Aug 25, 2014

2014 Humanitarian Awards Dinner

Friendship Pot by Award-winning Jemez potter Judy Toya

On August 21st, 2014 we were honored to receive the New Mexico Humanitarian Award.

The New Mexico Humanitarian Award is a distinguished recognition program born from the desire to raise awareness of the spirit of humanity and to inspire individuals, organizations, and businesses to pursue humanitarian goals. 

Friendship Pots were awarded to honorees. Handcrafted by award-winning Jemez potter Judy Toya. History of the Friendship Pot states that after a rain shower, friends gather around the rain pot to see how much rain water has been gathered, sometimes holding hands or just facing each other... they talk, laugh & share love and harmony of the way of life.

The evening was much like this – sharing talk, laughter love and harmony with the other awardees and our Cowboy Up! crew and family.  We were honored to share the evening with fellow awardees; Dr. Cheryl L. Willman-UNM Cancer Center, Wendy Lewis, Executive Director~McCune Charitable Foundation, CEO's  Chet Stewart and Duffy Swan~ French & French and Susan Seligman, Regional Executive Anti Defamation League.

Many thanks to David Simon and David Buchholtz from the JCC and Brad Steward - Pulakos CPA for a memorable evening indeed.

Aug 13, 2014

RIP Mr. Henry McKinley


The last calf has been branded, is looking for its momma.
The irons are tossed into the dirt and water poured on the fire.
Extra ear tags, dehorners and tools tossed back into the branding box
and vaccines put back in the cooler.
The pickup bed stacked with everything, even an old lariat rope, its burner chewed up that someone found during the gather.
Another season complete.
Time passes and we measure our lives with benchmarks like spring work and fall gathers, bad winters, parched summers
or the passing of someone dear to us.
So catch the gate for me brother, as you finish your long circle and rein your good horse up and ease on
to a place where the water is running cool and the grass is stirrup high and the Big Trail Boss is mighty glad to see you.

Adios Mr. Henry, it was an honor to be with you at the end of your ride.
See you on the other side.

Henry McKinley 
January 1, 1929 – August 12, 2014

By Rick Iannucci

Henry and his wife Peg are good friends and one of our first Program Partners in helping our Veterans. A Korean War Veteran himself, Henry took his rope to practice and tought other soldiers how to rope a dummy. He understood the military, and he was a true Cowboy who could attest to both ways of life.

Lt  to rt. Nancy De Santis, Henry and Peg Mckinley, Rick Ianucci

Hard to believe we rode with Henry moving bulls this past February. An outstanding individual, always at the ready to help teach the way of the cowboy, how to handle and move cattle, or how to shoot a Longbow and arrow, there's not much Henry didn't share. 

Feb 18th, 2014 movin' bulls

Henry getting his wildrag

It was truly an honor for the men and women in our program to have had an opportunity to work alongside Mr. McKinley ~ Henry took the time for those who wanted to learn all they could especially when it came to his love of roping, there was no better teacher than him, a Champion Team Roper many times over.  

You will sorely be missed Henry. I thank God that I had the personal opportunity to get to know you and share your life and be there for you in the end.   Onto greener pastures, and keep watch over us from above, 
With Love,


There was a nice article Ana Pacheco wrote for the New Mexican in 2012, it covered only the tip of Henry's life, but it sure is a nice read so I figured I re-publish it here:

A Wonderful Life: This cowboy's
the real deal
Ana Pacheco | For The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012

Was nice to wake up to see an article in the New Mexican about our Dear Friend and Program Partner Mr. Henry McKinley, so I just had to share it. Currently Mr. McKinley is teaching our most recent Cowboy Up! Graduate the ins and outs of roping - Thanks Henry!!!

A Wonderful Life: This cowboy's the real deal 
Ana Pacheco | For The New Mexican Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012

At age 83, Henry McKinley is a member of a dying breed. "Ranchers can be cowboys, and so can those who participate in rodeos, but to find people who can train and shoe horses, run a ranch and compete in rodeos like me is a rarity these days," he said.

"Today, young people move to the city. They don't want to put in the years of hard work that it takes to run a ranch," McKinley said.

There are many personal and financial reasons that the younger generation no longer cares to spend their days toiling away at ranch work, but for McKinley, who was raised in such a setting, he'd have it no other way. His mother, Margaret Littlefield, was a registered nurse who came to New Mexico in 1928 to work for a wealthy family named Johnson, who were guests at the San Gabriel Ranch in Alcalde, a few miles north of Española. McKinley, who is the oldest of three children, said, "The first time I was on a horse was when I was an infant. My mother held me on a pillow as she rode around the ranch."

Later, McKinley spent his formative years at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú, where his mother, and father, Jack McKinley, worked for Arthur Pack, whose family owned the sprawling ranch. It was at Ghost Ranch that McKinley found his calling in life as a cowboy -- and the love of his live. "I used to help my parents with their chores around the ranch and that's when I met Peggy Pack. She was 6 at the time and I was 41/2. We played together then and we're still playing together now," he said.

In 1979, after a divorce for McKinley and the death of Peggy Pack's first husband, the couple reunited. The union produced five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Today, the elderly couple manages 30,000-acre Rancho Viejo, south of Santa Fe. Their days, which start at sunrise and end at sunset, are devoted to caring for their longhorn cattle. "Longhorn cattle are survivors of the fittest. More than a hundred years ago, after the Civil War, they were left by the Mexicans to fend for themselves. They're still going strong," McKinley said.

The biggest challenge for the couple these days is continual drought and overgrazing of the land. McKinley explained, "Since the Spaniards settled this part of the county more than three hundred years ago, their livestock had free range of the area, which has resulted in poor grazing conditions. We have to rotate the use of our property, so every three months our herd is moved to a different pasture in order for them to have an ample food supply. We have 10 windmills spread throughout the ranch that provide water, not only for the cattle, but for all of the wildlife in the area. Each day we take a drive to make sure that all of the windmills are working, because if you run out of water you're in trouble."

Henry McKinley was born in Lynn, Mass., in 1929. "My mother didn't trust the doctors out here so she went back home to have me. "We were there for six weeks and I haven't been back since, he said.

McKinley attended Española's McCurdy School and graduated from Roswell's New Mexico Military Institute in 1947. He spent two years in the military during the Korean War before attending college at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in Range Management from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, today known as New Mexico State University.

He retired in 1980 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he worked as an agricultural extension agent in range management. Since then he's not only managed his own ranch, but has participated in rodeo competitions throughout the state. For several years he held the New Mexico state title in calf roping. Although he's beginning to slow down a bit, two years ago he competed in a team-roping competition.

In June, McKinley will be busy branding all of his calves with the help of friends and neighbors. He said, "It'll be two long days of hard work, but after we're done I've promised to take everyone out to dinner."

Ana Pacheco's weekly tribute to our community elders appears every Sunday. She can be reached at 474-2800. Her book, J. Paul Taylor: The Man from Mesilla, was recently published by the Museum of New Mexico Press.

Aug 1, 2014

The National Day of the Cowboy

A big thanks to ALL who came out for New Mexico’s Western Music Association ‘s National Day of the Cowboy Concerts! It was an OUTSTANDING weekend of music, fun and friends!

A very special thanks to ALL the musicians who dedicated their Talent and Time to put on two outstanding shows in Cimarron and Placitas, NM!

Headliners; R.W. Hampton, Randy Houston, Jim Jones, Doug Figgs, and Ron Taylor – you are incredibly gifted, writers and singers! We cannot express enough how honored we are that you came together to put on concerts for the folks who love Western music AND to benefit our organization – our heart felt gratitude!

Thanks a million to Joe Brown of NM Western Music Association who had a vision and a mission and organized these concerts, as well as to all who worked behind the scenes putting together, promoting and even working the events like Lisa Hampton, Cathy Figgs, and to Saturday’s  MC and cowboy poet Dennis Nazelrod of the Cimarron Mavericks and to Sunday’s MC, Rick Huff – Thank you!

To Linda and Gene McClain of Arte de Placitas Gallery who hosted the Placitas concert – what a fun gallery and awesome idea hosting the Western Music Series you’ve got going on there! Check out their calendar for more @
These concerts were OUTSTANDING!!! - Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 
Don't miss it next time!

Some shots from our July 26th Cimarron concert:

A good part of the audience stayed through into the evening to see everyone give a stellar performance, and here they show there gratitude to each and every artist!

And from our July 27th Placitas concert:
Mother nature held out for most of the performances and R.W's first set, then she no longer could deprive us of the rain we needed for our dry landscape, but no worries, after moving everything under cover R.W. began strumming his guitar and all chimmed in and gave us a heck-of-a performance for another hour!  

It was a lot of fun guys thank you! And thanks to all who came out to ENJOY the music!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Monday after brought us back to daily veteran sessions and a long awaited combat veteran from Cimarron. There are no coincidences that we finally met up while up there enjoying music in the park!
US Army Afghanistan veteran, Rick Rinde spent the week with us after our great visit at the concert, and it was sure good to have him here participating in Cowboy Up!

Rick looks on.  Learning what he can by observing fellow Army veteran Sarah work with Junior aka "Houdini".

Afterward Sarah teaches Rick one of the quick release knots used here. Safety always a number one priority for our crew and our horses.

Then of course a break for lunch and a time to relax and enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship.

And back outside afterward to learn how to halter and lead.

Then to some partnership work with Knight.

Always nice when you have made a new friend and trusted partner.

The next few days found time well spent in the saddle.

Manuvering throught the cones with Rick.

Here Nancy illustrates rein aides.

Then an opportunity to try those reins out for himself, under the ever so watchful eye of Hollywood!

Smiles for miles tell it all. Looks like we have a happy camper!

The next day brought another group session.

Paul is really enjoying trotting with Junior!

As always, practice...

...makes perfect.

Lunchtime in our bunkhouse. Always a welcome part of the day.

And back out for an afternoon session with "our girls"...

...the cows that is and learning proper, no stress cattle handling while horseback.
Looking forward to building on a great week and a good start.