The Bold and Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse
The Bold and the Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse” was a previous exhibit that featured twelve women who made a tremendous impact on the American Quarter Horse – as an association and a breed. Some were breeders, some were owners and competitors, and others were chroniclers and artists who recorded not only history but life at the time. All were leaders and visionaries, and each left their mark on the American Quarter Horse. Their efforts opened the doors to others and made it possible for the lifestyle to exist in the industry.
The women included in the exhibit were by no means the only trailblazers. There are many unsung heroes whose dreams and sacrifices created the American Quarter Horse of today. Sharon Ralls Lemon, an American author, said:
“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.”
Her quote defines the focus of “The Bold and the Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse” exhibit. These visionary women embody the elements of grace, beauty, spirit and fire.
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Carol Harris was born in New Jersey in 1923, and by 1930, all of her childhood interests were focused on horses, dog, cats and other animals she chose to make her friends. Of course, horses and dogs were her favorites, and she dedicated her life to breeding, training, showing and loving them.
When she graduated from Westover in 1941, Carol’s father rewarded her with a trip “out West” to California and Arizona. At a rodeo in Phoenix, she saw an American Quarter Horse for the first time. “I immediately recognized the Quarter Horse as being really exceptional – elegant, yet powerful.”
In 1945, Carol married and eventually had three children. Even though the majority of her friends continued with hunters and jumpers, she gradually started buying a few Quarter Horses. Soon, she was traveling to Fort Worth and other shows, where she loved the western traditions and discovered her love for the sport of cutting. She met many successful Quarter Horse owners and breeders who helped get her off to a good start.
Carol’s operation soon grew to around 30 horses. Cutting continued to be very important to her, and she became president of the East Coast Cutting Horse Association. Eventually, she moved her horse operation to Bo-Bett Farm in Florida, turning the 400-acre training and breeding facility into what some have called a “Quarter Horse Camelot.”
After the move, Bo-Bett Farm became known for both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. In 1968, Carol’s homebred, Francies Hat, ran in the Kentucky Derby. Carol recalls, “I went to Churchill Downs to watch Francie race and had the thrill of my lifetime when he finished second to Forward Pass, beaten only by a head.”
Carol also mixed Thoroughbred bloodlines into some of the Quarter Horses. Really Rugged (TB) by Rough’n Tumble out of Ruddy Belle by Errard was used to complement one of Carol’s best mares, Eternal Dell, at stud. Really Rugged was also the sire of the legendary Rugged Lark.
Rugged Lark won the Superhorse award at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in 1985 and 1987. He became the only Superhorse to sire two Superhorses, The Lark Ascending and Look Whos Larkin.
Her strong convictions, sense of fairness and her dynamic personality are what have earned Carol the respect of the industry as a whole and made her one of the first women to be named an AQHA judge. She judged for 25 years; in 1981, she was the first woman to judge at the AQHA World Show.
Carol considers her lasting success in the horse industry to be a result of hard work and an enduring tendency to capitalize on the positive. When asked what her involvement with American Quarter Horses added to her life, Carol answered, “Every day it has given me opportunities to make friends, to share fun and laughter, and to never forget the difference between right and wrong.”
Want to learn more about Carol Harris? Purchase a "The Bold & Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse" companion book from the museum to learn more about the stories and history of the 12 women in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.