Joe Kirk Fulton, a leading breeder of Quarter race horses for more than 50 years and the breeder of legendary cutting performer and leading sire Peppy San Badger, passed away on Thursday, August 1, 2013.
Fulton was raised near Lubbock, Tex., where his father, Royce, worked as a cost accountant for a pipeline company, before he started his own business with $300 in capital, in 1940. By 1955 his company was one of the top ten pipeliners in North America, grossing $15 million annually.
In 1956, Royce and Joe Kirk, his only child, purchased 126,000 acres of what had been the vast Matador Land & Cattle Company, near Channing, Tex.,and established the Quien Sabe Ranch, which also became headquarters for Joe Kirk Fulton’s Quarter Horse breeding operation.
“I like my cowboys at the ranch to be mounted on good horses,” said Joe Kirk, who kept his cowboys supplied with descendents of both Sugar Badger, the dam of Peppy San Badger, and Dash For Cash, the sire of many of his champion race horses. “They appreciate that and it makes it a lot easier to keep good cowboys.”
Fulton ventured into the Quarter Horse arena with halter and cutting horses, but by the 1970s, he had switched to race horses. He would breed race earners of over $16 million, including 72 stakes winners and world champions Dashs Dream and Special Leader. He also bred and/or owned stallions that sired earners of more than $80 million, including Peppy San Badger with over $21 million in offspring earnings.
In 2011, Fulton was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.
“I look for breeding and conformation with my horses because I don’t think either of them is worth a damn without the other,” he said.”
In 1952, while a student at Texas Tech University, Joe Kirk Fulton became the school’s first mounted mascot, a cherished tradition to this day.