G.R. Carter Jr. describes himself as the luckiest man alive for getting to do what he loves and retiring with minor injuries. For 35 years he made his living as a professional American Quarter Horse jockey.
In September, Carter was the first Osage inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas. The museum is now the home of Carter’s historical career with a display of mementos including Carter’s helmet, pack, buckles, photographs, and more.
“I feel like I am one of the luckiest guys in the world,” Carter said.
“I got to ride the fastest horses in the world, get that rush and feeling of excitement from winning, and I got paid to do it for 35 years. I am so fortunate to have done that and retire reasonably healthy. It’s a dangerous way to make a living.”
He explained that the dangers can include falling off the horses or getting kicked and can result in paralysis or death. He feels fortunate to have retired without any extreme injuries.
Carter was born and raised in Pawhuska to a ranching and rodeo family. His father is the late George Carter, a former Osage tribal councilman who was also a steer roper and businessman, and his mother is Frankie Carter, a former tribal accountant, who traveled to Texas with his sister Trini Haddon to witness his induction to the AQHHF.
His childhood revolved around wrestling, gymnastics, and rodeo. As soon as Carter could get his horse racing license at 16, he entered and won his first official race.
Since then, Carter enjoyed 35 years of racing and won over 4,000 races in that time. He ran his last race in December 2016 but still stays involved in the industry from his home in Oklahoma City as a horse owner, breeder, and on the board for the AQHHF.
According to the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association, “In 2008, he became the all-time leading money earning jockey in American Quarter Horse racing history. In 2009, Governor Brad Henry declared May 31, 2009 as GR Carter Day in Oklahoma. With winnings of over $70 million, that’s not the only record he has surpassed, he has ridden more mounts than any other rider in the history of AQHA racing, nearly 24,000 horses. In 2014 he also became the all-time leader in Quarter Horse wins when he won his 3,632 race beating the former record set by Bubba Brossette, and by the end of 2015 that number has grown to 3806 wins. GR was recognized as the American Quarter Horse Association World Champion Jockey 10 times, including six years consecutively. In fact, Carter holds the record for the most wins in three different breeds, American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses, and Appaloosas. He’s likely to be one of the few people you may ever meet that has his own Wikipedia page and his own bobble-head.”
Carter emphasized how fortunate he was to grow up Osage in Pawhuska and all of the exposure he was able to get in the ranching and rodeo industry.
“I was very fortunate to grow up and be exposed to what I was exposed to and now that I’m older I realize how much time and money my parents gave up to me and my sisters to be able to do all of these things,” he said.
“All those activities like wrestling helped me manage my weight, gymnastics helped me with agility, and the rodeo background helped me be familiar with horses all my life, so I had all the tools at my disposal.”
The Carter legacy runs deep in Pawhuska and now that Osages have a permanent home in the AQHHF, Carter hopes Osage talent will continue to break records across the country.