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Call Me Mitch and Phillip Ralls marked a 225 out of the herd in the 2024 World's Greatest Horseman Prelims. * Photo by Amy Olson

Like Father Like Son of A Mitch

Call Me Mitch came on the scene strong in 2014 when he and Phillip Ralls won the National Stock Horse Association (NSHA) Open Futurity. They proceeded to amass derby and two-rein championships throughout the stallion’s career, while also gaining National Cutting Horse Association earnings and American Quarter Horse Association points.

Yet, he really took the cow horse world by storm when he reached the bridle classes. In his first year as a bridle horse, Call Me Mitch (Metallic Cat x Miss Hickory Hill x Doc’s Hickory) was the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) World’s Greatest Horseman Reserve Champion. The next year, he won NSHA World’s Richest Stock Horse as well as the NSHA Open Bridle Championship. In 2022 he attended The Run For A Million (TRFAM) Cow Horse Challenge and captured the World’s Greatest Horseman Reserve Championship for the second time.

In 2023, “Mitch” accomplished the feat that had eluded him for five years — he and Ralls won the World’s Greatest Horseman. But, it didn’t end there. Mitch continued his outstanding career, winning the Open Bridle class at the NRCHA Hackamore Classic and qualifying once again for the cow horse challenge at TRFAM. Mitch was the 2023 TRFAM Cow Horse Challenge Reserve Champion.

Although his show career is historic and he’s embarking on another pursuit of a World’s Greatest Horseman title, Mitch’s legacy might not need to rest on his trophies and buckles. 

Currently, Mitch is the second highest money-earning reined cow horse of all time in the EquiStat database, with more than $469,229 in lifetime earnings. He is also the third highest earning offspring of EquiStat Elite $66 Million Sire Metallic Cat and the highest earning offspring of EquiStat Elite $1 Million Producer Miss Hickory Hill. Mitch himself, though only having four foal crops of performing age, has reached $484,979 in offspring earnings.

He is also making history as one of the only, if not the only, sire to compete against his offspring in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA).

Breeding a Champion

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Call Me Mitch receiving awards at the 2023 NRCHA Hackamore Classic. * Photo by Amy Olson

Call Me Mitch’s top earning offspring is Son Of A Mitch ($126,186) who also happens to be the stallion’s first foal to hit the ground. Ralls and his wife, Teresa, bred the horse and were ecstatic about the foal out of Jackies Sparkle (by Nic It In The Bud).

“I showed [Jackies Sparkle] as a futurity horse and a derby horse and she was a really nice mare,” he explained. “She ended up getting hurt as a 5 year-old, so we retired her and started to breed her. She’s had some really nice babies, but he’s [Son of a Mitch] always been a special horse to me because he was the first Mitch baby out of that mare.”

Phillip helped Estelle Roitblat purchase both Jackies Sparkle and Mitch as yearlings and has managed their care and training ever since. Call Me Mitch is still owned by the Estelle Roitblat Living Trust.

“You can feel both those horses in Son of A Mitch, AKA ‘Waylon’. He has the head carriage and collection and the way he moves is very much like his dad, and his mother was a hardcore, gritty, fence horse. She was very electric and had a lot of extra pizazz to her,” he said.

The EquiStat Elite $1 Million Rider knew he would have something special if the right traits from each parent were passed on to the foal.

“He hasn’t disappointed,” said Ralls.

The younger horse ended up seventh at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2020 and has since been blazing his own trail into the winner’s circle.

Like Mitch, Waylon has really stepped up his game as he aged into the bridle classes. At the 2023 NRCHA Hackamore Classic, he and his sire competed against each other for the first time. Mitch took fourth and earned Phillip Ralls a slot in The Run For A Million, while Waylon landed in twelfth to tie Kelby Phillips on Duals Lucky Charm (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Ms Pepcid Olena x Pepcid).

Last year was Waylon’s first year competing in the bridle. In addition, he was finishing out his year of two-rein competition.

“In my mind, typically it’s a two year process, getting one in the bridle and seasoning them and getting through all the ins and outs of learning to be one-handed and doing what we do,” Ralls explained.

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Son Of A Mitch and Phillip Ralls competing against Call Me Mitch for the first time in 2023. * Photo by Primo Morales

“I typically will hold them back and two-rein them and go to some weekend shows and a few spectaculars. Which is amazing now that we have the spectaculars, because for a long time as a two-reiner you never had the opportunity to do a spectacular,” Ralls continued. 

At the 2023 Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity, Mitch and Waylon tied for Reserve Champions in the Sherri Gilkerson Memorial Open Bridle class. Other Mitch offspring are coming up through the NRCHA Aged Events and are sure to compete against their sire as long as he continues showing.

Mitch’s Future

Call Me Mitch now breeds a full book of mares each spring from Santa Lucia Farm in Santa Ynez, California. This week, he began another World’s Greatest Horseman contest and has already earned $5,000 for a second place tie in the herd work prelims. He and Ralls marked a 225 to tie with Adan Banuelos on Pedel To The Metall (Metallic Cat x Twice As Reycy x Dual Rey). They’ll take on the rein work prelims on Saturday, February 17.

According to EquiStat database, Mitch is the horse with the most earnings from the World’s Greatest Horseman competition, Ralls also sits atop the list of riders who have competed in the event. Mitch’s other connections, his sire, dam, owner and breeder also all hold the top spot on their respective lists.

“He doesn’t owe us anything. He’s been spectacular his whole career, just amazing, but honestly, he’s sound and he loves to show. The breeding season takes up a portion of our year and we really want to make sure we’re getting all the mares taken care of, but he’s fit he’s strong and he feels good,” Ralls said. “If he starts not wanting to go show, he doesn’t have to. I’ve got other horses I can go show, but probably none of them are going to be quite like him. Like I said though, he doesn’t owe us anything so he could retire in our front pasture and never set foot in a show pen again.”

While he is at the Ralls’ facility during his show season, Teresa Ralls treats Mitch to fresh roses that grow around the barn. The Ralls’ young children also love to spoil Mitch and give him all of the love and hugs that he can take.

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Call Me Mitch has been a family favorite for a few years now. * QHN File Photo