The horse industry is full of highly successful individuals whom have chosen to spend their time and money showing and/or breeding horses at the top level. Have you ever wondered how these people became successful in their non-horse related business ventures? Are they self-made, or were they raised already knowing the good life?
GoHorseShow.com is honored to profile long time breeders and exhibitors such as Darol Rodrock, Debby Brehm, and Linda Gordon as well as relative newcomers to the industry; Tom Corea, Mike Farina and Sue Dempze. One thing is for certain--they all have fascinating stories to tell.
Did you know that one was an orphan and one owned a string of movie theaters. We will also talk to a Vice-President of an oil company and the foremost expert in Federal tribal law in the country. There is also a berry grower and a business entrepreneur involved with liquidating assets. While they all have different backgrounds, the one thing they share is their love of horses.
Profiled here is Texas halter horse lover and oil executive, Linda Gordon of Fossil Gate Farms.
Linda and Gary Gordon are no doubt passionate about halter horses. Located in Argyle, Texas, Fossil Gate Farms, stands some of the top halter stallions in the industry, including--Mr Yella Fella, Im Tee Totally Cool, Desperado, Image of Kid, FG A Tru Fella, and FG Versace. About six years ago, the Gordons bought, Mr Yella Fella, from James Kifer at his dispersal sale for 1.4 million dollars to round out their already exceptional breeding program. Mr Yella Fella, a two-time AQHA and PHBA World Champion is the current PHBA and AQHA leading halter sire and has been for several years.
"Gary and I love the challenge of breeding high quality halter horses that have correct structure and conformation," Linda says. "Anyone can breed an average horse, but our goal is to constantly breed World Show quality halter horses. Unlike performance horses, we can market halter horses as soon as they hit the ground. From an economic standpoint, it make more sense for us to be involved in this part of the industry."
Married for over 16 years, this couple met at an APHA show in Athens, Texas where Gary was judging the show. At the time, Gary was training reining, pleasure, and halter horses in Germany, but he would travel back and forth to the United States to judge shows. Linda says she was set up by show management to go ask Gary for his social security card.
"Gary was kind of gruff the first time I met him," Linda said. "He ended up jumping down my throat. He said he was Canadian and that he didn't need to give her any information. I went back to show management and told them they were going to have to get the information they needed because he wasn't very friendly."
Gary adds, "We met up again when I was judging a show in Waco, Texas when she was my ring steward. Without even looking up, I told her she was wearing nice perfume. She has been smitten ever since." Linda laughs and remarks that she doesn't exactly remember it that way. But the Gordon's are a great team that are working together to breed some of the top horses in the halter industry.
Linda grew up in Dallas, Texas on a cattle ranch, and, in '76, she received her B.A. in Business Administration and a minor in Advertising from Southern Methodist University. Gary grew up in Alberta, Canada where his grandfather and father raised mainly draft horses. "This was a time when horses were still used on farms to help in the crop fields," Gary explained. "The bulldozer and the tractor had yet to come along."
Linda is involved with her family's oil and gas business where she is the Vice President of Thompson Petroleum Corporation and also runs two very large cattle ranches in Texas.
Her father, James Cleo Thompson, Jr. started Thompson Petroleum in 1952. He became involved in the business after purchasing a few oil and gas leases. Her father just recently turned 80 and is still active in the company. Linda's younger sister, Christy Thompson, 40, is also involved with running the business.
Gordon's job responsibilities include finding perspective deals, putting them together, and hiring the companies to do the drilling. The company also sells the oil and gas to major oil and gas companies throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. "I love the oil and gas business. It is a challenge and not very many women are involved in this industry. I enjoy dealing with all the people--from the rough necks to the corporate executives," Linda explained. "I can deal with all sorts of individuals, and I also like going out to the wells and oil rigs and oversee that aspect of the company as well."
Their main office is in Dallas, Texas, and they also have smaller satellite offices in Odessa, Ozona, and Crane, Texas as well as in New Mexico. They have over 100 employees where Gordon handles the insurance for all the employees and pays the bills. "I think we have been successful in the oil and horse business because we are honest. We treat people like we want to be treated. It takes years to develop a good reputation but only minutes to ruin one," Gordon said. "You have to be lucky at what you do, but you also have to have a clear understanding of what you do, and love what you do in order to be successful."
Gordon considers her father her mentor and role model. "I am so close to my father. I have learned everything from him. I was a tomboy growing up so I did everything with him. He taught me about all aspects of the business," she said. "My father is a very happy, well respected and driven person who has never met a stranger. He taught me to never say I can't do something and told me to enjoy challenges--not to back away from them."
Her family which includes her father, mother, Dorothy, and sister, Christy, also own and run commercial cattle and sheep ranches in Texas. Their 20,000 acre ranch in Granbury, Texas has strictly commercial cattle that they raise and sell. Their 30,000 acre ranch in Ozona, Texas has both commercial cattle and sheep. "I learned how to dehorn, vaccinate, castrate, and brand the cattle when I was growing up," she said. "We also have hunting trips for our oil and gas clients at our ranches where they come hunting for deer, turkey, and javelin. We give them four meals a day, take them on guided hunting trips, and also clean the deer for them."
Linda developed her love of horses when she was a young girl growing up on the ranches and riding all types of horses. "My first horse was a Paint, and I rode her first when I was 4 months old. When I got older, my father never knew what I would bring back to the farm on horseback. One time, I brought back a fawn that I had roped myself and brought back across my saddle when its mother was nowhere to be found."
After she graduated from high school, she decided to wanted to show her horse at the Texas State Fair. "I showed in the pleasure class, trail, and halter classes. Of course, I went 9-0 in the pleasure class and lapped everyone, but I had a good time."
After college, Linda bought some show horses and has been involved in the industry ever since. The Gordon's want to continue their involvement with horses and possibly get involved in raising, buying, and selling race horses as a new challenge. Meanwhile, they want to continue with breeding and showing halter horses. Even though they had a successful breeding season this past year, Linda says that her involvement with the cattle ranches and the oil and gas business has definitely helped support her horse habit.
As far as her equine accomplishments, Gordon has many, but there are two that stand out from the rest. "One being finding Sock Broker as a weanling and developing him into a leading sire for the American Paint Horse. He also was a number one for several years," Linda says. "The second one being FG A Tru Fella. Although we did not breed him, I was there when he drew his first breath. He has done everything we have ever asked of him starting with winning the Reichert, followed with me winning the Select World with him last year. He now has a number of mares in foal, and I will be sitting at the stalls anxiously awaiting them."
The Gordon's express that they have remained in the horse industry because of their love of horses and the people they have met along the way. They are highly respected as breeders of Quarter, Palomino and Paint horses. Their stallions have certainly influenced the high standards demanded by halter horse enthusiasts exhibiting today, and we look forward to their continued involvement in the industry.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Linda for a number of years as well as working with her within the APHA. She is an honest down to earth hard working gal, with a true passions for horses. She is sweet, kind and considerate. We luv ya Linda!