Peppy Belle: She Started A Dynasty

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This photo is of Peppy Belle is either her as a foal or her as the mare. It is probably her as the mare due to her condition.

This photo of Peppy Belle is either her as a foal or her as the mare. It is probably her as the mare due to her condition.


In 1955 a sorrel filly was born in west Texas. There was some mystery as to her owner at the time of her birth, but a recent correspondence with Quarter Horse breeder Lee Jones of Rochester, Texas has revealed a probable story.

According to Jones, when the aging Pep Up, owned by the Waggoner Ranch, got his foot cut very badly, he was taken to Dr. Lacy’s vet clinic at Vernon, Texas. The wound was grave enough that the Waggoners decided to put him down. Otis Gafford was there and said he would pay the vet bill if he could have the old horse.

He was granted ownership and the care he received at the vet clinic healed him up enough that he was allowed to go home. Mr. Gafford found a wheat pasture to put the old stud on, as he was in pretty poor condition, and turned him out on it. In the pasture with him was an old mare named Belle Burnett. The two managed to produce a filly that was named Peppy Belle.

Pep Up, who was bred by the King Ranch, was by Macanudo and out of Petra R2. Macanudo was by Old Sorrel, the great son of Hickory Bill that started the whole linebreeding program at the King Ranch. Macanudo was out of Canales Bell who was by Roan Clegg and out of Pelicana.

The dam of Peppy Belle, Belle Burnett, was by Gold Rush who was by Caliente by Del Rey. Gold Rush was out of a sorrel mare of unknown breeding. Belle Burnett was out of Triangle Lady 9 who was by Red Buck by Buck Thomas and out of Zepplin. Buck Thomas was a son of Peter McCue.

Peppy Belle produced 11 foals in her career. Those foals accumulated 369 total points in the AQHA and NCHA earnings of $158,333 back in the day of small purses. Some of those AQHA points were earned in halter classes, suggesting that her offspring weren’t just athletes but pretty as well. The earnings of her descendents today would be in the millions of dollars with the thousands of horses that carry her blood in their veins.

Two of her most famous offspring would have to be Peppy San and Mr San Peppy. Both of these incredibly successful stallions were sired by Leo San. Leo San was a 1949 son of Leo and out of San Sue Darks. Leo is a household name for most and was by Joe Reed II and out of Little Fanny. Joe Reed II was by Joe Reed by Joe Blair (TB) and out of Della Moore. Little Fanny was also by Joe Reed and out of Fanny Ashwell by Ashwell (TB and out of Fanny Richardson.

Leo San’s dam, San Sue Darks, was a 1945 daughter of San Siemon who was by Zantanon and out of Panita who was by Possum (King) by Little Joe by Traveller. Zantonon was also by Little Joe and out of another Traveller daughter Jeanette. San Siemon was an intensely line bred Traveller horse. San Sue Dark’s dam was Little Sue by Sam Watkins and out of Sorrel Perez. Sam Watkins was a son of Hickory Bill and out of Hattie @. Sorrel Perez was by Chaquiz and out of Twenty Four Roan.

When Peppy Belle was bred to Leo San, the offspring had three shots of Traveller, Four shots of Peter McCue and of course, two double doses of Joe Blair (TB) and Della Moore. It’s no wonder that the two aforementioned stallions, Peppy San and Mr San Peppy, left such indelible marks on the Quarter Horse world.

Peppy San was owned by Douglas Lake Cattle Co., Douglas Lake, British Columbia and trained by Matlock Rose. He was the AQHA Champion Cutting horse and High Point Cutting Stallion of 1967. He was also the NCHA World Champion Cutting Horse the same year and is in the NCHA Hall of Fame. He in turn sired Peponita who was the 1977 and 1979 NCHA World Champion and AQHA World Champion Senior Cutting Horse in 1977 and 1978 and is also in the Hall of Fame. He sired many successful cutting horses including Peponita, San Jo Lena and Smart Peppy, the dam of Smart Little Lena.

Mr San Peppy was eventually bought by the King Ranch as one of the few outcross stallions they ever used. He was trained by Buster Welch and was NCHA World Champion Cutting Horse in 1974 and 1976, AQHA World Champion Cutting Horse in 1976. He went on to sire the extraordinary Peppy San Badger who was also used by the King Ranch as an outcross stallion. He was NCHA World Champion in 1980 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He went on to sire winners in reining, cutting, calf roping and team roping. Mr. San Peppy sired many other successful cowhorses including Tenino San.

The cutting, working cowhorse and reining horse world is populated with a majority of horses that descend from Peppy Belle. This list includes High Brow Cat, CD Olena, Smart Chick Olena, Peptoboonsmal, Haida’s Little Pep, Gallo del Cielo, Grays Starlight, Paddys Irish Whiskey, Little Ruf Peppy, Dual Pep, Peppys From Heaven, and Delta Flyer (APHA). Those with a double shot of Peppy Belle include Kit Dual, Hes A Peptospoonful, One Time Pepto, and WR This Cats Smart.

Peppy Belle was quite the producer. If she had only produced the two famous stallions talked of here she would have been considered a success, but she produced 11 total offspring that contributed to the world of performance horses. Her offspring were conformationally correct, with keen heads, good necks, good backs, deep hearts, big hips and good legs. The substance and bone of her famous sons carried them to long, successful careers as cutting horses in a very tough arena.

The grand mare’s legacy carries on. Next time you’re looking at the NCHA, NRCHA, and AQHA standings, take some time to notice just how many of those horses carry her blood. She may be long dead, but in a sense, she’s still living.

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About Jan Swan Wood

Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....

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