75-Year Breeder: Deryl Parker

75-Year Breeder: Deryl Parker

The Oklahoma breeder's family bred Quarter Horses before there was an AQHA.

Deryl Parker has been breeding American Quarter Horses for 50 years. (Andrea Caudill photo)

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By Richard Chamberlain for The American Quarter Horse Journal

The Parkers were breeding Quarter Horses when there wasn’t a stud book in which to record them.

“Dad had horses before there was an AQHA,” says Deryl Parker, 79. “Verner Parker knew how important a good horse was.”

Verner Parker’s son Deryl now breeds and raises American Quarter Horses on the family’s Riverfront Ranch, comprising some 5,000 acres on the South Canadian River at Arnett, Oklahoma.

“My dad had horses when I was born – he was in the horse and cattle business,” Deryl says. “Dad bought this place in 1940. The first stallion we had was Pop Corn, by Red Dog 55 by Balleymooney (an AQHA foundation sired by Concho Colonel foaled in 1914). Pop Corn was foaled in 1940 and was among the first to be registered in AQHA – his number was 2706. We’ve had several really nice studs through the years.”

Pop Corn stood his entire life at what then was the Parker Ranch in Follett, Texas, which used him through successive generations. The Parkers kept Pop Corn’s son Pop’s Diamond, a buckskin foaled 1956; a grandson, the 1971 buckskin Kiowa Diamond by Pop’s Diamond; and a great-grandson, the 1990 buckskin Sonita Kiowa by Kiowa Diamond.

“In 1957, my dad bought a colt by Leo that was out of 89’er, the mare by King P-234 that at that time was the No. 1-producing mare in the industry,” Deryl says. “His name was Rio Leo 89’er and we bought him from Bud Warren, who owned Leo.”

Rio Leo 89’er sustained a severe injury before he was weaned.

“He was never able to compete, but he sired many great colts,” Deryl says. “We’d sell a lot of horses to ranchers, cowboys, etc., and when my kids were growing up, they were showing them in 4-H and all the youth events. ‘Rio Leo’ was a good breeding horse who threw good-looking colts, real nice horses.”

In 1982, Parker Horses joined the syndicate that purchased Docs Superstar Bar, an 8-year-old bay son of Doc Bar and the NCHA Hall of Fame mare Annie Glo by King Glo. Later moved from Texas to the Riverfront Ranch in Oklahoma, Docs Superstar Bar sired  Docs Super Wolf and Supersan Dandy, both top-10 finalists in the NCHA Futurity; Rio Superstar Leo, AQHA amateur tie-down roping world champion; Leo Rio Superstar, fourth in AQHA amateur tie-down roping; Pops Superstarette, Texas Stock Horse Association world champion junior stock horse; and Uno Superstar Bar, who competed three years in tie-down roping at the National Finals Rodeo. The Superstar bloodline continued with his 1990 bay son Superstar Smoker (now deceased) and his 2007 buckskin son Senor Superstar.

Expanding their breeding lines, the Parkers in 1998 acquired the 12-year-old sorrel Colonel Freckles stallion Master Colonel (deceased) and in 2005 the gray Dual Jazz son Dualin Freckle. In 2015, the Parkers added the newest stallion to their breeding program, Hes My Kinda Cat, a sorrel stallion by High Brow Cat who was foaled in 2007 out of Autumn Dreams, a daughter of Doc O’Lena.

“Our greatest achievement is that through the years we have continued to upgrade bloodlines and produce world-class horses,” Deryl says. “We breed for cutting, reining, roping and ranch work, and Parker Horses have won cow horse and cutting futurities across the United States, we’ve had circuit champions, we had a reserve world champion working cow horse, Smokin Jose N Doc, and horses that have competed at the AQHA World Show in nearly every western performance event.”

“We” refers to Deryl’s sons, including Charles “Chuck” Parker, who himself has three children and two grandchildren; and Ben Parker. Deryl’s oldest son is Verner Scott Parker, who was named after Deryl’s dad. Scott has a daughter with two children, and works with Deryl on the Riverfront Ranch.

“We have run horses and cattle,” Deryl says. “We’ve done a little bit of everything every way. We had a drought a few years back and it lasted four or five years here, so I dispersed the cows. We’re just now starting back.”

The horses never left. Deryl Parker and Parker Horses have registered more than 1,500 horses in the AQHA stud book.

“We like cow horses – we’ve shown a lot of cow horses,” Deryl says. “Now, just what would be an ideal horse is kind of a hard thing to say. But to start with, they’ve got to have eye appeal. They need to be well balanced. A horse 14-3 to 15 hands tall would be a good size. I want them to have a good disposition and a good mind – that’s the most important thing.

“My dad was probably as good a horseman as I’ve ever been around,” he continues. “Despite being blind in his later years, Dad could tell more about horses than I ever could, about how they were built, how they traveled and all the various other things – how the legs should be, where he liked the hip to hang and all those things. One of the things I learned from Dad is that horses are kinda like people: There are different ones for different things.”

The Parkers do not plan on quitting anytime soon – or ever.

“Here at Riverfront Ranch, we are very proud of our history, achievements and awards over the year,” Deryl says. “Parker Horses will continue to provide the services and excellent quality of horses that live up to the expectations of Verner Parker, myself and my son Scott. It is a great honor to be recognized for the achievement of doing this for 75 years.”