I think the American Quarter Horse Association should give me a lifetime achievement award for all the contributions I’ve made to promote the breed and for the harmful genetics I DID NOT add to the gene pool.
What are these contributions I’ve made? Well, there have been so many I hardly know where to begin. When I first got hired at the age of 21 to be a field editor for Western Livestock Journal I think there were more horses in my territory than there were cattle so I worked ring at a lot more horse sales than I did cattle auctions. Two of the highlights of my career as a ringman were taking bids from D. Wayne Lucas and Bob Baffert who both started out running Quarter Horses before they became world famous for training all their client’s Triple Crown winning Thoroughbreds.
In my job with WLJ I fell in with the reps from the horse associations and magazines and I was soon offered a job at a regional quarter horse magazine to write stories, work ring and cover all the Quarter Horse events. Because I love horses I was tempted to take the job and to this day I don’t know why I didn’t. Considering how many people I’ve made angry in the cow business can you imagine the devastation I could have caused the horse world had I taken that job? So not taking that job was my first major contribution I made to the AQHA.
My second major contribution to the horse world was becoming a collector at an early age of old bits, spurs and other cowboy paraphernalia. On my walls at home are countless cruel spade bits, Mexican ring bits, high curb bits and long shanked US cavalry bits. I also have spurs with three inch rowels and even worse, the quarter sized rowels with serrated edges that could do more damage than even the long rowels.
I’ve also collected old quirts, whips and romels that can no longer inflict torment or torture. By gathering up all this stuff you can imagine how much pain has NOT been inflicted on horses? I also collect old barbed wire which is horse’s worst night-mare. I’ve no doubt saved an untold number of horses grievous injury by removing the wire from sagging fences from sea to shining sea.
Much to my wife’s displeasure I also collect old saddles and sidesaddles like my severe Mexican and US Cavalry ones that look more like a carpenter made them than a saddlemaker. Can you imagine the bad backs I’ve NOT caused by taking those saddles out of tack rooms everywhere I went.
Those actions alone should qualify me for some kind of recognition but I haven’t even got to my major contributions yet. Long time readers will know that my number one mount was a horse I named Gentleman because that’s what he was. Prior to gaining worldwide fame Gentleman was known as Eleven and a Half and I asked Ken, the cowboy I bought Gentleman from, why he called him that. He said it was because when you were mounted on him you were darn near afoot.
I also asked Ken why Gentleman had been left a stud and he made another good point. “You know he has zero energy, can you imagine how lazy he’d be without any testosterone at all?”
To the best of my knowledge Gentleman hasn’t sired any offspring as I’ve done my best to keep him away from any horny mares.
Perhaps the AQHA hasn’t given me any plaques because I’m not 100% sure Gentleman was a pure Quarter Horse. Sometimes he acted more like a mule and the hair on the back of his legs suggested he may have pulled heavy beer wagons prior to his career as a cow pony.
In Gentleman’s defense he knew way more about the cattle business than I did and he was my favorite color: gentle. I loved that old horse and he attracted fans across this country and Canada. We even wrote a book together called a Gentleman and A Scholar. Considering his body of work and the fact I didn’t let him pass along numerous deleterious genetic defects into the Quarter Horse genetic code I think Gentleman and I deserve to be in the AQHA Hall of Fame.