplished that goal, which eventually led to a meeting with the Ultimate Cowboy producers. They initially wanted to use McNabb’s Lovell, Wyoming ranch for the competition. He recommended the Powderhorn, as it was a more scenic location. The Ultimate Cowboy team looked at three ranches and chose the Powderhorn.
The Showdown began with fourteen cowboys and cowgirls. They were presented with various challenges, including wrangling wild horses in a challenge reminiscent of “The Man From Snowy River.” The contestants were divided into two teams. Each team had to lead a herd of forty horses two miles down a steep pasture and through a creek. Other challenges involved teaching former professional football players Vernon Davis and Glenn Gronkowski how to be cowhands on a cattle drive, breaking and riding wild horses in an open pasture, herding buffalo (bison), and tending a herd of cattle overnight.
They also competed with typical ranch chores, including repairing a broken corral fence, hauling hay, and chopping firewood. There was even a cowboy talent show around the campfire one night. Hannah, Hailey, and Steven provided input into designing the challenges.
The contestants were judged on their skills, knowledge, grit, and passion. The male and female contestants were ranch owners, managers, and hands. Some were horse trainers and rodeo stars. The contestants were eliminated one by one by Adkins and a panel of judges. In addition to McNabb, the judges included: Booger Brown, star of the reality show The Cowboy Way: Alabama; Buddy Schnaufer, a Season One judge and cattle business owner; Cash Meyers, PRCA rodeo cowboy; Kent Rollins, chuckwagon cook; Davis, and Gronkowski. The show was filmed over a three-week period, with an advance crew arriving a week ahead of time.
The season three winner is Coy Melancon, from Hull, Texas. He won a herd of cattle valued at $50,000, a belt buckle, and lifetime bragging rights.
Look for Melancon’s story in the September 5 edition of The Wrangler Horse and Rodeo News.
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