Breeding Giveaway winner Bob Kerby cutting on mare "tootsie roll"

Second Chance for Bob Kerby

Bob Kerby is thrilled to have an opportunity to own a magic-cross performer and potential broodmare.

Trainer Bob Kerby, of Powell Butte, Oregon, was visiting family members in New Orleans when he received notice that he’d won the Quarter Horse News Stallion Register Breeding Giveaway.

“It was a shock,” said Kerby, who admitted he thought the news was a hoax at first.

Kerby saw an ad about the contest while watching the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity online.

“I saw it as I was looking through all the ads and thought, ‘Huh, maybe I should do it!’”

Kerby already knew what stallion he wanted to breed his mare to; it was a no-brainer decision for him. This breeding will actually be Kerby’s second chance to own the prolific athlete of his dreams — a daughter of 2011 NCHA Open World Champion Bet Hesa Cat and his homegrown mare KCC Tootsie Roll (Hickorys Indian Pep x KCC Sassy Tango x Tejons Lena Nic).

Although Kerby has never seen Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Bet Hesa Cat in person, he said Dr. Glenn Blodgett from the 6666 Ranch was kind enough to give him some information about the horse. Kerby, who said he is very familiar with the stallion’s accomplishments, as well as his physical and mental attributes, is confident the stallion is the right one to cross on his mare because he’s already done so once — in 2017. Kerby was more than pleased with “Tootsie Roll’s” resulting colt, but he sold the foal right off his mother.

Kerby favors Bet Hesa Cat (High Brow Cat x Bet Yer Blue Boons x Freckles Playboy) for a number of reasons.

“He is sound, conformationally correct, has good feet and bone, and he travels good,” said Kerby, who was ranch-raised and likes horses that move out. “And he is five-panel negative, bred right and really, really strong on the bottom side of his pedigree.

“That’s one of the reasons I bred to Hickorys Indian Pep years ago, because the Hickorys are good female producers. I managed ranches for a long time, and I always tried to develop a cow herd. I bred for the females — the steers are a by-product to me — and I carry the same thought process into [breeding] horses.”

Kerby admitted he’s had several chances to sell Tootsie Roll, but he won’t do it because he’s owned that line of horses for decades.

“My first cutting horse, back in the 80s, was her great, great — maybe even three ‘greats’ — grandmother! When we get a mare that we like out of that family, we’ll keep her, show her a little bit and then, hopefully, raise another one [like her],” he explained.

Tootsie Roll, who Kerby described as a small and honest mare, has been shown lightly. He planned to continue competing with the mare this spring, then breed her and show her again later in the season.

Kerby, who started his training stables in 1999 after spending 30 years managing cattle ranches, enjoys starting and training 2-year-old prospects, as well as working with a lot of beginners, amateurs and nonpros. His grandfather is responsible for his involvement with horses.

“He had me horseback before I could walk, and growing up, I was kind of his right-hand man in helping work cattle,” he said.

Kerby remembers buying a Western Horseman book about training a cutter in the 1960s, but there have been a lot of changes in techniques since he started cutting.

“It continues to evolve,” he added. “To me, the training has evolved, but the quality of horses and the amount of quality horses today, compared to 30 or 35 years ago, is a tremendous change. There were stars back then, but not the number they have now.”

Cutting is the only discipline in which Kerby competes, but there was a time when speed appealed to him.

“I galloped a lot of racehorses when I was young and had my jockey license for a short period of time,” he said. “One of the best lessons I learned while galloping 20 to 25 Thoroughbreds a day was how to get along with different mindsets.”

While the thrill of racing was exciting, the downside was the weight scales.

“I didn’t necessarily like to diet,” Kerby said. “Back then, the owners and trainers would ask, ‘How much lower can you go?’ I could get down to 109 if I sat in the sweatbox for hours, but I couldn’t get any lower.”

Kerby, now 68, has learned a lot through the years from the horses he’s trained, like RD Bud Light (Tamalight x Misholena x Smart Little Calboy), a 2002 gelding with $179,033 in lifetime earnings that Kerby started and rode as a 2-year-old. There are also many special individuals who have contributed to his equine knowledge.

“The people that I have learned the most from are my grandfather, Jerry McGuire, Bill McMeans, Dan Roeser, Keith Kitchen, Dick Sieverson, Phil Hanson and Andrew Coates,” he said.

Kerby and his wife, Carol, who used to ride and help work cows when the couple managed cattle ranches, have two children — Jay and Jeff — and one granddaughter. Neither son is into horses now, but they both rode growing up.

“We had no babysitters [then], so they had to ride and help,” Kerby added with a laugh. 

This article was originally published in the March 1, 2019 issue of Quarter Horse News.