Pete Becker A passion for good horses
for Tri-State Livestock News
In 1948, at 20 years old, Pete Becker took one look at the dozen Quarter Horse geldings his uncle brought home to Ashby, Nebraska from Albert Mitchell’s in New Mexico, and knew he needed some of the same kind.
“They were some nice looking geldings, and I told my dad we needed some horses like that. So, in the fall we, as in I with dad furnishing the money, bought a couple AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) registered mares from Claude Wood, and that was the start,” stated Pete.
What Pete may not have realized at the time was what he was starting. His story spans over 60 years of raising horses with legendary bloodlines, good looks and conformation, and a solid ranch-based workload to best develop each individual to their fullest potential.
“In 1950 we bought Revenue from Walter Merrick. His AQHA number is 2070, and he was really where things got going. We paid $1,025 for him, and it was almost unheard-of to give that much for a horse at that time,” noted Pete.
The decision to buy Revenue was made primarily on looks and conformation. At the time Pete was not overly familiar with AQHA pedigrees, but noted the stallion had a modern look, beautiful disposition and was a great horse to start off with.
“We used what we raised personally, as this has always been a commercial cattle business,” added Pete of the where the horses ended up in the beginning.
Following Revenue, who the Becker’s used for six or seven years then sold, Pete partnered with Waldo Haythorn to purchase a Poco Bueno stallion called Poco Tom.
“Tom had a heart attack and died right here on the ranch. After that I leased a horse from a fellow named O.D. Marler in Tulsa Oklahoma called Johnny Zero. He was out of a Revenue daughter, which was the main reason I went after him,” said Pete.
Johnny Zero was followed by RBM Duster Wolf, who was cutting bred and purchased from the Four Sixes. Snickelfritz Chex was the next major stallion to impact Becker’s herd.
“Then today we are using a Snickelfritz Chex son, Snickelfritz Jake. Snickelfritz Chex was a really good horse and good breeding horse. We’re also using a Playgun son name Special Gun right now, and his first foals are just getting started and doing very well,” noted Pete.
Over the course of time that the various stallions were being used, Pete was also building a solid band of mares, which peaked at about 30 head until last year’s production sale, when numbers were cut back to roughly a dozen mares.
“We have raised almost every mare used in our program, and we’ve also hosted a few production sales whenever we had enough horses around to have one. I suspect we’ll do that again sometime in the future, but I’ll probably partner with someone to get enough numbers,” explained Pete of the transition that slowly occurred from raising horses solely for personal use to marketing ranch bred horses through both production sales and private treaty sales.
Horses sold have gone on to be top performers in a variety of rodeo events and ranching environments. Pete noted that a couple standout geldings were among the best in the country in the steer roping and calf roping events at one point.
At present, Pete also markets a few select head through Colorado State University’s Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale, which is a personal highlight for he and wife Mary.
“I really enjoy that – for one thing I like meeting the people, and it’s a great program and way to help a young person. I’m 85 years old, and being part of it is just pure fun to me.
“Through their program, a student trains a colt throughout their school year, then they have a sale in the spring, and if a student trains one of your colts, you then have the privilege of putting two other horses in the sale,” explained Pete of how the program works.
Through it all, Pete has kept a close watch on what is most important in a horse in his opinion, the brains behind the pretty face.
“To me, their mind and disposition should always be the first thing. Then, of course, I like a nicely conformed horse that is good on his feet and legs. As a ranch guy I like a horse to weigh about 1,200 pounds and stand at 15 hands – that’s a nice type to me,” he explained.
While he has never “trailered a horse around” much to hear him tell it, Pete said that he did make a few trips to cutting events on Poco Tom, who performed well, even against the stiffest competition.
“One year I took him to Chicago to this cutting horse deal, and I beat what was the current World Champion cutting horse in a go-round. Then I did the same thing in Burwell, Nebraska the same year. I beat some pretty good horses and thought I was doing pretty good for a ranch kid, and it made me feel pretty good,” noted Pete with a chuckle of one of his fondest memories of riding horses.
In 2001 Pete was awarded the AQHA Legacy Award for 50 consecutive years of raising registered Quarter Horses. He said his favorite part of being in the horse business has always been watching them grow up and using them on the ranch. Today he spends a good deal of time researching bloodlines, helping younger horsemen and women and having people out to the ranch to see his Angus cattle and Quarter Horses in person.
“He just loves those horses. They have been his passion in life. I joke that he’s never met a horse or a woman he didn’t like,” added Mary with a laugh.
“The horses have made it one hell of a ride,” concluded Pete.
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