Born in Canada, Les Turner was only one when he and his mother and eight-year-old sister moved across the border to Cedonia, near Kettle Falls in north Stevens County. He always had dreams of having a horse and cattle farm, so after his graduation from high school he acquired two Thoroughbred stallions. Truly Rural, a 1936 son of Milkman, came from the US Remount Service. The stallion’s name was part of the inspiration for the name of Turner’s highly successful Rural Land Farm.
Based in the centrally-located Quincy, Rural Land Farm stood many of the preeminent stallions of the time, including seven-time (1967-1974) leading sire and three-time leading juvenile sire Strong Ruler, as well as leading juvenile sires Six Fifteen, Alate and Kings Favor.
One of the most progressive horsemen of his era, Turner stood the first syndicated stallion in the state, By Zeus, who would later best be known as the damsire of the great Turbulator. Turner was also the first advertiser to use color in The Washington Horse (January 1961) and the first to have a full color cover, when Strong Ruler appeared on the January 1963 issue. Other early ads touted that horses at the Columbia Basin farm were “Raised where feed, climate and space are incomparable.”
Turner’s name was first seen listed in the breeder ranks in 1954, when his initial runner earned just $25. After a three-year hiatus, he had his first winner in 1959. By the time 1961 rolled around, his revolutionary color ad proudly proclaimed 27 winners of 88 races from 33 starters.
Rural Land Farm was featured on the cover of the January 1958 The Washington Horse, where it was noted to be “one of the most modern Thoroughbred breeding farms in the Northwest.”
Turner, who became strictly a market breeder, sent his first five yearlings to the WHBA sales in 1961 and came up with stakes winners Me-Jo and Stardust Melody and stakes-placed Sully’s Gold.
He ranked first in winners in the state in both 1976 and 1977 and was ranked in the top ten by money earned on 16 occasions from 1963-79. Among the many stakes winners bred or co-bred by Turner were state champions Better Dancer, Stardust Melody, Gold Afloat, Alation, Strong Dolphin and Touchdown Miss. He also bred and/or co-bred 1972 Washington claimer of the year Dancing Ruler and 1988 Washington most improved claimer Sucess Formula.
Alation and Royal Ruler were among the seven Washington (now Gottstein) Futurity winners sired by Rural Land stallions, starting with Smogy Dew in 1963. In fact, between 1963 and 1973 Rural Land Farm-sired runners earned over 23 Washington championship titles, including four horse of the year awards.
Today, Turner, now in his 80s, lives on a small portion of his former farm where he is known for raising beautiful dahlias.