Story of Blue Valentine By Chip Merrit about Blue Valentine
It all began in 1880 when my great-grandfather, Vince Hayes, trailed a herd of good mares from Ft. Riley, Nevada to Thermopolis, Wyoming. His two sons, Buster and Laurie, continued the tradition of raising and riding top horses and sought ways to improve them. Around 1951, they purchased Texas Blue Bonnet, a son of Joe Hancock. They started crossing him on their own mares and in 1955 a Patron mare bred to him produced a foal named Plenty Coup, who went on to also produce many top colts. At about the same time my grandfather, King Merritt, brought one of the first Quarter Horse stallions, "Old Red Buck P-9" to Wyoming. As a respected horseman, King had judged the first Quarter Horse show in California. He and all his children were well known for their horsemanship skills. King and his son Hyde brought additional stallions to Wyoming, including Ambrose and Patron. Hyde inherited from his father the satisfaction of riding a good horse he knew he had raised. In the fall of 1956, Ken Gunter gave Del Haverty the pick of the Red Man colts. Del picked a blue roan stallion named Blue Valentine. Del trained Blue to rope calves, tie-down team rope, and haze dogging steers. Blue later was most famous as a steer roping horse but Del always felt he was a better calf horse than anything. Del sold half interest in Blue Valentine to Buster and Laurie Hayes Buster and Laurie stood Texas Blue Bonnet, Plenty Coup, and Blue Valentine. It was quite an experience to see these studs out with the excellent set of mares Buster and Laurie had accumulated The tradition continued when my mother, Dede (Buster's daughter), married my father, Hyde. Hyde started breeding his Ambrose mares to Hayes' Plenty Coup, then took that cross and bred to Blue Valentine. This program produced the stallion Gooseberry, Crow Creek (Lory's top calf horse), and many good mares. Hyde and Dede then bought the other half interest in Blue Valentine from Del. Hyde felt like it was a great privilege to rope steers on Blue. In 1970 Hyde roped at his last Cheyenne Frontier Days on Blue. Everet Shaw, who rode his share of great steer roping horses, told Hyde that Blue was the best horse at Cheyenne that year. Hyde and Del both felt that Blue started out of the box quicker and could catch cattle easier than any horse they had ridden. The combination of Blue's athletic ability and Del's training made him hard to beat. Kathy and I continue this tradition by raising horses with as much Texas Blue Bonnet, Plenty Coup, Ambrose and Blue Valentine blood as possible, hoping to preserve the heritage of these great horses. By Chip Merrit
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