Local woman honored for contributions to quarter horse breed
PABLO — At the age of 84, Fay Haynes can’t imagine a day when she can no longer ride. Horses have been her life since age 5, when her dad first led her around on an old gray mare named Dolly while he mended fences.
“I felt pretty big,” Haynes said. “I rode from then on.”
She rode, and her rides took her to the winner’s circle in countless barrel racing and pole bending contests. The walls in her farmhouse are covered with pictures of the horses she raised, trained and showed. And while her trophy case is gradually being depleted as she gives away the awards, she’s still gaining accolades for her contributions to the equestrian world. Most recently, the American Quarter Horse Association honored Haynes as one of seven 50-year breeders in the country, meaning she registered at least one AQHA foal for 50 cumulative years from 1957-2008.
“I didn’t think about it. You just raise horses year to year, and it’s your job … but when there’s only seven of us, I guess it’s something,” she said.
Haynes was featured in the November 2009 issue of the American Quarter Horse Journal, and the Association sent a pewter trophy and a letter inviting Haynes to attend an awards banquet in Amarillo, Texas. She didn’t go, because she felt the long trip would be too strenuous, and “besides, I don’t know what I’d do with all those multi-millionaires,” she said.
Haynes describes her roots as “rustic,” coming from a ranch in Niarada where she and her siblings taught themselves to ride on their parents’ horses.
“We didn’t have clinics or anything like that to teach us how to ride … so we just got on and rode,” she said.
When Haynes was 9, her father gave her one of Dolly’s colts, El Rey, to raise for her own. She taught him to rear up and then traded the colt to her mother for a little gray mare called Silver Belle, who learned some tricks, too. When Silver Belle threw her first foal, Haynes was hooked. From then on, she was officially a horse breeder.
“So it’s been a long ride,” she said.
Haynes and her husband Bill raised and sold quarter horses by the dozens at their Big Bend ranch before moving to Haynes’ current home west of Pablo in 1972. Bill passed away just two years later, and Haynes carried on alone, breeding a long line of champions out of the couple’s stud, Jule Bar.
“So I’ve been butchering the business ever since by myself,” she said, chuckling. “Time sure goes fast … It just doesn’t seem possible. I used to think 84 was awful old.”
Even at her age, Haynes’ memory is razor-sharp, and she can name every horse, and his accomplishments, in every worn photograph in her collection. Reminiscing about a photograph of her on Jule Bar’s son, Jumpy Jule, who carried Haynes to many a rodeo title, she gets a wistful look in her eye and smiles, saying softly, “That one was of my favorites.”
In recent years, Haynes’ health has forced her to slow down, but she’s far from stopping. In 2008, she suffered a brain aneurysm that kept her in the hospital for a couple of weeks, but says she feels “just fine” now.
“That really put me down for a while,” she said. “I can still ride, but not like I used to.”
She still cares for the two mares in her pasture on her own — “That’s not any big job,” she says. “I’ve got to do something to stay busy.”
Bill and Fay never had any children, but her horses have kept her company through the years. Although it’s been a while, Haynes still occasionally teaches riding lessons and coaches barrel racers that come to practice in her indoor arena. And she’ll keep riding as long as she can stay in the saddle.
“I don’t even have a saddle horse,” she said. “But when spring comes, I’m going to get a nice, gentle horse, because it’s awful to be on foot.”