Garrett Ranch Arena began in the early 1970's as an arena to rope calves in for Frankie Garrett's sons, Gary and
Gregg. Frankie had competed competitively during the mid 1940's through the early 1960's roping calves. I (Gregg)
was in high school and wanting to also team rope, so Dad bought plastic horns to strap on the larger "roped-out" calves.
Before long it became apparent that serious team roping required the best cattle, the horned Mexican Corriente. Our
hobby was about to become a very popular side business along with the fruit orchards, packing shed, farm ground and
The first arena (just immediately North of the current arena), was a feedlot that had feed-bunks on the North Side,
and the West and South Side of the arena was bordered by prune orchards. The excellent sandy ground was worked
up and snow fence added in front of the feed-bunks. The roping chute and lead-up were added at the West end, and a
wooden stripping chute was added at the East End. An old fruit stand (the same building that is elevated in the current
arena) was set in the South-West corner for a timer's shack. The arena was now ready for team ropings!
It started out slow with Dad buying a few steers for us to rope and eventually turned into an annual trip to the Mexican
/ American border at El Paso, Texas to purchase pure Mexican Corriente roping steers. He had a couple of main
contacts at the border and was allowed to sort the steers that he wanted at the Southwest Stockyards in El Paso. He
would go to the El Paso, Texas / Juarez, Mexico border area because that was where the best roping cattle were
crossed. Other Mexican border crossings further West were less desirable because of the amount of Brahma bred into
the cattle. Dad would buy 300 head, bring them home and we would sell 200 to pay for the 100 that we would keep.
Dad found out early that the long trip straight from the border to Idaho was brutal on the thin cattle, as was the shock of
the temperature change. I remember on one load, dragging 6 or 7 dead steers out of the truck and unloading the rest
in a snow storm. It was sad as they wobbled off of the truck, shaking, with their thin frames and big horns. I became
very good at IV injections that year, as we doctored many head daily for over two months. Most of them we had to
physically lift to their feet every day, and cover them with tarps or blankets at night. We saved all but one or two. After
that, Dad found a pen in Alamo, Nevada (almost half way) where the steers would rest for 2 weeks before continuing on
to Idaho. Over the years, steers were furnished or sold to many ropers, team ropings, and major rodeos including the
Pendleton Round-Up and Caldwell Night Rodeo.
We are lucky that our arena has naturally great ground. We always say it is "the best dirt in the Northwest" because
that is exactly what many cowboys from all over the country have told us. When many area arenas are under water,
this arena is at it's best. In fact, one problem is trying to keep it wet enough. If you have roped here, you know what we
mean about the ground. We had one New Year's Day roping when Dad took an old road grader and bladed the snow
off of the arena. The ground was excellent, we had a fire built in a barrel, and the roping went on.
Holding competitive team ropings in the old arena started somewhere around 1971. There was no handicap system in
place, so all of the ropings were either open ropings or pro-novice. An old flyer defined a novice as a roper that had
won less than $500, or was 60 years old or older. Ropings were held every Wednesday night and usually one or two
Saturdays or Sundays a month. There were many different ropings, but the open ropings were usually a 3 or 4 head for
$8 and the pro-novice were often a 3 head for $5. They were not progressive after 1 as are common now, plus you got
3 loops! I remember it being a big deal and having complaints when we went to 2 loops only. Mom, who did a lot of the
timing and all of the books, must be a Saint, as we held ropings all the time... the day after Thanksgiving, the day after
Christmas and New Year's Day. Back then there was no Steelhead Hockey, no Edwards Cinema, no Idaho Center, no
internet, etc... The place to be was Garrett Ranch Arena for team roping!
The ropings were popular, so around 1976 Dad decided to update to a new arena,
directly south of the old arena. He took out the prune orchard, hired a land leveler and
proceeded to make a large, wide, state of the art arena. By leveling the ground, it allowed
the parking lot to be elevated so spectators and ropers could look down in the arena from
their vehicles. He acquired mounds of used hop poles from friend and neighbor Phil Batt
for the arena fencing. Dad had been to many arenas in the Northwest and had seen
designs and had ideas of his own that he wanted to incorporate into the new arena. The
feed-up to the roping chute had two single file lanes to accommodate a larger roping and
the back end had the stripping chute that would allow the ropers to exit the arena at the
back. The roping box was 24 ft long, so you could move with cattle when you nodded.
We used one of the first electric eye systems in the Northwest that tripped the rope
barrier. Light poles were added and used lights were purchased from a car sales lot.
The new arena was approximately 160 ft wide and 360 ft long inside. And, as in the old
arena, it was the same, excellent, sandy ground that all ropers and horsemen loved.
We continued to hold ropings in the new arena up until the late 1980's. We held all
of our ropings plus the Idaho State Amateur Dally Team Roping Championships (8 steer),
The Brent Ford Memorial Roping, John Miller and Gary Mouw roping school, and a couple of Gem State Junior Rodeos.
We kind of got burned out and stopped holding ropings in the late 80's, as we were working more at the ropings than we
were roping, which was not our original plan.
Many families roped at the arena and I know many ropers now who were little kids that grew up playing in the dirt as
their Dad or Mom roped. Names come to mind like: Stephens, Scarbrough, McDaniel, Johnson, Thawley, Davis, Pickett,
Dorris, Maggard, Black, McDowell, Eiguren, Woodbury, Jeffries, Christensen, Eddy, Mackenzie, Dugger and on and on.
I hate to leave any names out, because there were so many. One of the first ropers to show up at our original ropings
was Bob Scarbrough. I remember being a young kid that noboby knew. This big guy in a black cowboy hat rode up to
me and asked if I would rope with him. It was Bob Scarbrough. As we re-incarnated our ropings and arena in 2010,
guess who was the high money winner for the season at our arena? Bob Scarbrough...at 80 years young!
Well, that is pretty much a brief description of the history of Garrett Ranch Arena. I know many of you have your own
memories, and I have many more that could fill many pages. Thanks to all of you ropers that support our arena and we
hope to see you at one of the ropings...
Below are a few photos from the arena...
Please contact me if you have an old photo that I can add to this collection.
|Old arena looking West. Both photos taken from the same end...notice the same large tree and prune orchard in the
background. The photo on the right shows the addition of the timers shack and the snow fence on the feed-bunks at the right.
Winners from a 1977 roping. Back row L to R: unknown, Gary Graham, Kirk Webb, unknown, Doug
Williamson, Dave Dorris, Barry Johnson, John Maggard, Bob Johnson, and Don Dorris. Front row L to R: Val
Christensen, Okie McDowell with Misti, unknown, and Scott Whitworth. Notice how thin and trim everyone was
in that era! If you know the names of the unknown above, please let me know...
|Gary and Gregg Garrett roping in the old arena, 1974. Notice in the background the prune orchard. On
horseback in the background, L to R, Fred Eiguren, Betty Eddy, Steve Dugger, and Bob Davis.
1977 Buckle Winners:
L to R: Leo Woodbury, Jill McDowell, Dallas Jeffries,
and Paul VanWassenhove.
|1978. Frankie Garrett
handing out buckles to
Val Christensen and
|Gary and Corby Garrett with "Bighorn", 1981. This steer was one of our best roping steers that we held back
one year because of his horn size. He was a roadside attraction in the pasture for many years and was the
inspiration for many ranch and arena logos. (I have his horns mounted in my office).
|Ropers warming up in the new arena. Notice the
age and style of the pickups and trailers.
1977. Gregg Garrett heeling and Don Stritzke heading.
Long hair (because we had it) was the style.
|2010 Buckle Winners
Left: Gregg Garrett awarding Bruce Seal
Middle: Mike Martilla
Right: Frankie Garrett awarding Tim Thibert and Dean Harrington the
"Frankie Garrett Big Apple Century Roping" Buckles
Not Pictured: Jason Duby
A few old arena flyers. Notice the dollar amounts and the dates of the ropings.
|Frankie Garrett awarding the 2011 Big Apple Century
Winners, Bruce Seal and Rod Berheim. 36.73 on 4
|Gregg Garrett awarding the 2011 "Switch-Ender"
Winners, David Temple and Joel Maxwell. 42.47 on 4