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Wharton's horse Brownie inducted into Hall of Fame


Saturday, April 8, Ray Wharton's horse Brownie was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. Brownie, sometimes known as "Scrap Iron" because of Ray's homemade halter was the horse that Ray said, "bought my ranch".
Ray first saw Brownie at Mansfield Park being ridden by Pouchie Echart Ray bought Brownie from Echart's friend from Hondo for $750, the most he had ever paid for a horse. Ray bred Brownie to two mares and then gelded him. Brownie slowed down and Ray thought he had ruined him, but Brownie came back. He wasn't big and didn't stop hard, but he always held the rope tight when the cowboy went to the calf. He didn't jerk calves down and he was good at indoor and outdoor arenas.
Brownie was named roping horse of the year, three years in a row at Calgary. Ten ropers rode him in New York in 1956. Six made it to the top ten for the final night performance. Ray had the best average so he had to ride last. Brownie had to make a run every other turn except the last two, which he had to run back to back. Ray finished first and three others took the next three top spots.
Ray rode Brownie another year or two, then retired him in the early 70s, Ray lent Brownie to Lanhan Riley's son, Kelly, to learn to rope at a few local rodeos. Then he was loaned to Clay Billings who won a few rodeos. Later he lent Brownie to Bob Woodard's daughter to just learn to ride. Eventually Ray brought Brownie back to the ranch where he truly retired. He spent his days roaming the ranch stopping for sweet feed at Col. Duquette's, Ray's neighbors at Wharton's Dock.
When Brownie was 31, he went down and couldn't get up. Ray told his ranch hand, Ramon, to hit the horse in the head with a hammer. Ramon threw the hammer at Ray and threatened to quit. For all that Brownie gave him and his rodeo friends, Ray knew he had to do right by the horse he loved. He called Dr. Steve Sells to put the horse down.
Ray buried his horse on the ranch and placed a large boulder with a large plaque on the stone. On the plaque 24 money winners in RCA and PRCA are listed. It reads as a history of who's who in the roping world of the 1950s and 1960s. The monument is a fitting tribute to "the horse who bought the ranch".
And now the most fitting tribute for Brownie is to join his owner and trainer in the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. Ray is surely smiling in Heaven now.