March 25, 1917 – July 26, 2002
Waldo Paul Haythorn was born at the Haythorn Home Ranch on March 25, 1917 during a spring blizzard. His father Walt, rodeo horseback for 40 miles and 22 gates to open to get the doctor and bring him back to help with the delivery. Waldo was the only child of Hazel and Walt Haythorn.
Waldo attended school in Lemoyne, NE for one year before he and his mother moved to Ogallala where he attended school throughout his freshman year. Waldo finished his high school years at St. Johns Military Academy in Salina, KS. That fall he attended Colorado State University, in the veterinarian program. After a short time there, he missed the ranch, so returned home. In 1937, he enrolled in Ryons School of Aeronautics in San Diego. After three months of flight school, he returned home and continued to fly his own plane.
In the summer of 1939, Waldo met Beldora Cochran of Sutherland, Nebraska at the Sutherland Rodeo and they went to the dance. Waldo continued his “wooing” of her and would fly over her parents’ farm and drop her love notes. A year later, Bel’s mother took her to the Ogallala Rodeo where she saw Waldo and handed him a cartoon from a newspaper that said, “Sure she would marry him, how many acres did he have?” Waldo drove her home that night and proposed.
In 1941, he joined the service and was placed in the Civilian Pilot Training Program where he trained pilots for the Army and Navy at training centers in NE and KS. In 1943, he married Beldora Cochran and they honeymooned in New Mexico and Texas buying horses. To the marriage, two children were born, Sally and Craig. Sally is a retired speech/language pathologist and Craig continues to run the ranch with his two sons, Sage and Cord.
Waldo judged Quarter Horse shows for many years including halter, cutting and youth shows. He conducted the first AQHA clinic in Ames, Iowa and many more in New York, Arkansas, Utah, and New Mexico. Waldo liked to tell about the time he went to Cornell University to the Quarter Horse clinic. He was selected to be on a panel with four veterinarians, all from the east. Since he was the only panel member from the west and the only one that wasn’t a veterinarian, he was getting many questions and one of the vets contested nearly every answer Waldo gave. Waldo continued to be asked about foal heat, conception, infections, and vet concerns, but finally Waldo said, “Sir, I’m sorry, I am not a highly educated man, but out where I come from, there’s a lot of green grass and good water and what I have told you is true. But unfortunately, God did not go to Cornell University.” The audience gave Waldo a standing ovation.
Waldo competed in cutting, calf roping, team roping and single steer roping. He was one of the original Turtle members with Gold Card number ninety-six. Good top quarter horses carried him to his many trophies and winnings. In January 1993, the Haythorns were honored by the AQHA at the National Cattlemen’s Association convention in Phoenix, Arizona, with the First Inaugural Best Remuda in America Award. Waldo and Bel received the award, which was only fitting as they put a lifetime into building the horse program that led to the award. Haythorns are the largest breeder of the American Quarter Horse in the United States and the third largest in the world. 1994 marked the 110th year of ranching in the Nebraska Sandhills for the Haythorn family. Waldo added knew good horseflesh and cattle and managed to add several thousand acres to the existing ranch with hard work, a tight budget and simply loving what he was doing. Until his stroke, he worked every day in the hay field, fencing, working cattle, feeding cattle with a team or calving. Waldo and the Haythorn family have received many awards over the years. In 1996 Waldo was inducted in to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame receiving the Chester A. Reynolds Award. Waldo was a very colorful man who loved to visit and share his stories. He could entertain an individual or group for hours with his quick wit, humor and exciting stories. One of his favorite sayings was, “The West has been hard on women and horses!” One of the things that made him the happiest was for someone to come up and say, “Hi Cowboy.” He would then say, “That’s the greatest thing I’ve heard today.” Waldo will always be remembered as a true cowboy and he was always proud to be called one!