From The Archives: Lil Ruf Peppy

A stout, sorrel stallion, Lil Ruf Peppy shone in the reining arena before amassing more than $3 million in progeny earnings. 

Foaled in 1991, Lil Ruf Peppy was bred by The King Ranch of Kingsville, Texas, and was sired by the ranch’s stallion Peppy San Badger. Out of Rufas Peppy (by Mr San Peppy), his sire and dam were paternal half siblings – both sired by Mr San Peppy. 

Lil Ruf Peppy’s Career

Though he was line bred for working cattle, Lil Ruf Peppy was pointed towards the reining pen, where he was ridden by eventual EquiStat Elite $2 Million Rider Tom McCutcheon.

Advancing to the Quarter Horse Congress Open Futurity Finals in 1994, McCutcheon and Lil Ruf Peppy hit their stride in 1995, earning the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Open Reserve Championship and winning the Limited Open. 

 “I was really happy with him,” McCutcheon said in a July, 1995, article in Quarter Horse News. “He just felt really good. He showed like a futurity horse, like he’d never been in that pen before. That’s pretty unusual for a 4-year-old that’s been shown a few times. Usually they start looking here and there, but, he showed like he’s never been in that pen before. He gets better every trip out.”

Lil Ruf Peppy & Tom McCutcheon. • Photo by Waltenberry.

The year of 1995 was McCutcheon’s biggest professionally up to that time, and saw him nearly triple his previous yearly earnings. Lil Ruf Peppy was the biggest contributor that year, helping lay the foundation for McCutcheon’s open reining career.

Following the NRHA Derby, the stallion was retired to a life as a breeding stallion with $27,289 in lifetime earnings, according to EquiStat.

Lil Ruf Dynasty

As a sire, Lil Ruf Peppy produced 352 money-earning progeny who collectively raked more than $3.4 million. His leading earners are Sailin Ruf (out of Pinesal, by Topsail Cody) and Rufanicki (out of Chexanicki, by Bueno Chexinic). 

Lil Ruf Peppy. • Photo by John Brasseaux.

Sailin Ruf garnered $151,813 in lifetime earnings from 2001-2007. He and McCutcheon finished third in the 2001 NRHA Open Futurity, winning $88,455. Sailin Ruf went on to advance to the NRHA Derby Open finals twice with McCutcheon, and eventually was moved to Italy to continue competing and breeding. 

Rufanicki earned more than $146,000 in the reining pen, winning the 2011 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Non-Pro Derby Levels 4-1 and the NRHA Derby Non-Pro Levels 4-1 with owner and rider Shaunda Blinzler. 

Lil Ruf Peppy’s daughters contributed to his name too, producing more than $4 million in earners including modern-day champions Not Ruf At All and Patriot. 

With $456,530 in lifetime earnings and a reining triple crown to his name, Not Ruf At All has made an impact on the reining industry. The 2010 stallion – as well as his full brother, All American Vintage ($194,945) – are by A Sparkling Vintage and out of the Lil Ruf Peppy mare All Ruffed Up.

Patriot, a 2015 son of Smart Spook, boasts $234,393 in lifetime earnings and is out of Dunit A Lil Ruf, a Lil Ruf Peppy mare who earned $32,817 in the reining pen. Patriot earned the 2019 NRHA Open Level 4 Derby Co-Championship and 2020 NRHA Open Level 4 Derby Reserve Championship. So far, Dunit A Lil Ruf has produced the winners of more than $540,000.

Both Not Ruf At All and Patriot are standing at stud, with Not Ruf At All already hitting the $1 million mark, ready to lend their maternal grandsire’s lines to the reining industry. 

Lil Ruf Peppy passed in early 2017 at the age of 26, but his genetics continue to live on through reining stallions and mares.