GEORGE B. HATLEY, “MR. APPALOOSA,” DIES AT 87 George B. Hatley, past executive secretary of the Appaloosa Horse Club and one of the breed’s most tireless supporters, died September 16 (2011) in Moscow, Idaho, of causes related to age. He was 87.
He was widely known in the horse world as “Mr. Appaloosa” for his efforts to preserve and promote the Appaloosa horse, and is a member of the Appaloosa Hall of Fame.
Hatley was born July 18, 1924, to Ray and Neva Dole Hatley on the Hatley ranch south of Pullman, Washington. He attended elementary school at the Irene country school near Union Flat Creek, riding horseback to the schoolhouse. He was exposed to Appaloosas and stories about them at a young age. A great uncle had fought in the Nez Perce War of 1877, and a smattering of area farmers, cowboys, and native Americans still possessed the occasional Appaloosa.
In 1936 Hatley’s family moved to a farm west of Moscow, near the present location of the Appaloosa Horse Club. He graduated from Moscow High School in 1942. He acquired an Appaloosa stallion, Toby II, during this period, and after reading an article about Appaloosas in an issue of “Western Horseman,” joined the newly created Appaloosa Horse Club as member No. 45.
Hatley worked on the construction of Farragut Naval Training Station and later took basic Navy training there. After discharge from the Navy , he met ApHC founder Claude Thompson, who soon appointed him to be his assistant. Hatley took the reins as executive secretary in 1947, the same year he married Iola Golden. He attended the University of Idaho on the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree in animal husbandry.
The couple’s son, Craig, was born in 1955. Hatley worked as executive secretary of the Appaloosa Horse Club for 31 years, the early ones without pay. He started the association’s magazine, “Appaloosa News” (now “Appaloosa Journal”), published its first studbooks, implemented the first National Appaloosa Show and Sale (held in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1948 and 1949), and started the Appaloosa Museum.
He wrote hundreds of articles and several books, including “Horse Camping,” a classic now in its third printing. He was instrumental in development of the Chief Joseph Appaloosa Trail Ride, and rode the 1,300-mile route of the Nez Perce War Trail twice. He also completed the 100-mile, one-day Western States Trail Ride, or Tevis Cup, across the Sierra Nevada. Hatley enjoyed horse racing and had two winning lines come from his breeding program.
The Appaloosa racing stallion Double Patch won 22 races, and another stallion, Apache Double, won 18 races and went on to become an all-time leading sire. He was a longtime cattleman who also enjoyed driving horses and collecting horse-drawn vehicles. He made his Deary, Idaho, ranch available for Pony Club, dressage and combined training, 4-H trail rides, and driving events.
The Apalousey Trail Ride and Dutch Oven Dinner, a benefit for the Appaloosa Museum, has been held there the past 14 years. Hatley received numerous honors throughout his life, including membership in the Idaho Hall of Fame and a showcasing in “Sports Illustrated.” In 2004, the United States Pony Clubs designated Hatley a legend for his efforts on behalf of USPC. He greatly prized an honor presented to him during a Lewiston Roundup by the Nez Perce tribe, where he was presented with a pair of beaded buckskin gauntlet gloves and a Pendleton blanket.
Hatley is survived by his widow Iola at their Moscow home, along with son Craig and daughter-in-law Cheri Hatley in Deary, plus grandchildren Justin Hatley and Danielle Hatley Pierson (Derek), and a sister, Veletta Frink. He was preceded in death by his parents and by a sister, Berneda Hamilton. Details of a memorial service are pending. Burial of ashes will be at the Hatley Cemetery south of Pullman.
Hatley left an epitaph for his gravestone, which is to read, “He has returned to the hills he loved as a boy, and will be a part of them forever.” Memorial contributions may be made to the Appaloosa Museum, 2720 West Pullman Road, Moscow, ID 83843, and the Hatley Cemetery, P.O. Box 1035, Pullman, WA 99163.