Who Was Baby Doll Combs?
Baby Doll Combs was a legendary steer wrestling horse.
Below: An honorary headstone for the famous mare, Baby Doll Combs, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. The stone is a tribute to the mare, but she is not actually buried here.
Baby Doll Combs (1947 - 1960) was a brown (some sources say bay) American Quarter Horse mare. She rose to fame in the 1950s as a steer wrestling horse extraordinaire, repeatedly carrying numerous professional steer wrestlers to the pay window.
At 14.1 hands tall, Baby Doll Combs was short in stature but reported to be big in heart, try, and determination by the steer wrestlers that rode and loved her. From 1953 to 1960 her accomplishments in the rodeo arena earned her riders more than $400,000, which is roughly equivalent to $3.5 million today. Adjusting once more to allow for today's significantly higher payouts means that sum would be even higher.
Baby Doll Combs was not only famous among steer wrestlers and other rodeo contestants, she became a fan favorite as well. Her accomplishments were featured in numerous newspapers, and in 1958 she was even featured in an article for Life magazine.
A Farewell To Baby Doll
The talented mare was only 13 years old when she began showing signs of colic at a rodeo in Salina, KS. A veterinarian diagnosed her with a ruptured intestine, and she died in the arms of her heartbroken owner, Willard Combs.
Mr. Combs took his beloved mare back to Checotah, OK, to bury her at home. No fewer than 11 steer wrestlers attended a graveside service for her. Life magazine once again reported on the mare, sending a photographer to capture the service on film. One touching photo showed Willard Combs wiping away a tear.
Honors and Official Recognition
Baby Doll Combs' legendary career did not go unnoticed. Her life and accomplishments were honored in several different ways.
- She was a fan favorite and was featured in numerous newspapers in her day.
- In 1958 she was featured in an article for Life magazine.
- She was inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year it opened.
- She was inducted into the America Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame in 2004.
- The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK has honored the mare by placing an honorary headstone for her in an area of outdoor exhibits.
Below: Baby Doll Combs' honorary headstone at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.
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