For nearly 40 years, the Gist family of Midland, Texas, has preserved Foundation bloodlines critical to the development of the modern Quarter Horse. Following a Sept. 9 Wagon Wheel Ranch production sale in Lometa, Texas, a donation of the remaining horses to Sul Ross State University began.
Founded by the late breeding trailblazer, Fred G. Gist and his wife, Elaine Conger Gist, the Wagon Wheel Ranch breeding program was primarily designed to concentrate blood of specific legendary sires, including King P-234, Royal King, Joe Hancock, Blue Valentine, Driftwood and Mr San Peppy.
This collection of superior genetics will now form the core of a signature educational program at Sul Ross State University. President Bill Kibler concisely summarized potentially the largest gift in Sul Ross history:
“This is a game changer,” he said of the donation from the Wagon Wheel Ranch Foundation Quarter Horse breeding program.
The donation agreement, approved Aug. 17 by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System, is a multifaceted plan that will establish a $15 million endowment once all funds are raised. The endowment will support and sustain this unique Quarter Horse breeding program at Sul Ross and establish the Elaine Conger Gist Endowed Professor of Equine Science in the College of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
The donation from Elaine Conger Gist includes 160 registered Quarter Horses, another 95 young stock and related equipment. When fully funded, the endowment will wholly support the program, including salary support for two new staff and endowment of a faculty position in perpetuity.
“With a rich history of preserving our ranching heritage, Sul Ross is in a unique position to ensure that my father’s hard work will be appreciated and maximized. This is paramount in achieving his core mission: to preserve the Foundation blood of the original American Quarter Horse,” said John C. Gist, who created the Fred G. Gist Memorial Foundation to raise funds for the endowment. “With ranching in our blood, Mom and I love the strong ranching heritage that is alive at Sul Ross and in the Big Bend region.”