If there is such a thing as “love at first sight” it happened in 1960 when a young man – reading a magazine in Fremont, Michigan – saw the results of the Houston Stock Show and a picture of Miss Jim 45, So…..this young man called Matlock Rose, one of the owners and said “Mr. Rose, I am Frank Merrill from Fremont, Michigan, and I was wondering if Miss Jim 45 was for sale and for how much”. The $25,000 price was a shocker to a 19 year old guy, but Frank went to Gainesville, Texas, and after much negotiation bought the mare with one proviso. The proviso being that he would go to work for Matlock Rose and George Tyler but not in a pay position – just for room and board and the opportunity to learn from two of the best.
The move from Fremont, Michigan, to Gainesville, Texas, was the beginning of the Frank Merrill story – about which volumes could be written. While working for and learning from Matlock and George, he credits Carol Rose with much of his education, particularly the fine details of how to properly take care of a horse.
He met Jerry Wells while in Texas and about 2 years later when he moved to Purcell, OK he and Jerry became good friends and partners on a great number of horses.
Frank formed and operated Windward Stud on his 140 acre ranch in Purcell. Initially the main function was prepping horses for sale. That got off to a rousing start when he and Jim Wells got the job of prepping all of Bud Warren’s horses for the Haymaker sale. But that job exposed Frank and Jim to a lot of traffic because of the reputation of Bid Warren and his horses. More people came to Frank and Jim for prep work , and more stallions came to Windward Stud to stand.
Frank married Robin Severinsen in 1975, who immediately became an integral part of the business. It was a natural, because Robin had already shown to a World Championship at the AQHYA Finals, and she was running her own horse farm in Aubrey, Texas.
Windward Stud continued to grow and prosper; leading Frank and Robin more and more into the racing side of the business. In 1978 they partnered with Bob Weik from San Antonio in a mare named Holme Maid who ran third in the All American Futurity, and who earned more than $230,000 on the track. But as their family grew and their children, Megan, McKenzie and Tyler began to show, their attention returned to showing, and their interest gravitated to those events in which a cow was involved. Frank says that it reflects the traditions of the West and the cowboy culture.
Frank and Robin sold the ranch to the Cowan family of Havre, Montana in 2006, but Frank serves as CO-CEO of Cowan Select Horses LLC at Windward Stud LLC. In reflecting on the Merrill operation of Windward Stud, Frank has owned, managed or syndicated over 95 stallions and cared for over 25,000 mares.
Frank has bred, owned and raised champion American Quarter Horses that have won honors in racing, cutting, reining, reined cowhorse, roping, halter and other events. He also owned and exhibited two. AQHA Hall of Fame horses, Miss Jim 45 and Royal Santana. Frank, Robin and all three of their children have won World and/or Reserve World Championships in a variety of events at all three AQHA World Championship shows. Frank is active in non-pro cutting competition with over $440,000 in lifetime earnings in NCHA cutting events.
Frank is a Past President of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association, a Past President of the American Quarter Horse Association, a National Director of the National Cutting Horse Association, a Trustee of United States Equine Foundation, and a Director of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. In addition, he writes a monthly column entitled “Frankly Speaking” for the Quarter Horse News.
There have been many great horsemen in Oklahoma’s history, but probably none more intensely involved, more dedicated to the welfare and future of the industry, or none who has conducted his personal and business affairs with more dignity, integrity, honesty and character than Frank Merrill. It is an honor to welcome him into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.