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Beyond the brewery: Mark Carpenter, the cowboy
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Beyond the brewery: Mark Carpenter, the cowboy

He’s been in the saddle at Anchor Brewing for 44 years, rising to the role of brewmaster when Fritz Maytag retired in 2010. In his free time, the 72-year-old takes the reins in a different arena.
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Home Beer Beyond the brewery: Mark Carpenter, the cowboy

There’s no question you’ve tasted their beers, and probably know the brewers by name. They have shaped the beer industry, but outside the brewhouse, these luminaries live as passionately as they work. Here, hear from Anchor’s Mark Carpenter, a true rodeo cowboy: 

“When we moved to Petaluma, California, my wife got a horse and she got me into horses; since the mid ’80s we’ve had horses. They are unbelievable animals: Ours live with us and we can be with them every day; we really know them, and they each have their own unique  personalities.

We have access to a lot of trails around our home where we can ride, but what I like better than that is to go to Point Reyes National Seashore. There are literally hundreds of miles of trails out there. There’s always interesting wildlife, and it’s a little cooler, which is nicer for the horses. I ride out there an awful lot.

Photo by Marc Olivier Le Blanc

Photo by Marc Olivier Le Blanc

In the summertime, we do team penning on Saturday nights. I belong to Novato Horsemen, and they have a big arena. Team penning is where there are 10 cows in the arena on one end and at the other end you have this little pen. Two riders come across the arena and the announcer tells you a number: If they say number six, you have to get into the herd, find cow number six, bring it out and put it in the pen while making sure that none of the other cows come past the halfway mark. We’ll do a jackpot from time to time, so you can win a little money, but it’s mostly just for fun. We chase cows and drink beer; it’s a great way to spend a Saturday night. I got into that because I had a neighbor who had cows that would get out every now and then, and he would say, “Mark, why don’t you go over there and find this cow and get him back to my place?” It turns into this huge chase. Someone said to me, “If you like that, try team penning.” So I’ve been doing it for about 10 years.

Most horses who do penning are Quarter Horses—the classic cowboy horse—but you can use any horse, as long as they’re into it and not afraid of cows. My first penning horse was an Arab that was as good as any Quarter Horse; the horse I’m using now is some kind of Quarter Horse mix. We have five right now, but only four are really rideable. I have one that’s retired, and another one that’s semi-retired; he was a fabulous penner, but he hurt his leg. So, he’s good enough to ride now, but penning can be pretty hard on the horses.

When you get to our age, it’s a sad portion of life: You start losing your friends, so it’s either go to their funerals or go to your own. I’d rather go to theirs. I’m going to keep doing this as long as I’m not being horribly unsafe, though there’s nothing safe about horses, believe me. But as long as I can get on the saddle and have my balance, I will ride.”

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