Inspired Rider

WHEN A

Horse & Rider - - Contents - By Bob Welch

re­spected horse­man talks about his fa­vorite horses, it’s smart to perk up and lis­ten. I’ve had the honor of be­ing around some great horse­men and -women in my life­time, but the best I’ve ever known is my great un­cle Buster Welch. Buster, who turned 90 in May, holds mare Mar­i­ons Girl among his most mem­o­rable horses he ever rode— even some 60 years af­ter her death. In the spirit of Paul Har­vey, here’s the rest of the gritty mare’s story.

First, Wimpys Doonie

In 1942, Clarence Schar­bauer Sr., a prom­i­nent rancher from Mid­land, Texas, passed away. His son, Clarence Jr., and nephew Ger­ald Nobles Sr. were away at Texas A&M when it hap­pened. They moved back to Mid­land, and Clarence Jr. took over the reins of the ranch. He was the sole heir of the ex­ten­sive ranch­ing and bank­ing in­ter­ests, and his cousin and friend Nobles was at his side to of­fer sup­port as he learned the busi­ness. Seven years later, Clarence Jr. wanted to re­pay Nobles for all his help with the pick of his 1948 colt foal crop. Nobles fell in love with a lit­tle or­phaned filly by Sil­ver Wimpy, a son of the first AQHA-reg­is­tered sire, Wimpy from the King Ranch.

(A quick aside: Clarence Jr. went on to be­come a prom­i­nent horse breeder in the Quar­ter Horse and Thor­ough­bred worlds. In 1987, he had the Ken­tucky Derby win­ner, Alysheba.)

Nobles named the colt Wimpys Doonie, “Doonie” be­ing Clarence Jr.’s nick­name. He didn’t brand her, which mat­ters later in the story. Nobles brought her home and put her in a pen with an or­phaned calf.

“That filly and that calf be­came bud­dies, and they’d play chase all day with one an­other like a cou­ple of kids,” re­calls Ger­ald Nobles Jr. “My mother and dad were both horse­men. When they started work­ing with that filly, I think the filly prob­a­bly taught them more than they taught her. She be­came a nat­u­ral.”

Ger­ald Sr. and his wife, Joan, went on to win sev­eral cut­ting con­tests on Wimpys Doonie and even some AQHA hal­ter classes. Mean­while, an­other prom­i­nent Mid­land rancher named Mar­ion Flynt was div­ing into the cut­ting horse scene.

Flynt knew a good horse when he saw one and tried to buy Wimpys Doonie from Ger­ald Sr. and Joan. Know­ing how spe­cial she was, they re­buffed ev­ery of­fer. Then the drought of the 1950s hit West Texas.

“My par­ents were try­ing to save their reg­is­tered Here­ford cows,” Nobles Jr. says. “Mar­ion Flynt kept want­ing to buy the filly, so Mother and Dad fi­nally bucked in and sold her to buy a load of cake so they could sal­vage their reg­is­tered Here­fords.”

Be­cause she was never branded, AQHA rules al­lowed for a name change. Flynt, wisely, changed her name to Mar­i­ons Girl and found the

The Star, Mar­i­ons Girl

“Sure enough, Buster hopped on her and made her a whale of a cut­ting horse,” Nobles Jr. re­mem­bers.

Buster, also af­fected by the drought, was turn­ing his at­ten­tion more and more to­ward rid­ing cut­ting horses as a way to fi­nance his ranch­ing in­ter­ests.

“He [Ger­ald Sr.] brought [Mar­i­ons Girl] to me and wanted me to train her,” Buster re­mem­bers. “The first time I rode her, I could tell she was dif­fer­ent from any­thing I’d ever been on. She was so anx­ious to get on with work­ing cat­tle or do­ing any­thing you wanted to do. And she had such a hard stop. I mean, she sat down be­hind harder than any horse I’d been on at that time. She was so fluid, it was like mer­cury, and quick. She never did seem to be anx­ious or threat­en­ing; she was just study­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Ev­ery time I worked her, she seemed to im­prove. I al­ways cred­ited Joan for her be­ing so smooth and easy to school. Not that I ever schooled her; I think she schooled me.”

Buster won the Na­tional Cut­ting Horse As­so­ci­a­tion World Cham­pi­onship on Mar­ion’s Girl in 1952, then 6 years old, and again in 1954. Af­ter that, she was bred to King, but she and the colt died due to de­liv­ery com­pli­ca­tions.

Both Nobles Jr. and Buster noted that the mare taught more than she was taught. I think that’s a way you can tell a true horse­man. It’s not the per­son who says, “Let me show you what I can make my horse do,” but rather, it’s the per­son who says, “Let me show what this horse wants to do.” Mar­i­ons Girl—or Wimpys Doonie—wanted to cut cat­tle.  best young rider he knew to show her—Buster Welch.

Bob Welch has spent his ca­reer writ­ing and think­ing about horses, rid­ers, and the West. When not sit­ting at his com­puter work­ing through writer’s block, he and his fam­ily en­joy be­ing horse­back, work­ing cat­tle, and com­pet­ing in ranch horse shows and...

Mar­i­ons Girl, first known as Wimpys Doonie, lived to cut cat­tle.

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