June 25, 1930 – October 20, 2023
The Alberta draft horse community lost a bright smile on October 20, 2023, when Tex Worobetz passed on.
Tex was given the name Theodore Alexander at his birth, but he couldn’t remember being called by any name other than “Tex”. His parents were both immigrants to Canada; his father from Ukraine, and his mother from Poland. His parents met and were married in Tofield, Alberta. Tex was the third of seven children – six boys and one girl. When Tex was three, his parents took out a homestead near Warburg. He attended the rural Brownlea School. Tex started school not knowing how to speak English – like many of his classmates who were also children of immigrants.
For his whole life, Tex loved horses, in particular the heavy draft breeds. His love of horses at times would get him in trouble. When he was young, it was arranged that he would do some work for his grandparents. His grandmother insisted that he attend church on Sundays, but Tex decided he would rather stay at the farm and help his grandfather with the farm work. He recalled threshing in 1945 with his grandfather’s black team, and then helping a neighbour stooking and threshing with a grey team. Hiis career with draft horses began when he used his $160 of earnings from that work to purchase the neighbour’s grey team and their harness.
In 1946, Tex travelled to Toronto to visit a cousin. In Toronto, Tex met a wrestler named “Sky High Lee”. Lee owned a dude ranch at Bolton north of Toronto, and Tex spent some time there breaking horses. Tex also tried his hand a show business, putting on a whip cracking act with a showman named “Lash LaRue”. The show involved cracking whips to take the tops off bottles and putting out cigarettes.
In 1951, Tex again heard Alberta calling. He left Toronto on the only transportation available to him – horseback. It took Tex five months to reach High River, depending in large part on the hospitality of people he met on the trail, and also by doing odd jobs and helping to train problem horses.
Tex working on a variety of ranches west of High River – including those of Joe Bews and Larry Boyd. He broke horses at the O.H. Ranch for Bert Shepherd, and then for the Copithorne and Edge families. In 1954, he was able to rent some land for himself at Millarville, Alberta. With a place of his own, Tex went to work training saddle and draft horses. In 1961, Tex was offered the Dominion government draft stallion “Karletta Emblem” and his career breeding high quality draft horses was underway. Emblem was one of only six Percheron stallions in the province.
Emblem was returned to Toronto at the end of 1961, and Tex began searching for land that he could own. Tex found a property in the beautiful Nitchi Valley, west of Bergen, Alberta for sale by Fred Moore. He could see that the big valley with a creek would be an ideal place to raise horses. Tex moved to his new ranch in 1963 with 18 head of horses, mostly Belgians. Tex worked hard at the Nitchi Valley. He didn’t like the location of a log house on the property, being too exposed to the cold winter winds, so he moved the log house to a higher and more sheltered spot where there was an established garden. Legend has it that the fire in the stove was kept burning while the house was moved, so that the workers could be fed a warm meal when the job was complete. The new house location was far more hospitable, often as much as 15 degrees warmer than the original location.
In 1970, Tex invited the Olds Pony 4-H Club to the ranch for a trail ride. One of the members of that group was Arla Maureen McBeath, a woman that shared Tex’s love of horses. Maureen is the daughter of Ralph and Leola McBeath, of Olds Alberta. Tex and Maureen’s courtship involved several visits and a steady stream of letters back and forth. In the fall of 1971, Tex and Maureen were married at the Bergen Missionary Church, just a few miles down the Bergen Road from the ranch. Their daughter Sharon Linda was born in 1973, and their son Alexander Ralph was born in 1976. He has two grand children, Curtis and Alyssa, and one great grand child – Ruth.
Tex loved to show off his horses. He was a regular at the Priddis and Millarville fairs from 1955 to 1967. He helped Charlie Blair of Penhold show a six horse hitch in Camrose, Red Deer and Calgary. Later on, he showed a hitch with Ralph Loosemore of Three Hills.
In 1974, Tex and Maureen travelled to Waverly, Iowa. The draft horse market was in an upswing, so Tex and Maureen made several trips to Waverly to buy mares. Sharon describes how Tex’s goal was to have twenty Belgian foals on the ground each year. Tex came close several times, and improved the draft breed with many top quality animals. Tex has been a member of the CBHA for most of his life. Tex and Maureen were also active members of the Alberta Belgian Breeders Association for many years, where Maureen served on the executive. Maureen also sat on the Olds Agricultural Society Board . Tex and Maureen once entered 14 horses into the Olds show.
Training and showing horses was a family project for Tex. Alex and Sharon would ride the horses and drive them in shows. Sharon was crowned the Alberta Belgian Queen in 1988. In one show, Sharon drove her team to a top finish, while Tex drove the same team in another class to a less than top place. Tex was a proud father that day.
The type of horse Tex favoured are the stocky old style Belgian. They needed broad blazes, white mane and tail, and white on their legs. He took great joy in putting together very closely matched teams. He also bred a line of roan horses. The horses were popular with people that worked their teams. Many went to a life of logging in British Columbia. At one point, there were close to 80- head of horses on the Nitchi Vally Ranch.
Tex sold the last of his breeding herd in 2018.
Tex passed as a result of a tragic car accident. Maureen was also in the car at the time of the accident, and she remains in critical condition at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary. As you remember Tex, please keep Maureen in your prayers for a speedy recovery.
Our scheduled AGM will take place on February 3, 2024. It will be held at the Westerner Park in Red Deer.
8:30 am Registration – with coffee, tea and danishes
10:00 am AGM
12:00 pm Meal
1:30 pm Individual Breed Meetings
3:00 – 5:00 pm Hospitality Event w/bar and snacks