Saddle room

William "Bill" Dorrance

Bill Dorrance was born near Enterprise, Oregon on January 19, 1906. The fourth of eight children (Jim, Margaret Potter, Lillian Stolen, Bill, Fred, Tom, Jean Cockrum, and Ethel Pimentel) he was raised on the Wallowa County ranch his parents W. C. "Church" and Minnie Dorrance had established.

Fred, Bill, William Church (Dad), Minnie (Mother), Jimmy (Jim's Son), Jim & Tom Dorrance
Wallowa County Fair
Enterprise, Oregon 1935

Bill's start in braiding came from his younger brother Fred. Fred had learned to rawhide while working at Gold Creek, Nevada in the mid 1920's. Bill came to San Juan Bautista, California in the fall of 1931. His younger brother Fred was staying at San Juan Bautista with Jack Welch, a bachelor and rawhider.

Bill, Jim and Tom Dorrance 1970
You are invited to visit the Tom Dorrance website by clicking here.

Fred braided his first reata for him. His rawhiding came about the following year due to the fact the reata was starting to show quite a bit of use, and he could not locate a reata to purchase. He thought maybe he would get Fred to braid another reata for him, but Fred was so busy he did not have time. Fred mentioned that if a fella was using a reata, he needed to be making his own.

Rawhide Room 1994

With Fred's encouragement and with some help from Jack Welch, Bill braided his first reata. Being a bit smaller than the reata that his brother Fred had made for him when he first came to California, he made another. The strings were a bit large on the second reata, and he soon sold it. From this start Bill braided, over the next 60 years, 67 reatas, 122 hobbles, 103 hackamores, 35 bosals, 44 sets of reins, 19 quirts, and a few hundred hondas.

Steve, Leslie & Bill
Mt. Toro Corrals around 1987
Steve on Crescent, Leslie and Clifton on Truckle, Bill and Drew on Diamond

Bill spent eighty plus years working with horses and cattle and ranching in general.  Bill married in 1949 to Marie Cornett and raised three sons Bill, Dave and Steve on their Mt. Toro Ranch. Marie passed away in 1980, and he lived a bachelors life working with horses and branding calves.  Bill passed on in July of 1999 at the age of 93 shortly after the book True Horsemanship Through Feel was published.


copyright 2006 Steven and Leslie Dorrance