Years ago, when Frank Machado was making one of his regular visits to area schools with his horse, a small boy confronted him. “You’re not a real cowboy. You’re not carrying a gun.”
Machado still has to chuckle: “That went out with the Wild West.” Nowadays, a cowboy is more likely to be toting antibiotics for cattle, said Machado, who is Fiesta’s honorary vaquero and will be riding in Friday’s big parade. “It’ll be the first parade I’ve been in,” he told me by phone. He’s a modest, hardworking man.
You can also see him competing in the Fiesta rodeo old-timer’s events and in roping events with his grandson, Cutter.
At 69, Machado hasn’t slowed down. Born in Santa Maria and now living in Nipomo, he works for Western Stockman’s Market in Famoso, near Bakersfield, buying and selling cattle. He also roams Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho, and other western states, busy with the cattle market.
Machado grew up on the Enos Ranch north of Santa Maria on Suey Road, helping his father and uncle work — what else? — cattle.
After high school, he majored in animal science at Cal Poly and then began a career with the Newhall Land and Farming outfit on the Suey Ranch.
During 30 years there, his duties included running the cow-calf operations, as well as developing and improving the ranch horse-breeding program. He also oversaw ranches in Newhall and Ventura County and ran pasture leases in California and Nevada. In 1964, he began work with Western Stockman’s Market in Famoso.
Machado began involvement with the 4-H youth program in high school, and for the past 18 years has brought a horse to preschool and elementary schools to teach youngsters to rope and understand how important horses are in today’s ranching operations and about the respect and love cowboys have for their horses.
Even in today’s mechanized ranching world, “There’s no substitute for a good horse,” he said. His good horse is Wrangler, a seven-year-old bay.
He is a past president of the Santa Barbara County chapter of the California Cattlemen’s Association. He and his wife of 47 years, Barbara, have two children and seven grandchildren.