November 12, 2012
By Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Artful Investment in 2012 (Journal photo)
When AQHA Professional Horseman Nancy Alto-Renfro saw hip No. 68 in the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show Sale, it brought back fond memories. It was none other than multiple world champion and champion sire Artful Investment, a horse she’d shown to great success at the tail end of her amateur career.
“You always wish the best for your past horses,” Nancy told the Journal, “and ‘Artie’ was special to me.”
Of course, she thought about what might happen to him, who might buy him and what he might bring. And she was going to be showing at the AQHA World Championship Show.
“(I thought) I can’t be ridiculous about this, my husband (Thomas) and I are building a house and I have two little girls,” she said. “I thought, if he doesn’t sell, and she just wants him to have a good home, I can offer her a little bit and promise her he’ll have a home for the rest of his life.”
When Artie arrived in Oklahoma City for the sale, Nancy went to see him and his owner, Kristina Perry of Fort Collins, Colorado.
“He used to do this weird trick with me when I was showing him: He’d lie down because he was tired, and I’d go sit in (his stall), and he’d gnaw on my palm, lick my arm and then put his head in my lap and go to sleep.”
She held out her flat palm to the stallion, and he did just what he used to, ending with pressing his forehead into her chest.
Artie went through the ring November 11, and Kristina repurchased him at $19,000. By the end of the day, he was in Nancy’s barn.
“(Kristina) told me, ‘Bottom line, I want him to have a happy home,’ ” Nancy said.
Artie was bred by Steve and Tanya Relander of Aledo, Illinois. A 1995 foal by Artful Move, he was the second foal out of the Relanders’ National Snaffle Bit Association Hall of Fame mare January Investment. Nancy and Tom Renfro bought him from the Relanders as a 3-year-old.
Nancy showed him at the 1998 All American Quarter Horse Congress, winning a reserve. He went on to the World Show to finished ninth in junior hunter under saddle with AQHA Professional Horseman Karen Scott-Graham.
He returned to the World Show in 1999, winning world championships in junior hunter hack, junior hunter under saddle and junior pleasure driving. He finished 1999 with a slew of year-end awards, including all-around high-point junior horse and open reserve all-around high-point horse.
His 2000 World Show open performances led to reserve AQHA Superhorse honors, in addition to winning amateur world championships in hunt seat equitation and hunter under saddle; Nancy showed him in open and amateur classes.
In 2001, he and Nancy won the all-around high-point award, showing in everything from hunt seat equitation and pleasure driving to horsemanship.
“When I showed him, his temperament was so good,” Nancy said. “Jason (Martin) said, ‘No one’s ever promoted a stallion as an amateur.' And we kind of went out looking and found him, and he had a lot of potential.”
After adding western events to him, Artie’s show career was sidelined first by a splint bone injury and then colic surgery. Nancy decided to retire Artie and sold him to her trainers, AQHA Professional Horsemen Charlie Cole and Jason Martin.
Nancy turned professional in 2004 and Artie returned to the World Show in 2007, under the ownership of Sharnai Thompson. He won reserve world championships in hunt seat equitation and in amateur performance halter stallions, the first time the class was offered at the World Show. When he retired for good in 2008, the horse had earned more than 2,000 points.
He was equally successful as a sire. To date, he has sired 653 foals, 256 performers who’ve earned a total of 7,250 points, 137 Registers of Merit and 14 world and reserve world championships, all divisions combined.
And now he’s headed to Finley, California.
“He basically got me the pasture that he’s now going to go live in!” Nancy said with a laugh. “We don’t have a big place, 20 acres. (When I sold him) we bought the 10 acres next door, and that’s going to be his pasture.”
Beyond that, Nancy doesn’t know what she’ll do further right now. She’s thought about gelding him so he can be turned out and just be a horse. She’s also ended up with the stallion’s frozen semen.
Her husband, Thomas, is just as glad to see Artie come back – he was the first horse they bought together, as husband and wife.
“It’s all happened so fast!” Nancy said. “But he’s coming home.”