2022 Stallion Showcase: 2021 Black Hills Stock Show Horse Sale High Seller: NU Gunny In Town
Eighteen-year-old Maddie Fantaskey had a pretty big year in 2021. She graduated high school. She qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals in three events. And she sold the high-selling horse at the 2021 Black Hills Stock Show Truck Defender Horse Sale.
Fantaskey rode NU Gunny In Town, “Armani,” a 2017 AQHA palomino gelding, through the ring, dealing with mixed feelings as the bidding quickly jumped from $10,000 to $20,000, finally ending at $38,000. “I think I was just in shock a little bit at the amount of money he was going for. When he was lying down in front of me it became a little bit more emotional, because I was thinking of how I couldn’t begin to thank him enough for all he had just done for me and the start to my career. And the little bit of sadness, knowing I was going to have to say goodbye to him very soon.”
Armani, sired by Gunners Tinseltown, by Colonels Smoking Gun, and out of USS Nu Chic, a Smart Chic Olena daughter, was bred by David Silva of Pilot Point, Texas. Fantaskey bought the gelding from the Billings Livestock special Sons and Daughters Sale. He had about 30 rides on him, and was her first attempt at making a sale horse on her own.
Armani was all hers, from picking him out and training him, to showing him in the preview and riding him through the sale ring.
He had just turned two when he caught Fantaskey’s eye in Billings. Fantaskey put the next year into building him into a gentle, capable, all-around ranch horse. Fantaskey had ridden with Justin Lawrence, a working cow horse trainer in Montana, and learned how to make a horse “fancy broke.”
In the preview Fantaskey and Armani put on display his reining breeding, his cow horse ability, and the brain and disposition that she says made an easy job of his training. He bowed, and “played dead,” and showed off the flashy palomino that first caught her eye.
But the man who bought him wasn’t even in the seats. He was sitting at his computer in Texas, with his 10-year-old granddaughter, who may have influenced his bidding, he says.
Jim Gallogly had never seen Armani in person, but he had heard reliable reports that this was the horse he was looking for. The rancher, who is retired from leadership positions in several major corporations, owns ranches in three states. Following his retirement he decided he wants to improve his horsemanship skills, and to be an asset on his ranches.
“I was mostly looking for a horse I could enjoy,” Gallogly said. “When I’m on the ranch I want to be a decent ranch hand. If you’re not as good a cowboy, you need a better cow horse. He shows well, even if I don’t.”
When Gallogly started looking for a horse that was gentle enough for the grandkids, talented, easy to ride, cowy and that he could “grow into,” he called his friend Kirby Hedrick, who ranches in Wyoming. “I called Kirby and I said I need some expert help. I’m looking for a horse that has some reined cow horse training and this and that. He added some of the criteria he looks for in a horse.” Kirby and his ranch foreman went to Worland, Wyoming to ride Armani and reported back, “‘He has a lot of buttons, but is extremely well-trained, and very broke. He may be a bit more than your grandkids would prefer, but he’s a very, very special horse. I know you would like him, I know you would grow into him, but if we want something that’s perfect for your grandkids, we’d need a different horse.'”
Gallogly decided Armani was what he was looking for, and that expecting him to be all that and suitable for his grandkids, ages 8 and 10, was maybe too much to ask. But when his granddaughter saw the preview video, she fell in love too.
Armani has met all of Gallogly’s expectations. “I ride him a lot. I like him a lot. I’ve sorted cattle on him some, taken him on trail rides. He’s a wonderful horse. I really love him,” Gallogly says. And while Gallogly isn’t ready to put his grandkids on Armani and send them off to work cattle, they have ridden the flashy palomino in the arena, and have gotten along well with him.
“Everybody that sees that horse really loves him. He’s got a big personality, is really gentle and he loves people, and he’s so beautiful people fall in love immediately.”
Gallogly has had lots of offers to help Aramani reach his potential in the show ring or the rodeo arena. Gallogly’s niece would like to show him, and the foreman of Gallogly’s Oklahoma ranch has two sons who are competitive ropers who’d like see what Armani can do in the roping box. But Gallogly says he’s not sure which direction they’ll go. He grants, “I’m 69 years old, so I’m not the right person to ride him in competitions. But I think he’s got the talent.”
Gallogly credits Fantaskey’s ability as a horsewoman with setting Armani up for success. He also appreciates her approach as a seller. “She’s very straightforward in everything and she’s super capable.”
Though her horsemanship doesn’t reflect it now, Fantaskey didn’t start riding seriously until she was older than Gallogly’s granddaughter. Raised in Pennsylvania, Fantaskey and her family traveled all over the world, hosting a hunting television show called Triple Mag. They visited Wyoming and decided that was a place they wanted to be. They quit the hunting show and bought a small ranch near Worland, where Maddie learned to ride, starting when she was 11.
Dean Barent from Worland first taught Maddie to ride–beyond a few English lessons in Pennsylvania when she was 6 or 7– and set her on the cow horse path. When she was ready to improve her skills even more, she took a prospect to Justin Lawrence, a cow horse trainer in Alzada, Montana, and learned to make a prospect into a cow horse.
This year Maddie’s horsemanship skills took her to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska in cutting, reined cow horse and barrels. Fantaskey finished 20th in the barrel racing average, fourth in the reined cow horse average, and sixth in the run for all-around cowgirl.
But it was a reining-bred horse that caught her eye in Billings, and she took all that talent and added a lot of miles on her family’s ranch, hours of groundwork and the knowledge she picked up from respected cow horse trainers.
“I feel like Armani taught me so much because he was so naturally talented and good-minded,” Maddie said. “I did a lot of ranching on him, did a lot of roping. I basically just used him like he was my own personal horse. He was a heck of a horse. I feel like he trained me more than I trained him. He was super special. ”
Fantaskey’s original plan was to take Armani to a big sale in Las Vegas, which was canceled because of COVID. But she said selling at the Black Hills Stock Show worked out better, because it got her name out in her area.
Selling the good ones is always hard, but she recognizes that in order to build a business, you have to do just that. “I bought him as a sale horse, so I told myself I had to sell him. I totally miss him. I always tell myself if this is a business I’m going to be in I have to get used to selling the good ones. It helps that he went to such a good home and they keep me updated.”
It also helps that Fantaskey is working on another horse, Cisco Santana, for the 2022 Black Hills Stock Show sale. Cisco is also a palomino gelding, and will be 4 years old at sale time. He’s also reining-bred, a grandson of Wimpys Little Step, and spent the last year as Maddie’s nearly-constant companion. Her business plan of, “Buying those good-bred horses that seem like they’re going to be gentle, get them fancy-broke, use them to ranch on and sell them,” worked so well last year, she’s replicating it this year.
Eventually, though, she’d like to be riding horses bred by her family’s business, Hangin F Cattle Co., through the ring. Their stallion, Boon Beamer, is a son of Once In A Blu Boon, out of a granddaughter of High Brow Cat. They showed the 2018 bay stud at the 2021 Snaffle Bit Futurity, and hope to get some points in the show ring this year. The mares they’re putting together have papers that feature Paddys Irish Whiskey, Nic It In The Bud, High Brow Hickory and High Brow Cat.
Fantaskeys’ goal is to breed some horses to be stand-outs in the show pen, and some to be safe, solid, capable ranch horses, but somewhere in the middle is Maddie’s ideal. “I like horses you can ranch on, but aren’t so show-horse that someone is going to fall off because they press the wrong button too quickly. We try to keep a good in-between.”
Editor’s Note: Check out Tri-State Livestock News during the Black Hills Stock Show for a story about the other 2021 high-selling horse, Invester Maudie, which also brought $38,000. Consigned by Ron and Jordanne Wells from Springview, Nebraska, the son of Investers Asset was proven in the performance arena in heading, heeling and the junior rodeos and now makes his home in Sheridan, Wyoming, with Toby Vineyard.
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