High Brow Cat

High Brow Cat

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2023.

High Brow Cat

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The cutting horse term “catty” describes a horse that is agile and light on its feet during the highly desirable physical dance between a horse and a cow. It’s fitting that the GOAT of performance sires is High Brow Cat, the No. 1 all-time sire of performance money-earners across all disciplines.

High Brow Cat, by High Brow Hickory and out of the Smart Little Lena mare Smart Little Kitty, was bred by Hanes Chatham and Stewart Sewell. The 1988 chestnut stallion has progeny earnings of more than $91 million to date. In 2021, 12 of the top 25 cutting horse sires were sons or grandsons of High Brow Cat. On the all-time list of sires by performance money earned, “Cat” is joined in the top five by his sons Metallic Cat and Smooth As A Cat; their progeny alone have combined earnings of nearly $94 million. Cat is also the No. 2 all-time broodmare sire of horses by performance money earned, with progeny earnings in cutting alone of nearly $63 million, behind his grandsire, Smart Little Lena.

“High Brow Cat is an anomaly,” says AQHA Past President Frank Merrill, a bloodstock agent who has managed the careers of many historic stallions. “He turned this industry on its ear. We have never had a sire that has dominated its discipline like High Brow Cat.”     

In 1988, Jack Waggoner, a cutting horse breeder from Decatur, Texas, acquired High Brow Cat and his dam, Smart Little Kitty, when Cat was about a month old. The chestnut colt was by High Brow Hickory, a 1983 dun stallion by Doc’s Hickory.

“I rode High Brow Hickory–he was a maverick,” Jack says. “But he was strong and a great cutting horse when he wanted to be.”

Cat was started under saddle and then sent to cutting trainer Faron Hightower. During his career, Cat was shown by Jack, as well as Olan Hightower, Jody Galyean and Bill Freeman.

Cat retired in 1995 with earnings of $110,784 and headed for the breeding shed. Cat has to date sired more than 3,100 registered foals, two-thirds of which are performers. The best of them by money earned is the 2011 NCHA Horse of the Year Dont Look Twice, a mare who earned $843,096 and has produced earners of nearly $950,000. Cat’s other leading earners include Little Pepto Cat and Metallic Cat. In the six years between his first crop in 1996 through 2002, High Brow Cat put at least one offspring in five of the NCHA Futurity Open Finals.

Cat was the NCHA-AQHA Sire of the Year from 2003 through 2012. He is also a leading sire for the National Reined Cow Horse Association and among the leading sires of AQHA Registers of Merit and AQHA point earners.

In 2013, Darren Blanton bought the 25-year-old stallion and his frozen semen.

“My goal in buying Cat, who was sterile at the time, was to extend and expand his breeding longevity,” says Darren, who worked with Texas A&M University to perfect intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in horses. Darren partnered on Cat in early 2019 with Kelly and Madison Crum of Beechfork Ranch.

On October 27, 2019, at the age of 31, High Brow Cat was laid to rest at Darren’s ranch south of Fort Worth, Texas. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2023.