Not many horses can be said to have changed the course of an entire industry, but Mr San Peppy did just that for two segments – ranching and cutting.
In the 1960s, Gordon B. Howell was an American Quarter Horse breeder with equal interests in cutting and in racing. He bred his stallion, Leo San, with the mare, Peppy Belle by Pep Up by Macanudo, seven times. Their first foal, Peppy San, was foaled in 1959 and inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1999. Leo San and Peppy Belle’s last mating produced Mr San Peppy in 1968.
Gordon asked Bubba Cascio to start Mr San Peppy, but Bubba didn’t have time and recommended cowboy Buster Welch.
While Mr San Peppy was getting started in cutting, the historic King Ranch in Texas was looking for a top sire.
AQHA Past President Stephen “Tio” Kleberg went to a few cutting events and eventually saw Mr San Peppy. By that time, Buster had purchased the stallion and was hauling for the NCHA world title, which they won in 1974.
The King Ranch bought him in 1976, and Buster went along to keep the horse in shape. Between visits to the breeding shed, Mr San Peppy won the NCHA World Championship and claimed the AQHA Senior Cutting World Championship.
The stallion’s foal crops, meanwhile, were proving themselves. Mr San Peppy earned more than $107,850 in NCHA competition. His foals won more than $2.63 million in NCHA competition, not to mention earning more than 3,200 points in AQHA competition.
Less measurable but no less important is the stallion’s effect on the King Ranch remuda and on the other ranches where no performance records are kept except in cowboys’ memories.
When the stallion died in 1998, he was buried on the ranch where he was ridden every day and where his offspring are still making good cowboy memories.
Mr San Peppy was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2011.
Photo: Mr San Peppy & Buster Welch 1976