Stanley Johnston

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2015

Stanley Johnston did business with a handshake and an American Quarter Horse.

Stanley started breeding horses in South Dakota with some Bivens horses, eventually ending up with a stallion named Poco Speedy and a mare band made up of daughters of Yellow Wasp. But when Stanley went to Arizona during the winter of 1963 and bought a gelding named Gray Chip, he changed breeding directions.

Gray Chip was a roping horse by Driftwood and Stanley intended to bulldog on him. However, after Stanley’s son Randy started roping and doing well, Stanley noticed that he liked quite a few things about the horse himself.

Stanley liked that enough that he bought a band of Driftwood mares and crossed them with Poco Speedy, the horse who was probably his favorite. The resulting foals were exactly what Stanley was looking for: They had some speed and great minds.

And buyers did anything they wanted on those foals: Many found their way to the rodeo arena for speed events from roping to steer wrestling to barrel racing.

As a member of the Doc’s Jack Frost Syndicate, Stanley also owned Doc’s Jack Frost. Stanley bred 464 foals in his own name, including Sun Frost and Skid Frost by Doc’s Jack Frost. Sun Frost is one of the leading sires of barrel racing horses in the United States, including French Flash Hawk, aka “Bozo,” and PC Frenchmans Hayday. Skid Frost produced Precious Speck, a four-time AQHA-PRCA heading horse of the year bred by Walt and Pat Vermedahl of Cave Creek, Arizona, who also owned Skid Frost.

Stanley showed Poco Speedy and Doc’s Jack Frost to AQHA Champion titles. Several Johnston-bred horses have been national rodeo stars, including Super San Wood, the 1996 AQHA-PRCA steer wrestling horse of the year.

And while those horses were working under the bright lights of rodeo arenas, many more found their way to ranches, where they became sturdy partners in the cattle work of the Dakotas.

Stanley died in 1982, but even today, many breeders in the Dakotas still advertise that their programs include Johnston-bred horses.

Stanley Johnston was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2015.