To maintain consistency Brett and Jennifer Keller are very strict on the genetics they introduce into their program The rugged beauty of Hancock horses drew Jennifer and Brett Keller to research and to ultimately start their own breeding program in Mulberry, Ark.
They had chanced upon a Hancock Breeder Sale in Oklahoma. What they saw in those horses proved to go much deeper than looks. “We focused on the Blue Valentine bloodlines due to the consistent respect and integrity of the horses by those that worked with them closely,” Jennifer said.
They knew that working ranches needed working horses. With turning a profit increasingly difficult in the current economy, it became necessary for ranchers to streamline their stock. They needed quality horses that could perform many functions.
“With the economy people have had to combine utility with looks,” Jennifer said. She also stressed the need for horses that are willing to be working partners, that learn quickly and that retain their training because of time limitations.
At Coyote Ridge Ranch mares are important. Their motto “Mares Matter More” echoes the thought that the mare’s genetic influence is critical to producing the desirable traits such as good disposition and soundness even into the 20s.
“That doesn’t mean ‘any ol’ stallion will do,’ at all. It simply means that we understand the importance of maternal lines and that we believe the mare’s contribution to the foal is more than just environmental,” Jennifer explained.
By pasturing their horses they maintain a consistent working and living environment. “The horses that we raise have a western heritage,” Jennifer said. “Horses benefit physically, socially and mentally from a pasture environment,” she added.
To maintain consistency Jennifer and Brett are very strict with the genetics that they introduce into their breeding program. “We do line breed as it certainly increases the consistency of the offspring. Yet, we do not do the very close matings,” she said. To prevent the transfer of genetic disorders, all their mares and stallions are tested for the five known inherited diseases of stock horses. They make all the results available on their website.
Each year Coyote Ridge Ranch produces first-generation Braford calves by crossing Hereford and Brahman cattle. They shared that they have three fundamental requirements for the cattle that they use in their program: a manageable disposition, maternal efficiency and longevity. “Disposition is directly proportional to yield in beef cattle,” she said. She followed by saying that cattle with a mild disposition – those that are not easily stressed – maintain consistent growth and weight gain. Coyote Ridge offers calves for sale by private treaty, standing order to individuals and at local and regional sale barns.
Jennifer grew up having both cattle and horses while Brett grew up in the city and suburbs. She said that having her small herd of cattle helped pay for college. When they married in 1999 they started their own horse and cattle farm.
“The first property that we purchased was 80 acres on a ridge. It just happened to be on the direct path of coyotes traveling between two valleys. The name just seemed to fit,” she said.
In 2001, they started to focus on growing the business. Since that time they have developed their own brand, the stylized coyote paw print, and expanded into new markets. In 2010, they had their brand registered in the state of Arkansas. They registered it as a trademark and service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2012.
In addition to having a website dedicated to their ranch, Jennifer and Brett also operate a Facebook page. “The Internet opened up our sales on a global scale. Social media has broadened that even more. It has allowed a “local” audience that just happens to be several hundred, even thousands of miles away,” Jennifer said.
Brett and Jennifer are also dealers for Feed In A Drum feed supplements. “Besides the benefits of these products to our animals, Kansas State University is conducting research that indicates beef can be a healthier protein product when certain feed supplements are provided during the finishing processing. To date, we purchase directly for our own ranch and market to outside customers on a limited basis.”
Critical to their success, Brett and Jennifer know that having a business plan has allowed them to be very objective about their stock; they have chosen quality over quantity. “We were very fortunate to have started our program with a specific business plan and stuck to it,” she said. “We hope that we continue to grow the ranching operation and eventually introduce our daughter into its management in years to come.”


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