Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Hagen-Renaker Horse / Tournament of Roses Parade Connection

Hagen-Renaker "King Cortez" rearing stallion,
from the company's Monrovia era (late 1950s)

I think most people probably enjoy watching (or seeing in person!) the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day because of the flower-covered floats.

But horse lovers watch the parade because of the equestrian units, of course. What model horse collectors might not know is that at least four of the real horses that inspired Maureen Love's equine designs for Hagen-Renaker, Inc., were regular Rose Parade participants, back in their day.

Old horse magazines and newspaper articles show us their images.

The huge palomino American Saddlebreds King Cortez and his sons, Golden Son Cortez and Golden Don Cortez, appeared in many Rose Parades.  

This photo from Western Horseman magazine, January 1962, shows the Cortez boys in their elaborate (and very heavy) silver-mounted tack.

King Cortez was said to have been quite tall, 17.1 or 17.2 hands high.

The silver-mounted tack of the "Cortez Boys," as some model horse collectors call them, was not always that elaborate. Here's an early photo of King Cortez, showing less ornate tack and a shorter mane.

It was not uncommon to see dozens of Palomino horses in the Tournament of Roses Parade during the 1950s and early 1960s.  I bought this slide of King Cortez on eBay not long ago. I'm pleased to be able to share it here, since the image came from a private collection and the seller had no idea who the horse and rider were.  In other words, we hadn't known this photo of him existed before now. 

But I recognized King Cortez and Ernest Specht immediately. The "Cortez" horses may have been recognizable by their long manes and tails and those extraordinary silver saddles, but there was one other way to tell if you were looking at King Cortez. 

Do you see it?  

He's wearing his silver name tag, which is mentioned in a paragraph about him in a book about Palomino horses from the post-World War II era. 

The Hagen-Renaker ceramic figurines King Cortez:

Photo courtesy of the online Hagen-Renaker Museum (link below).

Sun Cortez:

Photo courtesy of the online Hagen-Renaker Museum (link below).

and Don Cortez:

Photo courtesy of the online Hagen-Renaker Museum (link below).

...were first issued in Fall 1957, as Mustangs.

The chestnut Morgan stallion Lippitt Morman appeared in the Tournament of Roses parade as well. Lippitt's owner, Merle Little, and his family were regular Rose Parade participants, from the early 1930s through the 1940s. (Before he bought Lippitt Morman in 1948, newspaper accounts show us that the Littles rode black and white pinto horses in the parade.)

A photo in The Morgan Horse magazine from December 1948 shows the whole Little family on their Morgans, as they got ready for the 1949 Tournament of Roses parade.  Lippitt Morman is the horse on the far right.

And here are some examples of the Hagen-Renaker "Lippet" Morgan stallion:

Photo courtesy of the online Hagen-Renaker Museum (link below).


Dawn Sinkovich's blog, Share the Love, provides us with more information on, and photos of, Lippitt Morman and Maureen Love's sketches of him.

Kristina Lucas Francis' blog, Muddy Hoofprints, gives us more information on the Cortez horses:

You can see examples of more Hagen-Renaker horses here, at Ed Alcorn's amazing Hagen-Renaker Online Museum:

And if you enjoy collecting Hagen-Renaker figurines of all kinds, membership in the Hagen-Renaker Collectors Club is an affordable way to learn more about the history of the company and its figurines, past and present.


  1. Great information, Teresa! I'm not sure if you've seen these but they are home movies posted on Youtube of King Cortez (and others) and the Specht family in parades.

    One of these Rose Parade movies also has almost every cowboy star and the cast of Rawhide with Clint Eastwood :-)

    1962 Rose Parade - with King Cortez and both Specht sisters!! 16:10 mark

    1956 Rose Parade - has King Cortez at 11:00 mark!

    1951 Rose Parade - Has King Cortez Ernest Specht and both sisters on pintos at 9:35 mark!

    1947 Rose Parade - may be Specht and King Cortez at 12:00 mark:

    It gives me chills to see King Cortez walking across the screen. What a presence he had!

  2. Amazing links, thank you! It really does make me want to time-travel, seeing those old videos.