Collection highlights the histories and personalities of a horse-loving family
When Will Wright pulls out his collection of belt buckles, he thinks of home.
Wright, the chief creative officer at the Galveston Historical Foundation, grew up in Amarillo, and his family owned a ranch in Canyon, just south of the city.
Rodeo was a part of life growing up, Wright said. And when you win a competition at the rodeo, you earn a belt buckle.
Wright and his father, Jim, would compete together in roping competitions and earn belt buckles together. Now, years later, you can tell that father and son treated their prizes a little differently.
Jim Wright’s buckles still have a little shine, while Will’s are worn out by years of handling. Jim Wright would keep his buckles in a trophy case most of the time, Will said.
“I wore the heck out of mine,” Wright said. “I need to polish it, to get it looking more like his.”
Today, Wright keeps his family’s collection of buckles at his home in Galveston, about as far from Amarillo as you can get.
The belt buckles remind him of his childhood and his family’s history.
Wright’s parents, Jim and Anita, met while working together at the American Quarter Horse Association and their lives as a family largely centered on horses.
Jim Wright worked for nearly 40 years as an inspector for the association and Anita worked as a horse trainer and gave horse-riding lessons.
The family also competed together at rodeo events, Wright said. The buckles bear the names of the places and events where they competed.
There is his mother’s buckle from the Will Rogers Range Riders Rodeo — where she was named queen in 1961 — and his father’s championship steer-stopping buckle with red and turquoise highlights. The buckles are oval and square, and marked with images of barrel racers and horseback ropers. They span decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s.
They are, in essence, a family history.
Anita Wright died in 2012, and Jim Wright died just a few months later in 2013.
Today, the buckles are a memorial to their personalities, Wright said.
His father didn’t get his name put on his buckles, even though there was a space there for that, Wright said.
“I like the fact that he never put his name on it,” he said. “You just had a blank slate there. He didn’t care about having his name on it at all.”