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High-Quality Variety: Powderhorn Ranch offers a high-quality variety of Quarter Horses through their breeding program

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Powderhorn Ranch, owned and operated by Hailey True and her family, 25 miles southwest of Douglas, is a multi-faceted agricultural operation that has learned to change with the times.

On top of a traditional cow/calf operation, the ranch – Diamond Land and Livestock – has added a hospitality business and opened the ranch up to guests, providing facilities, lodging and meals, primarily for events put on by other people. 

In fact, the ranch recently was the venue for the the newest season of the TV series “The Ultimate Cowboy,” hosted by Trace Atkins. They also put on numerous horsemanship clinics and retreat groups.

Additionally, the True family operates a strict equine breeding program known as the Diamond Land and Livestock Breeding Program, dedicated to producing versatile, high-quality Quarter Horses for customers around the country.

Getting started

“My family has been involved in ranching for several generations. When my immediate family decided to go back to ranching full time, we wanted to raise our own ranch horses but didn’t know how to go about it,” says Hailey. “We had been around horses all our lives and enjoyed them, but we didn’t have any training experience.”

Because of this, Hailey notes her dad hosted a horsemanship clinic with Ken McNabb in 2006 for her grandfather’s birthday. 

“All of us kids were pretty young at the time, and Ken was very patient. He came to our place, teaching us the foundations of horsemanship and playing a lot of games so the little kids would stay entertained,” she says. “This created a foundation we could build on.”

Because the two families had a lot of the same goals and values, they ended up going into businesses together, and in 2007, Ken agreed to help the True family build a horse breeding program.

In 2009, the partnership decided to put on their own sale, and the inaugural Diamond-McNabb Horse Sale was held. The sale is still held annually the first weekend in June at the Diamond Land and Livestock Ranch. 

“The goal is to turn out horses we like riding ourselves. We don’t care so much about what is popular, we want quality. We know there are other people who want quality, so if we can breed the best we can for ourselves and then offer it to others, this is what we want to do. This is how it all got started,” shares Hailey.

“We love to ride, we love to ranch and we love to help our customers find the right horses. Our goal is provide quality horses for everyone from the experienced ranch hand to the recreational trail rider. Our next offering will be at the 15th annual sale on June 3,” she adds.  

Pursuing sound bloodlines

Hailey explains the goal of their operation is to raise 15 to 20 versatile, good-minded and well-rounded Quarter Horse foals to either use for themselves or to feature in their sale. The True family likes horses of medium build that aren’t too small, with durable conformation and innate cow sense. 

“They need athletic ability but also have to be able to stand up to ranch work in Wyoming. We want innate cow sense so they can do their job decently, but most important is disposition,” Hailey shares. 

“We want to enjoy starting these horses. They need to be pleasant and willing and not confront us with challenges. When we started, my sister and I were only 15 and 17, and we didn’t want to become bronc riders,” she adds  

To accomplish this, Hailey explains they draw from a pool of genetic variety in order to avoid disorders caused by horses bred too closely. In the beginning, they spent a lot of time researching bloodlines, genetics and genetic disorders, along with the basic principles of breeding and reproduction.  

“Ken had a lifetime of experience in the horse industry, so he had some good tips and suggestions for the direction he thought we should go,” she adds “He knew which bloodlines would and wouldn’t take us down the road we wanted to go.”

Additionally, Hailey shares during her and her sister Hannah’s homeschool studies, her dad gave them time to do breeding horse research since it was something they wanted to pursue as a family. 

“We wrote review papers and interviewed breeders who had been doing this for a long time. We wanted to glean whatever we could from their knowledge and try to avoid some of the mistakes they made along the way, especially with things like genetic disorders,” she notes.

At the end of the semester, Hailey and Hannah presented their findings to the ranch crew, the family, Ken and anyone else who was going to be part of the program.  

“It was really good for us and provided a lot of information,” Hailey states. “Every breeder we called on the phone was very gracious to help these two little girls.”

Breeding program 

Hailey notes the family’s breeding program got its start with four family groups of mares sired by a single stallion.

“With groups of half-sisters, the goal was to have some consistencies to give ourselves a leg up in getting the disposition and qualities we wanted without a hodge-podge of mares,” she says.

“Once we had our family groups, we chose a stallion we liked. Then we started learning,” she continues. “We learned there was a lot less consistency, even with those mare groups’ daughters, than we’d anticipated. We came to realize this is more of an art than a science.” 

She continues, “A person can’t tell what a mare will produce. Even though we thought the mare groups were a good idea, it didn’t give us the boost in consistency we’d expected. We started reshaping our program, keeping the mares that produced what we wanted and letting others go that didn’t quite meet the mark.”

As the program got rolling, the True family would keep back some of their fillies to breed. Although their original stallion produced good looking foals, Hailey says they didn’t have the minds they wanted, so they started searching for other stallions with a good mix of composition, disposition and temperament. 

“We are very selective, not just for what we want but for what we want to sell to someone else,” she shares. “We don’t raise all of the horses we sell. We also select and purchase horses for our program. They stay with us until we feel they are proven, trained and experienced to our standard, and we can represent them and know them fully as our own.”

Because the Diamond Land and Livestock Breeding Program is dedicated to producing only the highest-quality Quarter Horses, they have sold to buyers from 46 different states for anything from kids horses, to trail riding horses, to ranch horses. 

For more information on the Powderhorn Ranch, visit

Heather Smith Thomas is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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