Summing up the life of Greg Whalen is pretty daunting, and can't really be done without mentioning his wife, Mary. They lived through the Golden Era of the American Quarter Horse, when it came of age as a breed and an industry.
They've fitted world champion halter horses across four decades, beginning with AQHA's first world champion aged mare Opie's Pride in 1974. Known for "making" horses, they had numerous high-point horses and AQHA Champions. As coaches, they "raised" horsemen who would shape the business. Lifelong amateur exhibitors' AQHA directors, AQHA Professional Horsemen, breeders, exhibitors and judges got their starts in the Whalen barn.
Throughout the '50s, Whalen rode broncs and bulls in a successful rodeo career that extended to Madison Square Garden. In 1952, he was drafted and spent 11 months in Korea on the front lines in the 35th Regimental Combat Team.
In the early 1960s, Whalen judged the first televised Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo. He quit rodeoing in 1962, and that's when horse showing took over. Gradually, people began sending horses to the Whalens.
By the late '70s, Greg and Mary were looking for a stallion they could start a breeding program with. They wanted to raise horses that would ride and halter. They were sitting on the rail at a show in Pomona, when a copper sorrel stud named Smooth Town caught their eyes.
Racing bred, "Smoothie" had been used in chariot racing; at his first show, he went grand, still wearing racing plates. Smoothie went on to win the 1979 world title in 3-year-old stallions.
About that time, Greg and Mary had the mare Page Boys Pearl for Duane "Dude" Noble, and Dude gave them first right of refusal on her first foal, a colt named Page Impressive. A 1982 sorrel by Pretty Impressive, "Page" was a dandy, and they bought him.
Each horse became a breeder's dream, and Page crossed on Smoothie's daughters worked magic. The Whalens' bloodlines became a foundation source for leading breeders across the country.
As 30-year breeders, the Whalens' 346 foals have earned 8,161 halter points and 725 performance points, all divisions. Whalen earned 4,438 open halter points and 15 world championships with Sheza Cover Girl, Chicles Angel, Mr Yella Fella and All Star Design. An AQHA judge, Whalen judged major shows such as the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Championship Show in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Greg Whalen was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2013.
Biography updated as of March 2013.