Popular horseman Pat Earnheart of Hernando, Mississippi, passed away May 28 following a long illness. Earnheart, who was inducted into the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Members Hall of Fame in 2009, was associated with great horses like Dual Pep, Cals San Badger and Colonel Leo Bar.
Earnheart started cutting on the ranch and in his local association at age 10. When he was 14, he met trainer Jimmy Orrell and “got serious” about the sport.
“I set to do some serious learning, and as soon as I got my driver’s license at age 15, I spent as much time as I could at the ranch with Jimmy and the horses,” he once recalled.
His first major success came in 1971 when he rode Royal Hank to third place in the NCHA Open World Standings. He first qualified for the NCHA Futurity finals in 1972, and he was reserve champion with Cals San Badger in 1986.
Earnheart said Dual Pep was the smartest horse he ever rode, and together they won the NCHA Classic, the Augusta Classic, the Pacific Coast Classic Challenge and the Bonanza Cutting.
At one point, Earnheart counted 60 horses in his barn. “I didn’t realize I had them,” he said. “I went down to around 35.
“I was pretty busy over the years, and I always had a good hand breaking horses. Most of those boys became good horse trainers.”
Earnheart’s work ethic and hands-on experience were valuable assets when he turned to show production. He produced major events in Louisiana and Mississippi that were fixtures on the limited age calendar for years.
Visitation for Pat Earnheart will be Sunday, June 2 from 5-8 p.m. at the Hernando Funeral Home. Services will be Monday, June 3 at 11 a.m. at Eudora Baptist Church in Hernando, 9670 Highway 304, Hernando, MS 38632. (662) 429-6129