Practice Paradise
Shining the spotlight on a few ropey snowbirds who head to the Myers Ranch's southern hub each winter.
photo by Chelsea Shaffer

The Myers family of Saint Onge, South Dakota, has built a multi-generational family business out of raising, training and selling the best horses in the business, most with bloodlines that trace back to their prolific stallion, Frenchmans Guy. In 2008, Bill and Deb Myers bought a place in Wittman to winter, because their breeding and foaling season in the snowy Black Hills of South Dakota doesn’t start until spring. Northern friends escape from all over to enjoy the sunshine at the Myers Ranch’s Arizona hub and exceptional practice on Myers horses all winter long.

Bill Myers, 68; Saint Onge, South Dakota

photo by Chelsea Shaffer

The roping and the weather is just so great down there. You can train all winter, and you have people to come rope with the same interests. From year to year, the number of horses we take varies. We usually bring eight or nine, but there’s been years we’ve taken 22. We rope dang near every day unless we’re going to a roping. But it’s darn sure five days a week. We have a neighbor who comes and ropes with us a lot, and it just depends who’s around. During the futurities, guys will all come and rope and get good practice in. 

Pat Tibbs, 59; Bell Fourche, South Dakota

Photo by Chelsea Shaffer

I’ve been going to Arizona for the last 10 years. We go down around November and we stay for about three months. We take four horses, including a couple outside horses and a couple of my own. I’ve been staying at the Myers about as long as I’ve been going. It’s so nice to be able to practice, and we both do a lot of training on our horses, so it works really good. We know what we want to get done. We have slower steers that let us train, and we’ve got faster steers for roping on our good horses.

Craig Nelson, 60; Hermosa, South Dakota

Photo by Chelsea Shaffer

Bill and I are best friends, and we talk every day on the phone. Down there, we get together to rope every day. I jackpot more than those guys do, and I go down there to practice twice a week. We bought our house down there because it was close to their house. When we get home, our business is intense in the summer time, so I don’t get to rope in South Dakota. So roping is a wintertime sport for me. I bought my horse from Bill 10 years ago, and I bought him on his word. He’s a Dash For Perks out of a Disco Jerry mare, and he’s meant to be hot but he’s not—my 6-year-old niece rides him. He’s a dream for a 60-plus-year-old guy.

Billy Myers, 37; Spearfish, South Dakota

Photo by Chelsea Shaffer

The first time I ever went to Arizona was in 2008. My folks bought a place down there, and my dad had been taking colts down to turn into head horses. My mom had decided she wanted to start roping, so she had taken my good grey heel horse down to rope the sled on, so I just randomly decided to spend a couple weeks down there more to visit some friends who had moved there. I hadn’t been roping, but a buddy offered to pay my fees to rope with a couple guys because I was undernumbered. We went to the Yuma World Series, and I won the #10 with Mark Jones. It paid like crazy and I was hooked. I like to go down now and stay with Cesar and Arena de la Cruz. Arizona is winter paradise for ropers and, if you like to golf, that’s a big plus! 

LISTEN: Platinum Medal Futurity’s Billy Myers on Growth and Consistency in Breeding Business

Cord Forzano, 36; Madera, California

Photo by Chelsea Shaffer

The last couple years, I’ve gone to Arizona for the futurities and jackpot for a few days. I’m going to try to get there a lot more—I like it. You win a lot of money, and there’s so many teams there. You can win a lot, and you can lose a lot. I like to hang out in Wittman because I can take my young horses to 10 different arenas in one day and not even drive a trailer. You can go rope two or three at one place, then ride to the Minors’ and score a couple, then head down the road and really get one seasoned fast. 

Layne Carson, 34; Grassy Butte, North Dakota

Photo by Chelsea Shaffer

It’s funny that there’s pictures from my time in Arizona, because I was only down there for a few days on borrowed horses. Billy Myers and I went to college rodeos together and, when I had a place in Stephenville, we’d rope together there. I was only in Arizona for a few days, and my wife was going to a breakaway roping this day. Billy saw I was in Arizona, and he wanted somebody to head for him. So my wife dropped me off at some stoplights in the middle of nowhere, and five minutes later Billy picked me up, Mr. Bill gave me a head horse to ride, and we had a great day in their practice pen. TRJ

Related Articles
A mare and foal walk through a green pasture
Rope Horse Breeding 101
arizona guide
Hot Spot: Arizona Rope Horse Events, Winter 2024
grromed outdoor arena
Answering the Call of the Southwest
arizona guide
Buckeye, Arizona: Where to Camp and Rope in 2023
arizona guide
Wickenburg, Arizona: Where to Camp and Rope in 2023