Raymond D. Hutson
Raymond D. Hutson was born in 1938 to a cowboy family that used horses on a daily basis for all aspects of their ranch life. Part of his job on their ranch was to break the horses.
After graduation, Raymond moved to Montana and continued working on ranches breaking, training, and shoeing horses. In 1958, Raymond was employed as a wrangler at Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone Park. He helped shoe the dude horses and took guests on rides including day trips. Aside from taking care of the guests, his job was to take care of the horses. He saw to their feeding, saddling and other duties all the way to picking out the “right” horse for each guest. When the park closed in the fall, Raymond and two other wranglers trailed about 125 head of park horses to the winter pasture on the Flying D Ranch up the Gallatin Canyon in Montana. They would take turns in the night herding the horses as there were no corrals to put them in. It took three days to trail the horses to the pasture and on day four, they pulled the shoes and turned them out for rest until the next year.
While in Montana, Raymond worked for many ranchers. They recognized his talent with horses, so a large part of his job was to break and use horses. Raymond trained horses to either be saddle horses or as a part of a team. One of the ranchers he worked for had a herd of horses that had not been corralled for several years. His first job was to round up that herd of wild horses (about 80 head) and bring them in to the corrals. After being corralled, they were branded and the four-year-old studs were castrated before the breaking and training commenced. Quite a few of those wild horses went on to be a part of a stock contractor’s bucking string! The rest were used for ranch and other work. While on this ranch, Raymond and two or three other guys would take their dogs and trail over 450 cows 60 miles in the fall of the year to winter pasture. For years this trail drive took place over Thanksgiving. From start to finish, the trip crossing the mountain pass took three days; the cowboys would spend the days trailing cattle and nights spent in cow camps along the way. It was a cold and miserable trip but one Raymond loved and still talks about today.
After moving to Wyoming in 1967, Raymond worked for the Meade Creek Ranch doing cattle work. Not only did Raymond have a talent for training horses, he had a knack for training working dogs, too. Raymond felt a good dog was almost as important as his horse in doing cowboy work. Bea, Raymond’s wife, recalls what a thrill it was to see him and his dog, Buster, working together to clear cattle out of the brush.
Raymond worked for several ranches before leasing one his own family ran for several years. During that time, he broke teams of horses to work and would sell one only to turn around and start another. Raymond fed with a team in the winter months so the horses had a job to do. It wasn’t just horses Raymond loved; he also had mules and owned quite a few over the years. He would break them to ride, drive, and pack. A friend of his raised mules and Raymond and his son, Rusty, would travel to Montana and help round up and then trail horses and mules from 13 to 20 miles helping bring them in from summer pasture. This afforded Raymond and Rusty to get the first pick of the ones they wanted to buy.
Raymond and his family have camped and hunted on Walker Prairie for 46 years. He took pride in the looks of his well-broke pack string. Raymond received many compliments over the years on how nice his string looked with five or six mules strung out, all with white pack covers and their perfect diamond hitches showing as as the animals climbed the mountain trail. Raymond and Bea’s camp was like no other that you have seen–you could have literally lived in their camp year-round! They had a wall tent set up that was the kitchen and dining hall–sometimes complete with a Christmas tree!
Raymond especially loves helping young people get started around horses. His family fostered three different boys over the years and those boys learned about all aspects of ranching.
Raymond had an uncle who was a saddle maker. As a young man, Raymond learned the trade from him and has continued that business for the last 57 years. Besides building new saddles and equipment, Raymond does all kinds of leather repair work. Raymond also makes and repairs harnesses for single driving horses and teams. As an accomplished teamster, Raymond is often sought after for advice and knowledge from those who are just starting out or whom are struggling and need help.
With his love for work horses and mules, Raymond has accumulated a very large collection of horse drawn machinery, equipment, buggies and wagons. He has also rebuilt wagons and buggies for himself and others over the years. In 1990 he took part in the Wyoming Centennial Wagon Train and he has taken part in many other wagon trains during the past 50 years.