Terry Riddle, 74, Foster, Okla., passed away on Saturday, January 9, 2021. For over four decades, Riddle was a pillar in the cutting horse world as a Hall of Fame trainer and breeder and as an NCHA Members Hall of Fame inductee. A longtime NCHA director, Riddle served as an NCHA executive committee member, as well as a member of many association committees, including the cattle, the limited age events, and the sales committees.
Raised on a ranch in North Texas, he began breaking horses for his father at a young age. While he attended college, he quit after a year to rodeo and train roping horses. It was the “earnings potential from purses,” however, that drew him to the sport of cutting, and the Doc O’Lena daughter Lenaette, who rewarded him with his first success. Shorty Freeman, winner of the 1970 NCHA Futurity on Doc O’Lena, and father of Riddle’s wife, Sharon, showed Lenaette to win the 1975 NCHA Futurity, but Riddle owned her in partnership with Joe Ayres and had trained her through April of 1975.
“The second or third time I showed her a cow, she dropped down and went to working and it about scared me to death,” Riddle told me. “I had hardly shown a (cutting) horse at all, at the time, and had never finished one. I knew I had way too much horse for me and that she was too good of a mare for me to waste, so I loaded her up and sent her to Shorty.”
The next year, Riddle showed Freckles Playboy for Marion Flynt to share the co-reserve championship of the 1976 NCHA Futurity with his brother-in-law, Bill Freeman, who was riding Doc’s Becky, also owned by Flynt. It was Freckles Playboy, who later came to stand at Riddle’s ranch, that he chose as a cross for Lenaette. The Futurity champion would produce eight foals, all sired by Freckles Playboy. One by one, Lenaette’s foals enhanced her legacy, as well as that of Terry Riddle.
In 1988, Riddle advised Chuck Drummond on the purchase of the 4-year-old stallion Docs Stylish Oak, as a cross for Drummond’s Freckles Playboy daughters, a plan that further enhanced cutting horse pedigrees for years to come. For instance, Shesa Playmate, a Freckles Playboy daughter out of Lenaette, shown by Riddle to win the 1982 NCHA Derby, is the third dam of leading sire Metallic Cat. While top sires Hottish and Smooth Talkin Style are out of the Docs Stylish Oak daughter Stylish Play Lena who, in turn, is out of the Freckles Playboy daughter Play Lena. And the list goes on, as will the memory of Terry Riddle.
A celebration of life for Terry James Riddle will be held on Thursday, January 14 at 2 p.m., with services to follow at the First Baptist Church of Elmore City, Okla., and graveside at Elmore City Cemetery.