Floyd E. “Sunny Jim” Orr grew up with a rope in his hand, lassoing anything that moved. At the age of 21, he began a rodeo career in tie-down roping. In 1958, his life changed course.
That’s when his parents bought him an off-the-track racehorse named Tender Boy, a 1955 sorrel stallion with the makings of a good tie-down horse in him. Orr began training the stallion.
Tender Boy quickly became an AQHA Champion, earning points in halter, reining, roping and working cow horse. At the end of 1961, Orr earned an all-around saddle from the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association – the first saddle he had ever won. Tender Boy was also AQHA year-end high-point winner in working cow horse and tie-down roping for 1961.
From 1960 through 1986, when an injury forced his retirement from the saddle, Orr trained horses that could win halter in the morning and perform all day long. Orr was known as a trainer who did everything and trained that versatility into his horses.
In 1979, Orr rode Diamonds Sparkle to the Superhorse title at the AQHA World Championship Show for then-owner Richard Steward, riding the Hall of Fame-bound mare in all her classes himself. One year later, Orr almost did it again, earning the reserve Superhorse title with another mare, Eighteen Letters, owned by Sally Schwartz of Raton, New Mexico.
Orr also showed Tender Boy’s offspring to AQHA Champion titles. In all, Orr-bred horses earned 1,449.5 points in all divisions and earned $57,521 in the National Cutting Horse Association.
After retirement from the show ring, Orr focused on training amateurs to succeed. He was an AQHA judge for 16 years, judging the first AQHA World Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1974.
“I’d like to be remembered as a man who was not only a trainer but a horseman,” he said.
Orr was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2016.
Biography updated as of March 2016.