Horse Breeding

Replacing the Irreplaceable, Part 2

June 10, 2011

Find out how one Quarter Horse breeder chose his stallions in Part 2 of this series.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

barrel racer

Dry Box Performance Horses has changed its focus from cutting and reining to speed events, such as roping and barrel racing. Journal photo.

If you missed it, check out Part 1 to find out about the successors of Hollywood Dun It.

Choosing an Unproven or Young Stallion

Almost 40 years ago, Larry Henderson started a Quarter Horse breeding program on his Whitman, Nebraska, cattle ranch to create a work horse that could also rodeo or show in cutting and reining.

In 1982, he purchased CC Jet Smooth as a yearling in hopes the colt would be a good cross on his foundation-bred broodmares. Although the 1981 stallion was by the racehorse Jet Smooth, he was out of a Mr Diamond Dude mare. Larry thought the combination of speed and cow sense was what his 30,000-acre cattle ranch needed.

In 1985, he brought in another 1981 stallion, Freckles Gigolo, as an additional sire in his barn. Larry thought the 15-hand Colonel Freckles son would be the perfect cross on the daughters of CC Jet Smooth and vice versa.

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“That’s what we liked about the two stallions is that they crossed well on each other,” says Larry’s son, Mike Henderson, who now handles the ranch’s horse operation, Dry Box Performance Horses, with his wife, Tee Jay, and his sister, Casey. “That was a big part of our program was keeping something from each stallion to cross back.”

Larry thought many breeders put too much emphasis on pedigree, and sometimes color, while ignoring conformation and disposition.

“What we wanted was something that was versatile enough to use here on the ranch and yet could compete, too.” Mike says. “He bred for a good-minded horse with plenty of bone, good feet and legs, a low set to his hocks so he can work well off his rear end, a nice clean neck and a good head. He also wanted horses about 15 hands.”

The Dry Box Performance Horse program has bred just that: well-built, athletic Quarter Horses that can handle almost anything.

Although some are sold at the ranch’s biannual production sale as weanlings and yearlings, many of the ranch’s horses, including the fillies, are started on cattle as 2-year-olds, building what Mike sees as a solid foundation. The horses are then trained in one or more arena events, such as roping and barrel racing.

“We have a real good demand for these horses,” he said.

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But the program that Mike’s father started is evolving. Freckles Gigolo died in the spring of 2005, and CC Jet Smooth died in 2008.

While Larry’s emphasis was on breeding ranch horses for the cutting and reining pens, Mike’s vision is more toward the using horse that does rodeo events like roping and barrel racing.

“We’re a little more oriented that way because we have some experience in those areas and can go ahead and train the horses for those events,” says Mike, who earned a rodeo scholarship and rode for the University of Wyoming men’s rodeo team.

Although conformation and a good mind are still tops when it comes to selecting replacements, Mike has added stallions to the operation that have more roping and barrel racing ancestors in their pedigrees.