Shane Plummer holding stallion Hydrive Cat

Goodbye, My Friend

Hydrive Cat was humanely euthanized today, Oct. 15. It has been very hard leading up to this day, and now that it is done, there is a heaviness that will be with me for quite some time.

It was the right thing to do. Watching that magnificent specimen deteriorate was so awful. “Hydrive” sustained a stifle injury when he was 5. From that time to this, he received excellent care and attention, which maintained him quite well. About five months ago, though, it became apparent that the stifle wasn’t the issue that brought us to today.

It was the opposite hind suspensory that just wore out. Once that ligament went, it was like the dam broke and the flood came. We allowed him to live out the last few months in his paddock and with a buddy. “Lowdrive,” a 4-year-old pony we bred and raised, was by Hydrive and out of one of our American Miniature mares. It warmed my heart to see him happy, even through the pain.

stallion running in pasture

This is not the story I want to tell; I want to tell you the story of Hydrive Cat through my lens. All of this is to the best of my recollection, and I’ll do my best to not forget anyone. If someone is left out or I make mistakes, please forgive.

Hydrive Cat was born in April of 2003. If memory serves me right, Dave and Georgia Husby selected him within a day or days after that, and purchased him on the spot. They had the choice of Hydrive or his full brother, also born in April. (Coincidently, my parents actually purchased that full brother as a yearling, changing his name to SDP Buffalo Bill. He, too, was a great horse).

Dave Husby, a successful Canadian businessman with interests in logging, named the colt Hydrive Cat after a piece of heavy-duty equipment — at least that is how I remember him telling me. Great name, Hydrive Cat!

The Husbys selected Clint Allen as their trainer for Hydrive. I don’t really know the details of who started him or who all had a hand in training him, but to all that did — my compliments to you.

Clint Allen & Hydrive Cat • Photo by Don Shugart

Clint Allen, of course, is one of the all-time greats, a Hall of Famer and one of the most respected trainers in the world. I’ve heard him fondly speak over the years about training Hydrive. From everything he said, Hydrive was special and a talent from day one.

The 3-year-old year is one of hope and anticipation leading up to the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity. I’m sure the Husbys had a quiet confidence and the excitement was real. Not everyone gets to own a horse like Hydrive. There are really only a handful, a small handful, of horses from every crop that industry insiders consider the crème of the crop. He was certainly one of those, and he proved it, too.

Hydrive was the 2006 NCHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion. What a start! He marked a 225 and, if anyone remembers, it came down to the last horse marking a 226.5. That was the great gelding Oh Cay Felix, shown by the master Craig Thompson.

Hydrive Cat and Shane Plummer

Hydrive and Clint went on to top finishes in all of their next shows, reserve or champion stallion about every time. There was a ton of buzz on this horse, and for good reason. He had the ability and show record to warrant it — bred in the purple by the greatest sire of all time, High Brow Cat, and out of one of the greatest families ever: million-dollar-producing first dam Ruby Tuesday DNA and nearly $2 million-producing second dam Playboys Ruby.

And then, of course, Hydrive was absolutely gorgeous. He was the whole package.

In 2007, his 4-year-old season, the stars aligned with a good economy; horse flesh was very high and breeding stock was at a premium. My parents had established Buffalo Ranch and had big dreams of being future leaders in breeding performance horses, with a real passion for cutting horses in particular.

Shane Plummer showing a cutting horse

Four years prior, they purchased TR Dual Rey. I’ll just tell you that it went quite well as an investment … so well that they were ready to double down on the next big thing. That foal crop in the now, 2007, the only name that mattered was Hydrive Cat. I remember as a family discussing this at great length. Decision made and target acquired. I was tasked to make contact and begin the process.

I phoned Dave Husby and let him know our interest. He was gracious but also pretty blunt, which I admired greatly. I can’t recall his exact words, but something like, “Well yes, he’s the best, and I have gotten lots of calls. Sell him? No, don’t really want to. You can make an offer and we’ll think about it. Don’t bother if it isn’t a lot.”

A lot, I thought? I’m just a dumb kid. (Still to this day, $1,000 is a lot of money to me!) But anyway, that was the initial conversation. What transpired next were some pretty aggressive and lengthy negotiations. It started when he was showing in Las Vegas, so that was February or March of 2007, and it concluded in June.

Cutting Horse Chatta covers

I’ll tell you how much because, why shouldn’t I? It was a very different world in values and scale at that time compared to what happened after the great recession. (I could write a book about all that!) He was purchased for $1.7 million.

It was actually quite agonizing for my parents, but with how it had gone with TR Dual Rey and since they’d made a living spanning nearly 40 years in the horse business, it was a worthwhile risk to take. No one could have foreseen what was going to take place on a global scale in the fall of 2008. Yikes!

So, halfway through his 4-year-old year, Hydrive was branded SDP. It still makes me proud, and always will. He and Clint, still just dynamite. I remember vividly winning when they won the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Derby Open in Paso Robles, California. I, myself, got to show him a couple of times, winning more than $16,000.

Photo collage of Hydrive Cat awards

My good friend and our then-resident trainer Greg Smith won the Derby Open at the Utah Cutting Horse Association Futurity in November of that year. Hydrive Cat went on through February of his 5-year-old year to win $416,709, with Clint Allen winning nearly all of that. He was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame. Awesome.

It all culminated in a fantastic first book of mares with the right quantity and quality of owners, too. He stood his first season in Farmington, Utah, at my parents’ Buffalo Ranch. I have such fond memories of those times. His first foal crop was born in 2009, he was the leading freshman sire and those foals went on to win more than $1 million themselves. Really fantastic.

Lots of change happened in 2008 for the Plummer family, resulting in my wife, Jane, and I purchasing “the ranch” (the horses, name and part of their Texas facility) and relocating the operation to Texas. An equitable purchase agreement was made, and we had dreams of a bright future preserving and making our own legacy.

Collage of Hydrive Cat barn photos

We changed the name from Buffalo Ranch to SDP Buffalo Ranch at the same time. Shortly after this came the great recession. I know for a fact the recession would have killed us if it were not for Hydrive Cat, his buddy TR Dual Rey, the dedicated team we have had this whole time and, most importantly, our beloved customers. The revenue Hydrive Cat generated kept the dream alive.

Hydrive helped me forge my own path, too. I had global aspirations, and he helped pave the way. We have sold Hydrive Cat breedings on five continents. Can the same be said about any other stallion? I don’t know.

My dear friends — no, family — Vince and Sally Bonello managed my affairs in Australia in a way that I can’t begin to explain to others. The two of them are absolutely part of the history of Hydrive Cat. To date, he has sired 185 registered Australian Quarter Horses, and probably many dozen Australian Stock Horses, as well.

offspring of Hydrive Cat performing

Hydrive Cat is, without question, the most dominant breeding stallion in Australia over the past 10 years. They lack the up-to-date statistics we enjoy in the United Staes on a weekly basis, or I’d place some shiny statistics in here for you to see. Australian NCHA Futurity, Derby and Classic Open champions … Futurity, Derby and Classic Non-Pro champions … champions at every event. The nation’s biggest equine sport, Campdrafting? Champions there, too. I, myself, have shown Hydrive Cat progeny there. Special times.

In Brazil through Ricardo Villacia — there’s impact there, too, with dozens of foals and known recordkeeping. Hydrive has had his stamp in that great cowboy culture, too. Bingos Cat, sired by Hydrive, is the No. 2 all-time winningest horse in Brazil. I also got to show in the Brazilian Futurity on a Hydrive. Special times.

All throughout the world, Hydrive Cat has foals. I’m proud, I really am. He has 768 registered with the American Quarter Horse Association, many dozen Paints and, as stated, progeny in countries throughout the world. At the time of writing this, Hydrive Cat has sired the earners of more than $4.7 million in known winnings. That is stretched between 323 performers, not including the many registered outside of the U.S. without known performance records. I’m hopeful that sire record ticks up a few more million; it should, really.

offspring of Hydrive Cat performing

Phil Rapp was in my home today. He commented that he thought Hydrive’s biggest impact will be in his daughters. He said their two best-raised Futurity horses for this year are both out of Hydrive mares. I thought that was neat.

I’m proud of what he has done as a sire. Just last week, homebred and -raised Somethingtobelievein, and my friends Brett and Jody McGlothlin went past the $300,000 benchmark in lifetime earnings. This comes in a day and age when cutting purses are not as high as they used to be. What an achievement for the spectacular mare! Congratulations to them; I’m so thrilled.

There are too many others to list, but I’m so proud of one and all.

offspring of Hydrive Cat performing

This is not the end. With nearly 1,000 doses of frozen semen, there will be many, many more. I don’t know the plan on that just yet, but Hyrdive will continue to bless my family for years to come.

There are too many to list, but thank you to one and all who have played a part. (Forgive me if I fail to mention you.) Thanks to my wife, Jane, and my five kids, my all. To my parents for the opportunity — I thank you. To my siblings Jen, Stephanie, Spencer and Scott — all have a hand in Hydrive. To Nick and Nate — I’m not forgetting you. To the long list of Team SDP members: Chico, Hydrive’s man; Kim; Fernando; Carol; Todd; Victor; Luis; Bernardo; John; Matt; Greg; Shella; Alexis; Frank; Christine; Mitzi; Nicole; Semira; Katie; and Christina. To the Husbys, Clint Allen and his team. To Dr. Justin High — thank you for maintaining him — and Dr. Mary Bumgarner.

offspring of Hydrive Cat performing

Hydrive was laid to rest at the top of the hill, the highest point here at SDP. It is just behind the stallion barn, in between the barn and my home. I cried saying goodbye. I cried standing next to his grave. I’m crying writing this.

I’ve faced death in my life, in much worse circumstance than this. But, there is something about saying goodbye to not only your friend, but also a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly interest that you believe in. Something that feeds your family, that you’ve poured your heart, blood, sweat and treasure in. Hydrive Cat, I thank you. Till we meet again, my friend.

Shane Plummer accepting AQHA awards