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Buster Welch Selected For 2012 Golden Spur Award
Buster Welch Selected For 2012 Golden Spur Award

For additional information:
Marsha Pfluger, 806-742-0497 ext 229 or

Buster Welch, a well-known name in the cutting, ranching and horse breeding industries, will receive the 35th annual National Golden Spur Award on Sept. 7, 2012, in Lubbock. The award will be presented during a dinner program preceded by a reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. at the Overton Hotel & Convention Center, 2322 Mac Davis Lane.

The only national award of its kind, the Golden Spur recognizes outstanding contributions to the ranching and livestock industry. Besides bringing prestige to an individual, the award spotlights the humanistic and scientific contributions of the livestock and ranching industries to society.

The Golden Spur is a joint recognition by some of the industry’s leading organizations, among them the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, Ranching Heritage Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and Texas Farm Bureau.

Individual tickets to the award dinner are $75 each. Reserved tables seating six are $750 and tables for eight are $1,000. Reservation deadline is Sept. 4. Contact Vicki Quinn-Williams at 806-742-2498 or e-mail

While Buster is synonymous with world champion and futurity-winning cutting horses, his childhood dream was to be a cowboy.

After leaving home at 14, Buster began his first job at the Proctor Ranch in Midland, Texas, working for Foy and Leonard Proctor. It was there that Buster got his first lesson in riding cutting horses.

He has also worked at the Four Sixes, the Long X, Pitchfork and King ranches. At each one, he developed his skills as a horseman and educated himself about what it would take to live out his dream of someday owning his own ranch.

Buster spent many days in his youth breaking horses, running cattle and working as a ranch hand before he would have the chance to run a ranch of his own.

For roughly 20 years, Buster and his wife, Sheila, have lived near Rotan, Texas. In the early ’80s, they returned to West Texas after working with and living in Kingsville, Texas, at the King Ranch. Buster continued to train horses and to build a small empire of his own. The family holdings grew to include more than 60,000 acres of leased and owned land.

Several years ago, the Welches sold their 25,000-acre Double Mountain River Ranch and moved onto the adjacent 18,000-acre Criswell Ranch.

Cattle from Buster’s “B Lazy W” brand are in great demand by beef producers from across the United States. He has been marketing calves to Coleman Natural Meats for nearly two decades, a decision that coincided perfectly with the public demand for naturally grown foods.

Even after suffering a stroke in 1999, Buster still oversees the running of his ranch and remains a familiar figure at cutting events.

Buster has been involved in the cutting horse industry since its official beginning with the National Cutting Horse Association. He saw this new association as a great opportunity to combine his horsemanship talents with his ability to work cows, all while making an extra paycheck.

His first successful horse that he competed on was Chickasha Mike, one of the greatest cutting sires of all time. He purchased the horse from Homer Ingham for $125. Buster’s showing success is what established the Chickasha Mike line of American Quarter Horses, many of which went on to be cutting horse champions.

Other professionals in cutting soon began to notice Buster’s talent with cutting horses. Oilman Marion Flynt saw the young cowboy compete and sent his mare, Marion’s Girl by Silver Wimpy, for Buster to train. In 1954, Buster made Marion’s Girl a world champion and she, in turn, made him a well-known trainer.

Buster joined several other competitors to start the NCHA Futurity, a competition for 3-year-old horses that had never been shown. The first event was held in Sweetwater, Texas, in 1962. Buster showed his way to the top aboard Money Glo, earning $3,838.12 and the prestige of winning the first NCHA Futurity.

Having now won more NCHA Futurity Championships than anyone (1962, 1963, 1966, 1971, 1977), four NCHA World Championship titles (1954, 1956, 1974, 1976) and numerous other cutting horse victories, Buster is one of the most respected men in the sport of cutting, both in and out of the contest arena.

For example, Buster Ashland is just one of the school systems in America being faced with funding challenges as rural populations decline.

Even today Buster is an active showman. He won the 2011 NCHA futurity Champions Cup in Fort Worth, a battle of returning NCHA futurity winners, aboard Bet Hesa Cat, owned by Austin Shepard. He has continued to be involved in NCHA, serving on the organization’s Executive Committee, 1962-63, and as an NCHA director.

Buster also has worked to provide an education for future young ranchers. In 2010, he donated his time and expertise to help raise money for the Ashland, Kansas, Public School District. He recognized that the declining economy was causing people to move away from rural areas creating a drop in the number of students. Along with two other cutting professionals, Buster put on a clinic for 21 participants, which raised $13,000 to help fund the struggling Ashland Public school system.

For his work, Buster has received several honors from the ranching industry. He was inducted into both the NCHA Member and Rider Halls of Fame and was awarded the annual Charles Goodnight Award, which is given to those persons devoted to preserving the ranching way of life. He was also inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a recipient of AQHA’s 30-Year Breeder Award.

Golden Spur Award recipients are selected annually by a committee representing each of the sponsoring organizations. Those honored have included individuals from across the United States and represent virtually every aspect of the livestock and agribusiness industry.

Emily Arellano


National Ranching Heritage Center