Carol Rose is a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame

Carol Rose is a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame


Marks of Success

The American Quarter Horse Association’s #1 All-Time Leading Breeder of Performance Horses and a perennial NRCHA and NRHA breeder, Carol Rose has bred foals earning more than 28,900 AQHA points, averaging 69 points per foal and 94 points per point-earner, including 49 AQHA World and Reserve World Championships, 13 AQHA National All-Around titles, and earners of more than $3,400,000 (NCHA earners of over $1,000,000, NRHA earners of over $580,000, and NRCHA earners of over $700,000).  An intense supporter of the AQHA Incentive Fund from the very beginning, Carol is the leader in all Incentive Fund categories: foals bred, nominated and owned; total money earned, and nominated sires’ earnings.  She owned and stood the AQHA’s #1 Leading Sire of World Champion Performance Horses, Zan Parr Bar, whose phenomenal record continues to escalate despite an early death, and she has been the leading breeder or owner at the AQHA World Show five times.  Foals bred by Carol Rose have earned more than 290 ROM awards, as well as 184 Superior Awards in halter, cutting, calf roping, heading, heeling, reining, western riding, trail, western pleasure, barrel racing and working cow horse, and more than 530 AQHA All-Arounds.


In 2001 Carol was inducted in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, honored as a role model and ground breaker for women in the equine industry. In 1998 Carol Rose was named the AQHA’s Professional Horsewoman of the Year, receiving additional recognition for 30 years of continuous breeding. The third (and first female) inductee to the National Cutting Horse Association’s Non-Pro Hall of Fame, she was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2004, and is among the honorees on the California Rodeo Heritage Museum’s Wall of Fame. An American Quarter Horse Association approved judge for 14 years, Carol was the first female member of the AQHA judges’ committee; she is also a recognized judge for the National Cutting Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association and American Horse Show Association, and a National Director and select committee member for the American Quarter Horse Association. Carol’s personal credits include four NCHA Non-Pro World Champion titles–she was the first woman in history to win an NCHA World Championship–many CRCHA titles, AQHA Reserve World Championships in Cutting and Reining; the NRHA Limited Non-Pro Champion title at the 1999 NRHA Derby; Limited Non-Pro and Reserve Non-Pro Champion titles at the 1999 National Reiners Breeders’ Classic, and the NRHA Non-Pro and Limited Open Championships at the 1993 NRHA Lazy E Classic.


The Early Years

Of course, all this didn’t begin just 15 years ago. Born in Palo Alto, California, Carol Alison Ramsay, the second of four daughters, inherited an intense love of horses from her mother, Elizabeth. As a youngster, Carol’s favorite pastime was working as a regular ranch hand on her grandfather’s cattle ranch. Carol also exhibited horses in almost every discipline, winning the first of countless horse show trophies at age 8 and joining the American Horse Show Association at age 10, going on to be crowned the San Francisco Cow Palace Livestock Queen at age 17. The Castilleja High School yearbook sums up her youth: “missed so much school every year and still passed.”


Early adulthood found Carol devoted to competition in the California Reined Cowhorse Association (CRCHA), which evolved into today’s National Reined Cowhorse Association. The CRCHA’s leading female exhibitor through the early sixties, Carol was the third woman in history to win the Cow Palace Stock Horse Championship Stakes, placed in the CRCHA Stock Horse Top Ten from 1960 through 1965, and was the 1965 Grand National Cow Palace Open Stock, Heavyweight Stock and Ladies Open Stock Horse Champion. From the late 1950’s through 1965, Carol won numerous year-end awards in the youth, ladies and open divisions of the CRCHA.


Carol set another precedent by becoming the first woman to win the National Cutting Horse Association’s Non-Pro World Championship, in 1967 on Genuine Doc’s mother, Gay Bar’s Gen. Now a Texan, having moved from California in 1966, Carol went on to claim that title three more times, the fourth time on Peppy’s Desire, who is still represented in her broodmare band. Carol also won the NCHA Non-Pro Finals twice, and placed in the NCHA Open Top Ten in 1969.


The first woman to compete in the NCHA Futurity, Carol rode Doc’s Leo Lad to fourth place in 1969, one of three rides to the NCHA Futurity Finals, thereby setting another record by becoming the first woman finalist. But the history-making didn’t stop there. Carol was first going into the 1969 Finals, and upon their conclusion, the first, second and third place riders were none other than Matlock Rose (then Carol’s husband), Shorty Freeman and Buster Welch! Incidentally, that 1969 NCHA Futurity marked the first year foals sired by Doc Bar were shown–and they placed second, third and fourth, beginning the Doc Bar phenomenon. Carol’s electric NCHA Futurity experience began a new crusade that ultimately resulted in the famous NCHA Futurity finalist buckles now awarded each year.

Generations of Great Sires


The unparalleled success of Gay Bar’s Gen led Carol and Matlock to breed the mare to Doc Bar, resulting in Genuine Doc, whom Carol rode to an AQHA Reserve World Champion Cutting title; he also placed third in the NCHA Open Super Stakes, and won the prestigious Atlantic Coast Non-Pro Cutting Futurity with Carol up. An All-Time Leading Sire of both Reining and Cutting Horses, a Leading Paternal Grandsire of Cutting and Reined Cowhorses, and one of the first Doc Bar sons to become a leading reining sire, Genuine Doc helped establish today’s standard of the Doc Bar cross on the foundation reining pedigrees. He is an AQHA World Show Superhorse Sire whose foals include AQHA High Point All-Around Champions of the Nation, with World Champions in Reining (both AQHA and NRHA), Heading and Heeling, as well as NCHA Bronze Award holders. In the tradition of his powerful dam’s family, Genuine Doc has achieved the status of a legendary broodmare sire: in 2002 he was the Equi-Stat #14 Leading Maternal Grandsire of Reined Cowhorses and a Leading Cutting Maternal Grandsire. So far his daughters have produced Champions of both the NCHA Open Classic and NCHA Open Classic/Challenge; an NRCHA Open Derby and NRCHA Open Stallion Stakes Champion, the 2003 RHAA National Finals Superhorse; AQHA World Champions in Calf Roping and Heeling; the 2003 World’s Greatest Horseman Reserve Champion; the 2003 NCHA $10,000 Amateur Reserve World Champion, and top ten finalists in the NRHA, NRCHA and NCHA World Championship Futurities.


With the purchase of Zan Parr Bar in 1976, Carol’s career assumed a new direction once again. One of the greatest all-around sires in the history of the breed, trained and shown to his great career by Billy Allen, Zan Parr Bar took Carol to the halter arena, the roping arena, and back to the reining, cowhorse and even the show horse arenas, initiating Carol’s extreme involvement in the American Quarter Horse Association that endures today. At a time when specialization within the breed was becoming the norm, the 12 crops sired by Zan Parr Bar literally did it all, earning nearly 25,000 points in almost every AQHA approved event. Many of his most famous sons and daughters were shown by one of the many trainers Carol has helped make famous: Bobby Lewis, who would train for Carol Rose for 21 years. The success of the Bobby, Carol and Zan Parr Bar team shattered all previous records, at which point they commenced to break their own records, with the aid of what would become some of the greatest producers in history, each mare hand-picked.

But it was Zan Parr Bar’s famous nick with Diamonds Sparkle, an AQHA Superhorse herself, that would exert the biggest influence on Carol’s future, which again was headed for a change.

Just when Zan Parr Bar was on his way to breaking all records as a sire, he died of Colitis X on November 25, 1987. Though heartbroken over his death and shaken by its financial implications, Carol rallied and chose his son, Zans Diamond Sun, to replace him. “Sunny” was truly his daddy’s boy. Out of Diamonds Sparkle, today’s All-Time Leading Producer of AQHA World Champions and a member of the NRHA Hall of Fame, Zans Diamond Sun had been named the High Point All-Around Champion of the Nation, World Champion Reining Horse, High Point Champion in Calf Roping, Heading and Heeling, and was third in the NRHA Open Futurity. Moreover, Carol had an instinctive faith that, over all the stallion prospects she had access to, Sunny would be the sire to follow most closely in his father’s footsteps.

Unbelievably, with one crop on the ground and another breeding season not quite completed, Zans Diamond Sun tragically died on July 25, 1989. This time Carol was devastated. Sunny’s first crop, only weanlings, told her she had lost an incredible sire of athletes, and once again her assessment was sadly correct. Zans Diamond Sun has become the sire with the highest percentage of AQHA World Champions and World finalists in history. His 95 foals have earned 64 ROM awards, 47 Superior awards and 7,962 points, along with 21 World Champion, Reserve World Champion or High Point titles and $236,000 in Incentive Fund money.

Shining Spark

It would be a good while before Carol’s spirit completely recovered from the loss of her stallions, and during this period, her family and friends relentlessly encouraged her to remain in the business. In that shattering summer of 1989, no one could have convinced Carol that the palomino colt trotting at Diamonds Sparkle’s flank would make up for it all. Sunny’s mother had been bred to Genuine Doc in the season following Zan Parr Bar’s death, and this colt was named Shining Spark.

HOF-Shining Spark6

As he matured Shining Spark began to show promise of becoming a bona fide superstar. Perfectly balanced and correct, keenly intelligent and trainable, and a phenomenal athlete, “Shiner” possessed an inborn drive to excel that even Carol Rose, with all her champions, had encountered only rarely. His sixth place finish out of 408 entries at the 1992 NRHA Futurity–quite an achievement in itself–was only a warmup. Shiner’s performance in the four classes that qualified him for the 1993 AQHA World Championship Show cemented the industry’s respect for him, and on the evening of the Junior Reining Finals at the World, he did not disappoint. In an arena crackling with anticipation, Shining Spark and the charismatic Boomernic battled to a rein-off for the World title, and with Tim McQuay in the saddle, Shiner’s flawless final performance culminated in a mighty sliding stop, eliciting a thunderous roar of appreciation from the crowd and a record score of 227.5.

Just in case anyone viewed his World performance as a one-time event, seven months later Shining Spark won the 1994 National Reining Horse Association Derby, again dazzling spectators and judges alike with an even more exceptional score of 230.5, once more bringing an ecstatic crowd to its feet in an earthquake of appreciation. As Shining Spark executed one of the most dynamic reining performances ever viewed at an NRHA event, his breeder and owner was being rushed to an Oklahoma City hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery. Carol missed it!

When Shining Spark moved on to his present career–the business of siring foals earning more $6,600,000 so far–becoming history’s youngest NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire, an NRCHA First Two Million Dollar Sire, the 2007 NRCHA #1 All-Time Leading Sire, the NRHA #4 All-Time Leading Sire and the AQHA #2 All-Time Leading Living Sire of Performance ROM.  His foals have amassed more than 29,700 AQHA points, 373 ROM awards, 172 Superior awards, and 60 AQHA/APHA World and Reserve World Championships. Now countless, Shining Spark’s great performers include the 2008 NRHA Open Futurity Champion, 2008 NRCHA Open Futurity Reserve Champion, 2007 AQHA World Show Superhorse, 2007 AQHA World Champion Senior Heading Horse, and the 2007 NRCHA Non-Pro Futurity Champion, to name a few.

The Present and Future

Needless to say, Carol’s attention has centered on the reining and reined cowhorse industries for the past several years. Her extensive promotion agenda, complemented by her celebrity stallion, has helped transform both sports from a modest “cowboy’s” competition to an electrifying draw for horsemen and lay people alike. The senior stallions currently standing at Carol Rose Quarter Horses are both on the leading reining and reined cowhorse sires’ lists. Her entries have topped the NRHA Futurity Sales more years than any other breeder’s; she has bred champions of every major NRHA event and nearly every major NRCHA event.

As the figures establish, Carol Rose’s success has not been in numbers–it has been in great horses, combined with Carol’s resolution to retain the most talented, committed trainers and staff to attend her operation. Discuss Carol’s horses with her, and she will use the word “cross” often; she has an innate ability to plan successful matings, and as the saying goes, no champion from Rose Ranch is an “accident.” Obviously, her instincts for selecting breeding stallions have been especially extraordinary. Carol constantly tries to raise a better horse, maintaining her personal requirement of impeccably bred, well-made, well-balanced and sound individuals.


Always personally overseeing all aspects of her breeding and showing operations, Carol has a barn name for and intimate knowledge of every single horse she owns, including a pet or two. She’s a get-to-business, bluntly honest person–perspectives she extends to herself. She races around her ranch each day accompanied by her trio of devoted Corgis, personally overseeing her business, from selecting a promising prospect for an ambitious buyer, to helping an employee coax a colt into the round pen. At sundown Carol’s fingernails are just as dirty and her body just as tired, as that of anyone who has ever worked for her. Even as she manages her operation of 665 acres, several stallions, 60 mares, and numerous prospects and horses in training with the help of 20 employees, Carol continually seeks new challenges. In spite of her frenetic pace, Carol extends sincere interest and concern to her family of employees, associates and friends.

For many years, the Carol Rose Ranch moved about 70 miles south to the John Justin Arena in Fort Worth, Texas each August, when Carol’s entire crew volunteered its time in the production of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show. Carol herself could usually be found at the ingate day and night, working with the kids and crews to create a positive environment for the youth competitors. Carol truly believes kids are the future of the horse industry, and she readily and continually backs up that belief.

The years prior to the eighties featured only a handful of women who were actual forces in the professional horse world. What did it take for a woman to make it in that predominantly male arena? Someone supremely confident in her own capability and knowledge, and literally fearless when she knows she is right. Carol is a pioneer who blazed a trail in an industry that now welcomes and appreciates its female members, from trainers to editors to association executives. She has unquestionably earned her place at the top.

Bio written by Robin Glenn & Patti Colbert