history of the Prunty horses is a long and diverse one, spanning a
century and four generations of the Prunty family. The Prunty ranch,
located ninety miles north of Elko, Nevada, is nestled against the
foothills of the rugged Jarbidge Wilderness Area. The ranch stands as a
timeless monument to a bygone era, years of hard labor, and
determination to leave a legacy to future generations.
The Prunty ranch has been in the family since the late 1800s,
when Earl Q. Prunty settled near the mining town of Charleston. Earl
came to the area with his father, Pinkard, who was seeking his fortune
in gold. While Pinkard gathered and sold mustangs to raise money for his
mining venture, Earl came to love horses and the ranching way of life.
Earl developed a productive ranch from the rocky sagebrush landscape,
and raised a family. He produced a few local rodeos in the 1930’s and,
during the depression, sold horses to south-eastern states for work
horses. He also marketed horses to the cavalry remount program.
horses were born and raised on the high desert of the Great Basin, just
as they are today. As such, the horses possess a blend of natural
hardiness, stamina, and ability that has suited a variety of purposes
over the years. Between 1948 and 1968, Earl’s sons, Frank “Shorty” and
Harold “Corky”, selected the roughest of the bunch and hit the rodeo
trail with a string of bucking horses that is remembered even today. The
bucking horses Cornflakes and Broken Blossom are probably the most
famous, but some of the other great ones were: Royal Taboo, Hereford,
Country Cousin, Lookout, Goldrush, Roller, Pathfinder, and Bandoleer.
From the local amateur rodeos of northern Nevada to the National Finals
Rodeo, the Diamond A Rodeo Company made its mark in the rodeo history
Since that time, the Pruntys have focused their efforts on breeding
and raising good ranch horses. Over the years, the Pruntys have
continually worked to expand the herd of AQHA and APHA stock, gradually
integrating registered horses into the program. Shorty Prunty once
said that horses are not made of paper. Shorty believed that actions
speak louder than words; of his horses he asked, “Don’t tell me what you
can do, show me.” A horse with a star-studded pedigree, but no heart or
natural ability would not stay on the ranch
long. However, he also held to the adage that “the blood runs to the
brain,” and took advantage of the inherent trainability of popular
Quarter Horse bloodlines. Starting in the late 1960s, Shorty began
crossing the ranch mares with registered stallions to improve and refine
the herd, thus creating one of the Great Basin’s most well-known lines
of ‘good using-horses.’
Undoubtedly the most unique thing about the
horses is the way they are raised, on the open range, the way horses
have evolved naturally across the ages. From birth, the foals travel
at their mothers’ sides, roaming the sagebrush plateau with the foraging
herd. Thus, their early physical and mental development is completely
natural. Foals learn to carry themselves and travel in rough country,
develop sensitivity born of natural instinct, and mature within the
dynamic of a natural herd.
While continually maintaining the heart and
their ancestors, the horses have excelled in many areas, from endurance
and trail riding to working cow horse classes and rodeo.
On the right is a picture of Shorty Prunty with his
horse Canary, in 1946. Canary came from the Diamond A Desert, and won
the snaffle bit competition at the Elko County Fair.
Fifty years later, Shorty’s granddaughter Becky competed successfully
on another horse from the high desert.
Perhaps a trademark example of the all-around capabilities of Prunty
Ranch horses, Snip competed in team roping, barrel racing,
and pole bending. Now happily retired, in past years he was also a
mainstay for the horse gathering in the spring, putting long miles in
day after day, and still having enough “go” to make the thirty mile trot
Consider the potential of these horses as mounts for yourself,
for your ranch hands, or for your guest ranch business. Take a tour
through our Photo Gallery and
Where Are They Now page, and see what these horses can do for you.