We remember the legacy of beloved horse trainer Buster Welch by revisiting an exchange between Welch and Red Steagall from the October 2021 issue.
The West lost one of its modern-day heroes earlier this weekend when legendary cutting horse trainer and multiple hall-of-famer Buster Welch passed away at age 94.
Welch enjoyed a long and impressive career in cutting horses that won him world championships and distinguished honors from the NCHA hall of fame and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. He received a high-profile tribute of sorts last year when he appeared as himself on an episode of Yellowstone. Another character summed his outsized influence up nicely: "There's three gods in Texas: the Almighty himself, Buster Welch, and George Strait."
We were lucky enough to share some of Buster's 2021 conversation with Red Steagall in the October issue. Read on for words from a down-to-earth legend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Welch's loved ones.
From Cowboy Corner:
The October 2021 issue of Cowboys & Indians:
Red Steagall: Buster, how’d you grow up?
Buster Welch: Well, my mother died when I was two weeks old and my grandparents took me and raised me on the divide [of the Colorado and Concho rivers]. And an uncle bought an old cutting horse that my dad had broke, and his cousin trained him and traded him. ... When he got about 15 years old, my uncle bought and gave him to me. And everywhere I went, the cowboys gathered around, and they would talk about what they’d seen him do. ... I think that started me to ride cutting horses. ... I broke a lot of horses. Nobody was breaking horses during the war, and I broke 107 horses for the Long X out in the Davis Mountains, and every group I’d break, I’d have a cutting horse. And I’d watch for a horse that’d watch a cow a little, and I’d pull him around a little on cattle.
Red: You told me one time you left home pretty early.
Buster: Yes. I was 13. I worked, luckily, for Foy and Leonard Proctor. They were two outstanding cow men and had two years of college, which was unusual then. ... I was mighty lucky to go there. ... I was probably nearly as big then as I am now. They thought I was going to be big. I had one brother, Colonel, that was 6-1 and the other one was 6-2, and they thought I’d be bigger than them. But I think it might have been that chuckwagon cooking that stunted my growth a little.
Red: So, when you started looking for cutting horses, was there a particular group of horses that exhibited the propensity for being a cutting horse?
Buster: No, not that I knew about. Later on, I became more schooled in good horses, the King Ranch horses. ... They had huge herds of cattle to work. And I made a point of going to work for them, and to get in where the good cow horses were and let my son, Ken, run our operation. And I went down to King Ranch and had 15 years of fun.
Red: When the National Cutting Horse Association first was founded, at that time, did you look for a particular breeding in a horse, or did you go out to the big ranches and look at all of the horses and pick out the ones that you thought would have the ability to be a good cutting horse?
Buster: No, I kept maintaining that it wasn’t nothin’ in the breeding, and I would look for one that would watch a cow and add enough action that it would move itself.
Watch the full interview on Red Steagall Is Somewhere West of Wall Street via RFD-TV's streaming platform.