Cowboy Long Rider

Donald Stearns
2023 Nominee

Donald G. Stearns was born February 20, 1925 to Elvis and Florence Stearns. He was raised on a ranch near Karinen, SD, in NW Harding County, attended grade school at Karinen and graduated from Spearfish HS in 1943. He joined the Army Air Corps and served in Texas and Arizona until the end of World War II.

Donald married Donna Olson when he returned to the ranch. They had seven children. After Donna’s passing in 1985, he married Ethel Waara.

Don started raising quarter horses in 1957 and purchased his first stallion, Sputnik I, in 1959. This stallion became the foundation for what was to become one of the largest broodmare bands in the country. At one time in the early to mid-1980s, they bred 300-320 broodmares and registered more weanlings with the AQHA than any other producer. Their first ranch production sale was in 1963 and was one of the first sales of the kind in the country. The sales continued until 1992.

In the early 1970’s, Don and Donna’s four youngest children successfully participated in high school rodeo. During these years Don worked tirelessly to promote high school rodeo in North Dakota. When a contestant would need a horse to compete on or roping steers, calves or goats to practice on, he would provide them with what they needed.

Don was on the Board of Directors in the SDQHA in 1961. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the NDQHA in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He served as North Dakota’s Director for the AQHA from 1972 -1990 and was inducted into the NDQHA Hall of Fame in January, 2020. He was a founding member and president of the ND Quarter Horse Breeders Association in the early 1980’s. He was one of the first members of the ND High School Rodeo Association and served on the Board of Directors and as its president in the 1970’s. Don was a charter member of the Western SD Buckaroos and rode on the trail rides from 1966-1992.

Don died September 22, 1992 north of Buffalo SD.