George Robert “Bobby” Pidgeon Sr., Moscow, Tenn., passed away on Friday, July 14, after an extended illness. As an NCHA competitor, breeder, show producer, raconteur and enthusiast, Bobby Pidgeon had few equals.
As a non-pro competitor, Pidgeon, an NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame member, who had not shown for more than a decade before his death, ranks 22nd among all-time leading non-pro money earners with $1.1 million. His career highlights include the 1990 and 1991 non-pro championships of the NCHA Classic Challenge on Dual Pep, who under Pidgeon’s promotion developed into one of cutting’s all-time leading sires and broodmare sires.
In 1991, Pidgeon established Bar H Ranche in Weatherford, Tex., where he stood Dual Pep and CD Olena, the 1994 NCHA Futurity Open champion and 1995 NCHA Horse of the Year, who also became a leading sire and broodmare sire. Dual Pep and CD Olena have sired offspring with combined earnings of over $45 million and are maternal and/or paternal grandsires of earners of $93 million.
In addition to showing, breeding and promoting his own horses, Pidgeon produced the popular Western Cutting Series of limited age events from 1988 through 2000, and as an advocate and example, he attracted and encouraged many high profile new-comers to the sport.
Pidgeon bred CD Olena out of CD Chica San Badger, who he purchased from non-pro rider Sheila Welch. “I bought her for a broodmare, but she just happened to be the age where I could show her a little,” said Pidgeon of the Peppy San Badger daughter. “I never thought I’d own a stud. Then I bought Dual Pep. It was the luck of the draw.”
Pidgeon’s purchase of CD Chica San Badger and establishment of the Bar H Ranche dovetailed with an arrangement with the young Canadian rider Winston Hansma to manage his breeding and show operation.
“When I bought (CD Chica San Badger) and hired Winston to take over the place, I named it after the Hansma family,” Pidgeon told me. “I didn’t want people to think it was just mine.” At the same time Paul Hansma, Winston’s brother, who went on to win the NCHA Futurity on Playboy McCrae, joined the staff.
“You can’t have a successful program without some really good people like Winston and Paul,” said Pidgeon. “Winston is the one that said to breed CD (Chica San Badger) to Doc O’Lena. I let him pick all the mares. I really didn’t have anything to do with it.
“When you don’t know a lot about something, you’d better listen. I learned that in business. You are no better than the people under you. I run my business the same way. Whether they were the janitor or who, I always hired the best people I could find.”