An equine legacy above all others.
Captain Burnett had loved paint horses, and in the early years of the Four Sixes, he kept many of the paints on the ranch. He often said every spot on a paint horse was worth a dollar. The Indians he often visited and traded with agreed. However, in 1923, following Burnett’s death, all the stock horses were sold.
By the time George Humphreys took over as ranch manager in 1932, only a few horses remained on the ranch, and he assessed them as mostly old or worn out. Humphreys had a desire to someday have the best horses in the country on the ranch, and therefore, he started building a herd by purchasing 20 good broodmares. The first stud horse was a grey named Scooter, a gift from Tom Burnett, Captain Burnett’s only surviving son. The horse was out of a small Oklahoma sorrel racing mare. Tom had seen the horse win a race and thought Humphreys could use him.
Humphreys’s favorite stud, however, was Hollywood Gold; a yearling foaled on the Burnett Ranch in Iowa Park, Texas, in 1940. He talked Miss Anne, granddaughter of Captain Burnett, into letting him have the horse “to raise some cow ponies,” Humphreys said. Hollywood Gold was used as a stud horse for many years. His offspring won cutting contests across the United States and brought top prices for breeding purposes. Hollywood Gold is valued, even today, in pedigrees of modern-day ranch and competitive cutting horses. He is pictured here with ranch manager George Humphreys aboard.
In the 38 years Humphreys managed the Four Sixes, he bought only one stud horse, Cee Bars, a race stud, for $6,500. The first three years, Humphreys used only Four Sixes mares with Cee Bars. The stud’s offspring set many records for both racing and cattle work; Humphreys kept Cee Bars for seven years then sold the horse for $15,000.
Other than the discovery of oil on the Four Sixes Ranch, the most important change was the formal addition of an equine breeding program in the 1960s, still under Humphreys’s management. Since then the ranch has become known for its world-class American Quarter Horses used for ranch work, arena competition and on the racetrack. Of the early stallions, probably Joe Hancock, Hollywood Gold and Grey Badger II had the most influence.
Later, the Four Sixes’ horse operation included the famous racing stallion Dash For Cash, one of the greatest sires in the history of racing Quarter Horses. His offspring have earned more than $40 million. Today, the Sixes stands from 15 to 20 of the top racing, performance and ranch Quarter Horse stallions found anywhere in the world.
Four Sixes Quarter Horses are carefully bred to have cow sense, speed, gentleness and good looks. Some are kept for use on the ranch, others are trained for racing or performance competition, and some of the best are regularly consigned to several of the most prestigious auction sales in the United States, including an annual sale put on by the Four Sixes along with other noteworthy ranches.
The ranch’s resident veterinarian and Horse Division Manager, Dr. Glenn Blodgett, now directs the breeding program. Several stallions are owned by other people, but managed by the Sixes, and many outside mares come and go. Modern technology allows for semen to be shipped cooled or frozen almost anywhere in the country, or even the world. A full line-up of veterinary services also is available to the general horse-owning public.
Four Sixes horses wear the L brand in honor of Burk Burnett’s father-in-law, Captain M.B. Loyd. In 1994, the Four Sixes outfit of the Burnett Ranches was honored with the American Quarter Horse Association’s Best Remuda Award in recognition of its outstanding band of working cow horses that tend thousands of the ranch’s cattle.