Delta County Independent May 1958
Quarter Horse Breeding Now Being Revived Here; Local Owners Listed
By F. M. Peterson
There were no horses on the North American continent when the first white men landed here. By the time Delta County was activated in 1883 there were broomtails, Indian ponies and quite a few wild horses, according to available records. Later harness horses appeared and today there are many quarter horses in the country.
Among the local county men engaged in quarter horse breeding in the area are Bobbie Chick, Dennis and Guilliams, Carl and Raymond Walker, Jack Smilie and Thomas Hensley, all of Delta; John Collins and the Vanderburg brothers at Crawford; and also the Figure 4 Ranch as Eckert.
Hensley raises and sells quarter horses here and has countless trophies that were won by his animals. He, in company with Tex Allen, started to re-establish the quarter horse on the Western Slope in 1944.
Hensley’s former companion, Allen, is well known in Delta County as a rider, bronco buster, roper and bulldogger and also for all other rodeo sports. He is particularly renowned for horse racing.
The first registered quarter horse stud that Hensley brought here was Royal Reger in 1944. This horse, together with another one that he brought in 1946, was the beginning of the revival of quarter horses in Delta County. Today Hensley has two mares and a stallion. He raises the animals to sell and to show.
Prior to the revival of quarter horses in 1940, there was a dormant period of the breed here. Years before, the late Dan Casement imported the first quarter horses into the country and the Western Slope. His headquarter were at Whitewater. A horse named Red Dog, known by earlier settlers, was the foundation sire of these quarter horses.
When Casement left this part of the country, the raising of the breed lay dormant until Hensley and Allen’s time.
The first horses were brought to the west into Old Mexico by the Spaniards. IN 1776 when the colonists imported horses they crossed them with those brought by the Spaniards. The result was the quarter horse and the establishing of the quarter horse breed.
“It may have been around the turn of the century,” Hensley says, “that the quarter horse was first brought to this part of the country. The first horses registered in the United States were the quarter horses. They were known as America’s fastest running horse.”
Horse racing had its day in Delta County years ago at the old Delta fairground, northwest of the Holly Sugar Company. Among the luminaries in track circles were the late George Wilson and Dr. A. P. Drew, a veterinarian in Grand Junction. These men entered harness races at the grounds.
Two other well-known horsemen of their day were Joe Gray and Alonzo Lewis. They were “great bronco busters here”, Hensley says, “any horse in the country that people claimed couldn’t be ridden, could be ridden by either Gray or Lewis.”
“Going back to the early days of the horse,” Hensley continues, “Some thoroughbred stallions were imported by men on the Western Slope, around Meeker and the southwestern part of the state. This was done in the later years to improve cattle horses. The thoroughbreds were crossed with Indian horses.”
Raising champions is a consistent habit of Hensley’s He has one mare, Lana Sue, that was shown 10 times and won 10 firsts, three grand championships and two reserves.
In 1956 he had the grand champion mare of the Gunnison show, the champion Palomino stallion, and the champion reserve quarter horse stallion.
Royal Reger, the first registered quarter horse Hensley brought here, was a champion among champions. Together with his companion, Miss Prissy, he won all the shows he entered. These included horse shows in Grand Junction, Delta County, Montrose, Ridgeway, Gunnison, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Brighton and Willow Springs near Estes Park.
In addition to showmanship qualities, Royal Reger was also an excellent roping horse, Hensley says.
The animal died in 1952—the day before he was booked to lead the annual Deltarado Days parade here.