Mary Ketchum inducted into Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame

Mary Margaret (MacKay) Ketchum was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame for making an impact on Montana’s Western Heritage for District 3, which includes Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, and Treasure Counties.

 

Mary (MacKay) Ketchum
Mary (MacKay) Ketchum

 

Posted Friday, June 13, 2014

Mary Margaret (MacKay) Ketchum was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame for making an impact on Montana’s Western Heritage for District 3, which includes Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, and Treasure Counties.

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center (MCHF and WHC) announced the seventh class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame June 7.

“Many assume that to be inducted into the Hall of Fame you would have to be a famous cowboy, when in fact, the Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their local community and serve as a symbol of this way of life for future generations. This is truly a celebration of our authentic Montana heritage and those who pass it forward,” said Christy Stensland, MCHF and WHC Executive Director.

Mary was born Jan. 1, 1941 in Baker, Montana to Arthur “Bud” and Mary (Collie) MacKay and was the oldest of six siblings. She was raised on her paternal grandparents’ homestead, the William MacKay ranch along Lame Jones Creek in the Willard community. She developed a lifelong love of horses from the time she was very small. Developing the early experience of good horsemanship, she went on to compete in county fair pony racing. She also trained horses for family and neighbors and assisted with the haying, milking, calving, brandings and sorting the many cattle from the Red Butte Grazing Association before it was fenced.

She either walked or rode horseback while attending Gregerson country school her first eight grades. She moved into Baker during the week where she attended high school and graduated in 1959.

Mary’s first barrel race was in Baker the fall of 1959 on a horse owned by a WWII Calvary man, Billy Pratt – she won fourth in the average. At this time, she met Stanley Ketchum and they were married Sept. 2, 1960. They lived on Stanley’s dad’s homestead on Milk Creek next to the Carter/Fallon County line, only a few miles from her maternal grandmother’s homestead on O’Fallon Creek and ten miles from her parents’ ranch. Some of her first experiences of winning on the Ketchum horses were the three-horse relay races held at the local fairs.

Mary kept busy training her own barrel horses, competing and training outside horses. She opened their home to anyone who wanted to learn the art of training or barrel racing.

Stanley passed away suddenly July 1977 at the age of 48, leaving Mary with two young sons, Loyd and Bruce, and a ranch to run. Mary ran the ranch with no intention of doing anything else and instilled a love of rodeo and ranching in her boys.

The small 3,000 acre ranch with 80-90 head of cattle would not have sustained if not for Mary’s rodeo winnings and income of training horses and students. She held many three day barrel racing and pole bending clinics.

In September of 1998 Mary was kicked in the head while looking over a future barrel horse for a friend. She hovered between life and death for over two months. When she was finally able to return home, the first thing she wanted to do was get back on a horse. A year later at the Belle Fourche, SD barrel racing futurity, Mary took three prospects and the crowd gave her a ten minute standing ovation. It was a solid tribute to her recovery from a terrible accident and her reputation.

Mary operated the ranch from 1977 until 1994 when Bruce gave up his high school teaching career and moved his family to the ranch. They currently run commercial and registered Red Angus, and Mary maintains the horse breeding program.

Mary was a member of several local, regional, and national associations and served as director for the NRCA and MBRA. She was crowned 1972 NRCA queen. Mary has won multiple championships in Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Oklahoma from 1966 to present.

Mary was instrumental in paving the way for future barrel racers. Her dedication to the event has influenced beginners to professional barrel racers throughout a four-state region and beyond.

Though her competition days have slowed, at the age of 73 she rides daily on the ranch and still actively supports future generations of barrel racers and mentors when she can.

“Mary Ketchum is the genuine article and one of the unheralded heroines of her country,” said Rick Jackson, Montana Big Sky Country.

Though her competition days have slowed, at the age of 73 she rides daily on the ranch and still actively supports future generations of barrel racers and mentors when she can.

“It’s a great honor, but I don’t think I deserve it,” said Mary.