2010 Hall of Fame Inductee
Charles Hank Banks
Charles "Hank" Banks was born in February 1943 to Earl and Etta Banks in Berwyn, Oklahoma (renamed Gene Autry, Oklahoma). Being raised by his grandparents, on a farm, Hank was introduced to horses at a very early age. He fell in love with the horses and his natural ability to ride was evident. Before the age of ten Hank learned to shod horses and at the age of ten, Hank learned to drive a team of horses. He started breaking horses at the age of twelve.
Subsequently for a time, he tried the amateur rodeo circuit; riding bulls and bareback horses. After giving up the rodeo circuit, he worked for several ranches in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Hank's love for horses never faded. He went on to train Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Paints, Arabian and also Tennessee Walking Horses, training horses for all classes; cutting, pleasure, reining, and barrel racing .
Hank and his wife Dorothy reared twelve children. Their family consisted of seven boys and five daughters all of whom are accomplished riders. After moving to Wynnewood, Oklahoma, Hank joined the Sooner Appaloosa Horse Club, where he served as director of the club for several years. He also joined the National Appaloosa Horse Club, while maintaining his membership in the National Cutting Horse Association. Being the only black at that time showing horses, Banks encountered a lot of discrimination. That did not hinder him from doing what he had set out to do; prove his ability. In fact, the first two years of showing, his horse clubs voted for to him to receive the Sportsmanship Award for the year. Because of his natural riding ability and his great sportsmanship, he won many awards.
Hank was the first black man to get a judging card form the National Appaloosa Horse Club. His judging was fair and impartial. Several clubs wrote the Appaloosa Headquarters in Moscow, Idaho, commenting on the great job he had done. The Appaloosa Headquarters had always gotten letters complaining about the judging. This was the first time they had gotten letters complementing the judge on his judging. When Hank was showing, often the other contestants would ask him to help them. They knew he would help to the best of his ability. A near fatal accident cut his horse training and judging days short. After suffering an accident as a result of a stroke his faith in God was strengthened. According to Hank his faith helped him overcome all the situations he had to deal with.
Interacting with horses is a natural part of life for Hank. There was nothing else he would rather have done.
Hank has belonged to several riding clubs in the past. He currently is a member of the Freedom Riders Horse Club of Ardmore, Oklahoma. Due to his many accomplishments and achievements he has been featured in several horse magazines and numerous newspaper articles. Winning shows and trophies were not important to Hank. Showing his ability to train was the most important thing to him. During the times he showed, Hank had no idea that he would eventually be honored for the very thing that he loved doing. As far as he was concerned, it was a part of a normal day. Receiving such an honor is quite overwhelming. For as far as he is concerned being inducted into the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame is worth every ribbon, trophy, belt buckle or saddle he has ever won!!!
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