By Connlee Gray

The Weaver Ranch in Big Sandy has been inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame (MPRHWF) as one of the state’s Great Montana Ranches.

The MPRHWF banquet at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, originally scheduled for Jan. 30, 2021 has been postponed to Oct. 2, 2021 due to COVID-19. Every year, the MPRHWF recognizes cowboys and cowgirls around the state under the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Great Montana Sportscaster, Great Montana Veterinarian, Great Montana Western Store, Great Montana Horse Trainer, Lady of the West, Great Montana Ranches, Great Montana Families, Legends, Western Heritage, Great Montana Farrier and Great Livestock Auctions.

2020.12.RileyWarrenThe Weaver Ranch is owned and operated by Stan and Nancy Weaver, who raise quality Quarter Horses and Black Angus cattle. Stan’s granddad bought the ranch in 1925 and it was later passed off and added onto by Stan’s dad and eventually Stan and Nancy.  The Weaver brand, “A standing X,” has been in the family since 1888, and Stan’s grandkids are the sixth generation to ride under the brand.

Horses have always played an integral role in Stan’s life, from riding on the ranch to competing in reined cow horse and cutting events.  Stan said his dad had Tennessee Walking horses and Thoroughbreds when he was growing up, but Stan eventually grew fond of Quarter Horses. In 1980, Stan and Nancy purchased their first Quarter Horse.

“I really like riding a good horse and I think the Quarter Horse is far superior to any other horse out there for ranch work,” Stan said.  At first, the Weavers said they started breeding Quarter Horses to ride on their own ranch, but over time they added enough mares and stallions to their herd that they could produce a sale. Now, “A standing X” horses can be found in several countries around the world.

“You know, a lot of this stuff you don’t really plan. It just sort of happens,” Stan said. “I like the Quarter Horse and the history of them. I got to studying bloodlines and pretty soon we had enough horses that we could have a production sale.”  Nancy mentioned that prior to putting on their own sale, Stan spent about three years traveling to production sales around Montana and surrounding states to observe how other horse sales ran.

2020.12.TroyTillard“We’re a little bit more remote than a lot of people,” Nancy said. “Selling private treaty is difficult. There wasn’t even internet in the ‘90s when we started putting on production sales.”  On their ranch outside Big Sandy, the Weavers run about 85 to 90 broodmares and five stallions along with around 400 head of Black Angus cattle and a few Herefords.

The Weaver Production Sale takes place the third weekend of September every year in Great Falls and 2020 marked their 25th sale. Stan said they typically sell around 60 weanlings in the sale and a few broodmares.  Over the years, horses from the sale have been sold to all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces and to Australia, Germany, South Africa and Brazil. At this year’s sale, a filly sold for $18,500, and several others also brought in bids over $10,000.

Each year, some Weaver mares and geldings that are a couple years old are sent to the University of Montana-Western colt starting class, where students start a horse of their own under saddle as part of the course curriculum and sell it at an auction in the spring. Stan said in the past five years, their horses have been the high sellers at that sale.

Weaver horses have earned a high reputation and gained popularity in other fields, too. Last year, professional team roper Matt Sherwood rode a Weaver horse at the National Finals Rodeo.  In 2015, a horse originally from Weaver Ranch won the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association)/PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Horse of the Year for steer roping, and another Weaver horse was named the 2017 AQHA World Champion Amateur Heel Horse.

In 2018, a Weaver horse won the AQHA Senior Head Horse of the Year.  In 2013, they had the National Charro Champion Horse of Mexico.

Aside from the equine achievements, Weaver Ranch has been awarded the 1997 Montana Quarter Horse Ranch of the Year, the 2009 Leading Breeder of Performance Point Earners, the 2014 MSU Family Business of the Year Award and the ranch has also been recognized as a Montana Farm Bureau historic 100-year ranch.

Stan served on the AQHA executive committee for five years and was the president of the world’s largest horse breed registry in 2019.

“We’re very honored, that’s for sure,” Nancy said.