Annie (1889-1983) and Lloyd (1897-1981) Cain arrived on the Bitter Creek Ranch in northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana with their son Cobb and daughter Doris in 1928. Lloyd and Annie were married in 1918 while Lloyd cowboyed for the El Sonora Cattle Co. near Ft Stockton, Texas and Annie was a governess on the same ranch. They went from Texas to the Babette Bros. ranch in Arizona and later homesteaded in the White Mts. of Arizona.
After the death of Lloyd’s brother, Emmett, the Cains bought his homestead in Wyoming and the rest of his ranch across the state line. Growing up in Texas cattle and horse country, Lloyd and Annie were well suited for the challengers of ranching “up north”.
Lloyd became well known in the northeast Wyoming, western South Dakota and southeast Montana area for his horsemanship, good “short” running horses and rodeo announcing. Lloyd’s outgoing personality, sense of humor and story telling ability made him a popular announcer in the 1930’s 40’s and early 50’s. He always opened the Gillette rodeo with “Gillette, Wyoming-the only little cowtown in Campbell County”. The last rodeo he announced was the 1976 Bicentennial Rodeo at Recluse.
Lloyd purchased mares and stallions from Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. He continued to raise well bred working ranch, rodeo and race horses with thoroughbred and quarter horse bloodline. One of his best stallions, Bitter Creek, was sold to Bob King and Bob Tate of the 3T ranch near Buffalo, Wyoming. Bitter Creak was out of a mare named Orpha, who was of Colorado Senator breeding- a great polo pony sire, and a thoroughbred stud named Election. Lloyd had a reputation for well bred, well trained, and well mannered horses.
Sam Morton, wrote of Lloyd Cain’s horsemanships in his book “Where the Rivers Run North”. In the 1930’s, at a Gillette, Wyoming rodeo, Bitter Creek, ridden by Lloyd won the quarter mile, eighth mile, and ran anchor for the winning relay race team. Lloyd also bulldogged a steer on Bitter Creek and won a $50.00 bet that he could rope five calves off Bitter Creek without a bridle. Tate, with King’s money, bought Bitter Creek for $200.00. Bitter Creek turned out to be a natural at polo.
The latch string was always out at Annie and Lloyd’s home on Bitter Creek and the conversation with guests invariably turned to horses. Lloyd lived and breathed horses. The pedigrees of quarter horses and thoroughbreds were recited like western poetry in Annie and Lloyd’s home. If during these conversations, Lloyd made a mistake, Annie, with her quiet, gentle way, corrected him.
Lloyd gave one particular stallion he thought wasn’t quite up to snuff to Annie. This stallion was by Monte by Old Red Bird 14 and out of Dainty Dancer. Annie’s horse was named Chore Boy, because Lloyd thought all he would ever be good for was doing the chores. Chore Boy’s breeding went back to Old Red Bird 14, Dundee and Sir Huron, winner of the Kentucky Derby just after the turn of the century. Chore Boy turned out to be a very good rope horse. After winning several blue ribbons on him, Annie sold him to a Gillette area rancher. Since she played by ear, she bought a piano with the money. Behind every good cowboy there is always a savvy western woman!
Lloyd’s knowledge of horses and his ability to see the future qualities of a horse enabled him to purchase really good horse flesh. The best known Cain stallion was Salty Joe. Lloyd purchased him in 1946 in Bartlesville Oklahoma. Salty Joe P-9526, was sired by Joe Reed and out of the mare Salty P-2573. The price of over $2000.00 was possibly the highest price paid for a yearling stud at the time in Oklahoma. Salty Joe was raced and used in rodeos as a breeding stallion and as a ranch horse. Starting in twenty-three races, he won all but three. On July 29, 1949, Salty Joe won the quarter mile race at the Sheridan, Wyoming race meet. He was clocked at the fastest time ever recored for the quarter mile on the Sheridan track. That same year Salty Joe was the grand champion performance horse at the Northern Quarter horse breeders show in Miles City, MT. In 1959 Salty Joe was sold to Dave Seeley of the Newcastle area. Before he could be delivered, the stallion with a great heart died. His personalized barn, with his name engraved in it’s siding, still stands today in the corral of the Cain ranch. Along with many cowboys and cowgirls in the area, Bill Hackett, a cowboy living on Bitter Creek near Lloyd says “the Salty Joe horses were the best horses I ever rode.” As his family was as important to him as his horses, he always ensured his children and grandchildren were well mounted on quality quarter horses and as late as the early 1990’s his great grandchildren rode Lloyd’s last remaining race horse, Quinella age 30, in the 4th of July parade down Gillette Avenue in Gillette, Wyoming.
The Cain ranch in northeastern Wyoming and Southeastern Montana was all about horses. Even through the 1980’s horses were used to put up hay in the summer and in the winter to pull sleds to feed the cattle and sheep. Cain’s versatile use of horses for racing, rodeoing, ranching, breeding, and pulling enabled them to continue ranching in hard times like the depression and thrive during good years. The Cain ranch is currently owned by Lloyd and Annie’s granddaughter, Sheila Cain Jeremiah.