Greeley Hats CSU
Greeley Hats CSU
Trent Johnson of Greeley Hat Works

As this year’s Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale approaches, David Denniston is still marveling at the remarkable support one hat brought at last year’s auction.

Denniston, director of Colorado State University’s Legends of Ranching program, recalls the amazement when Lot No. 30, a $1,000 gift card toward a Greeley Hat Works customized hat, turned into a $25,000 donation.

Hats created by Trent Johnson, owner of Greeley Hat Works, are themselves legendary. Johnson has fit hats for Miss Rodeo America and even former U.S. President George W. Bush. So it wasn’t a surprise that Lot No. 30 would go for more than $1,000. What was a surprise was the final price tag.

The winning bid of $5,000 came from Terry Crofoot, a consigner. But what happened next was an exceptionally generous surprise in the name of a legend. Five more donors – Neal Hansen; Ingram Enterprises, Inc.; South Plains Livestock Management, LLC; Justin Holmberg; and Royal Vista Equine, LLC – came forward to add $20,000 more to the final bid, bringing Lot No. 30 to a total of $25,000 to fund CSU’s George E. Phillips Memorial Scholarship.

“Trent has been a tremendous supporter of CSU’s Equine Sciences over the years and his donation of a gift card toward a custom-made hat from the famous Greeley Hat Works has been a great help to our program,” said Denniston. “In 2016, we decided to give the hat a hip number, No. 30, in the auction catalog.

“The bidding started at $100 and worked its way up to $1,000. When it got up to $2,000, the crowd started buzzing. It then hit $3,000, then $4,000, and finally ended up selling for $5,000 to Terry Crofoot, who was a great friend of George. The sale brought the crowd to its feet and everyone was cheering,” Denniston recalled. “Then, surprisingly, other bidders who had stopped bidding on the hat started matching the winning bid. That single hat ended up raising an incredible amount of $25,000.”

Johnson’s donation made a big impact in the name of an equine industry icon and fervent supporter of the Legends of Ranching program. Phillips was a long-time member of the CSU Equine Advisory Committee. He was the first vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association and a notable U.S. Attorney. The memorial scholarship in his name is awarded in a Colorado State University student majoring in Equine Sciences with a preference given to those with an interest in public policy and the Quarter Horse industry.

“I’m a local business and I feel that I have a like-minded philosophy with the Equine Sciences program at CSU,” said Johnson. “They have quality horses and I have quality hats. It really fits together.”

Johnson will again be donating a gift card for one his exceptional, custom-made hats at this year’s Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale auction. The horse sale preview will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 22, at the B.W. Pickett Arena on Overland Trail in Fort Collins.

“I felt it was important to help the program raise funds to keep the best students from leaving the state and attract students from out-of-state too,” said Johnson. “I think it’s important to keep funds coming in to support top programs like CSU’s Equine Sciences program.”

Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale April 22

The annual Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale caps a trademark educational program in CSU Equine Sciences. Students have the unique opportunity to train well-bred young horses, taking the animals from barely halter-broken to working calmly under saddle. Equine students not only train most of the horses auctioned, but plan and manage most aspects of the sale.

For more information about the 12th annual Legends Ranching Performance Horse Sale, visit the website.

Futurity and Maturity Horse Show April 21

CSU’s Equine Sciences program also is proud to announce the second annual Legends of Ranching Futurity and Maturity Horse Show. This show will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, April 21, at the B.W. Pickett Arena and is exclusive to horses purchased from the Legends of Ranching Sale in past years. Exhibitors and owners have an opportunity to showcase their horses’ abilities and training progress while vying for a chance at great prizes and payouts. For more information, visit

Both the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale and the Futurity and Maturity Horse Show are open to the public.

For more information on the Legends of Ranching program, visit their website and Facebook page.

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