George Robert “G.R.” Carter Jr. was already famous among Quarter Horse people, but his induction earlier this month into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame was very special for him.
“It makes me feel like my career was worthy,” Carter said a few days ago by telephone. He grew up in Pawhuska and finished high school here in 1986.
Carter, 55, now of Oklahoma City, explained he began getting on race horses when he was 14. He started to race after the eighth grade, to make spending money. He needed money to finance his “rodeo habit,” he said. His sister, Trini Haddon, said he also wanted to buy a truck.
Carter said he had several early influences, but he particularly recalled the encouragement of horse trainer Gene Herren, who told him that he was the perfect candidate to be a jockey because he was athletic, gritty and had always been around horses. He participated in gymnastics as a youth, which Trini Haddon said made him flexible and limber. He also rode bulls and wrestled.
Perhaps more than anything else, G.R. apparently just hated to come in second at anything. Haddon related that he was upset that a B-plus in a typing class kept him from finishing at the top of his high school class. The long-term results of his competitive spirit are significant.
In a note about Carter’s achievements, the American Quarter Horse Association said he had 4,001 race victories atop Quarter Horses and nearly 5,000 racing victories overall. He retired with more than $75 million of mount earnings, making him the all-time leading money-earning jockey in American Quarter Horse racing history. He has been inducted into other halls of fame, as well,
His mother, Frankie, said she is very proud of her son.
“He’s a local legend, no doubt about it,” Cody Garnett, of Pawhuska, said. Garnett is owner of the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum, where you can find an exhibit regarding Carter’s jockey career. Garnett said Carter comes from a steer-roping family, and noted that not one, but two bobblehead dolls had been made in honor of G.R.
“He’s the very best in his sport and that says something,” Garnett said. “He should have been inducted a long time ago.”
Trini Haddon said her brother has always really identified with horses.
“To me, he’s always been one with the horse,” she said. Haddon said that her brother continues to do team roping and steer roping, even though he has retired as a jockey.