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100 years of quarter horses

Posted: 4:25 PM, Apr 29, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-29 17:25:05-04

The King Ranch Museum in Kingsville just opened a brand new exhibit. It describes the major role that the ranch has played in the development of the American Quarter Horse breed. And just like everything else on the ranch, it is impressive.

The new exhibit is called "From Old Sorrel to the Boon." It tells the story of the crucial role the King Ranch has played in the development of the American Quarter Horse breed. 

It’s a story that goes back more than a hundred years when the ranch bought a foal from a horse breeder Alice, Texas for $125.

That foal grew into an impressive stallion named "Old Sorrel" by the ranch hands. Ranch owner Richard Kleberg himself trained him, and by all accounts, he was an excellent cow horse. He also became the cornerstone of the ranch’s renowned quarter horse bloodlines. Says James Clement III, the horse division manager for the ranch, " One thing that’s really important about the king ranch’s horse program is that everything on this ranch still traces back to a single sire, Old Sorrel, and so we’re at the 8th, 9th and 10th generation of his descendants and no ranch in the world has the genetic consistency of the King Ranch."

With a broad, muscled chest and powerful hindquarters, the breed is compact and agile —  making them ideally suited for working livestock in brushy ranch country, and cattle in particular. They’re also fast sprinters. In fact, the breed gets its name for its ability to outrun most other breeds in the quarter mile.

Over the past century, the King Ranch has registered more than 7,300 quarter horses, and that’s more than any other ranch. Every one of them relates back to ‘Old Sorrell, and Clements says they have lots of customers, "People that compete in cutting cow horse, roping, rodeo events., also ranchers from all over the United States, Central, and South America — a lot of people from western Europe. 

It is a rich history, and it’s thoroughly covered in the new exhibit. Clements says it had a bit of everything in it, "It shows awards, it shows a picture history going back to Captain King and this area called the wild horse desert, it traces that all the way up to today horses, and those performance horse bloodlines and ranch horse bloodlines that we continue to have on the king ranching… it shows the horses and all the awards they won listed, and the actual trophies… and it shows statues and saddles and other trophies and memorabilia."

The exhibit runs thru November of this year, so you’ve got some time to go see it. The King Ranch Museum is open Monday thru Saturday from 10-am to 4-pm, and on Sundays from 1-pm to 5-pm.