Gunning for a win
The American Quarter Horse Association is highlighting versatility in ranch show horses and Holly Gundlach and her stud, Gimmie A Gun, are jumping on board with all six feet.
Gimmie A Gun, known as Pistol, is owned by Carl and Donnette Kent, of San Jon, New Mexico, and shown by their daughter Holly Gundlach, of Casper, Wyoming. Gundlach and Pistol may have qualified for AQHA Versatility World, depending on results not yet received from a recent show, and compete within the AQHA’s Ranching Heritage Breeders Program.
“A true ranch horse should be versatile, where you can do anything with them,” said Kim Lindsey, AQHA Director of Ranching. “It’s pretty cool that horses you work on can be taken to town and shown on. I think people really like that. Ranching heritage and versatility go hand in hand and a lot of people show in both. I’m very excited about it.”
In order to qualify and show a stallion within the Ranching Heritage Breeders Program certain criteria are required including owning at least five mares, who are bred to raise horses for use on a working cattle ranch. The breeders must have at least 10 years in the business.
“Heritage breeders is set up to showcase their horses and help market horses,” Lindsey said. “That’s what challenges are about, to showcase those horses they raise, then people can buy their horses and go show in these events.”
Pistol is a 2012 dark grey stallion by Play Gun and out of an own daughter of Smart Little Lena. The Kents, who own and operate San Jon Ranch, purchased him as a two-year-old with six rides from Wyo Horse Sale in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Gundlach feels Pistol is the perfect balance to their mares.
“My dad loves big rugged-bred ranch mares, with big withers, sloping shoulders, straight feet and legs, a short canon bone, dark straight feet with easy pasterns, and a lot of times that comes from thoroughbred influence,” Gundlach said. “The ‘show horse part’ of the Quarter Horse industry has been getting away from that for so long, rather focusing on big rear-ends and little heads. Our mares are generally 15.2 to 15.3 hands and every once in a while, we’ll get a big 16-hand gelding, but we are hoping the cross between Pistol and the mares is around 15 hands, where the market is.”
His mellow attitude and athleticism only add to the package.
“Pistol never wants to be in trouble,” Gundlach said. “He will really watch a cow and I just have so much fun with him. I have given him the reins to have responsibility and he’s eating it up. I’m a bit of a control freak so I have to back off. Some horses are so much work to ride and he’s such a pleasure.”
The first colt crop by Pistol has proven thus far to be manageable good minded colts, Gundlach said, and not more than her parents can handle to halter-break.
“We have never had color in our colts, they’ve all been sorrel.We have three colts from Pistol and every one is a stud and every one is going to be grey, we think. It’s pretty obvious that grey dominates, which is pretty exciting to me as the marketer,” Gundlach said. “They have great conformation and really great feet. My parents are in their 70s, and they don’t need anything that’s tough to deal with. It’s important they have good disposition to be started by just our family.”
Gundlach showed in 4-H and college as a youth, but she didn’t “catch the bug” she said until she showed in a Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) show.
“SHOT is what got me baited in; they had all those events: trail, ranch pleasure, cow work, reining. I had never gone down the fence before and it was so much fun!” she said. “Pleasure and equitation don’t apply to what we’re doing at home.”
Showing in a format that replicates what she does on the ranch is important to Gundlach, which she feels AQHA’s versatility program encompasses.
“I got into versatility in 2007 or 2008 and that was great because they have six classes, conformation, working cow horse, where you have to rope and stop cow, reining, trail ranch riding, and cutting,” she said. “That really encompasses what a ranch horse needs to do, instead of being an impossible trail course, you actually have stuff like rope a dummy, drag a rail road tie, or a carcass planted in bottom of draw that you may have to ride past. It makes so much more sense to me than arena trail class.”
After applying and meeting the criteria, Gundlach started showing Pistol in Ranching Heritage Breeders Program.
“The heritage program adds value to ranch horses. More people should show because there’s so much money up for grabs. I went to a show in South Dakota and paid $250 entry fee and won $1,350. I can’t do that in many other show events,” Gundlach said.
The next show is The NILE in Billings, South Dakota, where the pair will show in heritage classes. They are continually working toward AQHA Ranch World March 23 to 26.
“Pistol is currently qualified to show in the Heritage Breeder classes but has not qualified for World just yet,” Gundlach said. “I think we qualified in a few Versatility classes in Pueblo, Colorado, but nothing has been confirmed as of now. I will show him at the NILE in Billings in the Heritage classes, which will qualify him for World.”
Gundlach said she is excited for a future of showing Pistol, seeing his offsprings’ potential, and over time adding grey horses to the family business’ website: http://www.sanjonranch.com, she said, “I feel like he was a Godsend for us.”