by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Best Dawn Yet and AQHA Professional Horseman Buddy Laney
Suzanne Kiser has a great story to tell, even though she insists she’s not good at being interviewed. She and her husband, Melvin, have been raising American Quarter Horses since the early 1980s on the dairy farm that has been in the Kiser family for more than 100 years.
They don’t raise that many, just a few halter and pleasure horses. They sell the pleasure foals, and of the halter babies, they sell some and keep some. They have about 20 horses in all and do all the work themselves, dawn 'til dusk.
And now their home-bred operation has produced a world champion. Their home-raised filly by Kid Coolsified, Best Dawn Yet, aka “Little Dawn,” won the yearling mares November 23 at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show, led by AQHA Professional Horseman Buddy Laney.
“We are thrilled to death!” Suzanne told The American Quarter Horse Journal in a gentle Carolina accent and with a soft smile.
“We’ve always had horses,” she continued. “And we are lucky enough to have a couple of really nice broodmares. Buddy has helped me through the years in picking out good horses. He had this mare’s mother (A Nu Dawn by Mazeratti) in his barn, and I bought her.”
From the beginning, Suzanne knew that “Little Dawn” was a keeper: “I thought she was special.”
She continued: “She’s easy ... That’s one of the great things about her: She’s not an aggressive mare; a child can be around her and feed her candy and carrots, whatever you want to do. She’s just got a great disposition. I love that about her.
“And she’s got great legs, and that’s so important to me.”
It’s been an amazing few months for the Kisers with Little Dawn. They sent the filly to Mitch Leonarski to fit in early summer. She went to one show to qualify for the World Show, and then went to the Breeders Halter Futurity in Des Moines, Iowa, where she won the open yearling fillies. Her next stop was the World Show.
“Mitch Leonarski has to be given a lot of credit,” Suzanne said. “He fit this mare for us. Buddy was no longer living in our area, so he fit the horse for Buddy for the Iowa Futurity ... Then we brought her here with another filly; he fit both of them. He’s just the best.”
Suzanne has had horses since she was 7, and her father always had horses for her. When she and Melvin married, they continued on. Suzanne has two married sons, Wesley and Michael, and three grandchildren.
“We were a dairy operation for 100 years on that property until 2008,” Suzanne explained. “My husband is the last of the line – his father and grandfather were on that property for the last 108 years and … it phased out. We didn’t have any sons who were interested in going on with the business. We have beef cattle now and grow soybeans and wheat – crops. We stay busy! As long as we can enjoy it, we’ll continue to do it.”
The Kisers also raised 1995 Palomino Horse Breeders of America western pleasure champion Diamonds N Zippers; AQHA Professional Horseman Gil Galyean showed her.
“I support it. I’m like ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ ” Melvin said. “I get her from one airport to another. I carry the luggage. I feed the horses at home.”
“She’s not one of these horses, where someone goes out and buys the winner and sells it the next day – we don’t do that. We try to have some connection to the horses. We are very attached to them.”
She added: “I don’t think, other than my children, I’ve ever been happier. It’s a wonderful experience.”
It's your moment; make it last forever! Videos of individual runs and class finals from the AQHA World Championship Show are available for purchase at www.aqha.com/mymoment. Plus, you can watch AQHA World Show video footage 24/7. This new service is optimized for Internet Explorer 10, Safari and most mobile Web browsers.