STERLING, Colo. (KDVR) — It’s a timeless tradition, tucked away in the town of Sterling, Colorado.
“Just a small little shop out here, and we do the penny horses for King Soopers,” said Round Up Music Company operator Alton Brent.
The Round Up Music Company has been family-owned and operated for four generations.
“Throughout the years, we’ve provided this service exclusively to King Soopers, and we’ve built this tradition together,” said Brent.
In fact, former operator Harry Heaston (who was known as “the horse guy” back in his business days) says King Soopers would always call him before opening a new store.
“They’d call me and say, ‘We can’t open the store until we get that horse in there.’ That was one of the things they had to have before they opened the store. I thought it was real neat,” Heaston recalled.
King Soopers recently announced they planned to remove all of them from their stores, forcing the family to start rounding up the iconic horses, and store them are their Sterling shop.
“We haven’t been given a reason at this point. We just understand it was an upper level management decision. King Soopers has been amazing to us over the past 70+ years. We just said ‘Okay’ and followed their wishes,” Brent told Fox31.
“I was hoping it would last forever, and it was so sad to see this happen,” said Heaston.
The family thought they’d have to sell all of these horses, but they’ll get to stay put for now.
“We have the ‘Save the King Soopers Penny Horse’ page. I think that kind of got King Soopers’ attention. We got an e-mail last night saying they’d like to pause their removal,” said Brent.
King Soopers released a statement to Fox31 on Sunday:
“Thank you for sharing your passion for the penny horses. We know how much you love them and we do too. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, we have put a pause on penny horse rides. At this point, there have not been any long term decisions made regarding their future in our stores.
The e-mail coming after a huge outpouring of support from people across Colorado, asking the grocery store chain to reconsider.
“I believe the only reason that these horses can still stay here is the community support. All the pages, and petitions, and calls, and everything they’ve done—we’re just overwhelmed,” said Alton.
They’re not sure what will happen next, but hope this home grown, family business, will make it to a fifth generation.
“Every generation has a different story and a different way that they viewed the penny horse and that’s so unique,” said Brent.