Dick Cain says he grew up on the back of a horse.
Born into a ranching family in August of 1936, he was raised on a ranch on the Lower Crooked River about 10 miles from Prineville.
As a youngster, he helped his granddad build the Crooked River Roundup rodeo grounds. Later, when he was a Powell Butte rancher, he became a 4-H livestock leader, influencing the lives of many young people.
Because of his family involvement in the Roundup and his own service to the community's youth, Cain is honored as the 2018 Crooked River Roundup Grand Marshal.
"The board chose him as the grand marshal because his grandfather kind of started (the Roundup), but he has been a long-time rancher," said Jerry Bernard, a Crooked River Roundup Board member who has known Cain for 60-some years. "Dick has done a lot with the 4-H kids. He was really into it big, the showing of livestock."
Bernard said Cain's grandfather, Jess Cain, was the big instigator in getting the Crooked River Roundup started in 1945.
"Dick spent quite a bit of time with him down there, building and working on it when Dick was a youngster," Bernard said of the rodeo grounds.
Cain, who is now an 81-year-old bachelor, remembers it well. He turned 9 years old that summer.
"When they decided that's what they were going to do, get the rodeo started, and my granddad, Jess, he was pretty much the starter of it, they just all went to work," Cain said. "They started making the grandstands — not as nice as they are now — but they were as best as they could do."
His grandfather, a butcher originally from Texas, lived in Prineville during this era. Jess Cain was at the rodeo grounds all the time, and Cain and his father would pitch in and help when they had the time.
"When they started going, we came in from up Crooked River. It was during the summer and nobody had cars, hardly, at that time," Cain recalls. "We lived about 10 miles down the road on Lower Crooked River from Prineville, and we would take a tractor with a trailer and go up there in the daytime."
There were eight or 12 men and a few boys, and Cain said it was quite an adventure for a kid his age.
"We helped there for quite a little while, getting it going," he said. "Like everything else, we couldn't do it all the time because of other things on the ranch to take care of, too."
Three generations of Cains helped build the grandstands, the crow's nest and the chutes.
"We just helped hand them boards and carrying things for the guys that were doing it," Cain said. "It kept us busy."
Although Cain was never in the rodeo as a participant, he and a bunch of other boys were in the calf scramble. Then in high school, he played football in the arena for the Crook County High School Cowboys.
After graduating from CCHS in 1954, he worked a few months in Burns and then decided to go in the Army.
"I wanted to get mine done so I could come back and run cows," he chuckled.
He was stationed in Germany for a couple of years, and by the time he returned, his folks, James Melton "Melt" and Ethel Cain, had moved to a cattle ranch in Powell Butte, where he still lives today.
Cain became a partner in the Cain Ranch and kept busy with his Herefords. He and his former wife raised two daughters, DeAnn and Terry, and a son, Bob. He was a 4-H and FFA student while in school and eventually became a livestock 4-H leader.
"It was interesting," Cain says of his leadership days. "It was fun doing it. I remember doing a lot of things with it."
During his busy ranching years, he wasn't involved in the Crooked River Roundup.
"Rodeo comes right in the middle of haying," he laughed.
When he was in his 50s during the 1980s, he started attending Central Oregon Community College in Bend, studying writing.
"The cattle business wasn't too good. I was beginning to wonder if I'd make enough money to live on, so I went over there and started taking classes and just blew things up over there," Cain said.
He wrote a plethora of short stories and poems, but in the end, he stuck to ranching.
A few years ago, the Roundup Board asked if he would like to serve as Grand Marshal.
"I turned them down once six or seven years ago because I was still working hard then," he said, adding that he doesn't do the heavy work anymore.
These days, his son, Bob Cain, runs the cattle ranch.
"He's doing the rough part. I do all the growling," Cain chuckles.
They have around 450 Hereford/Red Angus cross cattle on their 400 acres in north Powell Butte.
The day before Mother's Day each May, fellow ranchers flock to the Cain Ranch to help brand, castrate and vaccinate the cattle.
When Bernard presented his old friend with the Crooked River Roundup Grand Marshal belt buckle, Cain said he didn't think he was worthy of receiving the handsome buckle.
But, the rancher accepted the honor.
"I just think that it's great," he said of being Grand Marshal. "The more I do it, the more I like it, and now, I have time that I can do it."
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