The Loss of a Legend: John Hoyt

Known by many as the John Wayne of horse training, John Hoyt died December 20 surrounded by family and friends.

From the American Quarter Horse Association

(Credit: AQHA file photo)

Legendary horseman John Hoyt died on the morning of December 20, 2016. He was surrounded by family and friends in his house in Texas. Hoyt was loved and admired by many in the American Quarter Horse and reining communities, and his presence truly will be missed.

Hoyt influenced many of today’s top riders and was often called the John Wayne of horse training. He was well-known for his ability to mentor others with blunt honesty and to get extraordinary performances out of ordinary horses.

Hoyt was born in Arcadia, California, which today is the northern edge of Los Angeles. Although he grew up in a mostly urban setting, he did nothing but dream of becoming a cowboy.

“When I was a little kid, I used to run away from home to go to the horses,” he told The American Quarter Horse Journal in a 2007 interview. “Then it was all stables, and I would lead them to water so I could ride them back bareback."

Hoyt's show-pen accomplishments include multiple AQHA world championships and more than $49,300 in National Reining Horse Association earnings. Hoyt competed at the first AQHA World Championship Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1974, winning the western riding aboard San Benito Bob. He qualified for 21 AQHA World Shows in a row and showed in every World Show until the late '90s. He was the 1986 NRHA Futurity limited open reserve champion on Okies Sure Bet. In 1988, he rode Lady Kiper to win the intermediate and limited open ancillary classes at the NRHA Derby. 

At the 2013 AQHA Convention, Hoyt was honored with the AQHA Lifetime Achievement Award. And in 2010, he was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame.

More information regarding John Hoyt’s celebration of life will be posted here when it becomes available.

John Hoyt shared his remarkable life's tale with the Journal in 2007; read "True Grit," the story of a man with a heart of gold.