Hall of Fame Pole Bending Horse Teddy Terrific Laid to Rest at Age 35

Iconic horse Teddy Terrific died at his longitme home in Southern Ohio in Feb. 2024.
Iconic horse Teddy Terrific photo montage
Teddy Terrific. Images courtesy Ford Family

The Ford family laid National Pole Bending Hall of Famer and decorated barrel racing horse, Teddy Terrific, to rest at his longtime Ohio home on Feb. 19, 2024, at the age of 35.

Here’s the truth. We at BarrelRacing.com can try our best to sum up this incredible horse, but we couldn’t do him justice like Jessie Ford, one of his beloved humans did on social media this week.

Jessie Ford: With a heavy heart, it’s surreal for me to announce that our family lost the legendary Teddy Terrific on Monday, February 19th, at his lifetime home in southern Ohio.

A horse that seemed immortal for so long, he was 35 years old and as we always hoped, went peacefully on his own. His spirit kept fighting for several hours, even when his old bones were struggling, which is a testament to the enormous heart that he always exhibited in the arena. As we laid him to rest, in the blanket he won at the 2009 AQHA World Show, it wasn’t about the breathtaking runs and championships he gave us for decades, over and over again without being asked, it was about the everyday moments that we had with him here at home. He fostered our connections and bonds as a family. He raised us. And that was the biggest win of all.


“Teddy Terrific” has always been synonymous with our Ford family name. He was ours and we were his. When someone didn’t know who we were, they already knew him. People from states away I would have never imagined had heard of him, did. I don’t know that there has been a horse who has earned more respect from friends and strangers alike, than him.

Teddy was timeless. He was iconic. He was intelligent. He was elite. He was pure class. He was old-school cool. He ran with finesse. He was once described as “an ageless wonder of a horse.” When so many good horses came and went over the years, he was the “great” one who remained steadfast and relevant. When we thought he was done, he would always pull out a hat trick and prove that he wasn’t quite past his prime just yet. He was simultaneously all business and all heart and he gave his soul every single time that he ran down an alleyway.

Teddy truly loved both of his jobs – as a performance horse – and as the keeper of us, his three kids. When he ran, he was smooth like a Cadillac, but allowed us to feel the speed of a Bugatti, on a level that few ever get to experience. He was just as fun to watch, as he was to ride. He had a swagger about him that made you feel special just to even be in his presence, yet he was never arrogant. Teddy took us all over the country, opened doors and gave us opportunities we would have never otherwise had. Teddy taught us how to move on after him and win on other horses, while setting a standard and holding an impossible barometer for any of them to measure up to, no matter how good they were. Teddy was, wholly and simply, perfection.

Who was Teddy Terrific, and what did he win?

Jessie Ford: Teddy was an Appendix-bred, 1989 model by Money I Hope, out of Princess Rancher. Our parents purchased him as a 2-year-old and to our dad, Carl’s credit that often isn’t given, he broke and trained him. He campaigned him throughout his 3 and 4-year-old years. In 1993, Teddy made his first trip (of many) to Oklahoma City and left there as the AQHA Reserve World Champion in Junior Pole Bending, with Bryan (then 12) in the saddle. He would return to the World Show again 15 years later at age 19 to earn his second Reserve World Championship, this time, in Senior Pole Bending, still with Bryan on his back, just like it was always meant to be.

From 1993 and on, I can’t even begin to articulate the novel of a resume that he built throughout his incredible barrel racing and pole bending career, spanning over 20 years, with all three of us kids getting our own time in the saddle—and in the spotlight—on him. Teddy carried each of us (Jessie and her two brothers, Bryan and Marc) to prestigious and coveted All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships, comprising his total of 10 (in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.) He often packed all three of us at the same time in our respective Youth, Amateur and Open events. In the early 2000s, he was also the first horse to clock an unbelievable and to this day, still rare 18-second pole bend in the coliseum.

In 2005, he was the biggest reason that I returned to competitive barrel racing after my spinal fusion surgery. He safely carried me to my comeback and my first Congress wins (and his first All-Around title.) At the 2007 Congress, he pulled double duty as he often did and won for both Marc and I, first securing the Novice Youth Barrel Racing with him early in the week and finishing it off winning the Amateur Barrel Racing with me.

In 2003 and 2006, Teddy and Bryan captured their first and second wins in Senior Pole Bending. In 2008, they won both the prestigious Congress Pole Bending Sweepstakes and Senior Pole Bending. They returned to Columbus to defend their Senior Poles title again in 2009. At this point, Teddy was still thriving at an unbelievable 20 years old.

In 2010, he was inducted into the National Pole Bending Hall of Fame, ironically while he was still actively competing at the NPBA National Championship show, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Teddy loved to put on a show and he was known for his exciting low 19-second pole bends, garnering quite the fan base over the years, especially as crowds would gather when it came time for Bryan to run him at the Congress. However, Teddy was as equally talented in the barrel pen. He won countless open and youth barrel races throughout the Midwestern part of the country. He was an Ohio NBHA Youth 1D State Champion, placed at the NBHA Open and Youth World Championships and even once held the arena record for a time at the former “Eagle’s Nest” in Canal Winchester, Ohio (now known as “Rodeo Run.”) As a two-event horse, he won an infinite number of trophy saddles and buckles, collected over 600 AQHA points and amassed well over $100,000 in LTE. (A pretty amazing feat for a horse that ran before the time of major slot races and incentive programs.)

He was featured in national publications such as America’s Horse, Horse & Rider and Quarter Horse News.

Outside of the arena, he brought endless joy to our family. He was a kind soul with a gentle personality and he always, always took care of us, his kids. He knew he was loved and that we always tried to do right by him. Even when we would want to retire him as he aged, he had his ways of showing us time and time again that he wasn’t ready to slow down (like breaking out in hives when the trailer left the driveway without him.) Many wondered how or why we continued to run him into his 20s, but really, it was his call and he was still having fun. We always knew that he would tell us when he was done one day – and he did.

He retired in 2013, at the age of 24, making his final competitive run at the Congress (of course, in his favorite coliseum) with me in Amateur Barrel Racing, a class we previously won together in 2007. Although bittersweet, I feel grateful that I experienced “last” moments with him. In retirement and even yesterday, as he took his last breaths. I kissed him on the face and told him how much he was loved, that it was ok to let go and that “thank you” was simply an understatement for all that he gave us for decades. Us, his family – and “us” – as in everyone who ever loved running to the fence when his name was called.

Teddy’s Lessons

Jessie Ford: Teddy set a trajectory for our lives. He taught us humility. We never took for granted just how lucky we were to have a horse like him and we cherished every moment, from the beginning, until the end. I don’t know why God chose us to be his people. I often look back and feel like I didn’t deserve to sit on his back. But, we knew we had him on borrowed time and we certainly made the most of it. It was never about us needing attention or fame. It was always about him—he was the star of the show, the main character of the best story and the center of our universe.

Some will say that he is the greatest pole horse to ever live. I will say that he is the greatest gift a family could ever be blessed with and although we were spoiled to have him for 35 years, much longer than most ever get with an animal of his caliber, forever still would have never been long enough.

Rest easy, bubby. I hope that this small tribute does you justice, although all of the praise and photos in the world can’t quite express all that I could say about your greatness. We will always celebrate the lifelong memories that you created for us (and everyone who had the pleasure of watching you shine and crank your tail as you ran) and the untouchable legacy that you now leave behind.

Don’t worry, they will never stop talking about you.