Couple partners on Paint HorsesWritten by Allie Leitza
The Z Ranch, owned and operated by Don and Vivian Beard, is located in Cheyenne, and Don and Vivian are more than husband and wife – they have been business partners in a Paint Horse ranch for the past 14 years.
During those 14 years of business, the Z Ranch has specialized in training Paint Horses for the show ring. Halter and all-around horse/rider have become the main focuses of Don and Vivian, and they provide their knowledge and training capabilities for open horses, amateur and youth exhibitors. Over the course of their time with Paint Horses the duo has worked with over 20 Reserve World Champions and Reserve National Champions.
The Beards also breed Paint Horses, and the foals born at the Z Ranch are marketed according to their training. Each foal that leaves the operation has been trained by Don and Vivian.
On a typical year at the Z Ranch, Don and Vivian have seven horses under the roof of their barn. They currently house three horses for amateur clients as well as a few prospect horses of their own.
“We are running a small operation. Both of us have had large operations before, and where we are today we are able to manage everything on our own. Larger operations will need more employees,” says Don.
Don and Vivian intend to keep the ranch small. By staying small they intend to breed quality Paint Horses, and they are also focused on helping their clients reach their show ring goals.
“We will keep improving our stock. As the horses improve, we want to keep improving,” comments Don.
Prior to running the Z Ranch, Vivian was a part of a 30-stall barn in southern California. Don has never left the Cheyenne area, but he contributed to a 20-stall barn. Although each of them was in different regions of the country, one aspect was very similar – their operations consisted of breeding World Champion and Reserve World Champion stallions.
Neither Don nor Vivian started their careers with Paint Horses. Each of them started out with Quarter Horses, and Vivian’s experience in the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) began when she started training Paint Horses for a friend.
“As I entered shows of the APHA, I realized that the people in the APHA are very family-friendly, easy to get along with, fun and competitive. We just continued down the road from there,” says Vivian.
“I started working with Paint Horses when a friend of mine told me about some people selling a broodmare that was bred to a Paint stallion. I bought the mare, and never looked back,” adds Don.
Each of them found a passion for the APHA. To accompany the passion they had acquired for the Paint Horse breed and the association, they became leaders as well. The pair currently serves as national directors for the APHA as the National Director and the Alternate National Director representing the state of Wyoming. Don is also able to judge for six associations.
“When you go to a Paint Horse show there are always friends around. I can’t remember going to a show and having a bad time. It makes this the place to be. Beyond the quality of horse, there are really good folks there,” says Don.
Paints celebrate 50 years
In 2012 the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) is celebrating its 50th year of existence. Prior to the founding of the association, the Paint horse breed was an outcast among the other breeds and was considered inferior to the Quarter Horse, because it was suggested that the more white a horse had the more flaws it also had. Rebecca Tyler Lockhart founded the APHA in 1962. Her endeavors started at her kitchen table that year, and 250 horses were registered in the APHA’s rookie year. Today the association has nearly one million registered Paint Horses.