Wanted: Bert Horses

Bert horses were legendary in the early 1900s for stamina, intelligence and long lives.

From America's Horse

In the late 1930s and 1940s, every cowboy in Oklahoma wanted a Bert horse. Bert horses were down every lane in the eastern and northeastern portions of the state, pulling plows and roping steers. “Bert horses could do the job and work all day long,” Oklahoma horseman Roy Fisher told The American Quarter Horse Journal in 1998. “You could teach them anything, and they would retain it. Most of his horses were good up into their 20s. They had good minds and lived a long life. Back then, those were the things you used to make a living.”

Bert was foaled March 24, 1934, in Nowata, Oklahoma. Bert Benear bred Lady Coolidge, a dun daughter of Beetch’s Yellow Jacket, to Tommy Clegg, a top ranch horse. Bert was the result. The brown 14.3-hand stallion, weighing about 1,150 pounds, was never broke to ride due to a wire-cut injury, but he passed on muscle, a large hind end and a less-than-beautiful head. Cowboys knew they were a-horseback if they could get a Bert under them,” said H.V. Roberts. “He could have been one of the greatest Quarter Horse sires in the industry if he had just put a good head on his offspring.” He didn’t sire many stallions. Fisher said that was because owners of the day preferred geldings for using horses. Instead, Bert made his name as a broodmare sire. He sired four AQHA Champions, and his daughters produced 25.

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Bert horses went to ranches, the show ring and the track. Bonnie Bert finished in a dead heat in world record time at 200 yards in 1949. Thomas Bert, a 1953 gelding, earned points in halter, tie-down roping, barrel racing and western pleasure on his way to an AQHA Champion title. One of the most famous Bert granddaughters, sired by Oklahoma Star Jr, was Baby Doll Combs, a famous steer-wrestling horse in the 1950s, whose owner Willard Combs won a world championship on the mare in 1957. Baby Doll Combs was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004. During his breeding years, Bert sired 292 foals. Thirty-seven of those earned Registers of Merit. Bert died in May 1956 at 22. His owner at the time of his death was Earl Mayes of Miami, Oklahoma. Bert was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in March 2007.