Raised in an era when good and dependable work horses were a necessity and when fine horses were a man’s pride and often his only outstanding possession, Charley Araujo knew horses.
Charley was born in Paso Robles, a hill town inland from the California coast, and was one of 12 children. He grew up on a cattle ranch learning the early California/Spanish style of breaking horses by hackamore and then progressing to a spade bit. He was quoted in one interview, as saying, “I know that before I was 12, I was handling a team, loading and hauling grain. I hauled grain into San Miguel, a three-day trip from the ranch.” Araujo worked at one time or another for all the big cow outfits in and around California for the standard $30 plus room and board.
Charley Araujo married Anna Laura Slatten in Coalinga, California, on March 26, 1930. In 1938, before the Quarter Horse registry had been established, Charley was standing Little Ben C by Little Ben by Ben Hur, a horse he brought to California from Arizona. When California’s first Quarter Horse show was held at King City, in 1944, Araujo stood the grand champion stallion, Catechu, for owner Forrest Homer.
It was around this time that people were beginning to hear about a son of King P-234 called Poco Bueno. During 1948, in Fort Worth, Araujo saw the first foal of this stallion, a colt named Poco Tivio. In a few years, Charley and Poco Tivio formed an alliance that had a great influence on the Pacific Coast performance horses.
In 1949, Araujo added Quarter Horse judging to his credentials, now a recognized judge of all breeds, Charley was approved by the American Horse Show association, National Cutting Horse Association, and American Quarter Horse Association, and worked many of the largest shows in the United States and Canada. He represented AQHA in places as far away as Guatemala, served as a Quarter Horse inspector in California, and was a founding charter member of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association.
In the late 1950s, Araujo was roping with Tom and Jack Finley when he saw a colt that belonged to Jack. “I said I’d like to stand him in California when he is old enough to use for breeding. He was a foal of 1956. That was Doc Bar,” Charley remembered in an interview.
Charley Araujo died in December of 1972. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2008.
Biography updated as of March 2008.