The barrel racers are back at it again on social media, and this time, it’s those short, thick cow-bred American Quarter Horses who are under attack.
One Facebook post turned into hundreds last week on Facebook, polarizing seemingly the entire industry. Both sides dug their heels in over whether or not “cow-bred,” horses, or ones who are “running-bred,” or come from an appendix or Quarter Horse racehorse line can stack up in 1D, futurity or rodeo competition.
Fights broke out over industry juggernauts like Blazin Jetolena, Frenchmans Guy and Dash Ta Fame. A large chunk of the arguing seemed to take place over the stallions that folks couldn’t answer the question: Are they cow-bred, or not? Well, to decide whether or not a stallion is actually “cow-bred,” BRM staff jumped into action, backing up the argument to one simple question.
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What qualifies as a “cow-bred,” horse?
First, we asked the pro athletes.
“I would use the term ‘cow-bred,’ to describe a horse whose bloodlines have a majority that goes back to horses that were primarily used themselves, or produced horses for ranching or performance events involving cattle: cutting, working cow horse or roping.”Four-time WPRA world champion, Hailey Kinsel
“I don’t know, but they’re good ones.”NFR qualifier and renowned trainer Shali Lord
“The origins that go back to cutting; working cowhorse in nature. I’m bred to be somebody who works at sea, my work ethic is like a captain, but I chase barrels, not fish. I’m going to ride what I know works for me, I ride the papers more than anything. But, it’s not all about the stallion. You’ve got to look at the dam.”$ 2 million trainer , NFR qualifier Ryann Pedone
“I mean, between my three Bucks Hancock Dude progeny that are out of either an Eyesa Special Mare or a First Down Dash mare that have won $1,000,000 combined, the cow-run cross has worked well for my purposes. I also don’t think they won a combined $30,000 as futurity horses. But Kylie Weast won around $100,000 on Pipewrech and Foxys full brother, Namgis D 15 as a futurity horse, then ran him in a round at the 2018 NFR, so he made a great futurity horse for her.”Multiple-time NFR qualifier and $1 million cowgirl, Emily Beisel
“I’m just going to keep riding anything with Mistys Dash of Fame on their papers and not worry about the rest.”Multiple-time NFR qualifier Ivy Saebens
“I’d say a cow-bred horse is a horse that has lineage in working cow horse, reining, cutting , roping or roping or has horses on their papers who naturally have a lot of cow. Sometimes, I wish my race-bred horses were more ‘cowy.'”2022 NFR qualifier Margo Crowther
“To me, it’s the current cutting bloodlines. No, Frenchman’s Guy is not cow-bred in my opinion.”$2 million barrel racer, NFR qualifier Danyelle Campbell
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Now, here’s what the breeders had to say…
Billy Myers hot take: Look at the facts and the history.
The first to weigh in was Billy Myers of Myers Performance Horses, whose phone had been ringing off the line over his family’s legendary stallion, Frenchmans Guy, who was at the center of the debate. The Myers Performance Sale has seen every variety of cross come through their doors, and the ranch and produced some of the industry’s top athletes.
“Horses were always a mode of transport for cowboys. That’s where cow comes from. They were cowboy’s horses made for working. To work cows, they needed to have the stamina to be ridden the entire day, and be sure-footed enough to handle the rough terrain, riding through hills and valleys. Somewhere along the way, humans decided to event with these animals and the breeds evolved. Horsemen who had the eye and the feel for what they needed to make the breed better as a competition horse. Some was pure accident, sure, but most of it was meticulously thought out. Every horse we’re talking about here is an American Quarter Horse; the attributes of many different disciplines come into play when trying to make a prime equine athlete for a certain discipline. It doesn’t matter what discipline you’re talking about. Everything goes back to a foundation and those foundations are what built every industry being talked about today. Frenchman’s Guy is a cross of cow and run. It’s not based off opinion, it’s the facts of their foundation.”
Lisa Fulton’s hot take: Consider the horse as an individual.
Lisa Fulton and her late husband, Brian, began breeding horses nearly three decades ago, have produced the iconic Fulton Horse Sale and stand stallions including the industry-changing great, A Streak of Fling and his progeny, A Dash Ta Streak, along with racy stallions like CS Flashlight. The Fultons are known for working their horses in multiple disciplines like steer wrestling, roping events and barrel racing, along with others.
“I don’t have a beef anywhere, I raise them all. I’m a stallion owner and I can say I’m a strong believer of the dam line, too. We know that crossing (A Streak of Fling) ‘Streaker,’ on certain mares makes successful rope horses, other mares do way better in the barrel pen, or some make great bulldogging horses, and another set creates the strongest tie-down and breakaway horses. Streaker has around 2,000 get out there, his first foal crop was in 2005—I don’t even want to lump all of those into one category. They’re all different animals. Horses are going to surprise you, they’re going to prove you wrong. There’s always an outlier. We always encourage people—if the horse is of riding age—to ride the horse, spend some time with it before you decide whether or not it will fit your program. They’re all individuals.
Plus, there’s so many components of barrel racing. It’s not about which horse is just the fastest. I’ll never forget when the ghost videos came out and you could break down the runs in a whole new way. Brian would sit there for hours after buying videos of different stallions’ offspring and compare them—which stallions’ get fired the hardest between the barrels, which had the fastest foot speed, which powered out of the turn the quickest, which had the best rate in the turns. There’s a hundred strengths and weaknesses those horses can have, but you can’t discount how much the mare plays into it. To just make a general statement that a cow-bred, race-bred combination can’t outrun a race-on-race cross? I’ll never make that blanket statement. No two horses are alike, I just wish everybody would respect and appreciate one another’s experiences and opinions.”