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Cutting trainer and Yellowstone star Buster Welch passes away at 94

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Renowned cutting horse trainer, Buster Welch passed away at the age of 94 on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Buster Welch is a household name thanks to his appearance in Season 4 of Yellowstone. But, for those who measure seasons in the saddle, Buster Welch has been long respected for his legacy in the cutting horse and ranching industries.

Buster Welch Cutting
Buster Welch aboard Bet Hesa Cat Image courtesy of Quarter Horse News

Throughout his lifetime, Welch trained many high-earning cutting horses. He was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame, the National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame, the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, and many others.

Born in 1928, Welch began his cutting career starting colts at 14 years old during World War II on the Proctor Ranch. He went on to work at the 6666 Ranch, Long X Ranch, King Ranch, and the Pitchfork Ranch.

Chickasha Mike kicked off his career by winning the 1951 Santa Rosa Roundup Cutting. Buster Welch and other competitors later started the first NCHA Futurity in 1962.

Welch still holds the record for the most NCHA World Championship Futurities won including the 1962 futurity on Money Glo, 1963 on Chickasha Glo, the 1966 on Rey Jay’s Pete, the 1971 on Dry Doc, and 1977 on Peppy San Badger. 

Welch won the World Championship in 1954 on Marion’s Girl and holds NCHA World Championship titles from 1954, 1956, 1974, and 1976.

Buster Welch went on to campaign Peppy San Badger for the 6666 Ranch, winning the AQHA World Champion title in cutting in 1976. Most recently, in 2011, Welch won the NCHA Futurity Champions Cup aboard Bet Hesa Cat at 83 years old. 

Although Buster Welch’s success in the cutting horse industry is undisputed, he was a cattleman first. Together with his wife Sheila (an NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame inductee), the couple raised B Lazy W branded beef in Rotan, TX, selling to Coleman Natural meets. Sheila spent many years competing alongside her husband and preceded him in death in 2014. 

“A legend was lost today. Buster Welch rode into the sunset this morning, leaving behind a legacy that changed the performance horse world forever. He will be missed, and we will be forever grateful for all his wisdom and his contributions to the Quarter Horse world. He was a cowboy. He was a showman. He was a friend to all who knew him.” – Taylor Sheridan, Yellowstone

>>Related: Beloved cowboy poet Baxter Black dies at age 77

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