Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004
Bert Wood never claimed to be more than a cowboy, but those in the horse industry claim otherwise.
Wood was born in 1907 and grew up on his parents’ ranch, 75 miles north of Tucson, Arizona. He was gathering cattle at an age that most kids were just playing cowboy.
Wood’s father, Martin, had brought some of the first sprint-type horses into Arizona. Bert and his father brought the horses from Texas to Arizona by Horseback, breaking them along the trail.
Such trail drives began his career, breaking and exercising horses at the ripe old age of 8. His first paying job was working on the Hayes Ranch for Zoe Hayes, exercising the horses. One of his charges was a Thoroughbred named Joe Blair. Joe Blair ran a famed race in Juarez, Mexico, in 1915 and lost to Pan Zarita. Despite the loss, Wood resolved to some day have the Joe Blair bloodline in his horses.
The next big event in Wood’s life took place in 1941. He heard about a grandson of Joe Blair in Texas and made a trip to buy the horse. A son of Joe Reed, Joe Reed II was a 5-year-old that had never been saddled. Wood also purchased a daughter of Joe Reed, named Little Fanny. Little Fanny had recently been bred to Joe Reed II, and the pair produced the legendary Leo just prior to Wood’s purchase.
Joe Reed II became a good cow pony and the foundation of the Wood breeding program. Joe Reed II was raced only three times due to an injury. He was undefeated in all three races, even beating AQHA World Champion Clabber. The chestnut stallion was named champion stallion for the 1942-1943 racing season.
Wood bred many outstanding Quarter Horses, like Little Sister W, who set a track record in 1949. One of the most famous horses that Wood bred was television’s talking palomino, “Mr. Ed.”
Wood continued to ranch and breed Quarter Horses until his death in 2001 at the age of 94. He said in a 1982 interview, “I’ve lived a helluva good life, I consider. I just punch cows; I’ve been a cowboy all my life and a horseman. But that’s about the size of it. I never did amount to a helluva lot.”
Wood was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004.