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Posted on Aug 8, 2019
Empty Saddles

Tommy Sondgroth 1944 -2019

 Tommy Sondgroth  2044 -2019

Tommy Sondgroth passed away in May 2019. Tommy fell in love with horses after his father both a roping horse from actor Slim Pickens. One day while at a branding with his father, they ran into NRCHA Hall of Fame inductee Tony Amaral, who suggested he take Tommy and make a cowboy out of him. The San Juan Bautista, CA, horseman was inducted into the National Reined Cow Horse Associations’ Hall of Fame in 2010, after a long and celebrated career in the industry.

Though also a card-carrying member of the RCA, and an avid team roper all his life, it was in reined cow horse where Sondgroth shined, first making the  Open finals at the Cow Palace at age 18. Today, Sondgroth’s life is celebrated not only for his contributions to the horse industry but also for his gregarious nature. Longtime friend Les Vogt remembered his friend as an old school stockman.

“There were two subject he liked the most - reined cow horsemanship and roping. Tommy had friends all over the United States, and I received many calls and messages expressing sorrow over losing Tommy, “Vogt Said. “He was a very likable guy, a good speaker and always made me feel better after talking to him, a huge quality I think. He wasn’t in the horse business for the money but the lifestyle and tradition.”

The fame he achieved in recent years had nothing to do with Tommy the man, the horseman, or the roper. Very seldom do cowboy videos go viral but in 2010 the NRHA did a video interview as part of their year end Hall of Fame Awards. Veteran equestrian videographer Lee Schnieder did an interview with Tommy that eventually went viral posting over 1,000,000 views worldwide through various sources. If you haven’t seen the famed “Love ya” video, give yourself a treat. Obviously the video became very attractive to many thousands of NON cowboys or cowgirls, and quoting one source, “in a John Wayne kind of way".


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