King Ranch Quarter Horses – The West was won on horseback, so it is only fitting that the birthplace of American ranching should also be the center of excellence for great ranch horses.
From the earliest days, as he did with his hardscrabble longhorn range cattle, Richard King aggressively and relentlessly upbred the stallions and mares of the Wild Horse Desert whose descendants would become some of the finest quarter horses in the world. The legendary Kineño vaqueros and many of Captain King’s descendants who have been devoted to the ranching life through the generations have made top quality horses a clear priority on King Ranch.
King Ranch’s quarter horse and thoroughbred programs trace back to Richard King and his son-in-law, Robert Kleberg, Sr., who were constantly searching for better-blooded stallions to upgrade their horse stock. In 1915, Bob Kleberg, Jr., King’s grandson, bought OLD SORREL, a colt who became the foundation sire that made King Ranch famous as a breeder of champion quarter horses.
When the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was founded in 1940, the founders agreed that the grand champion of the 1941 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show would be recorded as number one in their stud book. This honor went to King Ranch’s WIMPY, a grandson of OLD SORREL. The same outstanding qualities found in WIMPY were also passed on to MR SAN PEPPY and PEPPY SAN BADGER (Little Peppy), two more recent King Ranch cutting horse champions.
Besides being a two-time National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open World Champion in 1974 and 1976, MR SAN PEPPY also won the AQHA World Cutting Championship in 1976, becoming the first horse ever to win both titles in the same year. Then, in 1978, he became the first horse to ever win over $l00,000 in open cutting competition. The pinnacle of his career occurred in 1974, when he became the youngest horse ever to be inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame.
Among other honors, in 1977, PEPPY SAN BADGER won the NCHA Futurity. He followed that with a win in the NCHA Derby in 1978. In 1980, Little Peppy was also inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame. He topped off his victories by being named the 1980 Reserve World Champion and winning the Open Division of the 1981 NCHA Finals. Besides his accomplishments in cutting competition, Little Peppy was, until recently, the all time leading sire of NCHA competition cutting horses. His offspring have won in excess of $20,000,000.
Bob Kleberg also introduced King Ranch to the sport of kings. The thoroughbred breeding program began producing results with victories in stakes races as early as 1936.