Shannon Hall riding Shania Cee * Photo by Don Shugart

In The Blood—Lynx Melody and The Royal King Phenomenon

The story of Lynx Melody winning the 1978 NCHA Open Futurity has a history that set it apart as a memorable win for many fans. She also serves as an example of the Royal King phenomenon that has influenced the modern performance horse through the tail female line.

Lynx Melody was bred by James Wesley and purchased by Jim and Mary Jo Milner as a weanling. She was then sold as a two-year-old to Tom Bellamy who put her in the NCHA Futurity Sale in 1977. She was purchased by Billy Cogdell at the sale for $6,500. The reason Cogdell was able to buy her was her small size, she would mature to only 13.2 hands. Cogdell turned her over to a tall trainer named Larry Reeder who went on to win the NCHA Futurity on the little mare.  

When Larry Reeder started riding the filly, he found her to be a very athletic and powerful cutting horse despite her size and she didn’t grow except around the middle. She was in foal to a stallion named Doc’s Stormy Leo. She would foal in March 1978 and carry on with her training when her foal was put with a Shetland nurse mare. The foal’s name was Doc’s Accident and he won $42,916.77. Lynx Melody continued her career, winning events like the 1979 NCHA Open Derby and the 1980 NCHA Open World Champion Mare title. She earned $113,682 before retiring to the Cogdell’s Tule Ranch of Tulia, Texas. 

The Tule Ranch is a working ranch that raised cattle with good using horses. They were named the 2008 AQHA Best Remuda for their years of producing ranch horses, and cutting was a key part in the successful ranch breeding program. Lynx Melody became an important broodmare for them. She is the dam of 16 horses with EquiStat earnings of $1,215,654. Her leading money winner is Shania Cee ($408,633) the 1999 NCHA Open Futurity Champion. She is followed by Cattin ($137,811), Sneakin Cee ($135,542) and Crackin ($133,083) giving her four money earners that brought in over $100,000 each.

In The Blood

The pedigree of Lynx Melody (Doc’s Lynx x Trona x Leon Bars) is built on the foundation of the tail female line that goes to a daughter of Royal King. 


Her sire Doc’s Lynx (Doc Bar x Jameen Tivio x Poco Tivio) was the 1973 NCHA Open Derby Champion. He was a late foal born in December 1969 that turned one year old on January 1, 1970, and that meant he would place fifth in the 1972 NCHA Open Futurity as a horse that was a two-year-old. He would sire horses with EquiStat earnings of $5,864,500. Looking at his top 20 money winners, seven of them trace back to Royal King in the tail female line. They include Sir Royal Lynx ($248,765), Angelynx ($212,434), Lot A Lynx ($143,926), Lynx Melody ($113,682) Lynx Expresso ($112,201), Rosies Last Lynx ($94,045) and Happy Bar Lynx ($73,228).  

Trona was a 1965 mare that earned four AQHA points in reining (3) and working cow horse (1). As a broodmare her seven performers earned $357,493 in cutting. In addition to Lynx Melody, they include Little Trona ($101,205) and Dox Tronalena ($72,810), winner of the 1985 NCHA Open Derby. 

Trona was out of an unshown mare Miss Royal Fleet (Royal King x Fletter x Sonny Kimble). She is the dam of four AQHA performers including Call Me Royal. He earned 1,170 AQHA points in the open and youth divisions with seven superior awards, and he was a youth and open performance champion. He was the 1978 AQHA World Champion Senior Reining Horse.

The Royal King Phenomenon

Miss Royal Fleet brings us to Royal King (King P-234 x Rocket Laning x Dolph) one of the greatest cutting horses of all time. He was the 1953 NCHA Open Reserve World Champion and a four-time top ten open finalist. He earned the NCHA Silver and Bronze Awards and in the AQHA he was a Superior cutting horse. Royal King sired 590 foals that earned 3,971 AQHA points. They earned $346,969 in the NCHA. His leading winners would include Miss Nancy Bailey, an NCHA Hall of Fame member and Royal Chess, a four-time NCHA Open World Champion Gelding. 


Royal King was a great sire that became an influential broodmare sire. His daughters produced foals that earned 10,655 AQHA points in halter and performance. His maternal grandget earned $2,217,312 in cutting, reining and reined cow horse.

Royal King’s daughter, Jazzy Sock, was the 1969 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity Reserve Champion, the dam of NCHA Hall of Famer Doc Wilson and Son Ofa Doc. Son Ofa Doc is the sire of Bob Acre Doc, an NCHA Open and Non-Pro World Champion.  

A significant influence of Royal King today comes from his presence in the tail female line of many of the western performance horses. The tail female line is that bottom line on a bracket pedigree.

Looking at the tail female line, we have several genetic factors that play a role into how this line influences the pedigree. The first is the mitochondrial DNA that the mare passes on to her foals. This is the genetics that enables the mitochondria to serve as the source of energy for the cell. We all inherit our Mitochondrial DNA from our mother. Thus, Royal King as the sire of this mare has no influence on the role the mitochondria play in the cell as he doesn’t pass that on to his daughters. 

The one thing that Royal King passes on to his daughters is his dam’s X chromosome that he inherited from her. So his daughter will have one X coming directly from her sire’s dam, in this case, Rocket Laning. This would play a role in the sex-linked genes that are passed down to the next generation. The daughter then has a 50/50 chance of passing that Rocket Laning X chromosome on to the next mare in the line. So we don’t know if that X will be in the next generation and continue down the tail female line. That potential does exist but until it can be verified it is just speculation as to the Rocket Laning X being passed on through the generations. 

The second thing in this tail female line is inbreeding. Miss Royal Fleet was out of Fletter by Sonny Kimble (Zantanon x Queen x Valentino) who was a ¾ brother to King P-234 the sire of Royal King. The dam of Queen was Jabalina the dam of King P-234. It is very common to find inbreeding in the tail female line such as this one with the collateral relatives King P-234 and Sonny Kimble. This inbreeding gives the line a stronger base that gives more hybrid vigor when initially bred producing the next mare in the line. 

Looking at genetic factors that are attributed to the tail female line, we find that the success of Royal King in the tail female line is somewhat of a mystery for its longevity. But the tail female line is the foundation of the pedigree. He was bred to some interesting mares and that may be a key to his success. 

Our subject mare Lynx Melody is a great example of the Royal King phenomenon. Her daughter Shania Cee was not only the 1999 NCHA Open Futurity Champion, but she was also the 2000 NCHA Horse of the Year. She is the dam of 19 foals that have EquiStat earnings of $394,987. Her leading money winner being Sophisticated Catt ($192,737) who earned three AQHA Open World Champion Senior Cutting titles.

Lynx Melody and one of her colts * QHN File Photo

The success of Lynx Melody and her ties to Royal King in the pedigree is reinforced by several top producing mares. The following mares represent four of the top five EquiStat Top 10-Year Western Performance Horse Dams. They are Royal Blue Boon ($2,616,955), Autumn Boon ($2,022,577), Sweet Abra ($2,021,517) and The Smart Look ($1,890,586) and they all go to a daughter of Royal King in the tail female line. Some other million producers that fit this list would include Jazabell Quixote, Bet Yer Blue Boons (daughter of Royal Blue Boon) and Lynx Bar Legacy granddam of horses that have won over $1 million. 

Lynx Melody overcame her small size to become an NCHA Open Futurity Champion and then a great broodmare. As we look back at her ties to Royal King in the tail female line, we see his role as one of those mysteries that makes genetics so interesting. One of those happenings that seems to go against some genetic principles as we define them and how geneticists stress the importance of close-up genetics is in the pedigree. This then becomes a phenomenon that we will need more research on to get a genetic explanation.