The Boon Moves to the Four Sixes

Two legendary ranches pair up once again as the King Ranch's top stallion moves north to Guthrie, Texas.

From the Four Sixes and King Ranches

The Boon (Courtesy of King Ranch and Four Sixes Ranch)

The legendary King Ranch of Kingsville, Texas, has announced that its top stallion, The Boon, will be moving to the Four Sixes Ranch at Guthrie, Texas, to stand for the 2018 breeding season. The Boon is by Peptoboonsmal, one of the all-time leading cutting horse sires, and out of Boon San Kitty, the top earning daughter of High Brow Cat. He is a seventh-generation descendant of Old Sorrel, the King Ranch’s Foundation stallion and the cornerstone of its breeding program. 

The Boon’s move to the Four Sixes represents a joint venture by two of the oldest ranches in Texas, and certainly two that have had a tremendous influence on the American Quarter Horse Association. The Four Sixes’ owner at the time of AQHA’s organizational meeting in 1940 was Anne Burnett Hall – known as Miss Anne – who was well respected among ranchers of the Southwest. She was the granddaughter of Four Sixes Ranch founder S.B. (Burk) Burnett. The evening before the organizational meeting, Miss Anne hosted a dinner in her Fort Worth home for those ranchers who had come to town for the meeting. Among those present at her dinner was Robert J. (Bob) Kleberg, Jr., who was General Manager of King Ranch. The following day, both Miss Anne and Bob Kleberg bought stock in the fledgling association, and began to make plans to get their respective horses registered.

King Ranch has a long history with top horses and has been active in the cutting horse industry for a number of years. The Boon was a very successful cutting horse, earning more than $76,000 in NCHA competition. However, due to an injury he sustained in cutting training as a 3-year-old, he got a late start.

Attending veterinarian Dr. Chris Ray of Bozeman, Montana, said that by all standards, The Boon’s injury should have been career ending. He said, “I have seen a ton of hind suspensory injuries, and this one was by far the worst. To this day, I use The Boon’s injury as a reference when discussing suspensory injuries.” 

But The Boon overcame his injury and began showing – and placed -- as a 4-year-old. The following year, in 2013, he finished in the top 15 of the NCHA Super Stakes Classic Open, and in 2014, he was the open reserve champion in both the PCCHA Fall Classic/Challenge and the Chisholm Trail Fall Classic. He was the open reserve co-champion at the 2014 NCHA Classic/Challenge. His sire, Peptoboonsmal, is one of the top 10 all-time leading cutting horse sires whose foals have earned more than $26.5 million. The Boon’s dam, Boon San Kitty, earned more than $565,000 and was the first horse to win back-to-back NCHA Open Classic/Challenge championships. Her foals have earned $854,000.

The Boon’s first foals were 3-year-olds in 2017.

Joining The Boon in standing at the Four Sixes are two other King Ranch stallions, Kineños Moon and Marsala Red, both of whom are siring top ranch horses. Kineños Moon is by Ritas Sweet Badger out of Lil Badgers Moon, and Marsala Red is by Play Red out of Marsala Dulce. Both of these stallions were born at King Ranch and are descended from Old Sorrel, as are all the horses on the ranch. These two stallions will be available for breeding through shipped semen only.

King Ranch is one of the most historic ranches in the state. It was founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King, a steamboat captain who had come to Texas in 1846 during the Mexican/American War and had piloted steamboats up and down the Rio Grande for the U.S. Army. On a trip from Brownsville, Texas, to Corpus Christi, King spotted a small rise overlooking Santa Gertrudis Creek, on the Coastal Plains near Corpus Christi, and thought to himself that this would be an ideal location for a ranch. He had ridden more than 150 miles from Brownsville, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, across millions of acres of nothing but grass and a few live oak trees, and this was the first fresh water he had found. King soon began buying land in the area, the first parcel of which was the 15,500-acre Rincon de Santa Gertrudis. The next year, 1854, he purchased the larger 53,000-acre Spanish land grant Santa Gertrudis de la Garza. These two land grants became the nucleus of what is known today as King Ranch.

On one of his first trips into Mexico to purchase stock for his ranch, King came upon a village, Cruillas, which was suffering the effects of a drought. King purchased the cattle and invited the people of Cruillas to return with him to his ranch to work. Part of the villagers returned with King, and these people became known as los Kineños, King’s people. Their descendants still work the ranch today. 

In 1850, King met a young lady by the name of Henrietta Chamberlain, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister who had come to the Rio Grande Valley as a missionary. In 1854, the two were married. In 1881, through a chance encounter, King met a young lawyer from Corpus Christi named Robert Justus Kleberg. King hired Kleberg’s law firm on retainer to handle the legal affairs of the ranch, and after Captain King died in 1885, Henrietta charged Kleberg with the responsibility of running the ranch.

The following year, Kleberg married the King’s youngest daughter, Alice, and it’s from this marriage that the long line of Klebergs that were to form the destiny of the ranch emerged.

Prior to Henrietta’s death, Robert Kleberg had suffered a stroke in 1918, and his and Alice’s son, Robert (Bob) Justus, Jr., took over management of the ranch.

The ranch’s horses as we know them today began with one called the Old Sorrel, who was foaled in 1916 and was purchased by Bob Kleberg from George Clegg of Alice, Texas, while the colt was still on his mother. The chestnut colt was trailed back to the ranch, playing along behind his dam, and there he was referred to by the Kineños as “el alazan,” the sorrel, and later as “el alazan viejo,” the old sorrel. He never received another name.

Bob Kleberg was quoted as saying Old Sorrel was the best cow horse he had ever ridden.  In 1921, Old Sorrel was bred to “50 head of using saddle mares, the best we could get from the ranch, as perfectly conformed as possible.” When the first foal crop hit the ground, more than 75 percent of them were chestnut and all were uniform in conformation. His second foal crop was foaled in 1923, and with only two foal crops, it was obvious that Old Sorrel’s characteristics were being perpetuated.

From the time Bob Kleberg took over the ranch, there was always a policy of not breeding horses not worth breeding. On King Ranch, if a stallion was not siring cow horses, he was not worth breeding. A horse had to earn its way into the breeding program and the way it did so was by working cattle. 

When AQHA started registering horses, it was decided by the board of directors that the No. 1 in the registry would be reserved for the grand champion stallion at the 1941 Fort Worth Stock Show. That turned out to be a King Ranch stallion named Wimpy, who received the AQHA registration number of P-1. Foaled in 1937, he was by Solis out of Panda, and both were by Old Sorrel. 

In the late 1970s, the ranch purchased Mr San Peppy, who was by Leo San by Leo and out of a mare called Peppy Belle. Peppy Belle was by Pep Up who was by Macanudo and out of a daughter of Little Richard. Both Macanudo and Little Richard were by Old Sorrel.

Mr San Peppy, at the time, was the youngest horse to be named NCHA world champion and the youngest horse to be named to the NCHA Hall of Fame. He was also the youngest horse to win more than $100,000 in open cutting competition in a single year. Among his get was Peppy San Badger, who was the next stallion the ranch bought.

Better known as Little Peppy, Peppy San Badger won the NCHA Futurity in 1977 and the NCHA Derby in 1978, and he was reserve world champion in 1980. He, too, was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame, and, of course, he continued that direct line to Old Sorrel. He is the sire of Peptoboonsmal, which makes him the grandsire of The Boon.

The Four Sixes Ranch also ranks among the most legendary in the state, and a good bit of its legend comes from its horses. The ranch was founded by S.B. (Burk) Burnett, who, in 1868, bought 100 head of cattle bearing the 6666 brand. With title to the cattle, he also received ownership of the brand.

Burk married Ruth Loyd of Fort Worth, and the couple had three children. Only one, Tom, lived to become an adult. Tom worked for his father for a number of years, but in the early 1900s, he went out on his own and established the Triangle Ranches, one at Iowa Park, Texas, and the other at Paducah, just north of the Four Sixes Ranch at Guthrie. 

Tom and his wife, Olive, had one daughter, Anne Valiant Burnett, who, in later years became known throughout ranching circles in the Southwest as “Miss Anne.” When Burk died in 1922, he willed the bulk of his estate to his granddaughter, Miss Anne, in a trusteeship for her yet unborn child. When Tom died in 1938, he left his estate to his daughter, and Miss Anne then ran both the Four Sixes and the Triangle ranches. 

George Humphreys, who had gone to work for the Four Sixes in 1918, became foreman of the ranch in 1932, and immediately set about upgrading the remuda. Earlier, there had been as many as 700 broodmares on the ranch, and at one time the Four Sixes had sold 1,000 stock horses – mares, colts and stallions – to one buyer in Billings, Montana, but when George got through cleaning up the herd, there wasn’t much left.

He first bought 20 good broodmares and put on them a stud – Scooter by Midnight – that Tom Burnett had sent over from the Triangles. Scooter did a good job, but he wasn’t the horse that George liked to talk about. That honor belonged to a dun stud that George liked from the first time he saw him. 

Hollywood Gold was foaled in 1940 on the Triangle Ranch. He was by Gold Rush, a stud that Miss Anne had bought on a trip to California, and out of a mare called Triangle Lady 17. George Humphreys told Miss Anne that he wanted to bring him to the Sixes and raise some cow horses. Soon George was riding Hollywood Gold to work cattle on the Sixes, and when spring came around that next year, the dun stud was turned with a band of mares. Among those mares were some daughters of another stud that Tom Burnett had bought, one called Joe Hancock, which was the progenitor of the Hancock line of horses. Supposedly, Tom Burnett said that Joe Hancock was the finest horse he had ever seen, and he instructed his manager, Lige Reed, to breed him to the biggest, roughest mares they had on the ranch. He wanted horses with a lot of size, strength, bone and power.

In addition to what he did for the ranch’s horses, Joe Hancock sired such horses as Red Man, Little Joe The Wrangler, Joe Tom and Roan Hancock, and some of his other descendants became some of the greatest rope horses ever. Two sons of Roan Hancock, Peanuts and Popcorn, carried Everett Shaw and Shoat Webster to multiple world champion steer roping titles and were legendary in rodeo arenas throughout the Southwest.

But there’s still another horse that people mention when they talk about the foundation of the Four Sixes horses. Miss Anne bought Grey Badger II in 1949, and immediately put him on some daughters of Joe Hancock and Hollywood Gold. On the Sixes, he raised some good cow horses that the cowboys really enjoyed riding, and his descendants also produced some great horses, including Peppy San Badger, which, of course, ended up on King Ranch.

Miss Anne had only one child, a daughter who she also named Anne, and who today is married to John Marion. When Miss Anne died in 1980, her daughter, Anne Marion, inherited the Triangle ranches from her mother, and the Four Sixes from her great-grandfather, Burk Burnett, through the trusteeship he had set up before he died. 

Anne sold the Triangle ranches and concentrated all her efforts on the Four Sixes. Today, its horse program -- managed by the ranch’s resident veterinarian, Dr. Glenn Blodgett -- is one of the best in the country. The Sixes stands from 15-20 of the top racing, performance and ranch Quarter Horse stallions found anywhere in the world. This includes such horses as Rockin W, Sixes Pick, Bet Hesa Cat, Bamacat and WR This Cats Smart, but at one time it also included a couple of other horses with King Ranch ties.

Tenino Badger by Peppy San Badger was purchased from King Ranch while he was in cutting training with Buster Welch. Winning close to a hundred thousand dollars, Dr. Blodgett said that he was really an athletic horse, and that he sired the stamina and athleticism they needed on their ranch horses. The other horse was the legendary Dash For Cash, which was owned in a partnership between King Ranch and Phillips Ranch before he was syndicated. Dash For Cash spent his last years at the Four Sixes.

And now The Boon, Kineños Moon and Marsala Red will take their turns in the Sixes’ breeding barn.