SDQHA 75 year breeder: Gene and Fay Reeves
If you’ve ever bought a roan horse with a Staple Triangle brand, it came from the home of Faye and Gene, fondly known as Buzz, Reeves outside of Eagle Butte. It’s safe to say they’ve been around the round pen once or twice, and are very deserving of the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association’s 75 Year Breeder award.
Buzz was raised around horses, growing up on the Brownfield Ranch in Brownfield, Texas, where his dad was the ranch manager. His father gave him his first mare at age three, which means Buzz has been in the horse business for over eight decades.
“My dad worked for Ray Brownfield. The town of Brownfield, Texas is named after him. My dad wanted to buy a thoroughbred stud from him when the old man got ready to quit. He told my dad the only way he would sell him the stud was for him to take sixty mares with him, and that’s where he got his start,” explains Buzz Reeves. “They were mainly thoroughbreds.”
Buzz’s father, Arthur Reeves, was instrumental in Buzz’s lifelong love for horses. Arthur helped to found the original National Quarter Horse Breeders Association and was a director for a few years until it merged with the American Quarter Horse Association.
As a child, Buzz moved with his family from Brownfield to Trinidad, Colorado. While living there, Buzz says that his father went to South Dakota with two other prominent members of the AQHA and called home to report that, “they got more grass in the bar ditch than we got on whole ranch.” So the family and horses made the move north. In spite of moving to South Dakota in 1949 and witnessing the worst winter in history, Buzz and his family remained in South Dakota.
Buzz and Faye married in 1959 and had three mares to their name. These were good using horses that they rode in rodeos, and as used as brood mares. The couple expanded their horse herd and family over the years. They raised five children, D’Aun, Kevin, JoBeth, Kip, and Melissa.
Over the years, Buzz and Faye have maintained the same foundation bloodlines that his father established, which started with two studs, Fertidy and Bar Nothing Springer. The first mare that Arthur gave to Buzz was Harmon Sue, who was by Harmon King who was by Harmon Baker Jr on the top side, and Chunkie by Wee Bunting on the bottom side. Harmon Sue was the beginning of the Staple Triangle Horses. Over the years the Reeves have incorporated many notable stallions into their herd, including Tom Baker, Roan Bar, Repetitious by Double Deal, and Red Man Reeves by Balda Jim.
“You gotta have a program. You know, a lot of these guys, they jump here and there, and whatever is popular they’ll get into,” says Buzz. “My dad always told us, you raise what you like, or you’re not going to be satisfied. And we’ve always kind of done that. Our biggest deal was we stayed with the program. You have a long-term goal and make sure your program follows it.”
The horses bought off of the Reeves’ ranch have a reputation for being sound made, stout boned roan horses that can be used in all aspects of ranching and competition.
“Our horses are ranch horses first, but they can do anything in the arena,” says Faye. “They are very disciplined, and athletic. All of our kids grew up riding, we rodeoed, and every one of our horses could do anything – rope, run barrels, run poles. That’s one good thing about our program is that they’re so versatile. We have good horses that will last all day if you need to ride all day.”
The Reeves hosted a horse sale for about ten years, but now consign their signature roan horses to the Hermanson/Kist Horse Sale in Mandan, North Dakota, as well as selling many horses right off the ranch. Over the last few years, the Reeves have added in some running blood to their herd, and enjoy running racehorses across the midwest. Faye refers to it as their retirement plan.
These days it’s just Buzz and Faye on the ranch. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are spread out from Minnesota to Texas and New Mexico. Faye says that they come home to help when they can, especially with the big days, like branding. Having grown up on the ranch, the kids understand what it takes to keep a successful horse program going.
“I’ve always told my kids if you go into this business, if you take it over when we’re gone, you’re gonna have to learn to sacrifice. With us, the horses have always come first. The family has done a lot of things to keep the horses going and it paid off,” says Buzz.
“Anything worthwhile you have to sacrifice for,” adds Faye. “You have to love it. You’ve got to love horses. The colts being born in the spring is my favorite, I can hardly wait.”
The Reeves still have about 120 mares. In spite of their kids encouraging them to retire, Buzz and Faye aren’t quite ready to hand over the reins yet.
“It’s really hard to let them let a horse program go,” says Buzz. “We’ve really kept our program going all these years and it’s really hard to do that, you know, but we have. We’re gonna have to retire one of these days, but for now it keeps us busy.”
From breaking colts, to hand picking future studs and mares for the herd, to selling horses that have gone all over the country, Buzz and Faye Reeves have built a lasting legacy within the horse world.
“Our brand is well known. Don’t never let a horse go off your place that you raised without your brand on it. You take responsibility whether it’s good or bad,” says Buzz. “Nobody can claim that they raised it or it was bad because we’re there for that. And this brand, the staple triangle brand, is pretty well known all over.”