Some say the West was conquered in Texas. There’s no bigger sky nor more expansive rangeland than in the Lone Star State. History has been made here so many times over. In the rugged rolling plains region of the state is where the wild and untamed meets the height of innovation and thoughtful stewardship of land and livestock. Between the booming oil-rich plains to the far west and the bustling streets of Fort Worth some 200 miles to the southeast lies Guthrie, a cattle company community of about 125 people surrounded by the massive Four Sixes Ranch. The town — the county seat of King County — is home to what in 1870 was a dream for 21-year-old Samuel “Burk” Burnett (1849-1922), a lifelong Texas cattleman who started with 100 head purchased from another rancher. This modest herd that carried the seller’s 6666 brand over generations became a ranch, and with considerable ingenuity, grew to more than a quarter-million acres of the Burnett Ranches LLC. Burk Burnett and his family nurtured and grew their empire over the next 150 years into a beacon of the West, a shining star of exemplary American quarter horses and Angus cattle — and a sterling example of dedicated conservation and rangeland management.
To say that the ranch — known as “The Sixes” — is steeped in history would be a Texas-sized understatement. Even with the 2021 sale of Burnett Ranches LLC to a buying group led by Taylor Sheridan, a Hollywood actor turned screenwriter-film director-showrunner who has gained fame with his smash Western “Yellowstone,” the ranch lets history be its guide in all aspects of the business. Sheridan, as it turns out, is a Texas-born and bred man himself — and a talented horseman. He’s uninterested in altering the course of the over $300 million property, although he has featured the ranch heavily in the last season of his show, which stars Kevin Costner, among others. Rather, he’s here to preserve and grow the great legacy of this Texas institution. There’s perhaps no man who understands the value of that legacy better than the ranch’s resident veterinarian and Horse Division manager, Dr. Glenn Blodgett. For 40 years, he has played a central role in guiding the much-beloved Four Sixes quarter horse operation into one of the nation’s best breeding programs. “Because of the size and scope of the ranch, horses have always played a big part in the production of everything we do here,” he says. While the horses of the Four Sixes show on the Western world’s biggest stages, they’re a vital part of the day-to-day ranch life. “Since the beginning the owners have taken great pride in these horses,” assures Dr. Blodgett of the generations of superior equine athletes that have roamed its 119 pasturelands. The pride is most certainly easy to feel. It goes well beyond the accolades this program has amassed to include a love for the horse and the role they’ve played in giving the Sixes its national and international reputation. Although he’s too humble to ever utter the words — Dr. Blodgett has been a pivotal figure, responsible for meticulously curating a band of unparalleled broodmares coupled with an impressive roster of more than 30 stallions currently standing at stud at The Sixes.
© FOUR SIXES RANCH / ROAD TO THE HORSE
“There’s so much history here. It’s impossible not to get immersed in it.”
— Glenn Blodgett, DVM,
Four Sixes Ranch, Guthrie, Texas
A 1974 graduate of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Blodgett became a fixture at the ranch in 1982, where he built a breeding program known for its place at the forefront of technology, innovation and top-notch veterinary skill. Focused entirely on artificial insemination (AI), the Four Sixes Ranch is a leading producer of some of the finest quarter horses to grace the show pen, dominate the racetrack and conquer the working ranch. These horses are known for their versatility, sturdiness, raw athleticism, longevity and good looks.
Under Dr. Blodgett’s leadership, The Sixes has earned the honor of being named the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Leading Breeder of Performance Horses and Race Money-Earners and Winners. Then, in 1993, the ranch was the recipient of the AQHA Best of the Remuda Award, a prestigious honor that recognizes an outstanding ranch remuda, or herd, of registered American quarter horses used for operations work on a cattle ranch — thanks to Dr. Blodgett and his team.
“Because of the size and scope of the ranch, horses have always played a big part in the production of everything we do here. Since the beginning the owners have taken great pride in these horses.”
— Glenn Blodgett, DVM, Four Sixes Ranch, Guthrie, Texas
In 2022 alone, 1,754 mares were bred either onsite by Dr. Blodgett and his team or via transported, cooled or frozen semen. The scale of the operation is massive, but the impact is far greater. Four Sixes bloodlines run deep throughout the American Western performance horse world but also in Australia and South America where the horse market thrives. Even European riders have sought coveted Four Sixes genetics to add to their programs. “When I came here, I had the opportunity to build what we needed from scratch,” remembers Dr. Blodgett of the veterinary facilities he dreamed up, planned and brought to fruition. Those facilities include an operating room, fully-equipped lab and diagnostic equipment that spans from the latest radiograph technology to cutting-edge ultrasound, with the latter being used heavily in the ranch’s equine reproductive work. “We’re equipped about as well as we could be,” says Dr. Blodgett. The scope of the veterinary facility is remarkable given its rural location. Aside from the veterinary care to support its world-renowned breeding program, the vast number of working horses on the ranch as well as the Four Sixes famed remuda, Dr. Blodgett and his team — including two other veterinarians — help support other local ranches in the area. “We do a lot of breeding work for our neighbors,” he says of the tight-knit, small ranching community. “We really don’t turn anyone away. We’ve always felt like we needed to offer a good public service for the area.” Just about 95 miles from Lubbock, some would view the area as far too remote. Dr. Blodgett and the longtime Four Sixes’ veterinary staff and cowhands who keep the ranch running couldn’t be happier here. “We’ve had to learn to live in this type of situation, and we’ve done real well here,” he says. The Sixes may be in the middle of the frontier near the Texas panhandle, but its capabilities make it a mecca to the horse industry. Client relationships are strong between the breeders around the country and throughout the world who come to The Sixes for onsite breeding and veterinary work, or for cooled or frozen semen. As for those who work and live on The Sixes? They’ve raised their families among the familiar mesquites, often seeing three or four generations work the ranch pasturelands. It’s more than one of the West’s most coveted land, cattle and quarter horse operations; to the folks here, it’s family, legacy and a responsibility to steward this land according to the cowboy code.
For his part, and after a half-century in the profession, Dr. Blodgett wants to leave equine veterinary medicine better than he found it. Together with his alma mater, Texas A&M University, the Four Sixes has participated in numerous research projects with the goal of improving the profession and, ultimately, the lives of the horses under the care of Dr. Blodgett and so many equine veterinarians like him. “There’s so much history here,” he says of the world inside Four Sixes Ranch. “It’s impossible not to get immersed in it.” That history includes breeding horses with grit and a subtle toughness that sees them performing in the show pen just as successfully as the branding pen and riding drag at the back of a herd of Angus. “We’ve got a lot of brush out here, and mesquite trees, thorns, cedars and rocks,” says Dr. Blodgett of the rugged beauty of The Sixes’ vast folds and furrows. “It’s pretty challenging for a horse, but our horses know how to move from the time they’re born and with their mothers. They’re running in big groups over pastures as large as 14,000 acres.” The landscape is unique, no doubt, and has allowed the Four Sixes to develop an equally-unexpected strategy for raising proven bloodlines with a sturdiness that only comes from an environment that tests them.
© FOUR SIXES RANCH / BEE SILVA
Four Sixes Ranch horses run in big groups over pastures as large as 14,000 acres, allowing them to develop a sturdiness that only comes from an environment that tests them.
© FOUR SIXES RANCH / BRANDIE MUSTIAN
In 2022 alone, 1,754 mares were bred either onsite by Dr. Glenn Blodgett and his team or via transported, cooled or frozen semen. Four Sixes bloodlines run deep throughout the American Western performance horse world but also in Australia and South America where the horse market thrives. Even European riders have sought coveted Four Sixes genetics to add to their programs.
While the sprawling Texas plains may test the fortitude of the ranch’s remuda, make no mistake, these horses are cared for to a standard set by this fabled program and nurtured since the 1870s. Dr. Blodgett personally sees to it that the word “compromise” isn’t part of the lingo out here. “With the feed and nutrition, and all of the care and handling that they receive, these horses get the best because we believe it’s important,” he says. There’s certainly no lack in attention to detail. Under his leadership, the ranch has focused on reseeding native grasses on the pastures that support their horses. Composting negates the need for chemical fertilizer by enriching the soil that the livestock rely on. Beyond what the horses graze on, their nutritional program is meticulously designed and includes prescription feed and carefully chosen supplements. “We use many of the Platinum Performance® supplements in just about everything we do and in our specialty cases,” says Dr. Blodgett. “We keep a map here of the facility showing which horses receive what feed and Platinum supplements — we use a lot of Platinum CJ — as well as any drugs or other Platinum supplements that individual horses may require at a given time.” Four Sixes’ systems and procedures have been time tested since the 19th century. They know what works best for their animals, and, by all accounts, they’ve hit a stride that few breeders will have the opportunity to emulate. You simply can’t train experience, and The Sixes has it in spades.
Running one of the most famous remudas, which takes its name from the Spanish language and means a herd or corral of working horses, the Four Sixes has always made it a priority to not just breed outstanding horseflesh but to outfit their 20 full-time cowboys with the very best. “Each is assigned a string of about six horses that they ride and work with,” explains Dr. Blodgett. That number can climb if the cowboy has a spouse or children in need of a mount as well. Cowboys are vital to the Four Sixes’ success: They know the ranch, and as far as the cattle and horses — they have an intimate familiarity because they raised them, started the colts, trained the young horses and now work and ride them daily.
Born out of the Sixes’ remuda program, Dr. Blodgett proposed an annual horse sale unlike any other. After considerable thought, the Return to the Remuda sale came to fruition and includes the Four Sixes Ranch along with three other area ranches. “I got the blessing from the owner at that time, Mrs. Marion, to pursue the sale,” says Dr. Blodgett of Anne Windfohr Marion (1938-2020), great-great-granddaughter of Four Sixes founder Burk Burnett. Marion was the longtime president of Burnett Ranches and the chairman of Burnett Oil Co. An impressive businesswoman, collector, philanthropist and ranching advocate, she supported Dr. Blodgett’s dream of creating an unparalleled horse sale. “Pitchfork Land and Cattle Co. agreed to participate with us, then the Beggs Cattle Co. came on too in the beginning,” says Dr. Blodgett of the two ranches who joined with The Sixes to create the event that takes place on the first Saturday in October. Shortly after its inception, the Tongue River Ranch was added to complete the four core ranches at the heart of the now famous quarter horse sale. Several years after its debut, Dr. Blodgett got the idea to invite a select few “guest” ranches to the sale; these were well-known programs — not part of the founding four ranches, but they were welcomed guests who could offer their horses for attendees’ consideration. “Today those additional ranches are the Wagonhound Land & Livestock Co. from Douglas, Wyoming, and the King Ranch of Kingsville, Texas,” says Dr. Blodgett. In fact, the Four Sixes Ranch stands three Wagonhound stallions for breeding, WR This Cats Smart, Graceful Smart Cat and Fiddle and Steel, as well as standing The Boon for the King Ranch and handling frozen semen sales for three additional King Ranch studs, Coronel Del Rancho, Kinenos Moon and Marsala Red. “Both Wagonhound and King Ranch have been good additions to our sale,” says Dr. Blodgett. The Return to the Remuda sale has turned into a tremendous annual event, bringing people from around the world to tiny Guthrie, Texas, and inviting them through the gates of the famed Four Sixes Ranch. Chuck wagons are set out, riding demonstrations are put on for the crowd, horses are previewed and there’s Texas music and food to fill the souls and bellies of all who attend. This is Western hospitality at its finest, on display to create a memorable experience for guests of The Sixes who walk away with a coveted experience and perhaps a new horse of superior bloodlines to add to their home herd or show string. “This is one of the best things we’ve started doing since I came here,” says Dr. Blodgett of the sale that’s dear to his heart. The 2021 event exceeded $3 million on the sale of 168 head, with an overall average of more than $18,000 per horse, a 32 percent increase over 2020.
© FOUR SIXES RANCH / ANDREW HANCOCK
This year’s Return to the Remuda Sale that took place at the famed Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas continued the excitement and impressive horse selection of years past. Bottom line, it did not disappoint if you joined the crowd for this bucket-list event. Demonstrations took place on Friday, September 30 with the sale following on Saturday, October 1.
Approximately 180 horses were offered for sale from legendary Texas ranches The Four Sixes, Beggs Cattle Co., Tongue River Ranch, Pitchfork Land and Cattle Co., King Ranch and Wagonhound Land & Livestock.
There are few true-blue American stories as steeped in history as that of the Four Sixes Ranch. These pastures have tales to tell. They’ve seen the West evolve from the untamed frontier of yesteryear to the thoughtfully-managed land of today. They’ll be here for tomorrow’s achievements as well, guiding future generations along the way if we’ll listen. For Dr. Glenn Blodgett, these expansive rangelands and the horses galloping over them signify more than his life’s work; this is home. He and his high school sweetheart, Karen, have been married for over 50 years, and together with a dedicated team, they spend their days at The Sixes. Karen helms the veterinary office while Dr. Blodgett shifts between his breeding work and the day-to-day cases he sees at the on-site veterinary clinic. They’ve raised a family in Guthrie, Texas, and they come to work every day with their Sixes “family.” Really, that’s what the people are here: a group of individuals with a deep respect for the land, livestock and history that have made this place the imposing pillar of the West that it is. Thanks to their efforts, expertise and immense dedication, the Four Sixes brand represents quality, proven bloodlines, meticulous care and a sturdiness that only comes from this terrain.
In Guthrie, Texas, they ride for the brand, and that brand is 6666.
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