Coke T. Roberds did not intend to enter the horse business. He wanted to raise horses for personal use on his ranch. Fate had other ideas.
Born on a Texas ranch near the Brazos River in 1870, Coke learned cowboy skills early and became an expert rider and roper. By the early 1900s, Roberds owned several quality Steeldust mares and a Thoroughbred stallion, Primero.
After living in western Oklahoma for a few years, Roberds decided he needed better grass and water so he and his wife, Beulah, moved to Colorado and bought a ranch near his old friend Si Dawson. Shortly after the move, Roberds acquired the stallion Old Fred. The palomino was bred to Roberds’ Steeldust mares with success.
Dawson and Roberds were attending a race in Denver and saw Buck Thomas, a gelding by Peter McCue, run. After looking the gelding over and liking what they saw, Roberds told Dawson to head south and buy Peter McCue.
In 1915, Dawson traveled to Oklahoma and purchased Peter McCue from Milo Burlingame. Roberds and Dawson bred daughters of one stallion to the other, and the interbreeding of Old Fred and Peter McCue benefited both men. Some of the horses produced were Sheik, Buck Thomas II, Squaw and Mary McCue.
Dawson died in 1919 and his widow gave Peter McCue to Roberds. A few of the other well-known stallion in Roberds’ battery were Ute Chief, Smoky T and Prince. Two of Roberds’ stallions were among the first 19 foundation sires registered by AQHA. The stallions were Sheik and Redbird.
Roberds’ horses were the foundation for several other top breeders’ programs – Hank Wiescamp, J. Warren Shoemaker and Marshall Peavy, who were respected breeders in their own right. The foundation herds for these men consisted of mares and stallions with Roberds-Dawson bloodlines.
Roberds died in 1960 at 90. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1986.
Biography updated as of March 1986.