The Breeders

One of the strengths that The American Quarter Horse Journal has is its contacts with American Quarter Horse breeders, and we pack each issue with those contacts.

One of the strengths that The American Quarter Horse Journal has is its contacts with American Quarter Horse breeders, and we pack each issue with those contacts.

February 2012 AQHA Journal coverLet’s face it – American Quarter Horse breeders are the lifeblood of this Association. If it wasn’t for a breeder, you wouldn’t be sitting tall and proud aboard that American Quarter Horse you love so much.

The breeders are the horse folks out there making the tough decisions, putting great horseflesh underneath you. Who knows, maybe you’re a breeder, too. Whatever’s the case, The American Quarter Horse Journal loves to introduce these breeders to you.

When you look at horses produced by leading breeders like Rita Crundwell or Carol Rose, do you wonder what the secret is to their success? You’ll find insight to questions like that in the pages of the Journal.

Continue reading “The Breeders”

Jumpy Babies

Use these expert tips to calm your young show horse at home and at the show.

Use these expert tips to calm your young show horse at home and at the show.


I don’t show personally, but I know a couple of people who show 2-year-olds in halter classes. One particular colt, new to the game, has a really annoying habit of getting hyped up before entering the show ring, and he tries to go into a trot when his handler walks him around. If the handler manages to keep him in a walk, he tosses his head about and tries to pull his head up, trying to get away so he can go gallop around.


How can he be kept calm before his class, and how do we deal with him if he gets jumpy in the show ring? Continue reading “Jumpy Babies”


If your horse-racing resolution comes with a memorable reminder, like truck tires or lipstick, you’re less likely to forget about it.

If your horse-racing resolution comes with a memorable reminder, like truck tires, fires or lipstick, you’re less likely to forget about it.


This year, set realistic goals, and use a trick from Reid McLellan to help you remember them all year long.

By C. Reid McLellan

What are we going to do this year?

New Year’s resolutions are talked about a lot in December and early January each year. It seems to me that people have gradually begun to disregard this time-honored tradition.

I remember a New Year’s youth party at my home church way back when I was a teenager. We roasted marshmallows and wieners and enjoyed a good time like teenagers will do. Around 11:30 p.m., we gathered around the fire for a devotional from our youth leader. He had us write down something we did the past year that we were not proud of – more than one would be OK, but no more than three.

We folded the paper and wrote NPO (“not proud of”) on the outside. We were the only ones who were going to see those NPO notes, so “be honest with yourself,” the leader advised. He then asked us to write on another piece of paper one main goal we would accomplish in the new year. At 11:55 p.m., we observed a quiet time, a time of silent prayer, reflection or even a brief nap for those who didn’t want to participate.

We were asked to think about what we put on our NPO page. What were the circumstances? What will you do differently next time? At 11:59 p.m., we put that NPO page in the campfire. As we watched the papers go up in smoke, we were told to let it go. At midnight, we shared Happy New Year greetings, somewhat subdued compared to most celebrations, but with smiles, tears and what appeared to be relief on some faces. We were told that “Auld Lang Syne” was about remembering old friends and good times, not NPO events.

Then, as we sang those familiar lyrics, we put our goal page into the fire.

“Giving up on my goals already?” I wondered.

No, I learned that whenever I saw smoke — from a trash fire, a chimney or even a grill — I was reminded of that one goal.

I still remember what I wrote on those slips of paper, yet I can’t remember what goals I set last year.

Yes, this is still a racing blog! The take-home message for 2012 is that each of us can make resolutions, not keep any of them and do it all over again in December. Or, we can reflect on our wagering or other actions we were not proud of in 2011, and resolve to do things differently in 2012.

I encourage you to write down one, two or no more than three things you were not proud of in 2011. Write down each NPO event and below it write a positive, declarative sentence that starts with “In 2012, I will …”

For example:

NPO: Changed wager because a friend gave me inside information about another horse.

STATEMENT: In 2012, I will follow my own handicapping to make wagering decisions. If I choose to use inside information, I will make that as an additional  wager.

After spending quiet time considering your NPO list, destroy it in a way meaningful to you. Most importantly, do not keep your NPO list! Turn it loose and let it go! Write down one major goal that is specific and attainable. “Make a profit every time I go to the race track” is too general. “Make an average profit of $100 per visit to the race track” is more specific and attainable. This will be our playing goal for this blog and, in addition to some training and horse talk, I will blog about wagering plans that can help us attain that goal in 2012. Do something creative so that you will have a daily reminder. You can do the fire and smoke reminder or something that works for you. Some life coaches have clients write down goals on sticky notes and stick them on their bathroom mirror. Some like to place notes on the fridge with a magnet. To be different, write your goal in lipstick. Then when you see a lipstick commercial, an ad in a magazine or pass a lipstick display at a store, you will be reminded of your goal.

Speaking of goals, R.D. Hubbard set — and achieved — countless business goals in the horse-racing industry. Get the FREE Hubbard: Success in Business report today, and learn the secrets to his success.

So, what did I write on my blog goal piece of paper for 2012?

“Submit one blog for each month in 2012.” How will I remember? I rolled over my piece of paper with my truck and put a big tire print on it. Keep track of how many months this blog appears to judge the success of this reminder!

As executive director of The Elite Program, C. Reid McLellan organizes and teaches Groom, Owner and Trainer Elite classes around the country. Find out about the next available class here!

As owner and agent of Purple Power Equine Services, Reid helps people buy and sell race and show prospects and provides guidance and assistance with training, breeding and other equine services.

Not a Total Loss

Harvesting semen after a stallion’s death.

Harvesting semen after a stallion’s death.


Is there any way to save semen after a stallion has died?

Continue reading “Not a Total Loss”

Trail Challenge FAQ

Most of us enjoy exploring scenic trails on a steady horse, right? But you may also enjoy a bit of competition, too. Well, as of 2012, AQHA has just the thing to combine those two interests.

Learn more – and get involved – with AQHA’s newest event: the AQHA Trail Challenge Program.

The AQHA Trail Riding Challenge offers a competitive edge to a weekend hobby. Journal photo.

By Holly Clanahan for Journal Plus

Most of us enjoy exploring scenic trails on a steady horse, right? But you may also enjoy a bit of competition, too. Well, as of 2012, AQHA has just the thing to combine those two interests.

The AQHA Trail Challenge Program asks horses and riders to work as a team, navigating natural obstacles they might experience on the trail. The focus is on horsemanship, and the goal is to promote education, safety and fun. As a bonus, “trail challenge merits” will be recorded on horses’ permanent AQHA records.

What can I expect?
A Trail Challenge can include between six and 16 obstacles, depending on the terrain at the event. Just a few possible obstacles are: working a gate from horseback; stepping over a series of logs while the rider ducks under branches; riding through shredded shower curtains strung between trees; and moving a slicker or mailbag from tree to tree.

While you practice for the Trail Challenge Program, log your hours in the saddle and earn rewards through AQHA’s Horseback Riding Program.

What are the requirements to participate?
Competitors must be a member of AQHA or AQHYA. There will be an all-breeds division for both youth and adults (with no trail challenge merits awarded). There are also youth and adult classes for riders in the American Quarter Horse division. Adults compete in one of three levels. The lowest level is for new partnerships where horse and rider are still establishing trust. Level 2 is an intermediate established partnership, and Level 3 is considered “master level,” where the horse and rider have trust, ability to tackle difficult obstacles and the conditioning to travel a longer course.

Will this be judged by AQHA judges?
Not necessarily. Trail Challenge judges do not have to be AQHA-approved judges; the rules state only that they must be knowledgeable horsemen or women. The judges should answer any questions happily and will even demonstrate each obstacle, emphasizing the educational aspect of the event.

How will I be judged?
Much like reining, each horse starts the course with a score of 70, with additions or subtractions on each obstacle for excellent or poor performance. An obstacle score of zero would indicate that an obstacle was negotiated correctly, with nothing either extraordinarily good or bad about the performance. The judges will be watching, of course, how successfully the obstacles are negotiated. But it’s also important how the horse behaves, how he responds to his rider’s cues and how relaxed he remains.

Other judging guidelines include:

  • Leading – Does the horse follow willingly, or does he lag behind or crowd his handler?
  • Mounting – Does the horse stand quietly, and does the rider check the cinch before mounting?
  • Water Crossing – Does the horse walk through quietly in a continued forward movement? There will be no penalties for stopping for a drink or looking at the water before crossing.
  • Log Drag – Does the horse stand quietly during preparation and then pull or drag in control, with neither horse nor rider getting tangled in the rope? The rider may hold rope or dally once. There is to be no tying hard and fast.

Enroll in AQHA’s Horseback Riding Program and earn rewards for time spent in the saddle.

Do I need special gear?
Horses and riders may go in western or English tack and attire, and the rules found in the AQHA Official Handbook will dictate which bits are legal.

OK, I want to learn more!
See the latest information and schedule or call AQHA Customer Service at (806) 376-4888. Email Stephanie McCommon at if you’d like to be a judge or if you’d like to consider hosting a Trail Challenge.

Journal Plus is The American Quarter Horse Journal’s online bonus magazine and is exclusively for subscribers to the print magazine. Journal Plus is free to Journal subscribers.

Figure 8 Halters

Try a figure 8 halter for your young foal.

Try a figure 8 halter for your young foal.

The snug design of the figure 8 halter prevents young foals from catching a hoof under their chin. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Beware of nylon!

That’s the advice top horse breeders have for anyone looking to leave a halter on a foal, especially foals younger than 6 weeks old. They prefer leather, largely for safety and fit.

And for those youngest foals, many breeders specifically recommend a leather “figure 8” or calf halter.

The Journal asked two experts to explain why: custom leather halter maker Ralph Quillin of Quillin Leather & Tack in Paris, Kentucky; and Becky Bailey of Batavia, Ohio, western pleasure horse breeder and exhibitor.

Ralph makes hundreds of figure 8 halters for breeders every year, and Becky uses them.


“Your No. 1 concern is always fit,” Ralph says, “especially with a foal. You don’t want a halter with a lot of room underneath the chin.

AQHA’s FREE report Young Horse Joint Health discusses how Osteochondritis Dissecans causes growing pains in young horses.

“That’s one of the biggest advantages of the figure 8 or calf halter – because of the design, it will fit pretty snugly underneath the head,” he adds. Continue reading “Figure 8 Halters”

Health’s Bottom Line

Keeping good records can help horse owners track behavioral and medical problems.

Keeping good records can help horse owners track behavioral and medical problems.

Kelly Hess realized her barrel racing horse's performance suffered after she purchased a new saddle. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

When Kelly Hess started riding Stats Master in August 2003, the palomino gelding was everything she wanted in a green barrel horse.

Kelly and “Tater” were making good progress, steadily improving their run times. Then in March 2004, they hit a performance wall.

“He quit turning the first barrel,” Kelly says.

That’s a problem for a barrel racer. Kelly began trying to track the issue.

Small improvements would be followed by big disasters.

“It was horrible,” Kelly says. “He was mad, he pawed, he reared in the alley. Horrible, horrible, and it’s not like my horse. He’s very low-key, always. So I knew there was something wrong, and I had no idea what it was.”

Finally Kelly, who videotapes all her barrel runs, sat down and watched the videos of Tater, comparing them to the simple, complete records she keeps on each horse. She tagged the culprit: a new saddle.

Learn about the genetics behind coat colors in Quarter Horse Coat Colors, a report discussing all 17 recognized Quarter Horse colors.

“When I went back and looked at the date I purchased this saddle, that’s when things started falling apart,” she says, pointing to an entry in her books. “That’s February 7. A month later is when I started having problems. The saddle did not fit. It was evidently pinching him really badly in the withers. Continue reading “Health’s Bottom Line”

Guess That Horse

Contest is now closed! Dixie Ree Pecho was this week’s horse. Join us next Wednesday for another round of AQHA’s Guess That Horse at 1 p.m. CST!

Welcome to Guess That Horse, sponsored by Quarter Horse Outfitters.

Thanks for playing AQHA's Guess That Horse! Dixie Ree Pecho, by Poco Pecho and out of Sissie Royal, was this week's mystery mare.

Contest is now closed!

Today’s winner will receive an AQHA stepping stool.

The contest will start at 1 p.m. CST. At that time, the photo and first hint are given.

When the contest is live, 10 hints will be posted, one at a time, every few minutes on this page.

Refresh your browser periodically for new hints.

Please post your guesses into the comments box below.

The first person to correctly identify the full registered name of the American Quarter Horse pictured wins the prize.

Get help with your guesses! Consult AQHA records for pedigrees, show records and much more!

The winner will be announced after all the hints are given; participants must provide a valid e-mail address to to be eligible for the prize.

Contest is now closed! Congratulations to Jessie for being the first person to correctly identify Dixie Ree Pecho in AQHA’s Guess That Horse contest! Be sure to join us next Wednesday at 1 p.m. CST for another round of Guess That Horse!

Hint #1: This Quarter Horse was a chestnut mare.
Hint #2: This Quarter Horse was born in 1969 in Miami, Florida.
Hint #3: This Quarter Horse earned 22 halter points and 190 western pleasure points.
Hint #4: This Quarter Horse earned a Superior in western pleasure in 1971.
Hint #5: This Quarter Horse’s sire’s get earned a total of 26 Register of Merits.
Hint #6: This Quarter Horse’s dam produced 12 foals.
Hint #7: This Quarter Horse did not produce any foals.
Hint #8: This Quarter Horse earned a Performance Register of Merit in 1971.
Hint #9: This Quarter Horse was a granddaughter of Royal King.
Hint #10: This Quarter Horse’s dam was Sissie Royal.

Horse Recap: Dixie Ree Pecho, by Poco Pecho and out of Sissie Royal, was a chestnut mare born in 1969 in Miami, Florida. She began her show career in 1970 and received a total of 22 halter and 190 western pleasure points. She earned her Register of Merit and Superior in Western Pleasure in 1971. She did not produce any foals.

Place on the Rail

Western pleasure specialist John Dean explains his strategy behind rail position.

Western pleasure specialist John Dean explains his strategy behind rail position.

Understanding rail placement for western pleasure will help you and your horse stand out to the judge in the show ring. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

As western pleasure classes get more competitive and the gap between first and last place narrows, rider strategy becomes increasingly important in separating champions from contenders. A rider’s first opportunity for strategic advantage comes before the judging begins, as riders take their places on the rail.

Entries in a western pleasure class perform along the arena wall, circling at a walk, jog and lope both directions around the show pen’s outer edge while the judges watch from the center of the ring. Ideal rail positioning allows a horse and rider to work smoothly, creating a natural and consistent image for the judges, without having their “zone” encroached upon by other entries.

Finding a Place on the Rail

“At most horse shows, you have a choice as to where you can go on the rail at the start of a western pleasure class,” says trainer John Dean. “What I consider when I make that choice is the speed my horse is going to go, especially jogging.”

John suggests you pay attention to other entries in the warm-up arena and take note of faster-moving horses. Once the class is ready to begin, position yourself behind a horse you expect to move faster than yours, eliminating the need to pass and ensuring that you and your horse stay in position along the rail while the judges critique your ride.

“You don’t want to get behind any horse you’ll gain ground on,” John says. “Stay where you lose a little ground on a horse, or at least keep the same pace.”

What Is the Best Way to Pass?

For more tips on western pleasure, get Showing to Win: Western Pleasure.

If you find yourself stuck on the rail behind a slower horse, John says passing isn’t a sin, especially if a rider has to forfeit his horse’s cadence to avoid gaining ground on the slower entry.

“A horse looks better alone and on the rail in a pleasure class,” he says, “but you can’t sacrifice the way your horse moves by trying to cover such little ground.”

When overtaking a slower entry, it’s important to make your move without disrupting the horse you pass. Move off the rail before getting within four feet of the slower horse and pass with two to three feet between your outside stirrup and the inside stirrup of the other rider. A rider shouldn’t get within a four-foot comfort zone of another horse and attempt to maintain a position along the rail.

“I hate to see someone run up on another horse and try to stay there,” John says. “It’s a rude thing to do to another competitor, and it makes your horse look bad, too.”

A typical error John notices among western pleasure riders is the tendency to pass too wide, calling more attention to the pass and increasing the amount of time it takes to overtake another horse.

“So many riders pass too wide, with 10 feet or more between them and the slower horse beside them,” he says. “They can lose a lot of rail position that way. When you pass before a corner, it’s even more important to stay in the correct position and maintain the two to three foot distance between your horse and the horse you are passing. In a full class, passing too wide before a corner can force exhibitors to pass several horses that are moving at the same speed as theirs just because they are out of position.” It’s also a common mistake to not use all the ground that’s available in the corners to circumvent passing.

Learn expert tips for winning western pleasure in Showing to Win: Western Pleasure.

If a faster horse overtakes you, John suggests keeping your pace steady and holding your position as the other horse passes. Be prepared to slow up or move off the rail yourself, though, if the faster horse makes a return to the rail too quickly, cutting you off.

Maintaining Position

Once you’re in position behind the horse of your choice, stay close to the rail, keeping your horse’s shoulder and rump as close as possible to the arena wall without touching it. If the arena floor hasn’t been worked and there’s a rut or trail along the wall, stay in the center of the track. Riding on one side or the other might cause your horse to alter his stride unexpectedly or trip.

The 2011 AQHA Amateur Western Pleasure World Champion talks about her experience at the show.

Balanced Jumping: Part I

These exercises from Lainie DeBoer will perfect your flat work before taking your horse over fences.

These exercises from Lainie DeBoer will perfect your flat work before taking your horse over fences.

Flat work including circles, figure 8s, serpentines and spirals get riders ready for technical horse jumping courses. Illustration by Jean Abernethy.

By AQHA Professional Horseworman Lainie DeBoer in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Balance is important when you’re asking a horse to leave the ground and jump successfully across an obstacle. To jump well, he needs to be straight and in balance from the hind end up to the front end, with enough push from behind to complete the jump.

Your “track” gets you to the jump and prepares you for that take-off. Track work sets up the horse’s balance; it’s what gets him straight and gives him the right approach. And it gives you a destination on the back side of the jump.

Balance and track work enable you to negotiate a course. When they come together as one, the ride over the course should look effortless. To the judge, the transitions over the jumps, stride lengthening and collection, those all become invisible when the balance and track work are on target. Your goal is for your ride to be so smooth it looks like the jumps are just getting in the way as you flow around the ring in a smooth, consistent pace.

Looking for a new hunter under saddle horse? Selecting and Showing Hunter Under Saddle Horses DVD teaches you what to look for in jumping horse prospects. Continue reading “Balanced Jumping: Part I”

Go, Matt!

AQHA cheers on Matt Budge, winner of the 2011 Battle in the Saddle World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout, as he takes on the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman competition.

AQHA cheers on Matt Budge, winner of the 2011 Battle in the Saddle World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout, as he takes on the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman competition.

Matt Budge and Mr Playinstylish
Cutting trainer Matt Budge of Weatherford, Texas, and Mr Playinstylish earned themselves a paid entry to 2012 NRCHA World's Greatest Horseman competition. (Journal photo)

In July 2011, Matt Budge tried his hand at four events – herd work, steer stopping, rein work and cow work. As a result of hours and hours swinging a rope and the kind of determination that only accompanies a habitual champion, the professional cutter rode off with the 2011 World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout title.

As one of two National Cutting Horse Association entries to the 2011 World’s Great Horseman Shootout, the Weatherford, Texas, cutter faced seven other competitors, who were riding for the American Quarter Horse Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association and American Rope Horse Futurity Association.

Continue reading “Go, Matt!”

Stall Confinement

Take a look at stalling a horse vs. keeping a horse on pasture through the winter.

Take a look at stalling a horse vs. keeping a horse on pasture through the winter.


For spring, summer and fall, I usually keep my horse out to pasture all day and all night. He has a covered shelter, and with our moderate weather during those seasons, he stays quite comfortable.

However, every year I always ask myself, “Should I keep my horse in a stall this winter, or should I keep him out to pasture?”

Are they any negative effects from keeping a horse stalled during the winter? Or am I better off keeping him outside?

Continue reading “Stall Confinement”