Eastern Idaho Horsemen Hall of Fame

The Eastern Idaho Horseman Hall of Fame will induct five new honorees at its annual banquet May 3 in Idaho Falls.

The EIHHOF recognizes and pays tribute to those individuals who, through a lifetime of involvement and action, have made significant, positive and lasting contributions to the horse industry.

The banquet starts with a no-host bar at 6:30 p.m., followed by a catered beef dinner at 7 p.m. at the Hampton Inn at 2500 Channing Way.

The inductees will receive their awards by this year’s War Bonnet Roundup royalty, including Miss War Bonnet Roundup Tori Wanner and Miss Gem State Classic Pro Rodeo Jenni Nelson.

Tickets are $25 per person and may be obtained from EIHHF board members. Anyone interested in attending is urged to contact a board member in their area:

n Dale Clark, Blackfoot, 208-221-5003.

n Keith Munns, Rexburg, 208-351-3377 or 208-221-1090.

n Arlene Wilker, Grace, 208-540-0184.

n Pete McGary, Hamer, 208-662-5277.

n Boyd Schvaneveldt, Pocatello, 208-221-6132.

n Betsy Furniss, St. Anthony, 208-346-1716.

Brief biographies of this year’s inductees are shown below:

VerNon Roche, Mackay

VerNon Roche, from Mackay, was raised on a ranch in northern Utah and started riding colts at a very young age.

His father, Doug Roche, and Blane Schvaneveldt would buy the colts and VerNon would break them.

Roche He started to rodeo with the “worlds first miniature rodeo” from Garland, Utah. He entered in the bareback riding and calf roping on Shetland ponies.

Later, he participated in high school rodeo in the steer wrestling, cow cutting and calf roping events. He won the Utah All-Around cowboy his senior year.

He went to Ricks College — now Brigham Young University-Idaho — on a football scholarship, but when Mel Griffeth, the rodeo coach, said he would match the scholarship, Roche said he would rather rodeo.

Roche liked to work as a pickup man at the rodeos. For years, he participated in the steer wrestling event. He always rode good horses that he and his brother, LaMar, trained.

Roche married Joanne Coates and moved to Mackay where they live on the family ranch. They have three children: Sherry, Jay and Travis. He taught school for 30 years as the ag teacher and FFA adviser.

Today, Roche rides horses to sort and gather cattle and still breaks a few gentle colts for their nine grandchildren.

Todd Pebbles, St. Anthony

Todd Pebbles, from St. Anthony, started riding horses at a very young age and still rides today helping many ranchers in the area, breaking colts and mules, along with many other activities in the horse arena.

During high school, he worked for the Teton Trail Rides Dude Ranch in Teton National Park. Pebbles rode bareback horses for several years in the amateur associations around Idaho and Wyoming but after starting a family, moved on to a more profitable avenue breaking colts with Herb Hayworth. He has been breaking colts since 1983 and is still at it today.

Pebbles also owned and bred “Billy the Kid Irwin” by the Skipper W/ Hank Wiescamp horse line. He still owns and is raising horses today.

Some of the people Pebbles gives credit to for his knowledge, experience and education include ― but are not limited to ― Herb Hayworth, Noel Skinner, Tom Robinson and his dad for “making him get back on.” He also credits many other friends and family members.

During the 36 years of breaking colts, he has also been very active in team roping, 4-H and judging horse shows, queen contests, state fairs, mule clinics and horse sales.

Pebbles has held a full-time career and raised his family during his time with the horses. His kids and many other people have been positively influenced and have horses in their lives due to Pebbles’ expertise.

Craig Wilker, Grace

Craig Wilker, from Grace, was born in 1945 where he grew up on the family ranch located on the Bear River.

His youth was full of his favorite ranching activities on a good horse and working cattle. The same activities that gets him excited today, nearly 60 years later.

From his childhood and even now, Wilker always looked forward to the recognition for his ranch and performance horses, at the Caribou County Fair and Eastern Idaho State Fair at the end of hard work.

His family would trail cattle from the Thatcher to Gentile Valley Cattle Co. summer pasture on the west side of Grays Lake. The drive would take four long days, all on horseback and camping out. Wilker and his older brother, Curtis, still reminisce about the great times they had on the cattle drive. They couldn’t figure why their mother thought it was work.

Wilker has been a member of the Gentile Valley Cattle Land and Cattle Co. for over 50 years and is currently serving as president of the company. He was a range rider for the company for five summers. This required being horseback for most of the days for six days a week. It was an opportunity to put enough time to help them reach their potential.

Wilker and his wife, Janice, moved to Grace where he taught school for 30 years besides running his cattle ranch when he started to raise and train his own ranch horses.

Team poping, penning and sorting become popular at this time. Wilker enjoyed his horses and participating in all of these events over the years. Wilker has built his ranch into a large cattle operation and still remains and thrives in Thatcher. He is in total with Augustus McCrea from Lonesome Dove: “There ain’t nothing better than riding a fine horse across new country.”

Jeff Warburton, Victor

Jeff Warburton was raised on a cattle ranch in Grouse Creek, Utah. Coming from three generations of ranchers, he developed his love of horses early.

Warburton attended Utah State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in animal science and went on to receive a master’s degree in agricultural systems technology from USU as well. While at USU, he taught in the horsemanship program.

While attending USU, Warburton and his wife, Cindy, worked for the summers at the Bar T 5 in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which was owned and operated by Bill and Joyce Thomas.

After graduating from USU, Warburton worked with Sawtooth Saddle Co. as a saddle and gear maker and a salesman in Vernal, Utah. While in Vernal, he taught horse classes for Utah State University at their satellite campus.

In 1997, Warburton and his brother, Chris, and their wives bought part of the Bar T 5 in Jackson Hole. In 2007, they purchased the rest of the Bar T 5 and won the contract for the National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides.

Over the years, Jeff has shared his love of horses with not only all of his children and grandchildren but with all those he has come in contact with, he currently lives in Victor.

Kleal Hill, Arco

Kleal Hill grew up on the family ranch near Mackay, the son of Bruce and Theda Hill.

As a youngster Hill had a keen interest in all animals. This interest was the driving force to attend Washington State University where he graduated in 1978 as a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Hill and his wife, Susan, established the Lost Rivers Veterinary Clinic in Arco, where he has been in a single-vet practice for 40 years. The practice sees everything but reptiles. Thousands of miles are traveled every year in caring for livestock health. He spays and neuters hundreds of dogs and cats, but horses are his personal passion.

Following Susan’s barrel racing, Hill developed a strong interest in horse training, leading to many years of breeding, training and showing horses. He helped many a high school student learn to cow cut for high school rodeo.

Through the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s, Hill was active and successful in amateur reined cowhorse events throughout Idaho and Utah, eventually making his appearance at the national level.

Hill was on the original committee to organize the Central Idaho Futurity and stallion auction eventually becoming the president a job he still holds today. The association became the Central Idaho Reined Cowhorse. He has organized 30-plus nationally recognized shows in Arco.

Hill is one of the original committee members of the Central Idaho Horse Show Association, organized over 30 years ago where he and his wife are on the board of directors. He held a board position for the Intermountain Reined Cowhorse Association for 10 years and served on the Butte County Fair board for 20 years and is an active member in the Mountain Valley Horseman’s Association for over 30 years assisting with putting on the open horse show every year. Always willing to help anyone who will ask and few who don’t, with their horse training problems.

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