I.J. Carey, a lifetime APHA member, longtime state director and Paint promoter from Mitchell, South Dakota, passed away February 8, 2021, at the age of 93.
I.J. showed others what it meant to truly be a life-long horseman. He was still caring for and breeding Paint Horses on his 60-acre property well into his nineties. He is listed as the founder of the South Dakota Paint Horse Club, earned the APHA Distinguished Service Award in 1992, bred more than 200 Paint Horses and still acted as a state director for South Dakota.
But I.J.’s interest in horses started long before he was breeding and selling horses.
“When I was in grade school and even in high school, I rode horseback to school, six miles one way,” I.J. said.
His family ranch was always home to colored horses, and after graduating high school and marrying his high school sweetheart, Irene, they carried on riding and participating in saddle club and play day events.
In 1970, I.J. founded the South Dakota Paint Horse Club and served as president for two years and treasurer for many more. Irene, now deceased, took the position of president with many local saddle clubs, and she also produced a local Paint Horse publication for many years.
I.J. worked as a railroad depot agent for 37 years, which took the Carey family, including Irene and their four children, across the state of South Dakota. The whole family rode horses in one way or another. All four children learned to ride and showed. His daughter Roxi Rasten, who still rides Paint Horses, says the horses were always part of the family as the family moved east to follow railroad jobs.
Even after retiring from the railroad, I.J. still worked part-time as a greeter at a local Walmart.
“These horses have got to have hay!” he told the Paint Horse Journal in 2018.
I.J. owned the first registered Paint Horse stallion in South Dakota, named Poco Blue Buck L.
“There were some Quarter Horse people who were bringing some quite well-bred horses up from Texas to South Dakota, and I happened to see a colt out in their pasture with a few spots on him,” he said. “So at weaning time, I purchased him. He had spots on his chest and a couple little airplane propeller spots on his sides, and a bald face.”
Poco Blue Buck L was a 1971 buckskin overo stallion by Buck L Little (QH) and out of Foxie Hand (QH). Paired with I.J.’s keen eye for quality horses, the stallion sired 26 foals, many of whom became favorites for other local horsemen.
We salute I.J. and thank him for his contributions to APHA and the Paint Horse breed. Condolences go out to his family and friends.
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The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.