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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A woman with an eye for horses, Harriett Carlton Peckham devoted her life to improving the American Quarter Horse. She built Buena Suerte Ranch, a 350-acre facility at Roswell, New Mexico, that in the 1970s and early 80s was considered one of the finest operations in the Quarter Horse industry. The facility was renowned for its lavish party preceding each running of the All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs.
Remembered as the First Lady of Quarter Horse racing, Harriett was associated with some of the sport’s greatest – and fastest – runners, including multiple world champion Go Man Go, famed broodmare sire and champion Easy Jetand champion Rocket Wrangler, sire of Dash For Cash.
Born May 9, 1930, Harriett was a member of a prominent Houston family. Harriett and her brother, Snider, boarded riding horses near the old Arrowhead Park in Houston, where they became interested in racing American Quarter Horses. Some of her most prominent memories were of fox hunting in east Texas.
In 1950, Harriett married William Peckham, a Houston businessman also interested in horses, and with Snider, the couple began acquiring blue-blooded racehorses. From Frank Vessels Sr., founder of the Los Alamitos Race Course, the Peckhams purchased three-time world champion Go Man Go, the first of three Hall of Fame horses she owned who would precede her own induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
At one time or another, she also owned such marquee racing Quarter Horses as Miss Jelly Roll, the dam of champion and All American winner Pie In The Sky; Miss Assured, the stakes-winning dam of Hall of Fame horse Streakin Six; Miss Olene, the Hall of Fame stakes-winning dam of four stakes winners, including champion Little Blue Sheep; stakes winner and successful sire Real Easy Jet and the stakes-winning AQHA Champion St Bar. In her own name, Harriett bred 51 race winners from 71 starters, including two stakes winners and the earners of $630,079.
Meticulous stud care was industry protocol, and Harriett handled some of the greatest running sires of the era at 350 Acre Buena Suerte Ranch in Roswell, New Mexico. At the Peckham Farm in El Paso, she revolutionized the industry’s emphasis placed on broodmare care. Every mare under Harriett’s care was handled at least twice daily, individually haltered and led up to the barn from the pasture, making the facilities, in one writer’s words, “a Four-Star Hotel for Horses.”
“If nothing else,” Harriett once said, “the Buena Suerte Ranch made everyone get on the stick and start taking care of the mares.”
A lifetime member of AQHA, Harriett was a member of the AQHA Racing Committee and a Gold Patron of the American Quarter Horse Foundation. She also was a member of the Ruidoso Downs Jockey Club, and each summer she hired high school students to work on her farms and ranches. However, honors and money were never Harriett’s motivations.
Harriett always said, “The studs are my business; the mares are my heart.”
Want to learn more about Harriet Peckham? 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.