The Spade Ranch remuda’s history can be traced back to the purchase of the second Spade Ranch west of Lubbock. The Ellwood’s were horsemen long before they were cattlemen and starting in the late 1870’s, Isaac and W.L. Ellwood imported Perchron horses from France and Clydesdales from Scotland to breed and sell to farmers in their home state of Illinois. Over the years the Ellwoods gained a reputation as fine horsemen and breeders.
However, by the turn of the century, the horse market was near saturation in the Midwest and prices reflected such. With their new ranching enterprises in Texas, the Ellwoods recognized the market potential and an outlet for their horses. As such, they partially purchased the Lubbock Country ranch with a carload of horses and sent down a carload of horses to Renderbrook for the cowboys to use. Horses were always a focal point to the Spades and the working lives of the cowboys. A January 1, 1908 inventory shows 75 head of saddle horses on the Spade Ranches.
In 1942, the Spade Ranches recognized the quickly growing value of the newly-formed American Quarter Horse Association and registered their first horses, Colorado Gus (#1548), a sorrel stallion and Lady Zipper (#14023), a palomino mare.
But it wasn’t until the late 1970’s that the Spade remuda began to develop into its current form. By that time the Spades had a division in New Mexico called the Chappell-Spade and created a relationship with Foy Proctor, a well-known rancher and horseman from West Texas. Proctor purchased a stud from fellow Midland, Texas rancher and horseman Marion Flynt, who was an integral part in founding of the NCHA.
Flynt produced some legendary early cutting horses including Marion’s Girl and Jewel’s Leo Bars, or “Freckles.” In fact, the stud Proctor bought was a son of Freckles, Freckles Smoke. The Spade Ranches purchased a number of colts by Freckles Smoke from Proctor to begin the improvement of their remuda. The geldings went into the cowboy’s strings, while the mares went into the brood mare band. After a time the brood mare band was primarily mares out of Proctor’s stud, at which point the Spades purchased Poco Sassy Doc, a grandson of Doc Bar and Peppy Taito, a grandson of Mr. San Peppy, both from the WT Waggoner Estate to cross the Freckles mares.
Cowboys and management were happy with the cross. The horses proved themselves as cowy, tough and athletic. To continue this program Spades bought Freckles Little Pep— an own son of Peppy San Badger “Little Peppy” out of an own daughter of Freckles — to cross on the Doc Bar Daughters. Today the Spades maintains this cross with Who’s Fooling — an own son of the Peptoboonsmal — and Range Delivery — an own son of High Brow Cat. The Peppy daughters are crossed with the Cat stud and vice versa.
Since the mid 1970’s Spades has been crossing the progeny of Doc Bar with Mr. San Peppy. This cross has been continued over the years by updating the genetics of these two lines with sons of Little Peppy and Peptoboonsmal, and a son of High Brow Cat.