Horse-Breeding History: Rest Stop

This broodmare by legendary sire Topsail Cody was a successful reiner and performance producer.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

First, let’s debunk an urban legend: It has been widely circulated that the great reining mare Rest Stop (Topsail Cody-Villa Eddie) was born in a livestock trailer parked at a highway rest stop. Nope. Didn’t happen. “I’m not sure how that story got started,” says Doug Milholland, who bred and raised the mare, “because she was born on our ranch in 1985. As we got to know her, it became apparent that she was real sweet and never in a hurry to go anywhere. One day, I was schooling another reining horse; I stopped him and while we rested, I thought, ‘Hmm… “Rest Stop,” now that’s a good name for our little filly.’ It suited her.” In a happy coincidence, when the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame member broke the filly out as a 3-year-old, the eye-catching buckskin showed quite a bit of stop.

That gorgeous stop became her signature move,” Doug says. “She’d slide a long way and pedal in front – so pretty! Turning was not naturally as easy for her, but she had lots of try and learned fast. She was trusting, honest and always wanted to please without being overly reactive.” In 1988, Marc Wagman was a young non-pro rider who had horses in training with Doug. That spring, he went to the trainer’s to ride and couldn’t take his eyes off the buckskin mare Doug was schooling.

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“I’d never seen a 3-year-old stop like that in March,” he says. “I offered to sell Rest Stop to Marc at a good price, if I could show her that year,” Doug says. “Boom – I bought her!” Marc says. “I watched Doug ride her at the (All American Quarter Horse) Congress in the open reining futurity, and she had the prettiest stop of all. They placed third, and that was exciting.” At the time, Marc had a men’s apparel business, which took him out of the country just as Doug and Rest Stop headed to the 1988 NRHA Futurity. “There were a lot of bigger and stouter colts,” Doug says, “so I worked on keeping her mind fresh. Her personality showed true.” Doug and Rest Stop earned a hefty 222 in the finals, but Tim McQuay and Mr Melody Jac were in top form, too, posting a 222.5. A half-point margin split between three judges separated first and second place. Doug and Rest Stop took home the reserve championship. Half a world away in Indonesia, Marc got a telex that his horse had placed fourth. Two days passed before he learned – correctly – that Rest Stop was the reserve champion. “I was tickled pink,” Marc says. But, as both Marc and Doug would later joke, with a $63,000 difference between first- and second-place money, it was the world’s most expensive half-point. The next year, Marc took up the reins to show his mare successfully in non-pro events. In 1990, after they brought home a sixth NRHA bronze, the talented mare was retired with more than $56,000 in earnings.

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Rest Stop moved on to the breeding barn, where she produced 10 foals for Wagman Ranch, all performers, with nearly $170,000 in NRHA earnings to date. They include Rest Up, who carried Marc’s wife, Tami, to 2003 NRHA and National Reining Breeders Classic Derby Limited Non-Pro Championships, and Tougher Than The Rest, who won the 2000 NRBC Non-Pro for Marc. The Wagmans sold only one of Rest Stop’s five daughters, Leave The Rest, who topped the 2003 NRHA Futurity yearling sale at $71,000. “Rest Stop was a sweetheart and a great mom,” Marc said. “We owe our success to her, her sons and daughters and now, their offspring.” In 2005, Marc was at the NRHA Derby when Tami called, so terribly upset that at first he thought something had happened to one of their children. But it was Rest Stop. A sudden, massive electric storm had passed over their pastures, and their treasured mare was struck and killed by lightening. Rest Stop left behind a rich legacy, an indelible mark on the reining world and more than a few hearts. “I’ve had lots and lots of horses in my life,” Doug says. “But Rest Stop was something special.”

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