Dick Kellem, A horseman’s horseman | TSLN.com

Dick Kellem, A horseman’s horseman

Photo courtesy Dick KellemUna Bar, the first Quarter Horse stud Dick Kellem used and ran in 1962.

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

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Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”

“I guess I’ve been handling studs for 60 years, or probably longer than that,” says the humble, quiet horseman – the horseman who initially answered my request for an interview with, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to talk about that anybody’d be interested in.”

Dick Kellem and his wife Carole (Werre) ranch between Spearfish and Belle Fourche, SD these days. Dick got his start on his dad Herb Kellem’s ranch north of Wall, along the edge of the Cheyenne River brakes.

“Dad had Remount studs,” Dick remembers. The last one he had was Algernon, a Thoroughbred grandson of Man O’War.

“Whenever we had a Remount stud, dad rode him. He always rode studs,” Dick remembers. “We were always going to brandings and stuff, and everyone would just turn their saddle horses loose out there. Dad would just drop the reins on that stud and he’d stand there like every other horse. People asked him how you could get a stud to be like that and he said, ‘When you start ’em, be sure you’re carryin’ a wagon spoke.’ He always told me, ‘When you’re handling studs, don’t be pickin’ at ’em; if they need a lesson, make a believer out of them, and then leave ’em alone’.”

The Kellem’s ran a lot of horses, and Dick recalls a time his dad had some 50 or 60 head of five-year-old geldings that hadn’t been handled. Times were hard, and then the Army advertised they would be buying horses at the sale barn in Rapid City. They said anyone could bring sorrel or bay horses and ride them through, and the Army would either buy them or reject them. Herb decided this was a fortuitous time and he had raw gold in those unbroken geldings.

“I had an older brother who was a good bronc rider, and dad set him after the job. Then he got Jumbo Montileaux, an Indian/Negro fellow that was a real good hand with horses, to come and help him,” Dick remembers. “They had a wild time of it when they tackled that bunch; but they got ’em so they could ride them through the ring, and most of ’em sold… the Army seemed to like them.”

Dick remembers a roan gelding his dad rode through the ring at that sale, probably the best of the lot. “They’d advertised to buy only bays and sorrels, but dad took the roan and rode him through anyhow. Somebody yelled out ‘What color is that horse?’ Somebody else yelled, ‘He’s a sorrel,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take him.'”

This took place around the early 1940’s, and it was said the horses were being bought to send to Turkey. Dick grins, “I’ll bet when somebody saddled one of those five-year-olds and swung some saddlebags and canteens on the saddle over there, they might’ve had their hands full and really stirred up the sand.”

Dick’s parents died, leaving him on his own by the time he was 17 years old. Since horses were what he knew, he started riding race horses around fairs to make a little money. This was mostly in Montana, and he rode Lloyd Kane’s famous stud Salty Jo in a lot of those races. “I won around 20 races on him,” Dick remembers, “then they’d go rope a steer or rope a calf or bulldog off of him.”

After a few years riding the bush track race circuit, Dick started training race horses. “I knew Clary Spencer, the owner of Top Moon, and he sent me five Top Moon two-year-old’s the first year I trained,” he says.

“Erv Asmussen was training some good horses and his son Keith Asmussen was riding them,” Dick remembers. “When he found out I was training, Erv sent me a bunch of Thoroughbreds from Caliente, Mexico. That was the first I’d worked with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid on the Cheyenne River.”