Colonels Smoking Gun, aka "Gunner," recently solidified his standing among the NRHA's all-time leading sires. * Photo by Cheryl Magoteaux Cody.

Gunner, Reshaping Reining History

Colonels Smoking Gun, better known as “Gunner,” caught everyone’s attention as soon as he entered the arena.

From his 1996 futurity debut, Gunner’s stage presence and charisma were irresistible. Since then, generations of foals have followed and many have managed to sprinkle their own stardust in National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) events. With the conclusion of the 2021 NRHA Futurity, his sons and daughters pushed him past yet another milestone and made him the first NRHA $13 Million Dollar Sire.

His is a mighty legacy, as he literally changed the face of reining. Before him, excessive chrome and white faces were not common, and classes were filled with palominos, duns and buckskins.

Gunner had to do it the hard way, as his rejection by the American Quarter Horse Association for excessive white meant he and his foals could only receive American Paint Horse Association registration. Ultimately, like other quarter horse discards of the era, he was able to get his AQHA papers, but regardless of the initials on the papers, he continued to make history.

The son of Colonelfourfreckle out of Katie Gun was bred by Eric Story, then sold to Pam and Paul Rohus who took him to Clint Haverty. Clint and Gunner won the 1996 APHA World Show Open Reining Futurity as well as the NRHA Futurity reserve title. Under the ownership of Debra and Kim Sloan, they added the 1997 APHA Junior Reining world title and tied in 1998 for reserve in the National Reining Breeders Classic. In 2001, Gunner won the United States Equestrian Team Open Reining Championship with Bryant Pace in the saddle.

The stallion ended his show career with lifetime earnings over $173,000.

Gunner became an NRHA Hall of Fame inductee in 2003, then two years later the Sloans sold the stallion to Tim and Colleen McQuay. He lived out his life at McQuay Stables in Tioga, Texas, until his passing in 2013.

Of course, the story of that life continues to unfold. Gunner progeny have kept the magic alive and new foals and generations keep excelling years after his death, thanks to the foresight of the McQuays who collected semen prior to his passing.

NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee and Two Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay says he is constantly overwhelmed by Gunner’s success. “When his foals were first and second in the NRHA Futurity (Americasnextgunmodel and Gunners Tinseltown in 2012), that’s the stuff you can’t even dream about. Gunner has definitely become our retirement program,” he said.      

With 967 offspring earning money in the NRHA, and average earnings per foal of $12,695, his top earners are:

  • Tinker With Guns (Tinker Nic) $344,117
  • All Bettss Are Off (Wimpys Little Chic) $307,418
  • Gunners Tinseltown (Miss Tinseltown) $305,307
  • Americasnextgunmodel (Cee Dun It Do It) $289,486
  • No Smoking Required (Icing Required) $252,158
  • Gun Dun It (Dun It In Tinseltown) $220,391
  • Gunners Special Nite (Mifs Doll) $219,737
  • Gunnatrashya (Natrasha) $218,046
  • Always Gotyer Gunsup (Always A Dunit) $171,401
  • Miss Silver Gun (Miss Taris Rey) $167,888