It was October of 1949 and the late John Killough, manager of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, and the late Walter Heard were returning from a rodeo in Amarillo, Texas. The two men decided there was a need for an outstanding riding club that would reflect favorably on the city of Vernon and the local Santa Rosa Roundup that was becoming one of the finest outdoor RCA rodeos in the United States. At the initial founding meeting – held appropriately at the Vernon Chamber of Commerce – it was decided that each rider must be mounted on a palomino horse and that there was to be a uniform appearance reflecting the western heritage of their hometown rodeo and their community.
Initially the club rode in local rodeo parades and grand entries. The first ride was made in 1950 at the Childress Texas rodeo and during the next two years, 1951 and 1952, the club won many first place trophies as parade entries. With a strong desire to set themselves apart from other riding clubs and sheriff’s posse organizations, the club, under the direction of M.K. Berry – who had a background in cavalry training and mounted drill as a cadet at Virginia Military Institute – practiced specific maneuvers to present a sophisticated horseback drill that would work well in a rodeo arena. A color guard was soon added and later it was determined that every rider would carry a flag.
With a colorful and intricate drill routine perfected, the Santa Rosa Palomino Club began to receive numerous invitations to appear in various events and celebrations around the region. Since the inception, the Santa Rosa Palomino Club has thrilled millions of people from all over the world. Their most recent ride was in 2012 at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, entertaining over 900,000 spectators.