American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame member Carol Harris, 98, died August 7, 2021.
The lifetime horsewoman is most famous for her legendary American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame stallion Rugged Lark, whom she raised, owned and promoted.
An impeccable horsewoman, marketing guru and a self-named “horse nut,” Harris grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. Her first horse was a Standardbred – a pacer that she turned into a trotter. She also exhibited Hackney ponies, Arabians, Saddlebreds and Tennessee Walkers. Harris began showing Quarter Horses in the 1950s.
Eventually, Harris moved her horse operation to Bo-Bett Farm in Florida, turning the previous Thoroughbred training and breeding facility into what some have called a “Quarter Horse Camelot.”
The mare that put Harris in the business was Judy Dell, a granddaughter of Hall of Fame member Poco Bueno who produced 19 foals for Harris, many of which had immense influence on the Bo-Bett breeding program. Judy Dell’s first foal, Eternal Dell by Eternal Sun, became the first stallion on Bo-Bett Farms in the late 1960s. Eternal Dell sired Majestic Dell, another of Bo-Bett Farm’s great stallions. Majestic Dell sired nine AQHA Champions.
In her own name, she bred the earners of more than 11,500 points and 11 world champions and 16 reserve world champions. She also bred racing American Quarter Horses, including two stakes-placed runners.
Harris also mixed Thoroughbred bloodlines into some of the Quarter Horses. Really Rugged (TB) by Rough’n Tumble out of Ruddy Belle by Errard was used to complement Eternal Dell at stud. Really Rugged was the sire of the legendary Rugged Lark. In 1968, Carol’s homebred, Francies Hat, ran in the Kentucky Derby.
Harris was one of the first women to hold her own in the Quarter Horse industry – an industry that admittedly preserved a “good ol’ boy” reputation for many years. She was one of the first women to be named an AQHA judge and judged for 25 years. In 1981, Harris was the first woman to judge at the AQHA World Championship Show. Her strong convictions are what have earned her the respect of the industry as a whole.
Harris was the first president of the New Jersey Quarter Horse Association and helped establish the East Coast Cutting Horse Association. She was past president of the Florida Quarter Horse Association. She was also an approved judge for the National Reining Horse, National Cutting Horse and American Horse Shows associations.
Harris was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1997.
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