?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 near Burdick, Rex Buchman, a cowman?s son following family heritage during youthful days, loaded his horse and family and traveled southwest to a vastly different yet uniquely cowboy New Mexico.
Inbred cowboy instincts prevailed while the always-grinning, mustachioed Buchman served as Exten?sion county agent in agriculture far from his homeland.
Service in those decades while raising his family, Buchman was closely attached to his unyielding affections for horses and horse people, whether from judging, to coaching, to training, to limited breeding, and well beyond.
Yet, deep-seated entrepreneurship from the horseback view was always apparent. Buchman became 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? to Burdick in 2005.
?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 said.
Obviously, all was in ?the plan? for the always strong-in-faith entrepreneur, who soon found plenty to do in the Flint Hills.
?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 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 merchandising limited seed stock.
?I grew up looking after cattle with my dad and grandpa Keith Davis, they were cowboys, and it certainly rubbed off,? he said.
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 Inter?national contests.
?It?s good to be back in the Hills in the saddle,? Buch?man said. ?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 a 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 said.
?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,? he added.
Buchman said 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 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,? he said.
Buchman has been involved in formation and leadership of the Ultimate Horseman?s Challenge Association, riding and collecting event and year-end titles.
?It?s a great test of horses and horsemanship abilities,? he said.
Likewise, Buchman rides in working ranch horse events around the country, including the Midwest Ranch Horse Association.
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,? he said.
Raising his own mounts is important to this cowboy, like it was to his dad and grandpa, who were known for astute attention to breeding genetics.
?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,? Buchman said.
?Grandpa and Daddy took me to Delmar Wessler?s place in western Kansas, and we picked out a mare by Wessler?s Gold. That started my horse operation.?
The mare Little Gold Squaw was traded to his grandpa for a 1969 Inter?national 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,? he said.
?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.
?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,? he added.
Bed and breakfast
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,? Buchman said.
?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.?
The Buchmans also 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 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.
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 devout faith at many cowboy gatherings, often accompanied by his singing.
Where?s Rex Buchman headed?
?Riding horses,? he replied. ?How can life be any better with God, my horses, my family and getting to ride in the Flint Hills??