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Corey Cushing's son holds SJR Talkin Diamonds during The American Performance Horseman awards ceremony. * Photo by Amy Olson

In The Blood—SJR Talkin Diamonds and Inbreeding to Superior Females

EquiStat Elite $4 Million Rider Corey Cushing won the Reined Cow Horse event at The American Performance Horseman (TAPH) for Team Burnt Orange with SJR Talkin Diamonds. This 2017 stallion is bred and owned by the San Juan Ranch, and is a great example of inbreeding to superior females.

TAPH took place at Globe Life Field on March 8, 2024, and has spawned a unique system of competition in the western sport horse world. It brings together the best in cutting, reining and reined cow horses. Each discipline has five qualifiers that are divided into three-person teams representing each discipline forming five teams with the participants competing in their respective events.

The inbreeding to superior females that appears in the pedigree of SJR Talkin Diamonds is an example that will lead to Diamonds Sparkle and her role as a blue hen mare. This edition of In The Blood will also introduce some historical examples to give insight into how this breeding theory has developed through time.

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Corey Cushing preparing SJR Talkin Diamonds for The American Performance Horseman. * Photo by Amy Olson

This win gave SJR Talkin Diamonds (Smooth Talkin Style x Shiners Diamond Girl x Shining Spark) earnings of $202,599 according to EquiStat. His sire, Smooth Talkin Style (Smooth As A Cat x Stylish Play Lena x Docs Stylish Oak), is an NCHA Horse of the Year that has sired money earners of over $5 Million. He is also the sire of Storyteler, who carried Adan Banuelos to win the cutting division at TAPH.

Breeding of SJR Talkin Diamonds

Shiners Diamond Girl (Shining Spark x Zans Diamond Jackie x Zans Diamond Sun) is the leading EquiStat money earner for her dam with earnings of $69,018 and is a National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Supreme Reined Cow Horse. Shiners Diamond Girl is having a successful career as a broodmare, her foals have earned $705,765 according to EquiStat. They include CD Diamond (CD Olena) the 2012 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion, SJR Royal Diamond (One Time Royalty) an NRCHA Western Open Derby Champion, SJR Smooth Rio (Smooth As A Cat) a National Stock Horse Association (NSHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion and SJR Diamond Rio (Dual Rey) an NRCHA Open Stakes Champion.

The late-great Shining Spark (Genuine Doc x Diamonds Sparkle x Mr Diamond Dude) is a National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), NRCHA and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame horse. He is the broodmare sire of four of the five qualifiers in the NRCHA division of TAPH. They include Smart Chic An Tari, Smart Ladies Sparkle, Bet He Sparks and SJR Talkin Diamonds. Jason Vanlandingham qualified in the reining on Gunnabebigtime and his dam Big Time Jazzy is a granddaughter of Shining Spark.

Zans Diamond Jackie (Zans Diamond Sun x Jacks Miss Scarlet x Two Eyed Jack) is a performer with earnings of $18,058 in reining. She was the 1993 and 1995 AQHA Amateur High Point Reining Horse. She is the dam of horses with earnings of $183,718 according to EquiStat.

Zans Diamond Sun (Zan Parr Bar x Diamonds Sparkle x Mr Diamond Dude) was the 1987 AQHA World Champion Junior Reining Horse. He was superior in heading, heeling and tie-down roping, but had a limited career as a sire. Of his foals, 63 out of 95 earned 8,449.5 AQHA points. His world champions include Zans Diamond Desire the 1999 World Champion in Senior Tie-Down Roping and Zans Leo San the 1994 World Champion Junior Heading Horse.

More Diamonds Sparkle Inbreeding Examples

The introduction of Zans Diamond Sun as Zans Diamond Jackie’s sire brings us to the inbreeding to Diamonds Sparkle we see in the pedigree of Zans Diamond Girl. She has a 2 x 3 breeding pattern to Diamonds Sparkle. The success of this inbreeding to Diamonds Sparkle is reinforced in several champions of the 2024 NRCHA Celebration of Champions. CD Diamond, a son of Shiners Diamond Girl, is the sire of the Non-Pro Hackamore World Champion SJR Diamond Luna and A Starlit Diamond, another daughter of Shiners Diamond Girl is the dam of the World Champion Non-Pro Bridle Horse SJR Starlit Rey. A third champion is Juliette Jonez the NRCHA Hackamore World Champion. Juliette Jonez is out of Shine Smarter, a daughter of Shiney Tari (by Shining Spark) and out of Tarizana a daughter of Sparkles Roseanna, a daughter of Diamonds Sparkle. This gives Shiney Tari a breeding pattern of 2 X 3 to Diamonds Sparkle. This is also the family of Smart Chic An Tari, a horse that competed in TAPH. This line was previously featured in a previous In The Blood report.

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Sarah Dawson on Juliette Jonez * Photo by Amy Olson

More Examples of Inbreeding to Superior Females

These are examples of “Inbreeding to Superior Females” a breeding theory that we’ve seen before. The Thoroughbred pedigree consultants Leon Rassmussen and Rommy Faversham have highlighted this breeding practice in their book Inbreeding to Superior Females. They have noted and outlined this breeding practice in the Thoroughbred industry with hundreds of examples of this theory going all the way back to the foundation of the breed. But for us here are some examples that apply to the American Quarter Horse. Domino, one of the stallions they cover, has had a profound effect on both breeds. He is sired by Himyar and out of Mannie Gray by Enquirer and her dam was Lizzie G by War Dance and he was out of Reel. Lizzie G was out of the Lecompte Mare by Lecompte who was a son of Reel. This gives Lizzie G a breeding pattern of 2 x 3 to Reel who was a daughter of Glencoe. Domino is found in the pedigree of such famous sires as Three Bars, Leo, Sugar Bars, Top Deck and Depth Charge. As an example, Three Bars has a breeding pattern of 5 x 5 x 5 to Domino.

Three Bars, pictured with Sid Vail in 1961 • Photo by Orren Mixer

Three Bars (Percentage x Myrtle Dee x Luck McLuke) has his own ties to this breeding theory. Luke McLuke’s dam was Midge and she was out of a mare named Sandfly. The dam of Myrtle Dee was Civil Maid by Patriot. Patriot was out of Sandfly. This gives Myrtle Dee a breeding pattern of 3 X 3 to Sandfly.  We don’t know much about Sandfly, but she was purchased in 1900 and imported to America from England to be a broodmare at Castleton Stud where Domino stood.

The foundation sire Peter McCue had a profound influence on the American Quarter Horse. One of his sons was Harmon Baker, who became a breeding stallion and racehorse for William “Billy” Anson. Harmon Baker has his own version of inbreeding to a superior female. Peter McCue was out of Nora M (Coltigeur x Kitty Clyde x Star Davis). Harmon Baker’s dam was Nona P a daughter of Mollie who was a daughter of Nora M and giving her a breeding pattern of 2 x 3.

Harmon Baker was the sire of Harmon Baker’s Star, who sired J B King, an AQHA Champion and sire of horses like Enhanced an AQHA Supreme Champion. The dam of JB King was Lady Coolidge, and she is a part of another example of this breeding theory with a twist. Bueno Chex, a noted performance horse sire is sired by King Fritz and out of Sutherland’s Miss by Jodie the Tuff who is sired by Little Jodie a son of Dixie Beach. The dam of Sutherland’s Miss is Tangerine W by Bert P-227 a son of Lady Coolidge a full sister to Dixie Beach. This is a 3 x 3 breeding pattern to these two full sisters and a variation of the inbreeding to superior females.

Bueno Chex is the sire of Aledo Bay, winner of the 1979 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. He is the sire of Miss Reed Chex who produced Lil Miss Smarty Chex, dam of Smart Little Cash the 1997 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion. Lil Miss Smarty Chex is the dam of Lil Miss Shiney Chex who produced horses like the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Reserve Champion Blind Sided. Lil Miss Shiney Chex also produced Shiners Lena Chex, the broodmare sire of The Darkk Side, the 2023 AQHA World Champion Junior Heeling Horse.

Hes A Peptospoonful created a lot of excitement in 2001 in the NCHA Open Futurity when he won the two go-rounds and the semi-finals but stumbled in the finals to finish eighth. He would become an EquiStat $8 Million Sire. Hes A Peptospoonful (Peptoboonsmal x Miss Smarty Rey x Smart Little Lena) was produced by Miss Smarty Rey (by Smart Little Lena) and out of Rey Jay Janie, a daughter of Dry Doc. Doc O’Lena, and Dry Doc are full brothers out of Poco Lena. This gives Miss Smarty Rey a breeding pattern of 2 x 2 to Poco Lena and an example of inbreeding to a superior female through her sons in the pedigree.

Inbreeding to Poco Lena

Other examples of inbreeding to Poco Lena include; Susie Dry, the 1993 NCHA Non-Pro Derby Champion, Smart Little Betsy, dam of One Ton Dually the 1998 NCHA Open Futurity Reserve Champion and Doc Olena Dry dam of Olenas Dually the 1998 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity Champion.. Susie Dry, Smart Little Betsy and Doc Olena Dry have a 2 x 2 breeding pattern to Poco Lena through her sons Doc O’Lena and Dry Doc.

Diamonds Sparkle and her family have had a significant impact on the industry. We have seen that through her foals like Shining Spark and now we see that she is influencing through the Inbreeding to Superior Females as demonstrated by SJR Talkin Diamonds. We have seen through a limited number of examples how this breeding pattern has played a role in the formation and improvement of the American Quarter Horse and that puts Diamonds Sparkle in a unique class of mares.