Olena Dually and Charles Spence work a cow in Memphis, Tennessee
Olena Dually and Charles Spence were a pair until Robert Charles Brown purchased the gelding in 1998. Photo by Ashley Photo

Olena Dually, a Cutting Ironman, Dies at 29

Over the course of his 29 years, Olena Dually had a fully merited reputation as one of cutting’s most durable ironmen, competing every year between 1994 and 2006, and back again for a very brief break from retirement in 2012.

To his credit, in addition to an Equi-Stat record of just more than $302,000, are three appearances in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Finals, including a sixth-place finish in the Open under Jimmy Orrell in 1999 and a third in the Non-Pro with owner Robert Charles Brown in 2000.

“O.D.” was humanely euthanized on Wednesday, Jan. 29, as the burdens of a stifle injury dramatically impaired his quality of life, his owner said.

“He took me on the ride of my life,” Brown said. Buying O.D. in 1998 “changed my whole life. He carried me to the Non-Pro Hall of Fame. I didn’t win it all on him, but I won 90% on him. The day they put me in the Hall of Fame, I was riding him.”

O.D. was a 1991 gelding by Dual Pep and out of Miss Sabrina Lena (by Doc O’Lena) and bred by Dogwood Farms of Moscow, Tennessee. 

He was trained for the 1994 NCHA Futurity by Paul Hansma. The pair finished 17th in the finals. In 1995, he was sold to Charles Spence and went on to have some success in other limited-age events. Under Spence, trainer Matt Gaines worked with O.D.

Brown acquired him in 1998. This is the way he remembered the transaction:

“I was in Jackson, Mississippi. Charles Spence owned him and he was running off with Charles. Charles walked out of the arena — he was a good friend of my dad’s, he and my dad owned Kit Dual together — he handed him to me and said he wanted $50,000 for him. ‘If you want to pay me, you can. If you don’t, I’m giving him to you.’”

Orrell rode O.D. the next day.

“As soon as he walked out,” Brown said of Orrell, “he said, ‘Buy him.’ I wrote Charles a check right there. He ran off on me once in the World Finals. He had a suspensory problem. Other than that, he never thought about it.”

O.D. made his mark showing at weekend events for years, demonstrating his durability time and again, at times showing multiple times on consecutive days between the Open and Non-Pro, Brown said.

That was his story, Brown said, adding that O.D.’s best characteristics were his heart and consistency.

“He was the same every time,” Brown said. “Every time he went down there,” he showed up to work.

Brown briefly brought O.D. out of retirement in 2012 so his daughter could ride him in Youth events. Brown recalled that O.D. got her off to a good start toward achieving her goal of a top 15 finish at the Crawfish Classic. Then it was back to the barn for a permanent retirement. 

In O.D.’s final years, Brown said doctors tried stem cell injections, but “it didn’t work.”

Brown wrote of O.D. to his network on Facebook: “He will always live in my memories and in my heart.”