Larry Reeder wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with the 3-year-old filly. She was getting a belly on her, and the Stephenville, Texas, cutting horse trainer thought it might be worms. However, as her belly continued to grow, he began to suspect she was in foal. Tulia, Texas, rancher Billy Cogdell had purchased Lynx Melody as a 2-year-old at the 1977 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Sale. She was barely 13 hands, and no one wanted her because of her size. However, Cogdell and Reeder, his trainer, both liked the way she worked in the demonstration before the sale. “I knew she was the horse I wanted to select,” Reeder said in the February 1979 Quarter Horse Journal. “You don’t measure a horse’s ability by the height of her withers.”
The pregnancy turned out to be a surprise bonus of the purchase. Unbeknownst to anyone, the filly had been bred by Doc’s Stormy Leo while she was in training as a 2-year-old. Two weeks before she foaled, Reeder stopped riding her. A week after her bay colt, Docs Accident, was born on March 1, 1978, Reeder put the colt on a Shetland mare and continued training “Melody.” In December 1978, Reeder took Melody to the NCHA Futurity. There, spectators nicknamed the 13.2-hand mare “Little Bitty” and joked at the sight of 6-foot, 2-inch Reeder on her. His stirrups hit the sand several times when showing the mare.
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However, after Melody displayed her cat-like, cowy moves in the pen, the joking soon ceased. “This mare displays the fact that there’s more to cutting than size,” one spectator said. “She might be little, but she was big enough to get the job done.” Melody won the open title and gave Reeder and Cogdell their first Futurity win. She went on to win the 1979 Pacific Coast Maturity and the 1979 NCHA Derby and was named the 1980 NCHA World Champion mare. By the time she retired, she had lifetime earnings of $113,681. In 1981, Cogdell took Melody to the King Ranch to be bred to Peppy San Badger. Docs Accident was already showing great promise in the cutting pen, and Cogdell thought the 1977 NCHA Futurity winner would be the perfect cross on Melody. A sorrel colt was born the next year. Little Peppy Cee would go on to place ninth in the 1985 NCHA Futurity and have lifetime earnings of $52,186. Melody was bred to Cogdell’s stallion Maxi Lena, the 1982 NCHA Futurity champion. She would return to his court again in 198
7 and 1989. With this cross, Melody produced two fillies - Twistin Cee in 1985 and Crackin in 1988 - and one colt, Cattin, in 1990. Crackin has lifetime earnings of $120,083, and Cattin, the only colt of Melody’s that was left a stallion, has lifetime earnings of $133,872. Melody’s 1986 filly, Shakin Cee, by Colonel Freckles, only earned $14,054. But Shakin Cee’s first foal, Shakin Flo by Mr Peponita Flo, would shake up the cutting world. The 1994 bay mare also proved that being small in stature was no hindrance in the cutting pen. With rider Sandy Bonelli, Shakin Flo was the non-pro champion at the 1997 NCHA Futurity, the 1998 NCHA Super Stakes, 1999 NCHA Super Stakes Classic champion and the 1998 open NCHA horse of the year. After 1990, Melody returned to the Texas Panhandle, where for the remainder of her broodmare career, she was bred only to Cogdell’s stallions: Maxi Lena in 1990 and 1992 and Peppys Boy 895 from 1995 to 1998. In 1995, Melody was getting up in age, and Cogdell decided to change his breeding program with her and perform an embryo transfer, rather than make the mare carry another foal. Melody produced two fillies by Peppys Boy 895 in 1996: Martina Cee and Shania Cee. It was Shania Cee who would go on to make history. In 1999, trainer Shannon Hall rode the petite palomino mare to the NCHA Futurity championship. The win put Melody in the record books as the only mare to win an NCHA Futurity title and have a foal do the same thing. “Whatever you bred her to, we were awful fortunate that most of them wanted to cut and were pretty consistent,” said Cogdell’s son Dick. “They all had her heart and skill, but they also seemed to have her quirkiness, too.” When Melody was in training, he said Reeder always had to keep her in the same stall and haul her in the same partition in the trailer. “Or she would get antsy,” Dick said. “She liked routine, and in her later years, when she lived up at the vet’s, they would feed her inside, and she’d pull it out of the feeder and take it outside in the run to eat it. And she’d also have to have the same horses on each side of her in the barn.”
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All told, Melody produced 16 foals with NCHA lifetime earnings of $1,101,700. “It’s so funny to see the next generation or two coming along and still see those traits that Melody passed on,” Dick said. “Everyone is big on those dream crosses and all that, but I heard Tom Lyons once talk about Melody’s mother, Trona. He said she was just a silly little turnback mare. They had Doc’s Lynx and they wanted to get some of his colts out there so they bred that mare to him. I don’t know that you would call it a dream cross at the time, but it worked.” Melody died quietly in September 2004. “She was so special and so good to our family,” Dick Cogdell said. “She’s definitely one you always hear about: one good wife, one good dog and one good horse. And she was that good one. We were awfully blessed to have her.” Lynx Melody was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2008. This article was published in the September 2008 issue of America’s Horse. The Cogdells also breed good ranch horses and received the AQHA-Pfizer Best Remuda award in 2006.