Pictured at 19, NCHA World Champion Stallion CD Lights is living the good life.

A Place to Call Home: The Story of CD Lights

It’s good to be Boss.

Wet from his daily bath, muscles rippling under his sorrel coat, CD Lights – better known as “Boss” – went to work at one of the many pleasures of a robust equine retiree: his daily roll.

Probing out a soft spot in the sand, the stallion folded his legs under his massive barrel and rolled repeatedly until his back, sides and neck were thoroughly covered in sand. Climbing to his feet, he unleashed a single buck from a standstill, back legs lashing out behind him, and calmly walked away.

The 2006 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Champion Stallion pretty much does what he wants at owners/breeders Danny Motes and Winston Hansma’s operation near Weatherford, Texas. He’s lived there as long as they have, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“He just deserved the best for the rest of his years,” Motes said. “He never, ever didn’t do something for us that wasn’t exactly what we asked of him.”

The beginning

Delighted to talk about Boss, Motes started the story at a long wooden table just off the kitchen of her home. While she spoke, a silky Yorkshire terrier pattered underneath the table while a sleek cat toed along the outside of a picture window behind the table, rubbing against the glass.

CD Lights was the product of two horses that had long been part of the Motes-Hansma extended family. Hansma, an EquiStat Elite $2 Million Rider, piloted his sire, CD Olena, to the Open Championship at the 1994 NCHA Futurity and 1995 NCHA Derby. The 1995 NCHA Horse of the Year, CD Olena retired with $170,706 in earnings. Hansma then managed his stud career for owner/breeder Bar H Ranche.

Motes bought CD Lights’ dam, the 1993 Grays Starlight daughter Delight Of My Life, as a 2-year-old from breeders Floyd and Nancy Boss, of Fresno, California.

The daughter of Doc’s Madrone (by Doc Bar) and Motes won the 1999 Abilene Bonanza Classic Non-Pro. Hansma rode the mare to the 1997 NCHA Derby Open Championship. The mare retired with an Equi-Stat record of $169,972.

CD Lights’ nickname is in Floyd Boss’ honor.

“The first buckle that Boss ever won we sent to Floyd Boss right before he died,” Motes said. “I promised him that [Delight of My Life] would never leave here, and that was 23 years ago. She’s still here.”

Some would have high expectations for a son of such accomplished horses, but Motes said she felt the opposite. It was almost too much to ask, just too good to be true, that a foal out of the two special horses would be as successful as his parents.

“You just don’t expect to have two great horses that you were so personally involved in [go] on to give you a great horse,” she said. “The odds are against all of us in the horse business.”

Mica Chartier kneeling down next to CD lights to pet the dogs
Boss and Mica Chartier, Danny Motes’ daughter, shared a sweet moment with some of the family’s dogs, all of which were rescues from local shelters.

She shouldn’t have worried. Boss came into the world with the calm, kind disposition Motes still sees in him and his offspring every day. He had a presence in the show ring, as well, winning $233,383. At his final show, the NCHA World Finals, an 8-year-old Boss and Hansma marked a 229 and won the Show Championship.

Motes said after the show that yes, they’d had plenty of offers to sell the horse, but they were taking him home to Weatherford.

“We decided to keep him and take our chances,” Motes told Quarter Horse News in a 2006 interview. “Now, he’ll spend the rest of his life here.”

The routine

Boss’ day starts about 6:30 a.m. with breakfast in the barn, where he generally spends the night. When he’s done – they say he lets them know – he’s taken out to his pasture to enjoy the rest of the morning.

His current paddock, just across the drive from the barn, allows him to monitor the comings and goings. Although the stallion has the enclosure to himself, Motes and her daughter, Mica Chartier, said Boss prefers to have company in the paddock next door.

In early December during the 2017 NCHA Futurity, that space was filled by his grandson, Wood Be Bossy. Nicknamed “Woodrow,” the 3-year-old by Woody Be Tuff (out of Boss Woody x CD Lights) was on vacation after he and Hansma fell a point short of making the Open semifinals earlier that week in Fort Worth, Texas.

Some have suggested Motes and Hansma put a lane between the two paddocks, allowing for more separation. They saw no need for it – Boss and his son, 2016 Open World Champion A Little Bossy, lived amicably side-by-side for years.

“We’re not going to do that because he’s happy and he doesn’t fight over the fence,” Motes said. “He doesn’t fight period. He’s a big baby.”

Boss generally remains in his paddock until around noon. That’s when Chartier typically arrives for their daily ride, though the exercise came a little earlier when a QHN reporter visited the stallion during the 2017 Futurity.

Chartier walked out to the paddock, grabbed a lead rope clipped to the bottom of his embroidered, two-tone blue nylon halter and led him into the barn at a leisurely walk. She stopped at the door of the tack room, dropped the rope and started grooming. Boss didn’t move.

He was interested in the happenings in the barn and extremely happy to accept a cookie. The cookies, specifically Winnies Cookies, are a big deal to the horses at the ranch. The facility receives 30-pound bags via auto-ship each month.

Mica Cartier petting CD Lights while saddling him
Boss ground ties while he is groomed, tacked and untacked in the barn by Char tier, who
loped the stallion during his championship cutting career.

Although they are used as treats, cookies are also given as positive reinforcement for good behavior. Chartier used one to flex Boss before he was saddled, and he obediently bent his neck side-to-side to earn his treat.

The stallion’s had a soft spot for cookies since his show days. Whenever he went to the show pen, Chartier toted his treats along in a Tupperware container.

“I would just come out and take off his bridle, [and] before I would put on his halter, I would just let him stand there and eat his cookies while I took his boots and stuff off,” she said.

Chartier, who loped Boss during his show career, likes to leave the stallion as her last ride of the day so they can “go play.” The intelligent horse gets bored easily, she said, so she likes to give him variety.

“He doesn’t have to do a whole lot, so we try to go out to the back cow pastures and ride out in the big back pastures,” she said. “If they’re working 2-year-olds, he likes to go over there and kind of bump cows around [in the arena]. It’s just stuff to keep him mentally stimulated, because he’s super smart.”

Occasionally, Hansma and Boss will work the flag. He said riding stallions seems to help their mental state.

“I started working him on the flag to keep him loosened up, and I think that just riding him is kind of boring,” Hansma said. “I’ll trot him around for a few minutes and then go work him on the flag. He enjoys it, and it’s kind of fun to do.”

Chartier rode the stallion through a series of gates into a cow pasture. The powerful horse went into a long trot across the pasture while the cows watched from the front gate. She typically gives the stallion his head and lets him do what he wants to, which generally follows the same pattern through the pasture.

“He knows the route and where we go, so you can just kind of leave him be and he goes,” she said. “He’s got a great long trot, so that’s what we do.”

The ride is part of a long-established routine for the two. Chartier, the wife of R.L., a trainer, and the mother of 6-year-old Callie and 2-year-old Brayden, even rode through morning sickness.

“Even when I was pregnant and the days that I was super sick, I would still go ride him,” she said. “We would spend an hour out in the back pasture.”

The breeding shed

The first indication CD Lights would pass along his quiet disposition came as soon as his first foals hit the ground.

“They would say that their foal was so sweet and that it looked just like Boss,” Motes said. “We’d noticed that it was going to be a pattern.”

Motes loves to hear what CD Lights foals are up to, whether they’re young or old, and she regularly receives photos. One especially memorable picture was of a palomino owned by a woman from California.

Danny Motes feeding Boss treats
Motes still enjoys feeding cookies to Delight Of My Life, the mother of CD Lights, who shares a pasture with Graciela Dual, the mother of CD Lights’ son Dual Lights.

“Her Christmas card was this stud colt standing there in her living room next to the couch,” Motes said.

Another photo Motes saw was one of 2-year-old Hunter Hays, the son of Texas-based reined cow horse trainer Shawn and accomplished non-pro Tammy Hays, leaning through a fence to plant a kiss on the nose of Nee On Lights, a son of CD Lights. The exchange, the boy holding the foal by the face, was part of a morning routine for the two youngsters.

Nee On Lights has been a successful mount for Shawn, who in November rode the 2012 stallion to the American Quarter Horse Association Junior Ranch Riding World Championship for owner Yellow Creek Ranch.

Like many successful CD Lights’ offspring, Nee On Lights is out of a daughter of Shining Spark. The cross was ranked No. 1 on the 2017
Equi-Stat Magic Cross reined cow horse statistics. The statistics, published in the Dec. 15 issue of Quarter Horse News, found 36 performers by CD Lights out of Shining Spark mares had earned $616,764, a figure twice as lucrative as the second-ranked reined cow horse cross.

Motes, who credited breeder Carol Rose for popularizing the cross, said she and Hansma believe it tends to work well because of Boss’ calming influence on the palomino stallion’s daughters.

CD Lights’ leading earner is his former paddock neighbor A Little Bossy, a son of Pistol Smart (by Smart Little Lena) who earned $404,285 in cutting. Next is venerable gelding CD Dee Vee Dee (out of Shiners Missy Jay x Shining Spark), who has earned $222,906 in reined cow horse and reining. Third is cutter Dual Lights (out of Graciela Dual) with $157,698 and the 2013 NCHA Non-Pro World Finals Show Championship

According to Equi-Stat, Boss’ progeny earnings stood at $4,603,100 as of mid-December 2017. To Hansma, CD Lights’ versatility as a sire is reflective of the ideal Quarter Horse – an all-around athlete.

“The Quarter Horse is a versatile horse in most events, and he just happens to pass that along,” Hansma said. “I think the biggest thing is his disposition and his conformation; if they’re built right and have a good mind, then they’re going to do a good job. If they’re not built right and they don’t have a good mind, then that kind of limits what you can do with them.”

Motes and Hansma expect about 11 foals at their ranch in 2018. Many are by Boss, but some are also are out of his daughters and two of his sisters – CD Bright Lights (by CD Olena) and Cat Lights (by High Brow Cat).

His mother, Delight Of My Life, is still holding court at the ranch but is not in foal for 2018. The mare, who looks much younger than her 25 years, shares a pasture with Dual Lights’ mother, 1997 mare Graciela Dual (Dual Pep x Miss Sabrina Lena x Doc O’Lena).

The two old mares are buddies and, due to an age-related ailment affecting 21-year-old “Graciela’s” mobility, this year they took over Boss’ old pasture. They moved in while he was out for the breeding season at Alpha Equine – where he resides from roughly Feb. 1 to July 1 – and stayed put after he returned to the ranch.

“They live next door to each other at night. They come to the pasture every day together,” Motes said, as Delight Of My Life sniffed for a cookie. “Normally this is his pasture all of the time, but because of Graciela, we’ve been letting them share it.”

Boss, who got a bath after his jaunt through the pasture and a quick spin through the arena, seemed content to head off to his new pasture on the other side of the barn. There was, after all, a nice spot to roll, and Woodrow was waiting on the other side of the fence.

All these years after declaring they would keep him forever, Motes said she and Hansma are sticking to their word. The stallion’s paid them back more than she ever could have imagined, and she hopes he continues to do the same for those who have bred to him or had one of his sons or daughters come into their lives.

“I want them all to win,” she said. “He’s had a great produce record and done great for people, but I want them to enjoy their horses as much as we’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy Boss.”

This article was originally published in the January 15, 2018, issue of Quarter Horse News.