After $2 million in capital improvements, the Saddle & Sirloin Club is world class
Story and photo by Jill Draper
If you happened to be driving along Holmes Road just south of Martin City last April, you may have seen cowboys dressed in yellow slickers on horseback looking to rope a stray cow. They were not immediately successful. The cow wasn’t found until five days later when it was spotted in some brush among 320 acres owned by the Saddle & Sirloin Club.
The cow had jumped a fence during the club’s ranch rodeo event, possibly to avoid the wild cow milking contest where a team of cowboys see how quickly they can fill an empty beer bottle with an inch of milk. Or it may have been spooked by a thunderstorm that dumped seven inches of rain that day. And even though the club’s large, open-air arena is covered by a roof, water blew in from all sides.
“It was a crazy, muddy day, but we had a lot of fun with it,” says Jeff Henderson, club manager and chief operations officer.
Henderson is a former tennis pro who managed facilities focused on swimming, tennis and golf for 20 years before joining Saddle & Sirloin, which he describes as “basically a country club for guns and horses and food.” He considers it a good switch. “Managing a typical country club is like organized chaos,” he says. “But when you drive through our gates, life slows down.”
The clubhouse is located at 14401 Holmes Rd. on a shady lot in an old house that used to be the Allendale Ranch house. In the last five years Saddle & Sirloin has spent nearly $2 million in capital improvements such as upgrading the clubhouse dining room and bar, adding 45 new barn stalls, building a world-class arena and other projects.
Some 185 member families board 138 horses there. Not everyone has a horse (especially seniors who have given up riding), but most do, Henderson says. Some members visit their horse every day, while others might stop by twice a month. The club’s services are tailored to what each member wants.
According to Henderson, there are plenty of other barns around town that board horses, but most specialize in a particular type of riding—English, western, dressage or hunter-jumper. “We handle all disciplines,” he says. “But what people are most surprised by is how big we are and how beautiful our land is.”
Saddle & Sirloin was established in 1940 by the founders of the American Royal Livestock Show. Its previous location was at 105th Street and Mission Road in Leawood . That land was sold for development and the club relocated to Holmes Road in 2000. The old facility featured trap shooting as well as horse barns and trails, but now members also can practice skeet, wobble, 5-stand, archery and sporting clays.
The club’s acreage stretches from 150 Highway to 139th Street in South Kansas City. There are miles of trails on the property plus more trails on adjacent public park land. In addition to trail riding, popular activities include cookouts on the club’s Bonfire Ridge, conversation and live music at the fire pit near the clubhouse patio and birthday parties and Easter egg hunts. Henderson also notes that the club’s four trainers will help members find a horse to purchase. “You have to be careful,” he says. “There’s an old saying: It’s easy to buy a horse, but it’s hard to sell one.”
Henderson’s job involves managing five barns and riding areas, on-site horse trailer storage, near-constant mowing (“We start on Monday, finish on Friday and start again on the following Monday”), horse care and feeding. And the natural consequences. That stuff—about 50 pounds a day per animal—is carted to a 30-foot-tall manure pile for composting.
The club is also the location of occasional events like last spring’s ranch rodeo, a recent dressage competition and extreme cowboy racing (tentatively scheduled for August 2018). Cowboys from a four-state area bring in their own horses and cows for these types of competitions which are open to the public. Most events, however, are limited to members.
“There’s a lot of shared history here, but when new members come into the dining room, they never sit by themselves. Everyone becomes a friend,” Henderson says. “This place has the nicest camaraderie of any club I’ve ever managed.”