Richter ropes in a love of horses

Ranch Tales by O'Keefe Ranch curator Ken Mather stars Hans Richter

Hans Richter was born in 1878, the fifth and youngest son of Francis Xavier “Frank” Richter, pioneer cattleman of the Similkameen Valley, and his Similkameen Native wife, Lucy.

All of the Richter sons were born at the “R” Ranch, which Frank sold to R.L. Cawston in 1884, moving his family to the Lower Ranch in what came to be known as Richter Pass. Hans was sent to school at the Okanagan Mission (later Kelowna) and boarded with the family of early settler Frederick Brent, returning home in the summer months to help with the ranch work.

In 1892, Hans began attending the newly constructed school in the Similkameen Valley, even though it entailed a nine-mile ride in each direction. It was, perhaps, on these long daily rides that Hans developed his love of horses. As he grew older, he enjoyed working with horses and, when the first rodeos were held in the southern interior of British Columbia, he was an avid participant, winning many trophies, buckles and medals.

Rodeo was in its infancy. There were few rodeo grounds, so people would park their wagons or vehicles in a circle to form a makeshift arena. Bucking horses would be snubbed to a post, blindfolded and then saddled. The rider would mount, the blindfold would be removed and the horse was untied.

Then the fun would begin. In those days, bucking horses would be ridden until they stopped bucking, so rides often lasted for many minutes. They were not the eight-second rides of today. When the horse had been ridden to a standstill, the pick-up man would ride alongside and help the rider dismount. A good pick-up man was essential and Hans was acclaimed as one of the best pick-up men and ropers on the rodeo circuit.

It was only natural that Hans should begin to raise his own bucking string from the wild horses he captured in the areas adjoining Richter Pass. He eventually owned a string of 40 or more bucking horses that he would supply to rodeos in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Grande Forks and Christina Lake. Hans often trailed his bucking horses over the Dewdney Trail to rodeos in Chilliwack and Sumas and into Washington State. He even did the announcing at the rodeos, using a megaphone as he rode through the arena.

Hans was particularly proud that he once put on a rodeo in Victoria, Vancouver Island. He drove his horses over the trail to Hope and loaded them on boxcars bound for Vancouver. From there, they were put on barges and towed to Vancouver Island where they entertained the people of Victoria and its surrounding area.

Hans married Sarah Marsel, the daughter of Similkameen stagecoach driver Peter Marsel.  Sarah was some 30 years younger than Hans who was in his fifties when they were wed.  Coincidentally, a few years earlier, Sarah’s mother, Julia, had married Hans’s older brother, Charlie Richter, after the death of Peter Marsel.

Hans and Sarah had four sons and six daughters. Hans continued to supply the rodeo circuit with bucking stock well into the 1940s, working the Princeton and Kelowna rodeos until he was 66 years old.

He died at the age of 84 in 1961 and was followed by Sarah the next year.

Ken Mather is curator at O’Keefe Ranch in Spallumcheen.


Just Posted

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Vernon pipe band youth snare accolades

Two young members of Vernon-based pipe bands have danced and drummed their way to high achievements

Vernon-based pop star Andrew Allen is back with a new band

Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen is bringing his new band home for a concert this Friday

Coldstream quick to clean vandalized rainbow crosswalk

Crosswalk was defaced on the weekend

Kingfisher reels in kids for North Okanagan fishing event

Enderby centre hosts free, family fun event

When walls talk: Vernon murals see generation II

“This new movement, an app, will bring the strength of some of those same Vernon visionaries together again into a newdigital form”

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Air ambulance called to second collision on Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm

Emergency crews respond to motor-vehicle collision near Second Nations Road intersection

Backhoe ‘burned to a crisp’ in South Okanagan

South Okanagan fire chief said the situation could have been a lot worse

Crash closes Highway 1 near Tappen

The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. by James Road

Heat Beat: New scopes for VJH

Vernon Jubilee Hospital receives eight new colonoscopes

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Most Read