The Story of Leo the AQHA Stallion

Leo, the stallion king of Bud Warren’s Quarter Horse breeding establishment at Perry, Oklahoma, topped the sire of winners list for 1952.

Bud Warren bought himself quite the horse.

Leo the AQHA stallion
Leo was the stallion king of Bud Warren's breeding establishment. Artwork by Orren Mixer.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Editor’s Note: The American Quarter Horse Journal has been bringing its readers important industry news since September 1948. This article first appeared in the magazine’s pages in 1953.

Leo, the stallion king of Bud Warren’s breeding establishment at Perry, Oklahoma, topped the sire of winners list for 1952. The following year, Leo was listed as the all-time leader of AA and AAA horses combined.

Twenty-four of Leo’s sons and daughter won 44 races during 1952, beating the score of his illustrious daddy, Joe Reed II, who was second with 23 winning get, and Piggin String, third with 21.

He was quite a horse, this Leo. A sorrel standing 14.3 hands, weighing 1,200 pounds and made the way a Quarter Horse should be, with good bone, a short back and a heavy gaskin and stifle. A son of Joe Reed II, and out of Little Fanny, he had running blood that went back to Traveler, Old Billy, Joe Blair, Della Moore, Fannie Richardson, Sister Fannie and Whistle Jacket. It was a rich inheritance with high-caliber performers on both sides. His first, second, third and forth dams were all track horses with notable records, as were their sires. In this respect, Leo was an impressive result of the theory Ott Adams had been preaching for years: “Breed speed to speed.”

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Little wonder, then, that Leo proved to be one of the fastest short horses ever fetched into Oklahoma. While owned by John W. Tillman, he won 20 match races out of 22 starts at Pawhuska, defeating such top performers as Red Sails, Johnny Barnes, Cyclone and Good Eye. Most of his running was done before the establishment of organized Quarter Horse racing, but his Pawhuska track record of 300 yards in 16 seconds flat stood for several years.

Abundantly endowed with terrific speed and magnificent conformation, Leo inherited a third ingredient that was highly regarded: good disposition. A superb gate horse, he could be handled by anyone, and after his competitive years, he was ridden around the late Gene Moore’s ranch – the Rocking M at Fairfax, Oklahoma – by Gene’s daughter. Speaking of Leo at that time, Gene said, “He’s one of the best cow horses I have ever thrown a saddle on.”

Leo was purchased in 1947 by Bud Warren, who already owned two of his get – Leota W and Flit.

“Besides being handsome 2-year-olds, they outran everything else on the place, so I decided to buy the stud that sired them,” Bud said. “I wanted a real good Quarter Horse stallion.”

He got one.

Leo, who was heavy-muscled and low-jointed, marked his colts well. Most of them were sorrels or bays, compact and tight-twisted – definitely Quarter type. “It’s a rare exception for one to look like a Thoroughbred,” Bud said.

A majority was fillies, and they were daughters a father could take pride in: fast steppers such as Mona Leta, Leota W, Leola and Miss Meyers. In 1951, Miss Leta set 2-year-old records of 17 seconds for 300 yards, and 12.2 seconds for 220 yards, neither of which were broken in 1953. She shared the 3-year-old record of a quarter mile in 22.2 seconds, along with Blob Jr., Bright Eyes and Tonto Bars Gill. Leo’s most notable son up to 1953 was Robin Reed, who held the 3-year-old colt record of 18.2 seconds for 350 yards.

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In three successive colt crops, Leo sired 22 Register of Merit performers. He had 28 all told. From 1948 to 1953, Leo colts won five Oklahoma futurities, two Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association futurities and two derbies – also a futurity and a derby in Kansas. In 1952, his colts won the get-of-sire trophy for the third time at an AQHA show in Oklahoma.

It appears that Bud Warren accomplished what he started out to do in 1947.

He bought himself a horse!

26 thoughts on “The Story of Leo the AQHA Stallion”

  1. I’m still the old foundation lover of horses. These are the true
    quarter horses that made them so versatile. Not like today. You have to look hard to get a good one.

  2. the old storeies remind me of my father who was illiterate, but never forgot what relatives and friends told him about the core blood lines. .he amazed many with ancestory

    i use pedigree on line to learn. he used his brain memory power
    he had good teachers, uncle claude morein who owned miss mackay, full sister to go man go.

    i remember my dad telling me that johnny ferguson having go man go cast upon the ground to geld, when my uncle claude in louisiana called johnny to hold the knifeoff coz miss mackay or better known as black mama being a ruunner

    johnny ferguson of texas dale robertson and many cajun horseman as pierrre leblance, begnaud, jy soileau, and many i use to see when he was match racing me at 25 to 50 yards with rich white boys who tot they could run

    i was white too, but i matched stride with the black friens too

    sometime i read to dad so he still learning from heaven as he died in 1996

    to you papa

  3. Leo is one of the many great quarter horses of his time. I love hearing and reading up on him. Was very proud to own one with his bloodline who was one of the best horses I’ve had so far.

  4. FOUNDATION is what it’s all about~ you don’t build a good house without a good foundation; why try to breed a great horse without the great foundation bloodline?!? All our horses are foundation horses with names like, Leo, Doc Bar, king, Wimpy one, etc…in their bloodlines.
    They all have speed and cow with the best. We are down to four mares now, and one is a Sugar Bar mare. Anyone interested in foundation mares please contact me.
    God Bless all and our Military

  5. Lot of the good horses nowadays have a lot of Leo in the back..just got to look a little deeper. Currently, I have a great 2 year old who goes back to Leo like 10 times….guess what his nickname is?…You got it..LEO. I learn a lot from these articles and I am glad they post them!!

  6. I, too, love the old foundation-type quarter horses..Those were TRUE quarter horses… I am not much of a fan of the more modern-day types with their nose and tail dragging the ground.. Watching a western pleasure class today is like watching those horses lope in molasses… not natural movement at all.

  7. I owned a grandson of Leo and he was one of the sweetest horses I have ever ridden!! I would own another in a heartbeat!! We also ended up with one of his daughters and she was just as sweet a temperment!!

  8. leo from what i have learned through the years was one hell of a horse had the best bloodlines for running you could find around .. also had several cropouts … i have seen a few of them in my life .. and owned a few as well

  9. I gotta lil strawberry roan, Robin Reed on top, Miss Meyers on the bottom with some Go Man Go, Mr Venture, The Redeemer imbetween. He’s a lil guy, with a strong Leo influence an he be fast and quick. I really liked reading this article. Thanks.

  10. I learned to respect the royal capability and disposition of the “Leo” horses from great horsemen I knew and the wonderful daughter of War Leo I owned.To this day I honor the great bloodlines that made the Quarter Horse breed what it is. If only we could keep those lines going and not breed out the terrific conformation and disposition that is so unique to this breed. I always look for more articles about these great”Legends”. Maybe it’s time to start honoring their get who kept it going…the next generations.

  11. I too love the old lines, I had a palomino that was g-daughter of Ed Echols, I also have a gelding that has Waja Leo, my gelding is also Joe Reed II, he has alot of running blood, Three Bars both sides. Quite abit of AAA, also has Rebel Cause.
    Old Fred, Old Billy, etc. check out his pedigree on All Breeds.

    is up forsale $2700, loves to run, a 4 yr. old, saddle broke. I love reading about the legends and the FQHorses.
    My gelding also goes way back to Steele Dust. He has a sweet disposition and very intelligent/smart. I first learned about Leo,Peter Mc Cue, from the old timers around the Rode-o Grounds where I boarded my horses.

  12. I have War Tank out of War Leo.
    He was my calf horse and all around ranch horse for years helping me train horses too.
    What a great disposition and brain.
    I had to stop roping due to the aftereffects of cancer and retrained him to show in Foundation classes and he did well in that too. 2004 he was all around gelding and ranked 11th nationally in reining after only 1 full year of training.
    He is 25 now – mostly retired although I still ride him 6 days a week for exercise and has some arthritis in his hocks but is still willing to go.
    I’m lucky to have him for sure.

  13. Got one, and he is not for sale! Love him to pieces.
    Has Leo on his Dam’s side, plus all the others in his ped – King, Doc Bar, Three Bars, Sugar Bars, Poco Bueno, Poco Tiveo, Continental King. 14.2 hands tall, smart and real fast, beats the longer-legged Appendix horses in the speed events. All heart, brain and muscle.
    Not a pleasure horse, he’s an all sport horse! Can’t convince him yet Dressage is fun, still working on it.

  14. I own 2 Leo horses and admire them both,a paint mare who was mis handled and a sorrel gelding ,of Leo San to Clarita San,also roughed up now both acting great and the gelding looks like Leo and Leo San..Fantastic.

  15. I owned an own son of Otoe’s Wonder which went back to Leo. Crossed on Leo mares he produced foals that went back to Leo at least 7 times. I have been able to compete on athletic horses that look good and have an awesome brain with a work ethic to match. From jumpers to barrel racing – they shine in the arena. Some have been short. Some have been taller. Those that have been short would have been real tall if they had had cannon bones long enough to match their frames. Cause To Profit was featured in the Greatest Ride section of the Q Journal for her work ethics. Thanks to frozen seman I will be able to continue producing this stunning individuals.

  16. I have a 16 yr old AQHA Copper Red Dun Stallion (dorsal stripe), double bred Leo on bottom & Leo//Azure on the top. He has a great disposition, loaded with muscle, plenty of speed and great headed to go with his great conformation and he passes this on to his foals. He’s thrown Red, Dark & Light Duns, Grays, Palominos, Sorrels, Chestnuts & Buckskins. He crosses good with any size QH and puts good muscle on TB’s. (Not bragging but I really like my Stud) I raised him and I owned his dam, which was a heck of a barrel horse. (AZURES TUFF TE) currently standing at Stud for $400 + mare care. Live cover only (lfg)

  17. I have a 16 yr old AQHA Copper Red Dun Stallion (dorsal stripe), double bred Leo on bottom & Leo//Azure on the top. He has a great disposition, loaded with muscle, plenty of speed and great headed to go with his great conformation and he passes this on to his foals. He’s thrown Red, Dark & Light Duns, Grays, Palominos, Sorrels, Chestnuts & Buckskins. He crosses good with any size QH and puts good muscle on TB’s. (Not bragging but I really like my Stud) I raised him and I owned his dam, which was a heck of a barrel horse. (AZURES TUFF TE) currently standing at Stud for $400 + mare care. Live cover only (lfg) McDonough Ga

  18. I love my gelding. Pulled him off the market. I’ve riding him.
    He is not competitive. He is my trail horse. What I bred for, was a competing trail horse. He has a great disposition. Just love him. My gelding is a bay dun with bars on all 4 legs.
    Hedefinitely is not forsale. Leo on his sire’s side only. I raised Waja as newborn foal, had his dam, g-dam, g-g-dam, & g-g-g-dam. So I know his lineage and love it. He is a smart guy. Easy to teach and learn things.

  19. We had a little filly given to my daughter after the breeder took ill and could no longer take care of his horses. The little filly has been a godsend for my family. My father-in-law use to ride rodeo and his horse was the son of Hank Leo which made Leo his grandfather. He grieved for weeks after that horse died and was never the same, until last month when the little filly came into our world. She is the granddaughter of his beloved horse and somehow she restarted the fire and love of horses all over again. Being retired and living on the same farm as we do he now spends most of his day out in the field with the filly my daughter nick named Lilly. He is already talking about taking the horse to shows and is teaching her how to ride one of our older horses. Lilly has not only given him a new lease on life she has also given him and my daughter something to bond over and love.

  20. I have 2 mares that I was wondering if anyone has any comments on their lines. One has Leo San as her great grandsire, Doc Bar double Great grandsire, and D’arcy’s Otoe another great grandsire.

    The other mare great grandsires Magnolia Pay, Fred B Clymer, Dry Doc and Ima Cutters Doc.

    Any thoughts?


  21. well some of the posts on here got a little age like me, iam 73, any body notice the best son of LEO, THAT WAS ROBIN REED, i was the mgr of ROBIN REED AND ROBIN RED BREAST FOR roy d barnes in 1962 and 1963, also trained his race horses at 5800 no federal denver colo, roy is a famous american horseman, he built the first horse track in colo,. etc etc,. he treated all his employees with high respect, a roy d barnes hand made saddle now is worth collecting so is the cadillac of horse trailers, mfg at the federal address, where he had the top western store and supply in those days in colordo, and beyond,

    i stayed his friend all his days, and he was one of the men who helped me go all the way, the best son of robin reed was probably old tom cat, and the best daughter would of been she kitty, she sat 5 track records in one yr, racing,

    yet i cant find her on the internet, any way a country that forgets its past has no future, and aint we heading down that path at top speed,
    more history, ive trained 3 that are in a hall of fame. and owned one of them, and they refuse to put my name next to those horses, and i have another i started and trained being voted on for a hall of fame, now,

    i appricate roy giving me the decision power to ride his many horses in the early 1960s, thank you, answer any questions you have, any where i think old tom cat went to canada, i dont know where she kitty ended up,

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