Meradas Little Sue loomed large in the cutting pen and in the breeding barn. • Photo by Megan Parks.

From The Archives: Meradas Little Sue

Meradas Little Sue was one in a million.

Few mares rise to maternal stardom like Meradas Little Sue, and even fewer did it sporting a lengthy show resume including multiple National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Championships, more than $730,000 in lifetime earnings and a NCHA Hall of Fame induction. 

Throughout the 1990s, Meradas Little Sue built a dynasty to be revered, and when she sold at the 2001 NCHA Futurity sale, she broke records. 

Bred by Kenneth and Kathy Galyean of Bentonville, Arkansas, Meradas Little Sue was born in April of 1990. She was sired by Freckles Merada and out of Doc’s Hickory mare Docs Hickory Sue – bred to the hilt with classic cutting bloodlines.

Cutter First, Mother Second

Meradas Little Sue started off her cutting career steadily, placing fifth in the 1993 NCHA Open Futurity with Jody Galyean, earning $41,492. 

Following the sale of Meradas Little Sue to Corinne Heiligbrodt of Houston, Texas in 1994, “Sue” and trainer Kobie Wood began their memorable run, which would eventually span several NCHA Open World Championships and a NCHA Hall of Fame induction. 

The mare nabbed her first NCHA Open World Championship in 1995 as a 5-year-old. The accomplishment came as a surprise to both Wood and owner Heiligbrodt, considering Sue wasn’t even on Wood’s “A team” for the year. 

In a March, 1996, article in Quarter Horse News, Wood recounted the road to the 1995 NCHA Open World Championship. He told QHN that Sue was traveling the weekend circuit with him to get more seasoned and compete in the Novice horse classes. When Sue began showing her stuff, Wood changed around his roster to be able to show her in the Open. 

Meradas Little Sue and Kobie Wood. • Photo by Don Shugart.

By the time the dust settled, Sue had earned more than $145,000 in limited-age event, weekend and World Finals competition in 1995. 

“She’s a tough little wire,” Wood told QHN. “She could go all day and all night.”

In 1996, Sue was named NCHA Horse of the Year and inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame. In 1997 and 1999, she gathered two more NCHA Open World Championships, putting exclamation points on her already hefty record. 

Memorable Merada

In the cutting pen, Sue was a gritty, tireless force. On the ground, she was a spunky mare who demanded respect, attention and caution. 

“She hates everything,” Wood told QHN. “She’ll bite you, she’ll kick you, she’ll spook and run over you. I was trying to put a boot on her the other day and she kicked me on the knee. It’s not that she’s vicious, she doesn’t kick to break your leg – just to show you that she can. She does all kinds of antics like that.”

According to Wood, Sue would bite your behind while you were bent over, bite your stomach as you walked up to her and jump up and down in the trailer if she decided she’d been in there long enough. 

She resembled the Energizer bunny, giving the same effort and attitude after weeks of back-to-back weekend shows. 

The Next Generation

Sue sold in the 2001 NCHA Western Bloodstock Preferred Breeders Sale at the NCHA Futurity for a record-breaking $875,000. Buyers Frank and Belinda Vandersloot thought they got a bargain. In an April 2004 Quarter Horse News article, Frank Vandersloot described his plans for building a successful broodmare band with Sue. 

“We thought if we were going to be in the Quarter Horse business, we ought to do it right. We just couldn’t do it any better from a female perspective than Meradas Little Sue,” Vandersloot told QHN. “We plan to show [Sue’s foals], create some breeding stock for our own herd and sell come over time.”

Sue went on to produce more than $1.6 million in earners, with leading foals include EquiStat Elite $3 Million Sire Boon Too Suen ($263,795, by Peptoboonsmal); 2005 NCHA World Champion stallion Sues Last Time ($141, 897, by One Time Pepto), and Mighty Fine Sue ($140,694, by Smart Little Lena) who sold for $240,000 as a 2-year-old in 1999 to professional football legend Joe Montana of Calistoga, California. 

A number of Sue’s daughters have been good producers, including Hip Hip Sue Rey, a daughter of Dual Rey who foaled the winners of $244,901; Mighty Fine Sue, whose foals have earned $237,310; and Sues So Smart, a daughter of WR This Cats Smart whose son Dr Sueish has earned $211,688. 

Meradas Little Sue. • Photo by Megan Parks.

At the end of 2013, Sue sold to Circle Y Ranch in Millsap, Texas. She lived out her life as pure royalty until she passed April 21, 2017. 

“She is probably the greatest cutting mare of all time, and certainly in my mind and in my heart, she is and always will be,” Circle Y Ranch co-owner Nancy Pearce told QHN in 2017 of “Sue,” who reigned as the highest-earning mare in cutting until Dont Look Twice took over in 2013. “She had to be gritty to get through all of that traveling and cut as many cows as she cut. She did it time and time again, and the minute you met Sue, you could tell she was a gritty, not-going-to-let-the-boys-beat-her kind of girl.”

Pearce and Circle Y Ranch co-owner Penny Youngblood loved the mare, and the ranch still owns two of her clones: Meradas Little Sue One and Meradas Little Sue Too.

“If any horse deserved to be worshiped and adored, it was her. She had a commanding presence yet she had a vulnerable and sweet side. We adored her for all she was,” Pearce said.