NCHA Members Hall of Fame honoree Robert (Bobby) Brown, Sr., 85, passed away on January 31, 2017, in Collierville, Tenn. While Brown participated in many aspects of the Quarter Horse industry, he was perhaps best known for his 1974 NCHA World Finals Open win on Delta, the only Paint Horse to earn the title of NCHA World Champion mare, which she also did under Brown.
Brown began his career with horses in 1958 at the Adobe Ranch in Memphis, Tenn., where he trained and showed AQHA champions, including Poco Bay, by Poco Bueno. In 1962, he became part owner, as well as manager, of Twin Hill Ranch, which grew to include 6,000 acres and a 700-head commercial cattle breeding operation.
It was Christmas Four, 1965 NCHA Futurity reserve champion under the late Matlock Rose, who gave Brown his first notoriety as a trainer of young cutting horses. Brown had trained Christmas Four for Barney Liles of Memphis, Tenn., who sold her to Rose and his partner, George Tyler.
“Christmas Four didn’t have any popular cutting breeding in her,” Rose told me in 1996. “But she had a lot of ability and she was a pretty mare. She was fine-boned, with a little neck, and she was hard as nails. She’d get her head down so low with a cow that she’d bump the shank of her bit with her foot. She’d be a star today.”
Brown also trained Holly Bobby, a mare named after him and sold to Rose by Liles, prior to the 1970 NCHA Futurity. Holly Bobby and Rose tied for fourth place in the Futurity and went on to win the 1971 NCHA Derby.
“I used to go down to Matlock’s (Gainesville, Tex.) and stay a week before we went to the Futurity,” Brown told me in 1995. “About the only time we saw each other was at the (limited age) events. But we used to have some good times. He’s a hell of a fellow and he’s been a hell of a horse trainer all of his life. Everybody admires him and I probably admire him a lot better than a lot of folks.”
In 1977, Brown, riding Jigger Fulla Juice, a race-bred colt by Bar Deck, and Rose, riding Doc A’Lock, by Doc Bar, tied for fifth place in the NCHA Futurity.
In addition to training, showing, and ranch management, Brown was a mentor to many cutting horse competitors and served for decades as an NCHA director, as well as an NCHA judge. He was also an AQHA judge for 17 years and judged every major AQHA event in the U.S. and Canada.
“I had the opportunity to know Bobby Brown all of my life and I have seen his appreciation and love for horses and the cutting sport,” said Alisa McCleary, Michigan City, Miss. “He has been an inspiration to me and many others locally and nationwide.”
Brown is survived by his son, Bobby Brown, Jr., and daughter, Jackie Brown Clark, both of Abbeville, La., as well as daughter Staci Brown DeMilt and her family, Cumming, Ga. Services for will be held on Saturday, February 4, at Collierville Funeral Home, Collierville, Tenn.