50-Year Breeders: Dick and Becky Grusing
50-Year Breeders: Dick and Becky Grusing
By Richard Chamberlain for The American Quarter Horse Journal
When they met in 1964, Dick Grusing and Becky Jennings were not breaking each other’s hearts, they were both breaking horses. That was the year after Becky graduated from high school and a couple of years after he did. Dick lived 25 miles north of Lakin, Kansas, and Becky a mile west of Lakin. To put miles on the colts, they would meet each other at the halfway point and then go on to one or the other’s house.
Dick and Becky married in 1965. Becky’s parents had given her an American Quarter Horse filly when she graduated, and they gave her and her new husband another as a wedding present. In 1968, the young Grusings established their own operation on a ranch at Kendall, Kansas, and were well on their way to having a nice band of registered mares.
The “gifted” fillies were by Heart’s Folly, a Bob’s Folly stallion bred by American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Walter Merrick and foaled in 1960. Heart’s Folly was owned by Becky’s father, Otis Jennings, who also owned Aggie Twist, a grandson of Hard Twist.
“My dad used Aggie Twist for everything,” Becky says. “Hearts Folly was well-known in the area for throwing smart, good-looking, using horses, and we raised several colts by him in the years to come.”
They also began standing stallions of their own. In 1977, they bought from Myron Shrader a sorrel yearling Doc’s Tom Thumb stallion named Doc Doc, whom Dick trained and showed in National Cutting Horse Association competition.
“Doc Bar horses were really popular at the time,” says Becky, “so we thought we needed one.”
A neighbor, Guy McCombs, asked Dick to ride and show his stallion Lucky Bottom 46. That began the Grusings’ love of Lucky Star Mac- and Bert-bred horses. Dick and Becky bought a yearling from McCombs named Lucky Bottom Rebel, a 1978 son of Lucky Star Mac and a great-grandson of Bert. Dick broke, trained and showed “Rebel” in NCHA events.
They kept a son of Rebel named Bar Diamond Booger to replace him. “Booger” was foaled in 1989, and Dick rode the black stallion until he was about 10 and then retired him to the breeding pen. Bar Diamond Booger is 30 now, and sired one foal this year.
They also have owned the stallions AR Docs Little Oak, a 1996 son of Doc’s Oak, and ML Bee Bert Star, a 2007 son of ML Double Bee Bert who traces to Bert on both top and bottom. They always kept 10-25 broodmares and three stallions, and have more than 2,000 acres of grass pasture.
“Dick has spent his life doing what he loves, riding horses with cow sense, heart and athletic ability,” Becky says. “He has looked after pasture cattle for 70 years and riding a good horse with all those qualities makes it all enjoyable. He loved to liven up the day roping whatever was around that needed roping – sick cattle, buffalo, badgers, coyotes and motorcycles.
“Where we live are some big hills right east of the house,” says Dick, 76, with a laugh. “One day, there were 14 guys on motorcycles trying to climb a big hill that was too steep to climb – but they were trying to, and tearing it up. I didn’t much like that and they didn’t ask if they could come out there. I went to the barn and saddled a horse, but when I came back out, there were no motorcycles around. I guess they knew they were in trouble and they got out of there pretty fast. I loped up over the hill, and there were still two of them, so I loped up behind one and roped him – he slammed on the brakes and tipped his motorcycle over. He got up nervous and scared. Didn’t have any more trouble with motorcycles.”
Dropping a loop on cattle, buffalo, badgers or bikes meant you’d better be well-mounted.
“I like a well-muscled horse with a kind eye, cow sense and athletic ability,” Dick says. “Being buckskin doesn’t hurt anything, either.”
“Many people in our area have owned colts by our stallions and they appreciate those qualities,” Becky says. “Our colts are always in demand in the arena, in feedlots and on ranches. Dick also likes to cross the bloodlines on draft horses, because he loves to drive horses and sometimes he needs a good-sized horse to rope bigger stock.”
Until a few years ago, Becky rode a lot helping doctor and move cattle. Now she rides for fun with her grandchildren.
“My parents always talked about the honor of having registered Quarter Horses,” she says. “My main job now is the paperwork needed in keeping horses registered.”
The Grusings have been keeping Quarter Horses registered for half of a century.
“What we like,” Dick says, “is raising good-minded horses that buyers brag on for years.”