Ron Garretson was a founder of the Donald Erickson Memorial Chariot Races in Saratoga, where he ran his own teams for many years, ultimately serving on the Interstate Chariot Racing board of directors. His early ranch work took place on the family ranch at Elk Mountain, but he went on to work on ranches throughout Carbon County. He worked for Carbon County Road and Bridge Department for more than 30 years, but spent free time doing day-work and raising, training, and trading horses.
Ron was born in 1942 to Virgil and Eleanor Garretson and grew up in Elk Mountain on the Garretson family ranch, where he helped with all ranch duties. He was the youngest of five children and the only boy. He was particularly fond of the cowboy aspects of ranching, even in his youth. If fact, once when his parents were away, legend has it that he killed most of the chickens because he didn’t want to mess with them. If it wasn’t a horse or cow, it wasn’t worthy.
Ron oftentimes rode his horse to school because he enjoyed being horseback. He donned a cowboy hat and boots, and even to this day, the only time he has ever worn tennis shoes or anything other than boots, was when he played basketball in high school.
Ron continued to work for the Garretson Ranch for a few years after he graduated from high school. Ron spent most of his cowboy career in Carbon County. Early in his career, Ron broke horses for Phil Freese, a horse trader in Rawlins. He also spent some time in Cheyenne at the Polo Ranch training horses. He cowboyed for the Eureka Pool by Baggs, as well.
When he married Joyce Buckendorf in 1964, he worked for John Orton near Elk Mountain, then he had jobs with Millie Sanger near Encampment and Elmer Petersen at Walcott. In 1967, he went to work for the One Bar Eleven Ranch between Saratoga and Encampment. He was in charge of the Angus cattle herd and continued working for the ranch for the next 10 years. He and Joyce raised their two girls and a passel of city-born nephews found their way to the ranch, where Ron shared with them the cowboy way of life.
In 1977, Ron went to work for the Carbon County Road and Bridge Department and he and Joyce purchased a small place of their own, where Ron still trained, traded and raised horses. In addition, Ron continued to “day ride” for numerous local ranches, including the Nixon Ranch, Jack Creek Ranch, McIlvaines, and a host of others.
Today, at age 70, he still rides when he has an opportunity, though he prefers not to ride the green-broke colts he used to enjoy. He continues to share his passion for horses and cowboying with young men and women who want to learn the cowboy way. His philosophy, “If I can’t get there horseback, I don’t need to go.”
Community is very important to Ron. He was involved in the Search and Rescue in Encampment for many years and continues to be a member of the Lions Club. He has helped with many rodeos over the years, running the chutes, whatever was needed – in communities including Hanna and Encampment.