How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch - Horses of Course!

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4/9/2022, By Julie Van Hise


Sometimes life just has the weirdest way of working out - one day you have ponies and not many days after, you have horses!


Hi! I'm Julie Van Hise. My husband, Chris, and I are 1st generation ranchers and owners of 4 Bear Ranch - a ranch that not only provides for our family but provides for the local community as well. In 2017, we bought our home unknowing of what it would transform into in 4 short years. From mountain wilderness to mountain ranch wilderness - we have lovingly worked hard in building our dream! How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch? It's actually kind of really strange...At this point we had our chickens and ponies and were quite content…and then it happened - 2 Quarter horses seemingly fell out of the sky and landed in the yard with the ponies!


We finally got the horse shed finished, and the electrical fencing installed (most of which was done by Braeden - he did a great job!). The ponies' area had grown substantially. The weather was warming up from those cold winter days - spring was moving on in.

On one of those few Montana nice spring days I went for a walk with my dear friend to the Ranger Station. Always an enjoyable walk. Who knew that this particular walk would end up in us adopting my friend’s 2 beloved Quarter Horses - Brandy and Beau!!! Not I, that is for sure. There is a long story behind how this conversation even occurred, and to this day, the adventures of Brandy and Beau are just amazing. From Maine to Montana, these two have been through it all!


Above: Honey's butt, Mr. Beau, and Miss Sugar Foot.

I had ridden Brandy once - quite a while before this walk on a nice trail ride. She took wonderful care of me - and she had to have known I had never ridden a horse other than the ponies that go in circles at the fair. That same day, Braeden came down and got to ride Beau. They were instantly in our hearts - they are both so sweet!


Now, very excited as to what was going to come to live with us in August…the very real realization hit that we needed to get hay and a horse trailer.

Hay proved to be an easy thing that year, thank goodness not like the drought we had in 2021. We were able to get all the round bales we needed from down the road just next to the Ranger Station. It all worked out fantastic!

The horse trailer seemed to also fall out of the sky, being sold just a few miles south of us by a senior in high school building up his money to take some college classes come fall. The only hitch with the trailer was that it had the wrong title - uggg, now that is a process, but it is fixable. Not sure how we missed it when we bought it, but we did…Always make sure the make, model, and VIN/serial number match...you would think this would be a no brainer for us...but I guess we were just too excited that the trailer was decently priced and not falling apart! After the process for bonding a vehicle, and all of the other registrations we have done, as far as vehicle and trailer registrations go in Montana I am quite a pro by now!


Above: Braeden riding Beau, and Gramma Kathy riding Brady


August came in a flash - we went to go pick up Brandy and Beau and bring them to their new home! It was quite the journey, along the mountains and winding turns that make up Petty Creek Rd in Alberton in my F150 non-truck truck - we quickly realized we needed to upgrade to an F250...but we made it home safe and sound, us, horses, hay, gear, and the horse trailer itself!

Then came the time to unload Beau and Brady and introduce them to the ponies. There was only a little excitement as everyone was trying to introduce themselves and of course figure out rank structure. The whole thing maybe lasted 2 minutes. Then we went to feed them all. And there was Miss Honey and Mr. Beau sharing hay and grain…yup, these 4 were somehow meant to be with each other. Poor Mr. Beau, the women outnumber him 3 to 1 - but he doesn’t seem to mind too much! The all only pick on him once in a while...


Above: Braeden riding Beau


And so, just like that 2 Quarter Horses fell out of the sky and started our journey of horsemanship. Braeden somehow out of the blue became an expert in riding overnight and many trail rides have occurred since the horses came to the ranch. And just like everything else - we would not change a single thing.


What came next? They are small, black, and the sweetest little things!!!


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