Emporia Quarter Horse Breeders Continue Into Fifth Generation

To continue anything for longer than a quarter century isn’t that common.

To continue from one generation to another several times isn’t that common.

To continue an annual horse production sale for more than three decades is unique.

One can count on his hands the number who has achieved that status.

Cooper Quarter Horses at Emporia exceeds all those marks.

The family of Puncher Cooper last fall completed their 31st annual sale of ranch-produced Quarter Horses.

It is continuation of an auction that Cooper, birth-name Edgar, started with his wife, Jeannine, and their five children, after their neighbor, Russell Klotz, conducted sales 20-years annually.

Offering in this year’s sale, attracting bidders from throughout the Midwest, included horses going back more than six decades, featuring horse-lineage from both Cooper and Klotz.

Actually, their auction last fall made the 51st annual Quarter Horse production sale hosted by Chase County ranchers: Klotz, then Coopers.

There are few others across the country.

“Our daughter, Janet, and her husband, Larry Cannon, planned to continue the horse sale, when Puncher and I wanted to retire.

“But, they had to take over sooner than expected, due to Puncher’s untimely death in a tractor-hay-bale accident,” said Jeannine Cooper, who was always in charge of the operation’s paperwork and helped again at the fall auction.

“The sale after Puncher’s death in January, 2006, was quite a challenge, even more so since Pat Finnerty, who had horses at the sale too, passed away in the same year,” Mrs. Cooper said.

“With help from family, friends, and neighbors, it did happen,” she emphasized.

And it’s continued “to happen,” with success, a regular following and additional interest annually.

“Since Dad passed away, we have worked to increase our production with success,” evaluated Janet Cannon, who is a member of at least the third generation of Coopers in the horse business going back to her grandfather, Elmer.

“My Dad inherited a lot of his ability from Grandpa,” Mrs. Cannon credited.

“Puncher dealt with horses from the time he was two-years-old,” Mrs. Cooper said. “He owned a horse, and broke his first colt to ride when he was seven-years-old. He liked anything to do with horses

“Puncher placed second in saddle bronc riding at the National High School Rodeos in both 1949 and ’50. So, we donate one-half of the proceeds from the first sale horse annually to the Kansas High School Rodeo Association,” Mrs. Cooper noted.

Upon returning from the service in the ’50s, Cooper began training horses for area ranchers.

Cooper helped Klotz with his first sale in 1961, and assumed the auction date when the then-leading breeder dispersed.

“Some of Puncher’s soft-touch-handling techniques might have been considered old fashion,” Mrs. Cooper evaluated. “But, they continued to work for him, even though he did pick up new ideas along the way.”

Cooper assessed appreciation of horses before his death: “There’s no feeling like being up on a horse, when the sun comes up in the morning.”

Insisting that there “really isn’t any secret to training, but it does take patience, and a certain amount of toughness,” Cooper passed along his techniques and traditions to his five children.

“All of us kids started working with horses, and helping Dad, when we were quite young,” Mrs. Cannon said.

Larry Cannon rode his horse to school to see other children before he was even old enough to attend.

Mrs. Cooper has five children, 11grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, which make at least the fifth generation of Coopers in the horse business.

“Our children learned to ride with their grandfathers,” Mrs. Cannon noted.

Cooper Quarter Horses have collected titles at halter, barrel racing, cuttings, rodeos, on

the track, and at other competitions in the hands of owners throughout the county.

Today, the operation includes 60 mares with six stallions. “Nearly all our horses go back to the bloodlines that Dad started with,” Mrs. Cannon said.

“Dad always promoted the foundation Quarter Horse, continually studied pedigrees and developed good-disposition horses you could use hard all day and still have the speed and heart to catch anything you needed,” Mrs. Cannon continued. “They are gentle, solid-using horses.”

“It is a tough market right now,” Cannon commented. “The colts were very good last fall, but with the economy, drought, and higher horse population, prices were lower, comparatively to peak times.”

However, the family is optimistic for the future of the Quarter Horse business.

“Sale prices will improve,” Cannon declared. “As fewer mares are bred each year, supply will decrease, and demand will increase the market.”

“We have maintained the honesty and integrity of our sale that was my parents’ philosophy from day one,” Mrs. Cannon guaranteed.

“We hope to see everyone for the 32nd annual Cooper Quarter Horses annual production sale this fall, the last Sunday in September,” Cannon mentioned.