“I wanted to spend most of my time in the saddle on horseback looking after cattle and riding in the Flint Hills.”
Native of the Bluestem ranchland, Rex Buchman, a cowman’s son following family heritage during youthful days, recognized and most accomplished in many cowboy lifestyles, loaded his horse and family and traveled southwest to a vastly different yet uniquely cowboy New Mexico.
Inbred cowboy instincts prevailed while always grinning, mustachioed Buchman serving Extension as a county agent in agriculture far from homeland, yet utilizing upbringing with the generations of genes to excel, while sought and acclaimed for his most accessible knowledge.
More than one visit to the southwest adobe state, upon self-introduction of like surname to others, immediately brought admirable acknowledgement of that then-local Buchman, and how he’d positively assisted others.
Service in those decades while raising his family, Buchman was always closely attached to his unyielding affections for horses and horse people from judging, to most diverse coaching, to training, to limited breeding, and well beyond.
Yet, deep-seated entrepreneurship from the horseback view was always apparent, again like cowboy generation ancestry. Buchman became most acclaimed retracing the 125-mile Billy the Kid journey to demise, and then hosting public re-rides of that infamous escape route 121 years after.
Cowboy country still wasn’t Flint Hills cow-steer country, nor was there sufficient time in the saddle to suit Buchman, who gave up the regular government check and came “home” in 2005, to Burdick, Kansas. Some post office maps indicate its Elmdale, while most identify the home ranch “on Diamond Creek,” close-by the former Hymer, which was never much more than a two-horse-town.
“It was an adjustment, but the right decision even though I wondered about it for a while living in the bunkhouse at my grandpa’s old place,” Buchman reflected.
Obviously, all was in “the plan” for the always strong-in-faith, entrepreneur Buchman who soon found plenty to do in the Flint Hills, according to the busy cowboy we caught up with on the modern-day cellphone as he was hauling a load of cull cows to the sale barn.
“I got some jobs shoeing horses, started riding colts, had day jobs gathering, found a few of my own lease pastures to look after, bred more mares, and continued developing guest ranch adventures similar to the ones in New Mexico,” said Buchman, who married his wife, Teresa, in 2008.
The home place in Chase County close to the Morris County line was started by grandpa Lou Buchman, and continued by dad Burton Buchman, known for early use of Simmental genetics through artificial insemination, while merchandizing limited seed stock, with some emphasis on show calf production, for which the youngest Buchman became well-known.
“I grew up looking after cattle with my dad and grandpa Keith Davis, they were cowboys, and it certainly rubbed off. I showed a lot of steers, fortunately we raised some good ones, and I even had the grand champion at Wichita one year,” Buchman related.
Active in agriculture leadership, even mounting an occasional rodeo bronc while there, Buchman graduated from Kansas State University, where he was a member of Coach Bill Able’s livestock judging team that won both the Kansas City Royal and Chicago International contests, a most notable feat accomplished by quite few. “We are on our way to Louisville to be remembered on November 15,” Buchman broadened the ever-present-smile, another like-dad trait.
Prior to his New Mexico county agent job, Buchman served as the beef barn supervisor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, for five years.
“I got to teach horsemanship, along with the other duties. And, even rode with Ray Hunt at two clinics in the early’90s. Interestingly, Grandpa Keith (Davis) had told me about Ray, planting a seed, so when I got a chance to go, I was more than ready,” Buchman insisted.
“It’s good to be back in the ’Hills in the saddle,” Buchman reiterated. “I’m helping Dad more all of the time, but Teresa and I have a lot going on our own, too.”
The couple’s Bar U Ranch Horses is truly a most diverse enterprise. “We are a working ranch offering a full line of guest ranch adventures including trail rides, cattle drives, rental horses and lessons,” Buchman simplified.
Always having a couple of colts in training, usually for himself, but occasionally one for an acquaintance, Buchman informed: “I’ve found training riders is about as important as training horses, so I try to always offer advice whenever I can, and give some lessons, actually to all levels of people interested in riding horses.”
Intriguingly, the cattle drives give everyone a chance to experience a historical Flint Hills event like it was a century-and-a-half ago when fat steers were sorted off and sent by rail to Kansas City or Chicago. “In this case, though, the cows are gentle enough for the slow work it takes to teach horses and humans the basis of proper cattle work,” Buchman said.
Competition of youthful days remain adrenalin pinch for Buchman who’s been involved in formation and leadership of the Ultimate Horseman’s Challenge Association, riding and collecting event and yearend titles. “It’s a great test of horses and horsemanship abilities,” he admitted.
Likewise, Buchman rides in working ranch horse events around the country, including the Midwest Ranch Horse Association “that Dwight Bylik invested for this area,” he noted.
Last year, Buchman competed in the Ranch Horse Association of America show in conjunction with the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Rodeo Finals in Amarillo.
“Those types of competitions are as close to doing it like we do on the ranch as anything can be, I think,” Buchman observed.
Raising his own mounts is important to the cowboy, again like his heritage, dad and grandpa known for astute attention to breeding genetics advancement.
Retelling the background of his own Quarter Horse program again rolls. “When I was a kid, Dean Smith, world renowned Council Grove horse trainer, was winning everything in the cutting pen with two studs, Melvin’s Gold and Wessler’s Gold, both Hollywood Gold horses. Grandpa and Daddy took me to Delmar Wesseler’s place in western Kansas, and we picked out a mare by Wesseler’s Gold. That started my horse operation,” Buchman indicated.
The mare Little Gold Squaw was traded to his grandpa for a ’69 International flatbed pickup when Buchman went to college. “Grandpa kept her, raised some colts, and sold her to a fellow with a Fox Easter stud, and fortunately later bought back one of her foals, Foxy Gold Squaw.
“I inherited that mare and then bred her to Cowboy Grullo, owned by my county agent friend Bill Thompson in New Mexico. It was a magic cross,” contended Buchman, who has several generations of that lineage in production and training.
“I got to take lessons from Dean Smith for a couple of years after I got back from New Mexico. He taught me a lot,” Buchman emphatically, most appreciatively credited.
“I even bought a mare from Dean; Docs Heart Bracre, a daughter of Little Acre Doc by (out of) Dean’s ‘Rohita’ mare,” he added.
“I’ve been breeding my mares to CRR Hurricane Cat, owned by my nephew Spencer Harshman, and they sure look to have great potential as performance horses,” Buchman stated.
“We are American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage Breeders,” commented Buchman, obviously most fittingly considering heritage of himself, his horses and his ranch.
The Stonehorse Bed and Breakfast in Cottonwood Falls was a new venue started by the Buchman couple last year.
“Built in 1910, the stone and brick home has lots of cozy country charm with five spacious bedrooms, two large dining rooms ready for any event. It is perfect for family reunions, corporate retreats, wedding events, and quiet weekend getaways. The front porch was the favorite part when we lived there, and our customers love it as well,” Buchman said.
Additionally, the Buchmans work closely with Josh and Gwen Hoy at their Flying A Ranch, a working operation near Cedar Point, that offers guest weekend getaways in the Flint Hills, has a conference center and also caters barbecues.
“They have a riding string for guests, and now I’m their head farrier and again have started shoeing horses for some other ranchers around,” Buchman said.
Well, where does it end? “We have a breeding heifer development program, and I help a several neighbors whenever they need a cowboy,” Buchman said.
A lay minister, Buchman shares his devote faith at many cowboy gatherings, often accompanied by his spiritual singing.
Answering the most frequent question to us both: “Yeh, he’s our relation.”
Our angle: Good, bad, indifferent, folks get us mixed up, call us each other’s names, it may be a compliment, it might be a degrading, guess depends which one’s being referred to, and the discussion.
One thing good, in both of our prejudice, it relates to horses. After that, cautiousness beware.
He’s the famous one. Maybe fourth cousin, maybe fifth, who can figure it out? Not two Buchman cowboys.
Where’s Rex Buchman headed? “Riding horses. How can life be any better with God, my horses, my family and getting to ride in the Flint Hills.”