February 4, 1947
Craig Cochran Haythorn was born on February 4, 1947, to Waldo and Beldora Haythorn and is a fourth generation rancher. He has contributed significantly to the Quarter Horse industry, while preserving his heritage and the western way of life. Craig and his wife Jody have two sons, Sage and Cord and his step-daughter Shaley Griffin.
Craig credits his father, the late Waldo, as being the one who built the ranch in what it is today. “There’s probably no monetary value that you could put on the 40 years that my dad spent building up with ranch,” Craig says. “My grandfather was so conservative and content to keep things the way they were, but my dad constantly wanted to grow. He didn’t necessarily buy huge tracts of land at a time. Instead, he might buy a section here and a section there.”
Craig’s first time out with the spring wagon for branding came when he was four years old. He got soaked, split his lip when he got blown out of the chuck wagon and got sick. “He had a little old cheap hat,” Waldo remembered, “and it was hanging down around his ears. He was white as a china cup.” Bel recalled that when he finally got home off the wagon, his freckles were sticking out he was so pale. She told Waldo she thought he was just too young to go out anymore, but he was saddled up and ready the next time the wagon rolled north. Waldo’s little sidekick, “Pard”, stuck close for many years, learning the business from an able teacher. Craig graduated from Ogallala High School in 1965 and went on to graduate from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in Animal Business.
Craig is the current Owner, Manager, and President of Haythorn Land and Cattle Company, where he raises Longhorns, Herefords and Angus Cattle. He is one of the largest breeders of American Quarter Horses in the United States and also raises Belgian Work Horses.
Craig has been involved in numerous organizations and served on many boards, including the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, the Nebraska State Rodeo Association, PRCA, Sandhills Steer Ropers Association, Senior Steer Ropers Association, Rand Horse Association of America, the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, and is a lifetime member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association and the American Quarter Horse Association. Craig has been a featured speaker at many events, including the North American Cattlemen’s Congress in Houston, Texas and Chadron State College. He is one of the first innovators of “Home-Hosted” ranch horse sales and set up a three year old Futurity to promote his family’s horses.
Some of Craig’s many honors include: Outstanding Rancher award, the Western Horseman’s “Horseman of the Year”, Remuda Inaugural Award presented by AQHA in 1992, is a three time winner of the Longhorn Best of the Midwest, the Legacy Award presented by the AQHA, has received Top Horse at Western Heritage in Abilene, Texas eight times, has participated in the Working Ranch Horse Association/Inaugural five times, winning the Top Hand award once and the Top Horse five times on five different horses. Craig has won numerous events with the Working Horse Competition; served two terms as President of the National High School Rodeo Association and is a ten time Amateur Champion of Nebraska Calf Roping and Team Roping. He also received the Twin Platte Valley Conservation Award for plating 40,000 trees for shelter.
Over the years, Craig has served as a Judge for many organizations, including Ranch Horse Association shows, High School Cutting events, the Miss Rodeo Nebraska and Miss Rodeo America Pageants, the American Royal, the National Longhorn Show and the Texas Ranch Round up at Wichita Falls, Texas.
In addition, he has also received numerous honors in the sport of Rodeo, at the local, State, and College levels, including the 1979 World Champion Amateur Team Roper in 1979, two Nebraska Calf Roping Championships, Six Heeling Championship and many State and National High School Rodeo Championships.
To this day, Craig continues to oversee the day-to-day activities at the Ranch, as well as host and manage the Figure 4 Production Sale, provide tours for the public, host American Photographic artists, serve as a consultant for foreign businessmen on how to market Quarter Horses, host video cattle sales, operate the 7,000 square feet event center, Figure Four Traditions, host numerous steer, calf and team ropings and cuttings. He has also hosted the Cattlemen’s Ball three times and provided catering services twice, raising funds for cancer research and treatment.
Some of Craig’s interests include: ranching, raising and training good horses, roping, and ranch rodeos. He’s known to many as a Specialty Barbeque Chef, too, and is always known and respected for his commitment to his family.