king ranch wins Best Remuda award
Lauro Cavazos on Macanudo; Dick Kleberg Jr. on Wimpy; and Bob Kleberg on Peppy. • Photo by Toni Frissell.

Iconic King Ranch Wins AQHA Best Remuda Award

The King Ranch, one of the most historic ranches in the world, has been welcomed into the ranks of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Best Remuda winners.

Since 1992, AQHA has annually awarded the Best Remuda Award to breeders that raise outstanding ranch horses.

“King Ranch is known around the world as an icon of ranching,” said AQHA Director of Ranching Kim Lindsey. “We are proud to present the Best Remuda award to this storied ranch in recognition of its many achievements and the great ranch horses the ranch is producing.”

According to Equi-Stat, The King Ranch has bred horses with earnings totaling more than $7.2 million.

King Ranch History

Dubbed, ‘The Birthplace of American Ranching,’ the King Ranch was founded in 1853 by Capt. Richard King, who came to Texas in 1846 during the Mexican/American War. King saw many parts of South Texas as a steamboat captain and decided it would be an ideal place for a ranch. King soon began buying land in the area, and with two land grant purchases totaling 68,500 acres, the nucleus of The King Ranch was born. 

The ranch’s horses as we know them today began with Old Sorrel, who was foaled in 1915 and was purchased by Bob Kleberg from George Clegg of Alice, Texas. Bob Kleberg was quoted as saying Old Sorrel was the best cow horse he had ever ridden. 

In 1941, the King Ranch earned AQHA’s first registration spot by winning grand champion stallion at the Fort Worth Stock Show. The honor went to a stallion named Wimpy, who had Old Sorrel on both sides of his pedigree. 

In the late 1970s, the ranch purchased Mr San Peppy, who was by Leo San (by Leo) and out of a mare called Peppy Belle. At that time, Mr San Peppy was the youngest horse to be named the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Champion and the youngest horse to be named to the NCHA Hall of Fame. He was also the youngest horse to win more than $100,000 in open cutting competition in a single year. Among his get was Peppy San Badger, who was the next stallion the ranch bought.

Better known as “Little Peppy,” Peppy San Badger won the NCHA Futurity in 1977 and the NCHA Derby in 1978, and he was AQHA Reserve World Champion in 1980. He, too, was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame, and, of course, he continued that direct line to Old Sorrel.

Old Sorrel, Wimpy, Mr San Peppy and Peppy San Badger are all in the AQHA Hall of Fame, along with trainer Buster Welch, Robert Kleberg Jr., his nephew Richard “Dick” Kleberg Jr. and Dick’s son Stephen “Tio” Kleberg.

The King Ranch Today

Today, the family ownership of King Ranch is in its seventh generation. The ranch has extensive agricultural interests in addition to ranching and horses. 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder is the all-time leading breeder by number of foals, having bred more than 7,200 foals in its long history, and continues to produce top-quality ranch horses. Vice President and Ranch Manager Dave Delaney stresses that King Ranch’s “main goal is producing the best horses for our 35 cowboys to ride every day in their ranch duties.”

King Ranch will receive a specially designed award presented at the Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo, November 7-11 in Amarillo.

The ranch will also be recognized at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention in February 2020 and again in March at the AQHA Convention in Las Vegas. King Ranch will be featured this fall in The American Quarter Horse Journal.

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