THE WALT LAMAR STORY
One of ASCA’s Heaviest Heavyweights
by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor and Ernie Hartnagle
If you mention Walt Lamar’s name to a team roper or a steer wrestler, more than likely you ‘ll get a nod of recognition, because Walter is known for his rugged, athletic, foundation bred Quarter Horses. Lamar is also the historian for the Hancock Breeders Association.
I had always had a horse or two or three, but wasn’t serious about raising them until September 1971, when I bought Lowry Boy 36. He was the last stallion sired by Roan Hancock and was 18 years old when I got him. In the spring of 1972 I bought three Hancock bred mares and started a breeding program that continues today.”
Walt maintained his Hancock bloodlines, and then in 1979 he added some Driftwood breeding that created the type of horses he has become so well known for. One of my present stallions is a grandson of Lowry Boy 36 and another is a great great grandson.
To many, Walt Lamar is a legend. He is one of the reasons ASCA is what it is today, and an integral part of the club’s foundation. Lamar served on the ASCA Board from 1969 until 1979, was a member of the original Stock Dog Committee, chairman of the original Breed Standard Committee, one of ASCA’s elite dual judges (conformation and stock dog), among other responsibilities. Walt was part of the group of old-timers who devoted time and money to help the young club and its affiliates get established.
After graduating from high school in 1958 and until May 1960, Walter Lamar attended Cameron College, a two year junior college at the time, that had its humble beginnings as a state agriculture school, in Lawton, Oklahoma, only 20 miles from his home in southwest Oklahoma. It’s now known as Cameron University. He studied animal husbandry, genetics, breeding and livestock judging.
When it came to genetics, Walt Lamar was a pioneer in the Australian Shepherd breed. I tried to do some research on color and natural bob tail genetics way back in the 60’s and early 70’s. I learned a lot about color, but not much about tails. I found out that colleges can do far better research than I could. There is information available on color that is easy to understand, but almost nothing available on natural bob tails .
Walt started a registered Angus herd, but there wasn’t enough pasture at his father’s ranch for his own cows, his father’s, and his brother’s, so he sold out. His brother eventually took over the family operation and continues to raises Angus cattle.
In September 1960, Walt started at Oklahoma State University and graduated in May of 1962. He graduated from OSU with a degree in Agronomy (soils). He went to work immediately with the Texas Extension Service at Greenville, Texas , but only stayed three months before transferring to the Bureau of Reclamation at Grand Junction Colorado. During the short time he was in Greenville, he met Tom Stodghill, founder of the Animal Research Foundation (ARF) in Quinlan. I met Tom back in 1962; Quinlan was only 18 miles away from Greenville.
In July 1963 Walt met Steve Mansker at a rodeo in Meeker, Colorado. Steve had some puppies with him. Walter had entered a mare in one of the races at the rodeo, but she got hurt so he had to scratch her from the race. He took the $15 refund from the race and bought a black pup from Steve and named him Scratch.’ Scratch was by Mansker (Lamar’s) Duke and out of Mansker’s Freckles, who was by Sisler’s Shorty.
Originally, he bought Scratch for his father since he didn’t have a dog at the time. I kept him for a while before shipping him to Oklahoma . To say the least, I became attached to him, smiled Walt. My parents and I liked Scratch so much that we decided we needed a female, so I drove to Montrose and bought Duchess from Steve. She was a red merle by Bud and out of Analee. Since Scratch was by Duke (a full brother to Bud) and out of Freckles (the dam of Analee) she and Scratch were pretty closely related, Walt continued, As it turned out, that didn’t matter because Duchess was killed by a car before she was able to be bred.
Walt started team roping in 1963, which he enjoyed for over 20 years, until tendonitis in both elbows, probably caused by the horseshoeing which he did for roughly 20 years also, stopped any serious roping.
Walt left Colorado in May 1964 and moved to Kingsville, Texas where he worked for the next two years, still with the Bureau of Reclamation. During that time he saw information on the Australian Shepherd Club and started writing letters to any dog people he could find addresses for. I corresponded with lots of people. Elsie Cotton and Harold May were just a couple of the people he exchanged letters with . Another of them happened to be your uncle who led me to Ernie and Elaine and you kids, he said. Due to my interest in the dogs and the club I was asked to run for the board of directors and ended up spending several years on it. It wasn’t until years later that Walt would meet any of these people in person. The funny thing is that I had never met any of these people face to face until years later in 1973 and we had a board meeting out west somewhere.
In June 1966, I moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma and went to work for the Soil Conservation Service. I was promoted to District Conservationist at Okeene in July 1969. While I was at Guthrie I decided to buy another female, so I wrote to Jay Sisler. He wrote to me that he was going to be at the rodeo in Oklahoma City . Lamar went down to see him and his dogs. He ended up buying a blue merle female, which he named Ida. He later traded Ida to Bill Powers for an over and under shotgun which he still has. Bill and Walt had corresponded and met at Tom Stodghill’s place during one of the ARF sheep trials.
Around 1964 or 1965, Walt also met Dale Martin who was working for the Western Livestock Journal and living in Amarillo. Martin traveled to Walt’s father’s place to see Scratch and eventually bred his blue merle female, Martin’s Adobe Susie, who was out of Martin’s Adobe Gypsy (out of two of Hank Weisecamp’s dogs) to him. Today, Adobe Gypsy figures significantly in the pedigrees of hundreds of Aussies in the Pacific Northwest through Richard’s Red Buck, who was by Harold May’s Champion May’s Adobe Rebel and Champion May’s Adobe Elca.
Scratch was killed by a car sometime around 1965. This was just about the time Dale’s pups were ready to wean, so Walt drove to Amarillo and got four of them: Queen, Baby, Bo and Tiny. Walt got Queen and Baby, his dad got Bo and his brother got Tiny.
When Queen and Baby were old enough to breed, Walt said, I started looking for a male to use. I bred them to Boatright’s Rowdy the first time. He belonged to Dean Boatright of Conway Springs, Kansas . Dean’s son, Brent later went on to the National Finals Rodeo in Team Roping.
He still wanted a male of his own, so he called Steve Mansker. After more than two years of negotiations, Walt purchased Turk, the now legendary, deep steel blue male who became known as Lamar’s (Mansker’s) Turk who stood 20 inches tall and weighed 50 pounds. When I was hunting for a male before I got Turk, I wrote to and talked to Joe Taylor, but I’m not sure I actually ever met him though.
Walter got really involved in the stockdog program in 1973. Bob, Ernie, Steve and I got together at Steve’s place in Simi Valley during a dog show out there. We tried the rules out at Salisbury ‘s arena in Longmont, Colorado with Bob [Carrillo], your dad [Ernie Hartnagle], Carol [Schmutz] and I judging. Bob and Ernie were on one side of the arena, Carol and I were on the other side. All four of us scored each dog. When the scores were tallied, all four of us placed the dogs almost the same. As a result of that trial, the four of us were approved as the first four stockdog judges. Over the years, I judged trials in twenty different states.
The late William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, bought a pup from Lamar that was by Lamar’s Bo and out of Lamar’s Adobe Bob Candy . I don’t know how they found me. I just got a letter one day from the wife of the Supreme Court Judge, asking if I had any pups for sale. They had lived in Arizona and knew about Aussies. I sent them a blue merle male pup and later they sent back a picture of the dog when he was mature.
The funny part of this story happened years later, Walt grinned. Admiral William Crowe’s wife, Shirley was raised in Okeene. Her father was Blake Grennel, the Post Master. When Admiral Crowe, also a native of Oklahoma was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they lived in the Washington D.C. area and knew the Rehnquists.
Mrs. Crowe’s mother, Mrs. Grennel was in the nursing home where Walt’s wife, Joy worked. Joy had met the Admiral and his wife, Shirley when they visited her mother . One day Mrs. Rehnquist and Mrs. Crowe were talking. Natalie asked Shirley where she was from. When Mrs. Crowe said, Okeene , Oklahoma , a surprised Mrs. Rehnquist asked if she knew Walter Lamar. Shirley replied she hadn’t met him, but she knew his wife.
Walt retired from the Soil Conservation Service in 1996, which has allowed him to develop a fledging hobby into a small business. I have always worked with leather in a small way, mostly saddle repair and working my own headstalls and reins. Two or three yeas before retirement, Walt built his first saddle and has now made 10 different saddles over the last dozen years. Now he makes mostly breast collars, back cinches, reins and headstalls along with cleaning, oiling and repairing older tack.
Twelve years and three operations after first being diagnosed with larynx cancer, Walt Lamar is doing great. He does almost anything he wants to do, including talking, which he does with the assistance of a battery-operated device. However, cancer stopped his stock dog judging activities. When you can’t yell at exhibitors it takes all the fun out of judging, Walt laughed.
© Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor and Ernest Hartnagle