In reality, breeding decisions are often constrained by limitations like money, mare power or mortality. But if all those restraints disappeared, what stallion and mare would you pair up to make a dream foal?
Quarter Horse News asked this question to some top industry participants to learn what their breeding dreams are made of when all the pressure fades away.
James Eakin: Bet Hesa Cat x Royal Blue Boon
James Eakin, of Bar E Ranch in Hondo, Texas, is a well-respected name in the cutting breeding business. His program is responsible for such greats as Bingo Royal Miss, Call Me Mitch and Smart Time Pepto 10, and his total breeder earnings exceed $3 million among nearly 5,500 performers recorded in EquiStat.
Eakin’s dream cross is EquiStat Elite $1 Million Sire Bet Hesa Cat (High Brow Cat x Bet Yer Blue Boons x Freckles Playboy) on Royal Blue Boon (Boon Bar x Royal Tincie x Royal King). A syndicate partner in Bet Hesa Cat, Eakin previously owned Royal Blue Boon and still holds the $2.6 million producer in the highest regard.
“The most outstanding mare in the world right now is Royal Blue Boon. She would be the mare of my choice,” Eakin said. “She crossed very well on High Brow Cat and Smart Little Lena, but times are changing, and you’ve got to change your breeding with the times.
“So, if you’re talking about breeding her back in her day, I would pick High Brow Cat and Smart Little Lena, but for today, I would breed her to Bet Hesa Cat. He’s by High Brow Cat and out of a World Champion mare. He himself was a World Champion.
“He [Bet Hesa Cat] is currently producing reined cow horses and cutting horses,” Eakin added. “They were Open Champion and Reserve Champion [at the 2017 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity].”
Jim Morgan, DVM: Smart Chic Olena x Banjoes Beauty
Dr. Jim Morgan is a three-time National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Non-Pro winner with more than $400,000 on his breeder record. In all, 440 horses bred by the Pilot Point, Texas-based reiner have garnered checks in the performance arena, and Morgan boasts around $800,000 on his owner record.
When picking a dream cross, Morgan couldn’t help but choose his favorite mare of all time – Banjoes Beauty (Heza Banjoe x Solanos Sunshine x Doc’s Solano) – and stick with what has worked on the top side, Smart Chic Olena (Smart Little Lena x Gay Sugar Chic x Gay Bar King).
“The best mare I ever had was Banjoes Beauty,” Morgan explained. “Every time I showed her she won, except for one time she was second. I flew out and showed her at the [NRHA] Derby when it was in Minnesota, then I flew back home and worked three or four days. Nobody was even riding her; she was just standing in the stall. I flew back out and showed her in the finals, and she was second.
“Showing her was like going to a Christmas party. The only day she ever disappointed me was the day she died,” he continued. “I bred her to Smart Chic Olena a number of times and produced some great horses. I’ve been in favor of the Smart Chic Olenas because the good ones have a certain way about them. The good ones are very easy to get along with. When you throw a little bit of that Smart Chic Olena in there, the cooperation quotient goes up.”
Michelle Cannon: Shiners Nickle x Stylish Play Lena
Michelle Cannon is known for the striking and well-balanced foals that come out of her breeding program in Waxahachie, Texas. According to EquiStat, she has bred 643 money-earners with nearly $850,000 in cumulative money won.
After unexpectedly losing her special 2006 stallion Shiners Nickle (Shining Spark x Shesa Lota Nic x Reminic) at the age of 5, Cannon was quick to choose him as her dream cross sire. A little more thought brought her to Double Dove Ranch’s $289,624-earner and million-dollar producer Stylish Play Lena (Docs Stylish Oak x Play Lena x Freckles Playboy) for the bottom side.
“That would really be something, wouldn’t it?” Cannon said as she imagined how the resulting foal would turn out. “I might need to talk to Gail Holmes.
“He [Shiners Nickle] was such a cool horse because he was so talented in so many ways. He was such a huge, huge stopper, and so versatile,” she added. “With her [Stylish Play Lena] being the huge producer she is and crossing well on so many different stallions, I believe that you would just get such a special and talented animal. Not to mention if he threw that beautiful buckskin color, that would be really something!”
This article was originally published in the December 15, 2017, issue of Quarter Horse News.