The Rundown: Small-Time

You don’t have to be big-time to win big things in AQHA competition.

By Tara Christiansen
The American Quarter Horse Journal
March 6, 2012

Ebony Power

The Christiansen breeding program was inspired by our 1971 black gelding, Ebony Power. (Photo courtesy of the Christiansen family)

In my last post, I talked about my family’s long history with American Quarter Horses. After buying several horses, we decided to try our hand at breeding.

Our breeding program started off with our love for Ebony Power. As I mentioned in my last post, “Ebony” was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” horses (so far we've had two of those once-in-a-lifetime horses). It was this love for our 1971 black gelding that somehow convinced my grandparents, Dave and Bonnie, and their horse-crazy son, my dad, Terry, to buy basically every horse in Ebony’s family tree. OK, fine, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, they did buy Joe’s Puddy Power, Barred Light and Solar Power.

To explain the family tree a bit, Ebony was by Power Light, a son of Power Command. If you read the series “Old School” in the December 2011 and January 2012 issues of The American Quarter Horse Journal, you probably learned a thing or two about John Ballweg and Power Command.

Ebony was bred by Edward Rust of Bloomington, Illinois, who owned Power Light. Edward was also the breeder of the other three Power Light progeny that we bought. Ebony was out of the Poco Bay mare Poco Tena; Joe’s Puddy Power was out of the Joe Miller mare Miss Puddy; and Barred Light was out of the Barred’s Turn mare Jody Barred.

In homage to Ebony’s bloodlines, my family purchased his full brother, Solar Power. They actually shared 13 full siblings, including Fluid Light, who was a 1972 black gelding owned by Robert “Bob” Kiser of Gainesville, Texas. You’ve probably heard of Bob before; he and his son Jim own and operate Kiser DragMaster. If you’ve been to an AQHA world championship show in the last few years, then you’ve seen a Kiser in the seat of a John Deere, pulling a Kiser drag to even out and mix up the dirt in the arena. It wasn’t until I was reading “Quarter Chat: Robert Kiser” on Page 146 of the October Journal that I realized the Kisers owned Fluid Light and that he was a full brother to our geldings. Just like Ebony will always be one of our family favorites, Bob considers Fluid Light to be his all-time favorite American Quarter Horse.

“(Fluid Light) wasn’t our most talented horse, but he made so many friends for us, it was amazing,” says Bob in “Quarter Chat.” “I’ve heard a lot of people tell similar stories about Quarter Horses that introduced them to lifelong friends.”  

With our contemporary breeding program, we’ve bred several full siblings; they certainly share some similarities, but no two are the same. I’m sure that was the case for Ebony Power, Solar Power and Fluid Light.

As for our Power Light mares, Barred Light was an easy-going riding horse, whereas Joe’s Puddy Power enjoyed life as a broodmare. We enjoyed three foals out of Joe’s Puddy Power – Miss Power Slide, Mr Downtown Brown and my namesake, Miss Tara Rizer – before we sold her to a family friend who enjoyed two more foals out of the buckskin mare.

We’ve had quite a few more foals since then, from our 13-year-old gelding TC Lena to our 3-year-old filly Soula Boon.

There really is something to be said about breeding and training your own horses. For my family, we’ve tried to keep our horse herd small, keep it manageable and keep it enjoyable. And enjoyable it has been. Taking a victory lap around the arena at an AQHA world championship show already puts you on Cloud 9, but imagine doing that on a horse that you bred. Now that, my friends, is surreal.

In the March Journal, you’ll find a couple stories about small-time breeders who have hit it big and are a true testament that you don’t have to be big-time to win big things in AQHA competition.  

Ol’ Blue Trailer

Who doesn’t love a story about high school sweethearts starting a life together on account of their shared passion for horses, and then passing that passion on to their three kids? The Stewarts of Kempton, Indiana, are those down-to-earth people that any American Quarter Horse owner can relate to.

Without a budget to afford a trainer plus horse showing, the Stewarts have done everything on their own, from breeding to fitting and showing.

I especially enjoyed the story of their old blue stock trailer, which was the inspiration behind the title “Remembering the Ol’ Blue Trailer” by Christine Hamilton on Page 100 of the March Journal.

“We had this really old stock trailer, and my dad had somebody paint it to match the truck,” remembers Kristi Banter, one of the Stewart kids. “It was this really bright blue, and it was beautiful to us. But we thought people would make fun of us.”

But it was mom Beth who pointed out the real point behind horse showing: “Don’t you kids worry about that. It’s not what we pull into the show in, it’s what we pull out of the trailer that really matters.”

Can you think of a statement any truer?

The Stewarts – Beth and her husband, Dennis, plus their three kids: April, Kristi and Nick – never let their budget get them down, and they made what they had work.

For their 25th anniversary, Dennis and Beth treated each other to a new mare: Ima Lucky Clue. “Doll,” as they call her, is a daughter of Conclusified and out of Chicka Te Rose by Te N’ Te. The couple split showing duties, and before too long, they bred the mare to Kids Classic Style.

The colt resulting from that pairing has already made waves in the show pen. With Beth at the shank, Kid Forever In Style, as he’s fittingly named, stood amateur reserve grand champion stallion at the 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress – not a small feat for a horse that was fit at home! 

Journal Editor Christine Hamilton sums it all up for the Stewarts and their up-and-coming stallion: “Best of all, he’s just what they’ve always aimed for – a horse that would make heads turn no matter what trailer you pulled him out of.”

A Small Breeder’s Big Dream

It’s certainly a risk, breeding your own horses. First, you’ve got to be certain that your mare is going to be your golden ticket. Many a horseman claim that the mare is the key.

“A lot of old-timers, the horse breeders with wisdom, they’ll say that a mare is 75 percent of what you get as far as the offspring,” says Jim Hunt in “Under the Open Box Rafter Sky” on Page 172 of the February Journal.

So you take that mare that you have so much confidence in, and you cross her with a stallion for a cross made in heaven. You wait 11 months, hoping and praying that she’ll make it full term; that you’ll have a healthy foal; and, a few years down the road, that the foal will be exactly what you were hoping for.

In 30 years of breeding, Carolyn and Walter Bay of Clare, Michigan, had realized some small-time success, but raising the 2011 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse was really quite a while in the making.

Cold Cash 123 is the second generation of breeding decisions made by the Bays. You’ll find the 3-year-old gelding leading the pack on the front cover of the March Journal.

In the late 1990s, Carolyn purchased three mares from family friends in their time of need. The mares headed to the Bays’ T-Bill Ranch: 21-year-old Lou Etta Deck, her 17-year-old daughter Tiny Lou Etta and Tiny Lou Etta’s daughter, 11-year-old To Hot To Hug.

Looking to breed To Hot To Hug, Carolyn set her sights on good conformation and a stallion that would get her there.

“I bred to Takin On The Cash several times,” Carolyn says in “Carolyn’s Cash” on Page 40 of the March Journal. “I thought he produced good bone, good feet and a good mind. And he did. And we got Hot Cash (123).”

“Hot Cash” found success on the racetrack, but it’s in the breeding barn that she’ll go down in history. Her son American Paint Horse I Do One Two Three was his sport’s world champion in 2010. But it’s Cold Cash 123, her son by 2003 racing world champion Oak Tree Special, who has sealed her historical fate. With “Cold Cash’s” world championship, it gives the 10-year-old Hot Cash an unprecedented broodmare achievement – two overall world champions in two years from her first two foals.

In the pages of “Carolyn’s Cash,” Carolyn shares her sage wisdom from 30 years of horse breeding.

“It can be done,” she says. “We become discouraged sometimes, looking at the grandiose part – paying all that money for a horse. But we can do it ourselves. We have to learn a lot about it, we have to study it, we have to make decisions. We have to be strong, because sometimes people think the decisions are foolish. But we have to take risks … I’m not talking monetary risks, although you take monetary risks, too, but you have to study it and follow through.”

Study? Just what you want to do after you graduate high school/college, right? But studying horses – not just their athleticism, but their conformation, too – is what led this small-time breeder to raising the world champion racehorse. 

Have fun hitting the books!

The Rundown – 2012 Archive

  • People "Like" Us – The American Quarter Horse industry really is just one big social network.
  • The Bright Side – In a world of doom and gloom, our industry’s young competitors provide a good deal of bright.
  • A Great Granddam – Here's to you, Fillinic, and your induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
  • My Apologies, Mr. Fence – Why can’t they just do horse-y yoga or at least something productive (aside from destroying my barn)?
  • Thanks, Mom – Moms have a knack for putting things into perspective.
  • Quotable Quotes – The secrets to horsemanship, raising a champion and learning from AQHA Professional Horseman Lynn Palm are unlocked in the April Journal.
  • Quotable Quotes – The March issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal is chock-full of memorable quotes.
  • Small-Time – You don’t have to be big-time to win big things in AQHA competition.
  • "The Look" – Do you know what “the Look” is?
  • Riding For a Cure – These organizations have two things in common: horses and aiding cancer patients.
  • Quotable Quotes – Kick back and enjoy the best quotes from the February issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.
  • The Breeders – One of the strengths that The American Quarter Horse Journal has is its contacts with American Quarter Horse breeders, and we pack each issue with those contacts.
  • Go, Matt! – In just a few more days, Matt Budge, winner of the 2011 Battle in the Saddle World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout, will take on the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman competition.
  • News Roundup – The show industry says goodbye to great horses, hello to a smartphone app and free medical procedures.