Home-bred colt Quackman overcame great odds to win at the NCHA Summer Spectacular with owner Tom Kaufmann. • Photo by Video West Productions.

Mighty Duck: Once Near Death, Quackman Rallies to NCHA Triple Crown Event Win

To the average spectator, Quackman’s Amateur Derby performance at this week’s National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular was nimble, worth a score of 222 for the championship.

What wasn’t apparent, however, was the inner strength possessed by the gelding who already had survived a near-death experience in 2020 and follow-up surgery, and who also had the innate talent to compete in the NCHA Futurity after eight months off from training.

“He is strong. He has the mindset – ever since the beginning he trained himself,” owner and rider Tom Kaufmann said.

On The Sidelines

That strength carried “Crash” through possibly the toughest test of his life – a freak accident a few months into training that put his career on hold.

“He choked on an alfalfa cube. By choking on it, he got a bacterial infection in his esophagus and it moved down to his lungs,” Kaufmann said.

They took the horse to a highly regarded veterinary hospital, and were told the horse would never be ridden again.

They said he was done,” he said. “They may as well euthanize him because he can’t be ridden [because] he can’t breathe.”

Kaufmann sought out a second opinion and brought him home hoping to rehabilitate him.

“My wife Michelle put him on a nebulizer and we put him in a little pasture behind our house where it was nice and cool with green grass and we just gave him tons of antibiotics,” Kaufmann said.

Generations in the Making

Kaufmann’s drive to see Crash pull through was generations in the making. He made a triumphant return to the cutting pen in 2012 on Duck On A Chain (Blue Duck Okie x Zippity Dual x Dual Pep), winning the Breeder’s Invitational Amateur Classic Challenge. He bred the mare – who boasts $83,127 in lifetime earnings according to EquiStat ¬– to Sannman.

Tom Kaufmann winning at the 2012 Breeder’s Invitational on Duck On A Chain, a mare whose son, Quackman, won at at the 2022 NCHA Summer Spectacular. • Photo by Erin Miller.

“Crash is our first homegrown horse. We pulled him out of the mama. I see a lot of similarities between them. [Mostly] the bow in his neck when he works and that he loves to have things in his mouth,” Kaufmann said.

Crash’s lungs cleared up with diligent care from Kaufmann and Michelle. Next was a surgery on his palate to correct damage done from coughing. In all, Crash spent eight months sidelined while other horses his age were preparing for futurities.

Showing Up to Work

“We didn’t get to really start to get training on him until [March 2021]. Russ Elrod took him for a little bit but because he was doing the West Coast circuit, we got him to R.L. Chartier who finished him off for the [NCHA] Futurity.”

With Kaufmann’s daughter Kylie in the saddle, Quackman earned his first check at the NCHA Futurity in the Limited Non Pro for more than $6,000.

At the Summer Spectacular, Michelle showed Quackman in the Intermediate Amateur Derby and advanced to the finals, earning $3,550. For the Amateur finals on on Friday, August 5, the horse was ready.

“We got [to the show] just as they were settling our cows. My wife loped him a few circles and I just walked in. I was able to pull a cow up the middle and cut it real clean. I think I kicked him one time in the whole run. He was just on and he waited for the cow to get correct. Every run he gets smarter and smarter,” Kaufmann said.

With Crash’s Summer Spectacular performance, his lifetime earnings stand at $21,621.

Quackman is the only money-winner for his dam. His victory put his sire, Sannman, on the brink of becoming an EquiStat Elite $1 Million Sire.

Reserve Champion in the Amateur Derby was Robert Masterson and Tha Girl Next Door (WR This Cats Smart x Too Smart Toodie x Smart Mate) who marked a 219 for $8,740.