My family ate dinner together every night of the week. It was the 1950s and ’60s, and folks did that then.
My oldest brother sat down one night, looked at my parents and announced he had a simple request.
“Can we have dinner just one night and ask him to stop talking nonstop about horses?” he asked, pointing at me.
And so I did my best to avoid the subject, but it was torture.
I don’t recall a day when I was not totally in love with horses and ponies. I constantly schemed to buy several ponies and sell them so I could own just one all by myself. One plan entailed shipping Shetland ponies from Iowa to Maine. My father humored me and said he’d look into it. I am still waiting.
What he did deliver to me was my own horse when I was about 10. I’ve owned horses off and on ever since.
There is no in-between when it comes to affection for horses. You either love and adore them, are obsessed with them, or you’re not.
And I know it when I see it.
Dottie Hill of Glen Rose has had the obsession her entire life, since growing up in Yoakum, Texas, a town that lies in two counties, Lavaca and DeWitt, in southeast Texas, with a population holding steady at just under 6,000 folks.
Dottie’s love of horses and one in particular, Dual Pep, is the focus of a special section in the Dec. 3-9 issue of the Business Press. It was being printed as the premier cutting horse event in the world, the NCHA Futurity, enters the final week of its three-week run at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Center.
The event, fueled by dedicated contestants, horse owners and fans, contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Fort Worth’s economy each year.
Dottie and husband Bobby are relatively new to the cutting horse world but have had much success. Bobby bought Dual Pep as a gift for Dottie as the horse was entering his later years and was standing at stud.
Dual Pep was not just a champion but the kind of special horse that is rare. A stallion, he was still gentle and easy to handle. He exuded a majestic charm and bright personality. He was bone-chiseled handsome. People were drawn to him like a magnet.
Dottie rode horses from the time she was a little girl but once Bobby purchased Dual Pep she felt blessed.
“As a little girl growing up with horses I never dreamed I would own a horse like this,” she says. “I was just in awe.”
Dottie’s hometown of Yoakum might be small but it has produced a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker; at least five professional athletes; and a symphony director. Must be something in the water.
Few of those notable folks have surpassed Dottie Hill’s accomplishments in business, government, civic life, ranching, environmental protection and historic preservation programs, not to mention the raising and nurturing of animals.
It was something more powerful than the water in Yoakum that propelled Dottie to success.
She has beauty (she’s a former Miss Texas High School Rodeo Queen and Miss High School Rodeo America first runner-up); creativity (she’s an accomplished, scholarship-winning pianist); and brains, with a career in the challenging field of commodities as a broker specializing in livestock.
Prior to that career she was a school teacher and the first woman lobbyist for the Texas State Teachers Association. Along the way she traveled the world modeling, teaching horseback riding, and judging beauty contests and horse shows. Gov. Dolph Briscoe asked her in 1973 to represent the state as official Goodwill Ambassador of Texas.
She and Bobby now live on their ranch in Glen Rose after busy and hectic lives in business, but they are anything but retired. They have over 200 horses and assorted pets on the ranch and own and operate ranches in Colorado, New Mexico and New Zealand.
The Hills’ ranch in Glen Rose is an oasis of peace where wild game shares the range with newborn colts. Dottie is able to gaze on the herd and mingle among the babies she hopes will go to people who will provide them with “a lifetime of dignity and good care.”
“Those horses make her heart happy,” says Bobby, and Dottie tells us why: “They are more beautiful than art. They are living art.”
Dottie and Bobby have been raising ranch and some performance horses for over 15 years but in recent years have owned some cutting horse champions. Their operation has had incredible success, which is particularly impressive because they have not done it as long as many in the business. In a short amount of time their horses have won all the top cutting horse competitions.
They do not have a horse in this year’s Futurity but are focused on the sale of yearlings sired by Smooth Talkin’ Style, the 2015 Futurity Reserve Champion and 2015 NCHA Horse of the Year. They have high hopes that Smooth Talkin’ Style, co-owned by Gail Holmes, will be a producer of champions just like Dual Pep.
“Our goal now is to help produce high quality horses that generations to come will love and enjoy,” says Bobby.
It was Dottie’s desire to honor Dual Pep in a special section of our paper. He was a horse that had almost indefinable charm, character, talent and competitiveness but still remained just a nice horse.
Dual Pep and Dottie share qualities that draw attention and admiration. Not many like them.
Despite her accomplishments, Dottie is about as down-to-earth as they come. She’s real people, with a ready laugh and a sense of humor that is infectious. In many ways, she’s ventured far from Yoakum and in many ways she hasn’t moved an inch.
Recently, after a long and arduous day, she needed stress relief at the ranch.
“I just had to go jump on the mower and drive that around for a while to calm down,” she said.
Dottie Hill. Dual Pep. Regal, with the common touch.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at email@example.com