- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
By Mindy Crandall
Early one afternoon I jumped into my van, camera and notebook in tow, in hopes to do one of my best interviews yet. It didn’t take me long as I was headed west, down Hwy. 14. Just about 15 minutes outside of Ava and at the top of Dogwood Hill slightly past the Dogwood Cemetery, I slowed down, turned on my blinker signaling to the right and proceeded to make my way down the gravel driveway. The sign at the entrance read Teeny Weeny Ranch – Marge Hazelton. As I took time to look around, I noticed that there was nothing teeny, weeny about this ranch and I was impressed by the pristine condition of the 600-acres of farmland. The property was so well manicured, right down to the extremely straight and tightly woven barbed wire fences. The layout was just breathtaking!
As the house appeared just ahead, it had the same appeal as the farm. It was so well cared for, that in my opinion, it could have been on any magazine cover.
As I stepped out of my vehicle I was immediately welcomed by Sully, Marge’s hired ranch hand, Tanner’s dog as he gave me the “official” lick of approval. Marge’s housekeeper, Joyce, was also outside willing to let me in.
I entered Marge’s home through the side door, which led straight into Ms. Hazelton’s home office. Everything was so organized and neatly kept. I knew instantly that she took great pride in her belongings. As I reached out to shake hands with Marge who was sitting behind her desk, I felt her energy flow right through me and in an instant I knew this wild-eye cowgirl was the life of the party!
After a short introduction and the proper asking of any great host of tea or coffee, we were taking a tour of the rest of the home. Her love for entertaining was apparent when viewing the set up. A long hall that separated parts of the house was lined with some of Marge’s accomplishments as a horse trainer and as being one of the first to win as a girl in Championship Calf Roper. She had pictures of her standing beside some of the world’s most prominent. It was like looking at a slide show of Marge’s life, a mere timeline of accomplishments and wins.
We then entered her kitchen, pantry area that connected to the dining room and living room. Just to the left was a glassed in porch, perfect for entertaining. I could almost visualize the soirees that were held in these rooms and the people who attended. Several paintings were nicely hung upon the walls in the kitchen and living room. Marge’s love for painting definitely shows in her work. Marge stopped to talk to me about one painting in particular, which she is donating to the Springfield Art Museum once she is gone. This painting is of Ida Redbird, a famous potter from Arizona. It is a well valued piece by other artists. Marge comments, “That lady gave me a lot of advice, I admired her and I should have listened a little more.” She went on to say that this very aged Indian woman was killed underneath the tree where she created her pottery.
As the conversation easily flowed from Marge’s mouth I felt more comfortable and knew that this kind, vibrant women has truly lived. I quickly learned of her daring nature when Tanner, the ranch help, insisted that Marge tell of her wild airline adventures with her dog. She proceeded to make a long story short by giving just the facts of the matter and I have never laughed so hard at someone’s act of determination. Marge was living in Arizona at the time and had a friend who needed her assistance in decorating a new home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Marge was going to travel by plane to help her friend. There was one thing stopping Marge, she wanted to take her dog along, but not have him be kept with the luggage. A friend who worked for the airlines told Marge that the only way a dog could board a plane was if it assisted the blind. Yes, you guessed it, Marge posed to be blind wearing a big, oversized hat and dark glasses. I will never forget the line her former husband, Richard, said when discussing the idea – “You have more guts than a slaughter house!” He refused to take her to the airport. Needless to say, this did not stop Marge and she made her way to Hot Springs and back.
We eventually made our way back to the home office and spent some time discussing in more detail Marge’s life. This is how it all began –
Marge was born in California to a father who owned a blacksmith shop. She quickly grew to love horses. When asked when her first time to ride a horse was, she jokingly but with all seriousness gave the testimony that while her mother was pregnant she was riding a mare, the mare stopped to have a foal and her mother stopped and had her. Shortly after having Marge, her mother jumped up on the mare as Marge jumped up and road off on the colt!
In 1943, Marge breaks a three-year old colt for roping. This was just the beginning of her cowgirl, high-flying roping excursions. She roped a calf in 14. 2 seconds at the Amateur Rodeo during 1946 in El Monte, California. If you know anything about roping, this is impressive! She influenced many young admirers to become ropers as well as won many jackpots among men as she was the only female calf roper. Marge did everything from train young riders at the Ranch for Boys to help rescuing a horse that had fallen into a silo, to a winning streak at any fair she participated. In 1951 Marge cinched the Championship Calf Roping in Childress, Texas. During that same year she was also featured in Arizona’s Hoof and Horns Magazine.
While on the roping circuit and working livestock Marge met her former husband, Richard Hazelton. Marge admits it was love at first sight. He led Marge into the next chapter of her life – training thoroughbred race horses. Marge had a deep love for horses as well as this man and she knew that they were perfectly paired. He needed her expertise in organization and socializing with future clients and she was able to watch one of the best horse trainers in the world and learn of his loving touch for horses and their needs. It was not always glamorous. It is almost a rags to riches story. The two of them lived on love alone as they began building up their business on a one and a half acre farm in Arizona, the first Teeny Weeny Ranch, which holds true to its name. They trained together for over thirty years and had the opportunity to work with some of the best horses, such as Judge Roy Bean, Prince O’Spring, Rhoda’s Pride, Jimmy Astro, Cougar Hill, Baldy Bar and Zor, just to name a few.
With this being said, many friendships were established through racing. Marge trained horses for Ernie St. John and Jessie Cooper. Ernie is the one that enticed Marge to Missouri and the farm she now lives on. After much transformation and a divorce behind her, Marge placed every bit of energy into seeing that this farm became as beautiful as one of her paintings.
She has a life that only most dream of, however, she does not boast and admits that she has been blessed.
She has been noted for her calf roping ability, as well as her horse training performance. Along with this she has been seen on the cover of Arizona Thoroughbred Magazine for her oil painting of Secretariat, and the Today’s Journal in regards to her rodeo and horse trainer life. More recently Marge was featured in 417 Magazine. To top all of this off, Marge wrote and published the book Backside in 1979 and had a second printing in 2001 selling many copies. This book is her life story of what it is like living on the backside of the racetrack. Marge gave me a copy of my very own. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I must admit I have learned so much about the race track and the definite lifestyle it represents!
I left the interview with just one question in mind, I had to know what was the greatest highlight of Marge’s life – her response was, “Making a difference in the world. I love it here. ” Even though Marge’s eyesight is failing, it is her definite spontaneous character that sets her apart.
The one thing I learned about Marge is this – she may have met some of the most well-known people and traveled the world over and won more races than most, but her definite treasure is that she was able to have what most spend their whole life seeking – love.
Now anytime I travel down west Hwy. 14 and hit Dogwood Hill I will think of Marge. She is the life of the party!