High Sign Nugget (AP), an Appaloosa stallion who found success siring winning cutters, reiners and reined cow horses in an industry dominated by Quarter Horses, is going into the Hall of Fame.
From his home at Thunderstruck Ranch in Alberta, Canada, the mostly white son of High Sign (AP) and out of Hen Penny (AP) (by Top Stuff’s Big Mo [AP]) has sired more than $440,000 in winners, according to Equi-Stat.
The horse’s long-time owner Jim Dobler, who bought the horse as a 2-year-old, was excited the late stallion was recognized by the association. Nicknamed “Spot,” the horse died about five years ago after standing his entire career at Dobler’s Thunderstruck Ranch near Delburne, Alberta.
Established in 1986, the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame recognizes horses and people who have contributed to and made positive impacts on the breed. The association’s Board of Directors votes on each year’s class.
“It’s always nice when a horse like him gets noticed by people, so to get some acknowledgement is always great,” Dobler said.
Another of the 2019 equine inductees, Mr Shining Gun (AP), also demonstrated excellence in Western performance horse events. The 2018 World’s Best Appaloosa, the 2009 gelding by JD Shinner Jack (by Shining Spark) and out of Bucks Miss Smoke (by Traylor Smoke) has earned 789.5 performance points in everything from cutting, working cow horse and reining to games and even youth walk trot.
Other 2019 equine inductees include Downtothelastdetail, Jess Streakin, Heza Dreamer, Zip’N To Paradise and Hot Chocolate Chip. The newest human inductees will be Dave and Kim Utke, of Sheldon, North Dakota.
High Sign Nugget’s Influence
High Sign Nugget’s name often can be found in the pedigrees of winning cow horses, reiners and cutters. His leading earners are Have A Drink On Me (AP) ($51,000) and High Output Dually (AP) ($31,013).
Earlier this year, son You CD Signs won the Limited Open Bridle Championship at the National Reined Cow Horse Association(NRCHA) Celebration of Champions. The win pushed the gelding’s lifetime earnings past the $15,000 mark.
The late stallion also made a huge impact on the Appaloosa breed. According to the registry, he sired 228 registered Appaloosa foals who went on to earn 1,527.6 performance points and 352.5 halter points. They also won 48 bronze medallions, an honor that recognizes a horse’s performance within a class or discipline.
Dobler chalked up High Sign Nugget’s success to his ability to pass his trainability and heart into his offspring. The horse was exceptionally sound during his show career, which included Appaloosa Horse Club Bronze Medallions in working cow horse in 1997 and 1999, as well as a Register of Merit in Senior Reining and Senior Working Cow Horse. The horse earned four Year End Top Ten Awards in working cow horse categories and one in cutting.
“He was so easy to train and, for the most part, all of his offspring were the same way,” he said. “Trainers would get them and most of them couldn’t believe how easy they were to train and then how good they were. And, they made great non-pro horses, which is really what we were after, but there was a lot of them the trainers would do very well in the Open on them, too.”
High Sign Nugget’s success as a sire in Western performance horse industry didn’t come easy. First, he was an Appaloosa trying to break into an industry dominated by Quarter Horses. Second, he stood in Western Canada — an area, though known for producing talented horses and horseman, didn’t provide his offspring the same number of lucrative money-winning opportunities as were available in parts of the United States.
Dobler believes trainability of the stallion’s offspring was a factor here, too. He estimated that a very large percentage of High Sign Nugget’s foals seemed to end up in the show pen.
“If he only had 10 foals in one year, nine of them would be in the show pen in three years,” he said. “They always wound up in the right hands with people, it seemed, but they were also trainable enough and talented enough that the trainers [who] had them, they didn’t cull them. They kept them, and the next thing you know they’re in the show pen, and they’re winning some money and showing up.”
Though High Sign Nugget is no longer, Thunderstruck Ranch has several of his daughters in its breeding program. Many of those mares have recently been paired with Smokums Prize, the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champion who stands at the ranch. Dobler and his wife, Heather McLevin, also kept High Sign Nugget’s 5-year-old son, Total Blam Blam, as a stallion prospect.
They are both grateful to everything High Sign Nugget gave them.
“Heather and I owe everything we have to High Sign Nugget,” Dobler said. “We wouldn’t be in the horse industry today if it were not for him and all his believers.
“Spot was part of the family.”