Wannabe Cowboy Makes Dreams Come True

By Carolyn Kaberline
Better Horses 2018 Summer Issue – Volume 19 No 3

If anyone would have asked a young Frank Buchman what he wanted to be when he grew up, the quick reply would have been: “I wannabe a cowboy and have a horse.”

Although his parents had once had horses and a farm, they were sold before Frank was born due to a combine accident that cost his father his left hand. Because of that accident, his folks moved into Council Grove and ran a grocery store.

“My dad Clarence was a top hand and was said to have had several top horses as a young man including Bar who would rear when Dad snapped his fingers,” Buchman said. “My mom Laura Mae had a spotted horse she rode to teach school for nine years.”

The Buchman family: Frank and Margaret Mary (front) with son
Tyson and daughter Jennie.

Buchman helped out at his parents’ store from a very early age, carrying out groceries and sweeping the floor—although that broom was often ridden as a horse.

Since the first step to being a cowboy is having a horse, young  Buchman begged his parents at every opportunity to get him one. That wish finally came true when he was 11-years-old, and his parents bought two acres in the city limits.

“They paid $700 for the ‘little farm’ that included a couple of small barns,” Buchman said. “I got Spot when I was in fifth grade. She wasn’t registered although she could have been hardship recorded as a Paint Horse for $10 at the time, only I didn’t have $10.”

However, Buchman later bred the mare to Peppy Creek by Beaver Creek by King, and had three foals out of her, one of which was Buchman’s Queen to which some of his current horses can be traced. Her descendants were all registered as Pintos.

Although his goal of being a cowboy never wavered, Buchman discovered another love while attending Council Grove High School: writing.

“I was involved in FFA leadership roles including serving as reporter and winning the state newswriting contest,” Buchman said. “I also became the high school newspaper editor.”

Likewise, Buchman tried his hand at judging, and “only really succeeded in FFA chicken judging. I was the high individual in the district four years and placed at state.”

Buchman credited his vocational agriculture instructor-FFA advisor, Mr. Gordon Morrison, as being an influential part of his future agriculture endeavors and in his life.

After high school, it was off to Emporia for college. However, after only a semester there, Buchman headed to K-State and became heavily involved in judging and rodeo activities.

That wannabe cowboy was soon on the meats, wool, dairy and junior livestock teams, and placed in several national contests. To this day, he credits Dell Allen, David Ames, Charles Norton and Bill Able—team coaches—for their lifetime inspiration.

To fulfill the cowboy urges, Buchman joined the rodeo club which had a practice pen where he got on a few bareback broncs.

He next tried to ride bulls on the Central Plains Collegiate Rodeo Circuit and followed the Rumford Rodeo Company for a few summers—even making it to the whistle a few times. His most unforgettable ride was on the famous bull Airplane at the South Hutchison Rodeo—and he almost made it to the buzzer then too.

Perhaps his most memorable event at K-State though was meeting Margaret Mary Gronau, a real farm girl, who would become his wife. She knew how to milk cows, drive a tractor, and bale hay; the two were married in August of 1971 between his sophomore and junior years.

“She was a true farmer and I was a wannabe cowboy,” Buchman said. “We moved to Alta Vista when we got married and still live at the same place Buchman’s Double B Ranch. I grew up in town and had never lived in the country until then. Margaret Mary could take care of all the farming and livestock while I played at being a cowboy.”

Buchman’s current show mounts are Cody (left) and Maggie (right). Maggie was the 2017 High Point Horse in KSHSC competition, often being shown in 18-20 classes per show. The saddle (center) was awarded to Buchman as the High Point Rider for the year based on points earned by both Cody and Maggie.

Over the years, Buchman has stayed heavily involved with horses. The stallions he’s owned almost read like a Who’s Who of the Quarter Horse industry.

They included Dennis Good by Peppy Creek by Beaver Creek out of Miss Peppy Tone by Peppy; Trouble Steel Bar (affectionately called Zane), by Mr. Trouble Step by Big Step by Parkers Trouble and out of a Little Steel Bar mare; Breezing Machine, a son of supreme champion War Machine out of Lil Bit Of Breeze; Tee Jay Golden Boy, a son of Gold Fingers out of a daughter of Jackie Bee; Thirst For Cash by Go For Three out of Thirsty Lou; Jimmers Tough Ace by Jimmers Playboy out of Maybe Blue by Hancock Showdown; Prices Leo Flash by Rondo Leo by Leos Question out of Prices Golden Bee and the list continues.

“Our nine mares today go back to those stallions, with Peppy Creek in the pedigrees of every mare, and Zane in most of them, too,” he pointed out.

Over the years, the Buchmans hosted about 30 field days and 25 production sales featuring approximately 40 foals per year along with a few broke horses. The field days were highlighted by a judging contest and later a futurity for horses purchased from previous sales. In addition, the ranch provided horses for other judging contests in the area.

During this time, Buchman also started young horses for the public.

“I rode a couple of colts as a teenager and then had a chance to ride a two-year-old Arabian for Rosalie Clymer, who was a horse shoer, teacher and breeder,” Buchman said. “Anybody with horses in eastern Kansas knew Rosie. I rode a lot of horses for her through the years.”

Rosie told a few people about Buchman’s training skills and they in turn told others.

“Through the years, we started a thousand horses for people throughout the Midwest,” Buchman noted. “They got along well with them because they’d take the horses home and ride them. I never really made a top finished horse, just started colts. I was on them every day so they’d stand to get on, go right into a trot, canter, take their leads both ways and back. I usually just had a colt for 30 days.”

His training days ended in 2009 when “it lost the romance,” Buchman said. “I also lost the nerve, became scared, and got lazy in my old age.”

During these years, Buchman and his wife Margaret Mary raised two children, Jennie and Tyson, both of whom took up riding and showing, winning numerous awards in 4-H and the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA). Their children, now adults, are still involved with horses.

“Jennie is single and a top team roper who’s won 14 saddles and a large number of buckles and awards,” Buchman said. “Tyson has always been a rancher and runs the ranch now with Margaret Mary.

“Tyson has won every horse show award imaginable and is on a top ranch rodeo team that wins throughout the Midwest. Tyson and BJ’s son Wyatt, now 16, is a good horseman, who works on the ranch and for other ranchers in the area.”

Buchman rides Missy in a reining class. The duo earned the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA) High Point Horse Rider Combination Award in 2015.

After they stopped going to horse shows as a family, Buchman took up judging at county fairs and open shows before obtaining cards in several associations: Miniature Horses, Pintos, POAs, and the two Buckskin associations. Altogether Buchman has judged shows in 20 states and 56 Kansas counties.

Through all these years, Buchman has continued being a writer and salesman, first for Grass & Grain for 36 ½ years and currently for WIBW. In addition his Frank J. Buchman bylined stories have appeared in publications throughout the country.

Buchman writes two syndicated stories every week, “A Cowboy’s Faith” and “For The Love Of Horses,” in addition to regularly sending out a professional sales newsletter “Hey Neighbor.”

All of the stories can be found on his website www.frankjbuchman.com. They are also carried in several regional and local publications.

And now Buchman has started showing horses once again. His current mounts are a buckskin pleasure mare named Maggie and a palomino gelding named Cody, who goes back to four of the stallions he owned.

Last year, Buchman showed at 46 shows in five circuits. While he’s showing both horses again this year, two knee replacements in February have slowed him some.

Through it all, Buchman is a firm believer in God and God’s plan for each individual. He quickly credits God, his parents Clarence and Laura Mae Buchman, Margaret Mary, Jennie, Tyson and grandson Wyatt for his success.

Because of his dedication to the equine industry, his portrayal of ranching life and his writing ability, Frank Buchman is being inducted into the 2018 Better Horses Hall of Fame.

Multifaceted, his life to date has involved being a rodeo and horseshow participant, breeder, trainer, judge, writer, rancher, husband and father—not bad for a wannabe cowboy