Back in 1957, Dave True bought a few acres and a few cows in the Laramie Range mountains. He went on, eventually, to operate ranches, farms and feedlots around Wyoming. But his heart – and his fly-line – were most at home in this east-central range off the slopes of Laramie Peak, the 10,200‑foot high point that the Indians called "the mountain with its head in the clouds."
Dave's third child, Diemer True, was summer help, fall big game hunter, apprentice fly-fisherman, amateur pilot, post-pounder and beef cow AI breeding hand. Diemer and wife Susie raised four children of their own, went to high school football games, managed small businesses, served in Wyoming elected office, and retired from politics as President of the state Senate. But home base in his mind was the middle-of-nowhere with cows to move and fence to fix.
"If my dad told me in the 1970s to spend the week at Duck Creek and make sure that all the open cows got settled with AI, he didn't mean 'artificial intelligence…'" — Diemer True
In 2006, Diemer and Susie toured Wyoming looking for a smaller property that was more accessible year-round. By happenstance, they heard that the Powderhorn Ranch back in the Laramie Range was ready for a new owner.
Since 2007, Diemer and Susie have integrated the Powderhorn with multiple operating activities and a growing population of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Diemer remains the Big Boss (unless Susie tells him otherwise). Susie is the heart and soul of Powderhorn Hospitality, serving as hostess when guests are riding in Ken McNabb Horsemanship events or gathering in the guest house for civic retreats or Bible studies.
Kip and Christina True live a mile away to the south. Their children have been year-round, Christmas-vacation, Spring-break and summer ranch hands depending on the year and the needs.
Kip brought a keen interest in Quarter Horse capability with him – smitten by their athletic versatility and intelligence – and began assembling breeding stock to raise ranch horses. The most dedicated staffers in the early days were his eldest teenage daughters, Hailey, Hannah and Hollie. They were diligent workers and learners, and they grew with the horses. With guidance and friendship from Ken McNabb and family, they became the key to breeding, raising, training and then selling quality ranch-experienced horses.
"Dad thinks we're a cattle ranch with some horses. I'm trying to convince him we're a Quarter Horse breeder with some cattle. I just need a few more broodmares." — Kip True
Hailey True, no longer a teenager, is the full-time point person for the Powderhorn's Quarter Horse operation – nutritionist, amateur vet, barterer, midwife, handler, trainer, and trainers' coach.
Hannah True Gutenberger and husband Steven live a mile away to the northeast. Mother of four, Hannah is fully occupied, but she remains Hailey's capable second with the ranch horses. Steven arrived at the Powderhorn to train horses out West as a teenager – and he never made it back to Wisconsin! Steven runs the beef cattle and hay-farm operations for the ranch. If Hailey has ten hats to wear on behalf of the ranch, Steven has twenty.
Some of the grandkids are studying, graduating, marrying and pursuing other interests. They're here when they can be, throwing calves for branding or calling to a bull elk. Some are the new crop of diligent teenagers that make the place go – Helaina and Hadleigh are often their sisters' hands, feet or ambassadors to customers. Sometimes they are so alike you can't call them by the right name. And so different you wonder if they're really related!
Probably, we're a lot like your own family. With a big backyard and lots of chores.