The Life and Times of Buster Welch

This legendary horseman tackles cowboying, competition and coaching with a contagious zeal. His lifetime of achievement has earned the performance-horse pioneer the 2006 Western Horseman Award.


Buster Welch's life could've been a disaster. His mother died when he was only a few weeks old. His father remarried, combining his brood of eight with his new wife's two and then adding two more. Living off a workingman's wage, the family struggled through the Great Depression and war years.

Welch himself was as headstrong and rebellious as a wild colt, leaving home when he was a teenager. Such intensity, independence and determination, however, were character traits that led him to become one of the most celebrated horsemen of the 20th century.

Some years ago, Welch's longtime friend, Bud Wellman, a Texas history professor at Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas, wrote a 150-page manuscript chronicling Welch's exploits. After reading it, Welch dismissed it as "just a bunch of bragging."

Wellman knew, however, that Welch is the horse world's Paul Bunyan – larger than life and every bit as entertaining. But most of Welch's stories are true. Wellman also understood that Welch can be a private person, preferring to be the spinner of tales, rather than the central character in someone else's story. For this article, however, Welch made an exception.

For the rest of this story, see the January 2006 issue of Western Horseman.