Glen Hollenbeck: Still riding for the G2 brand
March 29, 2018
This South Dakota rancher and all-around performance horse breeder doesn't exactly love talking about himself, but he does love talking about horses. For over 50 years, Glen Hollenbeck has been breeding American Quarter Horses at his ranch near Winner, South Dakota, and in January he was honored at the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association banquet for his achievement. At 76 years old, he may laugh and wonder why he's still in the business, and he has cut down on his mares over the years, but when push comes to shove, he knows he can't quit yet because the joy of seeing baby colts playing out in the pasture and the anticipation of what Mother Nature will do with her paintbrush on them keeps him going.
At their height, the Hollenbeck horse program was running around 25 mares and partnering with an annual production sale in Basset, Nebraska called the Cow Country Quarter Horses. There, he would consign mostly colts but always had a few ranch broke horses that he and his sons trained to sell as well. Hollenbeck describes his horses as being the all-around performance type, capable of success both at the ranch and in the arena.
It was at the Denver Stock Show and sale in 1957 when Hollenbeck's parents bought their first Quarter Horse stud. The purchase took place 17 years after the birth of the American Quarter Horse Association and Hollenbeck says that the Hay Valley Ranch, where they soon purchased their first mares, was one of the first places in Nebraska to get into the Quarter Horse business. At the time he says the rising breed was an exciting new prospect, especially when compared to the horses they rode around the ranch prior.
"They were just horses. I suppose they were part draft and something else," he says. "At the time, we thought they were the greatest thing there was, that is until we found the Quarter Horses."
“It’s a pretty good feeling to raise that caliber of horses.” Glen Hollenbeck
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Over the years, Hollenbeck has used numerous studs because he prefers to invest in an older, proven stud that would complement his mares. Although that would mean the stud didn't last as long, the price was usually right and Hollenbeck was sure of his purchase. Unfortunately, he has had tough luck with a few of his studs. One was struck by lightning in December and another that he roped calves on and was very fond of was just found dead in the pasture.
His favorite bloodlines over the years included those of King, Jet Deck, Leo, Star Duster, Dash For Cash and Sunfrost that he would eventually cross on Tiny Watch mares.
"They're all good bloodlines if you get them crossed right," he says. "We didn't breed specifically for speed, but we seldom got outrun. Some people, that's all they breed for, but we wanted in general horses that you could use for anything and everything with good mind, structure and bone."
Hollenbeck says he believes that young horses need to start with the basics to keep a good mind on them. To him, the best way to make a good broke horse is by riding it on the ranch and exposing it to everything before taking it to the arena.
"Too many people try to make a horse in 30 days," he says. "There's so many good horses that have had their minds blown from trying to push them too hard, too soon. You take a good, ranch-broke horse and in two weeks you can have him team roping or calf roping as long as he has been exposed to everything."
The G2 branded colts that he raised developed a reputation to be both solid ranch horses and performance horses, which is what drew the eye of cowboys like Allen Good and Jim Whiting. The latter recalls helping Hollenbeck get horses started in bull dogging, saying that was when he grew fond of the horses.
"They were just good cowboy horses," Whiting says. "Glen's horses were always easy to start because they were ranch broke and good minded. You could do purt near anything in the arena you wanted to do on them."
Good, whose father used to rodeo with Hollenbeck, remembers going to visit the Hollenbeck ranch and somehow coming home with some colts. The following year, they went back for more.
"We ended up with two full brothers, Snort and Dunk, and they were the circuit horses of the year seven times a piece," Good says. "We just kept buying a couple horses a year.
When it was time for Hollenbeck to start cutting back his mare numbers, Good jumped at the opportunity to continue the Tiny Watch bloodlines.
"My boy Denton has won the Little Britches World and the Junior High off a horse out of my stud and one of Glen's mares," he says. "They're just versatile horses that you could do anything on."
And Hollenbeck did a lot with the horses, using them for ranch work, calf roping, team roping, bull dogging and picking up bucking horses. In fact, when he quit picking up bucking horses, he sold his pick-up horses to Steve Sutton who later took them to pick up on at the National Finals Rodeo.
One of the more memorable horses that the Hollenbecks raised as a colt was a son of Star Duster named Dazzler. Dazzler was consigned to the production sale, but the final bid wasn't to Hollenbeck's liking, so the colt returned to South Dakota and turned into something special, later siring many successful horses for the Hollenbecks.
"Star Duster's colts were tough, but they had a good mind on them and they didn't break down on you, we didn't have any vet bills on them," Hollenbeck says with a laugh. "Dazzler developed into a top-notch calf roping horse. I won on him and my son took him to Kansas to college and won the region on him down there."
Despite having cut back to only two mares now, there's not yet an end in sight for Hollenbeck, while he, his sons and grandchildren are still riding for and winning on the G2 brand.
"It's a pretty good feeling to raise that caliber of horses that they can go on with," Hollenbeck says.