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☛ Joe Hayes dies in one-car accident 6-27-18



By Glory Ann Kurtz
June 27, 2018

He was one of those horse trainers that everyone loved and respected. However, Joe Hayes, 67, Gainesville, Texas, was killed Saturday night, June 23, on Cooke County, Texas, road in a one-car accident. He died at the scene and was the only person in his beloved Corvette. According to the Texas Highway Patrol, he evidently hit a cow on the road, went off the road, through some grass and into a creek bottom.


Joe has over 30 years in the reining horse industry and during that time, he placed in the top 10 in reining at the AQHA World Show, the NRHA Open Futurity and Derby as well as numerous Intermediate Open Futurity finals placings.


He was a lifetime member of the NRHA and had an NRHA and AQHA Judge’s card for over 25 years and had judged and given clinics around the US. And Canada, as well as 24 foreign countries. He judged such prestigious events as the NRBC Derby, the AQHA World Show and the NRHA Derby. He also served on the NRHA Judges Committee.


In 2010, Joe was the second leading breeder of reining horses in the world and he did that with only five broodmares. According to Equi-Stat, he earned $44,404 as a rider and bred the winners of $910,648.


He brought the “scholarly approach” to the reining industry, having graduated from Cornell University, an IVY League School in Ithaca, New York. He taught Vocational Agriculture in high school and at a two-year Ag and Tech college. He also served on the Board of North Central College.


He started in the horse business full time in 1974 with Howard Pitzer in Ericson, Neb. In those days, Howard’s great stallion Two Eyed Jack was the leading Quarter Horse sire, giving Joe ample opportunity to work in the breeding barn as well as with halter, pleasure and reining horses.


One particular rope horse that Joe was competing on, a pretty grey stallion named Goldfingers changed Joe’s future. Bob Loomis, one of the top reining horse trainers in the country, was quick to recognize a great  horse and Goldfingers was just that. Later, he offered Joe a job, which he took, and it worked into a seven and a half year stint, which was at the top of Loomis’ reining career. It gave Joe a chance to start and ride some of the great reining horses of that time, including Lady Eldorado, Caassandra Cody, Benito Paprika and the great Topsail Cody. In the fall of 1983, he moved to Gainesville, Texas, and started his own training operation.


Joe was born Nov. 26, 1950, to Thomas “Tom” and Mary (Welch) Hayes, in Troy, New York. He married Mary Elizabeth (Liz) Stone on December 20, 1992, at the First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Texas. Together they had one son, Ty Hayes.

Joe was raised in the Catholic religion and served as an altar boy. He had been a resident of Gainesville since 1983.

He is survived by his wife, Liz, son Ty Hayes of Denton; step-son Keck Baker and wife Jen, step-daughter Holly Bougin and husband Matt both of Old Church, Virginia; Mother, Mary Hayes of Schaghticoke, New York; two step-granddaughters, Annebelle and Emmy Lou; Two step-grandsons, Liam & Baker’ brothers, Daniel Hayes of New York and Jimmy Hayes of South Carolina and two sisters, Maureen Hayes and Patty Westscott. He was preceded in death by his father and brother Bobby Hayes.


Joe was one of the “good guys” in the horse industry and my late husband, Bob, and I personally loved and respected Joe. He was gracious enough to hold one of his educational clinics at our facility in Boyd, Texas, that we hosted for the Wise County Horse Committee. His passing is a great loss to the entire horse industry.


Services will be held at 4:00 p.m., Monday, July 2, 2018, at the Cowboy Church in Oakridge, Texas.





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One Comment

  1. So terribly sad to hear of Joe’s passing. Only met him once when he came to judge a SAQHA show in South Africa some years ago. I was so thrilled he was due to come and judge our show again this August and looked forward to seeing him again. He really made a huge impression on me with his love and knowledge of horses and his straight talk and good advice. Indeed the loss of a great guy. My sincere condolences to his family and all who loved him.

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