Anne C. Stradling
Out of love great things can come. From one girl’s love for horses, a great collection was born. The foundation of the Anne C. Stradling Museum of the Horse can be directly traced to one woman’s love for a magnificent animal—the horse.
Anne Schley was born on March 1, 1913 in New York City. She was born to a wealthy family whose roots traced back to the early 1700s when the first of her ancestors arrived from England. Anne was reared in her parent’s home, a refurbished country farmhouse named “Kenellyn” after her father’s and mother’s first names, Kenneth and Ellen. Anne’s love of horses displayed itself at an early age. She was less than a year old when her mother rode with her on a horse named “Sweetness.” At six she participated in her first horse show aboard a pony named “Robin,” and at the age of seven she won her first hunter race in Far Hills. Anne began her own collection of horse-related items as a young girl when she hung a bit and a worn out stirrup on the wall in the family’s barn at Kenellyn. From those beginnings came a collection in excess of 10,000 horse-related items.
At the age of 20, Anne Stradling turned her back on the high society life and married her first husband, Jack Webb. He was the man of her dreams—a rodeo cowboy and trick-roper in the world-renowned 101 Ranch Wild West Show. They moved to the famous 101 Ranch in Oklahoma, where daughter Jean was born. While in Oklahoma, Anne learned to trick ride and rope calves, and competed in rodeos. She was later initiated into the prestigious National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. After 12 years, the marriage ended. Following her divorce from Webb, and a second marriage and divorce, Anne moved to Tucson, Arizona. There, Anne introduced fox hunting to an extremely doubtful group of horsemen in Arizona. She later married an Arizona rancher and well driller by the name of Floyd Stradling. Together they took Anne’s vast collection of horse-related items and created the Anne C. Stradling Museum of the Horse in Patagonia, Arizona in 1960.
The Museum of the Horse continued to expand its collection during the next 30 years. In 1989, due to failing health, Anne Stradling contacted the Hubbard Museum about finding a permanent home for her massive collection. In January of 1990, an agreement was reached, and that spring the Anne C. Stradling Museum of the Horse began its journey to its new home in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. Renovations began on the old Chaparral Convention Center in the fall of 1991. After extensive reconstruction, the facility was opened to the public with a grand opening gala on May 23, 1992.
Anne Stradling died February 26, 1992, in Tucson, Arizona.