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The White Horse Ranch

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white horse ranch

2006 will be the last official season for tours and the ranch open to the public. After many years of faithful service, Carley and Dean are retiring. They will be missed and this Historic Ranch will be missed by all those with memories of the shows, the people and the uniqueness of the dream by Cal and Ruth Thompson.

The White Horse Ranch's History.
In the late 1800's - Dick Wright family homesteads where the current buildings used to be a trading center with general store, blacksmith shop, dairy farm, lumber yard, etc. The trading post operated into the 1930's when the Wrights went bankrupt.
1890 - Caleb Thompson was born in the Westpoint, NE area.
1906 - A white horse know as OLD KING was born. He was owned by Professor Newell of Illinois and was used for breeding circus horses.
1908 - Ruth Hackenberg was born outside Burr Oak, KS.
1917 - Caleb Thompson and twin brother, Hudson, who were successful Hereford ranchers bought the stallion, Old King, and began breeding white horses with their Morgan mares.
1934 - Caleb (Cal) Thompson, while driving truck, met Ruth Hackenberg who was teaching school in Tuthill, SD.

Cal and Ruth Thompson     cal and ruth thompson
Cal and Ruth Thompson

1936 - Cal & Ruth were married and bought out brother Hudson's share of the white horse breeding program. Cal and Ruth settled on Doc Clark's spread south of the Niobrara River and called the place White Horse Place.
1937 - The Thompsons started the breed registry and named it the American Albino Horse Club. They began showing their white horses at local events.
1938 - The Thompsons moved to the present ranch of nearly 2,400 acres and named it "El Rancho del Caballo Blanco". However all the local folks called it the WHITE HORSE RANCH. The name stuck and a legend began. The Thompsons began their training and riding school for children and started touring with their White Horse Troupe with children from the school doing the performing.
1945 - Life Magazine visited the ranch to do a writeup which appeared in the August 13, 1945 issue. The White Horse Ranch has been featured in many other magazines, also.
1946 - Warner Brothers studio made a movie short about the White Horse Ranch.
1940's - 50's The White Horse Troupe became internationally famous and toured all over the United States and Canada. Many visitors came to the White Horse Ranch.

white horse troupe
The White Horse Troupe

1952 - Warner Brothers again visited the White Horse Ranch to make a movie short. The two movies, "Ride a White Horse" and Ranch in White", are at the Lincoln, Nebraska State Archives and can be viewed by video there.
1963 - Caleb R. Thompson died on June 15, 1963 and was buried at Knoll Crest Cemetery outside Naper, Nebraska. He had always desired a burial on the White Horse Ranch. In 1990 his body was exhumed and transferred to the Leatherman Family cemetery which is surrounded by White Horse Ranch pasturelands. Mrs. Thompson, for health reasons, had to close down the ranch, lease the pasturelands, auction off ranch equipment and sell the herd. She placed breeding stock horses with friends and white horse breeders to preserve the bloodlines of Old King's Descendents.
1970 - Ruth Thompson incorporated another breed registry in Crabtree, Oregon and called it the American Albino Assn. Inc. She continued to spend her summers at her favorite ranch in Nebraska. 1985 - Ruth, realizing her age, moved the registry back to Naper, Nebraska and renamed it the International American Albino Assn., INC. as she was now registering horse internationally.
1988 - Ruth Thompson contracted with Carley & Dean Daugherty to start restoration of the White Horse Ranch. Carley, as a little girl, had ridden with the WHR troupe. The Thompsons were her legal guardians for three years and remained close friends.

 carley daugherty                      carley and dean daugherty
Dean and Carley Daugherty

1989 - Dean Daugherty retired from Maricopa County Sheriff's office, Phoenix, AZ and the Daugherty's came to Nebraska to begin restoration work.
1990 - Ruth Thompson died in Oregon on May 30, 1990 and her body was shipped to Nebraska for burial. Cal hompson's body was exhumed and reburied next to Ruth's in the Leatherman Cemetery on a hill just east of the ranch buildings and overlooking the Niobrara River valley. Ruth's sister, Ruby Shumaker, continued restoration of WHR.

niobrara river
Niobrara River

June 30 - Ruth Thompson was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. July 5 - The White Horse Ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1992 - The White Horse Ranch officially opened to the public for tours.
1995 - The WHR was publicized in the June, 1995 issue of Country Home Magazine.
Today - The Daughertys continue the tradition of the Thompsons involvement with children for ranch activities including 4-H day camps, range judging for local schools, Vacation Bible Schools and of course the white horse herd. The horses include trick trained routines, jumping routines and a roman team. Each even numbered year the White Horse Troupe alumni group returns to the WHR to celebrate together on Fathers Day Weekend. A museum, campgrounds and fishing ponds are available to visitors.

white horse museum

Information compiled by Carley Daugherty