Bill Rhoads, a Whitesboro, Texas veterinarian, said that after some clients of his decided against purchasing a yearling filly named Mega Maggie Mae — X-rays he took during a pre-purchase exam showed a blemish — he seized the moment.
“I really liked her, so I took the opportunity to purchase her myself,” he said.
That decision in 2013 has rewarded Rhoads many, many times over through the years, as he and “Mae” have spent a lot of time in the winner’s circle. Most recently, they won their first two World championship titles at the American Quarter Horse Association World Show in Oklahoma City — the Amateur Reining Levels 3 and 2.
Scoring a 220.5 in the preliminary round, Rhoads and Mae, a 2012 mare bred by Martin Bonneson of New London, Wisconsin, upped the ante in the finals — winning the Level 3 World championship with a 222.5 score over the weekend.
“Both runs [preliminary and finals] were really good,” said Rhoads, who has been reining for about 15-plus years and whose lifetime Equi-Stat earnings before the AQHA World show totaled $197,792.
Their finals pattern brought back memories, Rhodes said, of when he showed Mae in the Oklahoma City facility at the 2015 NRHA Futurity, in which they won the Futurity Levels 3, 2 and 1 Non-Pro and placed second in the Level 4, and, in later years, in the NRHA Derby.
When Mae (Magnum Chic Dream x Cinco De Mega x Marthas Mega Jac) ran into the show pen and nailed her first stop in the finals, Rhoads said it gave him confidence going forward. Their first turn was really good but, Rhoads said, he pulled her back a little too much in the second turn and she got a little bound up.
“It wasn’t the prettiest turn,” he admitted. “After that I was a little mad at myself and I ran her extra hard in her circles and they were awesome.
“This [win] is much more about her than me,” Rhoads said. “I just felt she needed to win another title.”
Rhoades said Mae, who had $173,624 in lifetime earnings when she arrived at the World Show, does everything really, really well, but her circles are kind of her signature maneuver.
“You can run her as hard as you want and she’ll come back to a nice little Western pleasure lope, and she changes leads real easy.
“She’s just so easy and so good [to show]. You never have to pick your hand up, she never ‘looks’ — she’s just right there. And, she’s got the try.”
Rhoads’ horse program includes trainer Richard Pokleda, who starts and trains Rhoads’ young horses and generally shows them during their futurity year. Pokleda started and rode Mae until the middle of her 3-year-old year before Rhoads began riding her.
“He never got her back,” Rhoads said. “He thought I would get along really, really well with her, so he told me he thought I should show her — she was my first Futurity horse.
“I feel like the horses I show I need to ride them,” explained Rhoads. “He [Pokleda] still helps me and helps me at the shows, but I’m not comfortable catch-riding, so once they are broke, I ride them.”
Rhoads described Mae as “kind of a diva,” but he said she is a sweetheart to be around. She’s super quiet and super easy about everything and doesn’t have a care in the world.
“She likes to be pampered and she likes to be fed cookies when she’s done working,” Rhoads added. “I think horse shows are really enjoyable for her — she may get fed a little more than she does at home and she actually gets ridden less at horses shows than when she’s home.”
Because he has a full-time job, Rhoades said Mae is perfect for him. She doesn’t need a lot of riding so if he gets busy, he can skip a day and it doesn’t matter.
“She’s actually better when she has days off,” he said. “And it’s real easy [to prepare her] at the horse shows. So showing her is fun!”
Rhoads is eagerly looking forward to competing on Mae’s three offspring (and one on the way). He owns Mae’s 2-year-old filly that Pokleda has in training for the 2020 NRHA Futurity, a yearling colt and weanling colt. That’s not to say that Rhoads has any plans to retire Mae in the near future.
“I’m going to focus on her [coming 3-year-old] for sure, but I will still take her to some of the big stuff. Right now, the plans are to go to the NRBC and I’d like to qualify her for The Run for the Million in the Non-Pro, again. (The pair placed fourth in the Non-Pro at The Run For A Million debut this year.)
“I don’t do the horse thing for a living, I just want to have fun and do it for me,” explained Rhoads, who owns and operates Premier Equine Veterinary Services in Whitesboro. “I do the veterinarian thing to make a living.”
Mae, who Rhoads said is like a member of his family, is not done showing. He said she is getting better and better and can still be super competitive.
“She’s healthy, sound and happy and as long as she’s like that, I’ll still take her out to show.
“She’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses!”