A strong Chord: Cee Heart Quarter Horses named producer of the year
Clayton and Sally Chord put their hearts into—and on—all that they do, including their home-raised horses sporting the Cee Heart brand. Their passion and love for quality Quarter Horses earned them 2017 South Dakota Quarter Horse Association Producer of the Year.
“I am honored they chose us,” Clayton said. “There are so many great producers in this state. I couldn’t believe they picked us.”
The Chords have raised Quarter Horses for 35 consecutive years with the Cee Heart brand on their shoulders and Cee Heart suffix in their names.
“I always felt like that brand looked like Christ’s love,” Clayton said. “I feel that God has really blessed us with horses way past what we could afford. Before we had kids, we decided we could probably breed better horses than we could ever buy.”
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Their lineage of horses is built upon a foundation laid by Sally’s parents, Jack and Ellen Paulton; who also established the ranch, located 16 miles west of Custer and eight south, where Clayton and Sally have lived since 1980 and where their four daughters grew up. Several of their mares trace back to Paultons’ lines.
The stallion, Hawkeye Classic, was purchased in 1987 as a three-year-old, and created the base for Chords’ predominantly gentle, sound-minded, athletic herd of ranch horses.
“I studied pedigrees a lot; it’s a passion that God had given me, so when Hawkeye Classic became available to purchase, I felt that it was an awesome opportunity. Hawkeye Classic was an exceptional horse to train. I roped a cow on his 12th ride. By the time he had 30 rides, we had dust pneumonia come through our calves and we roped and doctored 30 of them,” Clayton said. “He just was an awesome ranch horse. When Brenda was 5 or 6, she would ride him out in the pasture, whether there were geldings or even a mare in heat. That was a problem. We couldn’t get outside mares because they didn’t know he was a stud!”
Hawk, a son of Dandy Seeker, gave the Chords more than 100 colts in his 17 years with them. Two of Hawk’s grandsons are the future for Cee Heart Quarter Horses, and many of his offspring make up their daughters’ herds.
“Dandy Seeker, Hawk’s sire, for 10 years was in the top 10 AQHA youth horse sires. He was a superior halter horse and had eight points in western pleasure. He was a son of Goldseeker Bars out of a Joe Reed II-bred mare. On the bottom, Hawk had Two Eyed Jack and Barry Pat Star,” Clayton said. “We aren’t into fads or trends. We have a 120-head cow outfit. The horses we ride are our own and need to be built a certain way. They have withers and bone and speed enough to catch and doctor cattle on our operation.”
Their daughters each showed Hawk’s sons and daughters to success in local 4-H and FFA shows and rodeos, as well as showing and competing on the state level. Now, the grandchildren also ride and show.
Clayton and Sally’s four daughters are spread 17 years apart. Melinda is the oldest and married to Lucas Stolhammer. They ranch west of Newcastle and have three kids, Connor (10), Carli (8), and Waylon (5).
“They are very active with Cee Heart horses. They have several horses that trace back to what Sally’s parents started out with and have continued to keep breeding Cee Heart horses,” Clayton said.
Their second daughter Brenda is married to Ivan Brovont and is expecting a baby in May. They ranch south of Newcastle and breed Cee Heart horses to use on the ranch and to train and sell.
Like her sisters, Katrina, the third daughter, raises Cee Heart horses; she works at Black Hills University in Spearfish. Katrina married Ryan Huft two months after her little sister passed away.
“Laura moved to Heaven May 3, Katrina was married July 16, and my dad went home to Heaven,” Sally said.
The fourth daughter, Laura, died when she was a junior in high school. She was on her way home from a track meet when she was in a car accident.
“Laura was very passionate about her love of the Lord, her love of the truth,” Sally said. “She took every opportunity, whether speaking or writing in her blog to proclaim truth! Even though we miss Laura, and it is just so incredibly painful, it is also incredibly amazing to know that she is in Heaven, and we’re on our journey there as well. We have so much to look forward to and it’s a great reminder that this life is so very short, and eternity is forever.”
Like her sisters, Laura had her own home-raised horse, a gelding, Cee Heart Gold Bar, that she called Trigger. Clayton wears a rodeo buckle that Laura won and Sally wears an all-around performance buckle of hers; though there many buckles still to be earned by Cee Heart Quarter Horses.
“Last summer, our eight-year-old granddaughter was showing a mare that was a great granddaughter of Sally’s mom’s horse that Ellen showed in the early 60s,” Clayton said. “Carli won the all-around in Hermosa while her great-grandmother was watching.”
Like their daughters showed the true gentle manner of Hawk’s offspring, the grandchildren are exhibiting the same qualities in this generation of Cee Heart horses.
“The girls were very pretty; they showed their horses off very well and had good seats,” Clayton said. “I loved having them go to brandings with me; they could outwrestle and outrope the boys.” F
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