In July 1961, a headline in the The Quarter Horse Journal noted “Yearling Son of Sugar Bars sells for $20,000.”
The $20,000 yearling was Otoe, bred by Bud Warren, and purchased by Dr. Jack Donald’s Donald Ranch at El Paso, Texas. Dr. Donald sent Otoe to the track, where the colt won five of 13 races, finished second or third in another five and finished off the board only twice.
Donald hired a young horseman named Jerry Wells to take Otoe to the colt’s first show. Otoe topped the halter class of 33 stallions, and when Jerry led him out of the ring, he found himself surrounded by spectators curious about the ex-racehorse.
The following year, Otoe emerged from a class of 46 to be grand champion at Fort Worth. Otoe was shown 23 times at halter, winning grand 20 times and earning 76 points in his career in the ring. He earned his Superior in halter in 1963 and became an AQHA Champion in 1962.
Standing his first season at stud in 1962, for a fee of $350, the stallion launched into a brief but highly successful career as a sire. Though he lived only 11 years and sired 381 foals before colicking and dying in 1971, Otoe sired 27 AQHA Champions in open and youth competition, one world champion, four reserve champions and two year-end high-point champions, with his foals earning 2,755 points at halter and 3,140 in performance, where Otoe remains a top-12 all-time leading sire of open AQHA Champions.
“Even more than what Otoe meant to me personally, he meant as much or more to the Quarter Horse breed,” Jerry said. “He was a big, pretty horse, almost perfect in his conformation. Before him, halter horses were significantly shorter and more compact. After him, they were taller and more elegant. As a halter horse and a sire, Otoe bridged the gap between the bulldog horses of the 1940s and 1950s and the stretchier, more streamlined horses of the 1970s and 1980s. He changed the way we looked at horses.”
Otoe was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018.
Biography updated as of March 2018.