45th National Golden Spur Award Recipient
Arthur, Nebraska | Haythorn Land & Cattle Co.
Photograph by Emily McCartney
Craig Haythorn, one of the most respected ranchers and horsemen in the nation, will receive the National Golden Spur Award at The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences in Lubbock, Texas, during the annual National Golden Spur Award Honors on Friday, November 3.
Haythorn, of Haythorn Land & Cattle Co. in the sandhills of Arthur, Neb., will be the 45th recipient of the National Golden Spur Award for accomplishments by a single individual in the ranching and livestock industries.
Haythorn is the fourth generation of Haythorns to own and operate Haythorn Land and Cattle Co. after his great-grandfather immigrated from England as a 16-year-old stowaway on a ship headed to America. After being discovered by the captain, the young Englishman earned his passage by caring for a load of Hereford bulls being shipped from England to Texas. Later he went to work for the Texas rancher who owned the bulls.
Cattle drives took the Englishman from Texas to the sandhills of Nebraska where he married, became a wagon boss and took his wages in cattle. In 1884 he filed on a land grant section four miles east of Arthur and founded what would become an American ranching dynasty.
Moving four generations into the future, Craig was 4 years old when he went on his first cattle drive and 13 when he was put in charge of the hay crew. Today the 76-year-old rancher leads the fourth, fifth and sixth generations of the storied Haythorn Land and Cattle Co. They still take the wagon out for one week in the spring, rope and drag calves to the fire and sleep in tepees.
Horses have played a pivotal role in the survival of the ranch ever since the first Haythorn in America loaded his saddle on a train and headed for Baker, Ore. He gathered 500 head of horses and trailed them back to Nebraska with only one helper. The Haythorn name since then has been synonymous with good working horses.
Craig’s grandfather had the first registered American Quarter Horse Association stud in Nebraska, and the Haythorns were awarded the first-ever AQHA Remuda Award in 1992. Their company is one of the larger and most respected breeders of American Quarter Horses in America.
Horses sporting the Haythorn Figure Four brand have appeared in thousands of professional, collegiate, high school and amateur rodeos across the country, many ridden by Haythorns. With a deep respect for Western traditions and cowboy values, Craig earned the 2008 Western Horseman Award and was presented the 2019 Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor by the Haley Memorial Library and History Center in Midland, Texas.
Haythorn has received numerous rodeo honors, including the 1979 World Champion Amateur Team Roper, two Nebraska Calf Roping Championships, Six Heeling Championships, and many state and national rodeo championships.