Colonels Lil Gun, the son of a distinctive and legendary sire in the reining industry, left his own sizable footprint before departing this world last week.
“Lil Gun,” among the first foals of NRHA Hall of Famer and Equi-Stat Elite $12 Million Sire Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner), was a finalist in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity in his coming out season and the next year a World Champion at the American Paint Horse Association (AQHA) World Show.
He also was the sire of 123 offspring performers who have earned more than $785,531.
Lil Gun was humanely euthanized at his home in Cochrane, Alberta, in Canada, on Thursday, his owner Austin Seelhof confirmed. The reason for the decision was laminitis.
He was 23.
An enduring image of Seelhof’s children lying with Lil Gun in his last moments in his stall will survive. The picture on Facebook had been liked more than 2,700 times and had more than 1,000 shares by admirers.
“He was a gentle dude,” said Seelhof, who owned Lil Gun since June 2018. “Not many stallions would tolerate that, but when he was napping the kids would like to go in and pet on him. He just closed his eyes and let them do it.
“He was a sweet old man. He was a blessing to us and we’re going to miss him a lot.”
In Lil Gun’s last days, “he told us it was time,” Seelhof said.
Born in 1997, Lil Gun was a sorrel stallion who shared his father’s white face. It wasn’t long before breeders and longtime owners Paul and Pam Rohus of the Double PR Ranch noticed that another of his dad’s genes was passed long: total deafness.
“We pretty much knew right away,” Pam Rohus said of the hearing impairment. “All the other foals would be playing together, and Lil Gun would be standing off by himself, distancing himself from the crowd. He was a whole lot like Gunner. He was deaf, had a big heart and easy to handle. He was a lot like Gunner actually.”
At the time, the Rohuses owned Gunner and Lil Gun’s dam, Clabber Lady Oil (by Duce Eyed Oil).
Pam Rohus remembered a good-natured steed who, when turned out, would run and play with the dogs on the ranch.
The Rohuses sent him to trainers with experience with deaf horses, such as Clint Haverty, who had worked with Gunner.
In 2000, he became Gunner’s first son to compete in Oklahoma City at the NRHA Futurity, with trainer Randy Paul aboard. “All eyes were on him,” Rohus recalled. “You could hear people in the crowd say, ‘is he going to stop?’
“And he sure did,” she said.
Paul remarked that Lil Gun was so agreeable as a performer that the stallion “makes me want to knock the ear drums out of all my horses” because nothing bothered them in the arena, Rohus recalled.
He was joking, of course.
The next year, Lil Gun climbed the ladder all the way to the top as the Junior Reining World Champion at the APHA show in Fort Worth.
At the time Lil Gun was under the tutelage of Tim McQuay, but he couldn’t make the show that year. Instead, Luke Gagnon, who was working for McQuay took Lil Gun.
The time of year was near the beginning of July and nearby a fireworks display erupted to mark American Independence, all during Lil Gun’s finals run.
“He didn’t care because he couldn’t hear anything,” said Gagnon, today owner and operator of LG Performance Horses in Collinsville, Texas. “I remember the crowd. The crowd went nuts” after the completion of their run.
In 2002, the duo advanced to the finals of the National Reining Breeders Classic.
In total, Lil Gun won money with Haverty, Paul, Bret Wall and Terry Erickson. When he retired as a performer, his Equi-Stat record showed $25,662.
“He had such a good mind. So sweet,” said Gagnon. “He didn’t care about anything. Probably you’d want every stud to be like him. He could stop, he could turn. He was really laid-back, so you’d have to work really hard to get him to go sometimes.”
Notable half-siblings, who starred in the arena, include Custom Made Gun ($419,985) and Americasnextgunmodel ($305,779), both out of Hollywood Dun It mares. No Smoking Required ($419,985) and Colonels Shining Gun were out of Smart Chic Olena and Shining Spark mares.
In the breeding barn, Lil Gun had successes.
His top offspring performer was Freckles Nu Lil Gun, a 2008 mare out of Nu Bar mare Nu Bar Freckles. His best cross was with Hollywood Dun It mares. In all, those offspring have won $97,054. Lil Gun Dunit, a 2006 gelding out of Hollywood Baby Dunit, was a winner of $54,667.
Lil Gun’s offspring, said Pam Rohus, had “good bone on them. Solid. More height. Very, very trainable horses. Most of them had a big heart. Easy to be around, easy to train. They were just a pleasure to be around.”
Said Seelhof: “We would have like to have more time with him, for sure. He had a few foals this year. We’ve been happy with every one we’ve had with him.”
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