The gray stallion’s offspring are leaving a mark in performance halter.

Our plan was to rope off of Photon babies, then show them at performance halter, and I think it shocked a lot of people,” Rhonda Holmes says with a chuckle. “The plan worked better than we even hoped for, and they’ve excelled at performance halter.”

Rhonda and her husband, AQHA Professional Horseman Jay Holmes, manage Miss Mary Clark’s Triple J Ranch in Sarasota, Florida. The 2009 Select World Championship Show spotlighted the late Photon’s multitalented offspring: Charlene Morgan and Photons Cowgirl (out of A Cowboys Sweetheart) won the world champion title in performance halter mares; Jan Lines and Photons Classic CD (out of Cool Diversion) earned the reserve world champion performance halter; and Bob Lines and Photons All Round (out of Paloma Ina) won the world champion title in performance halter geldings and placed ninth in heeling. When Photon died peacefully in his sleep in December 2004, the statuesque gray stallion left a legacy of excellence that continues to impact the Quarter Horse world today.

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Photon, by the Impressive son Impressive Tommy and out of Super Susie Ann, was 8 years old when Miss Mary spied him at a show and was smitten. She wasn’t a horsewoman, but she knew quality when she saw it. “Miss Mary fell in love with Photon,” Rhonda says. “She lived on an island off Massachusetts and had never owned a horse, but she had big dreams. She bought him and then this farm and moved here to showcase him. She loved Photon for all his days.” Photon was easy to love, partly because he was just so easy. In his later years, the senior stallion was led to his pasture turnout every morning. At one end of the lead rope: the stately stallion; at the other end: his groom’s Jack Russell terrier.

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“He was a big pet,” Rhonda says, eyes twinkling. “He was gentle and kind and loved to be petted. I could send out Morgan (my daughter) to get him from his pasture without a worry. And he was beautiful, with a huge eye. You could easily tell which were his babies – they had such beautiful heads. They also had his presence in an arena that said, ‘Look at me!’ ” Photon earned a Superior halter award. His 199 registered Quarter Horse foals have amassed 8,970 performance points and 1,620 halter points; 91 performance ROMs and 36 halter ROMs; 51 Superior performance awards and 10 Superior halter awards; and 254 show all-around wins. It’s a testament to Jay and Rhonda’s program that Photon horses winning in performance halter have also tallied thousands of points – open, amateur and youth – during AQHA competition in reining, roping, working cow horse, cutting, western pleasure, pleasure driving and jumping.

“If I look to his pedigree to explain it, I’d point out that Photon’s dam goes back to Skipper W,” Rhonda notes. Skipper W (1945-1963), the legendary Hank Wiescamp ranch stallion, was a great cow horse, as well as a grand champion halter horse at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The 2009 Select World performance halter gelding championship was the fourth world title for Bob Lines’ 12-year-old Photons All Round. “I ropeon him; that’s what I really enjoy doing the most,” Bob told the Journal immediately after the win. “I can head 100 steers on him, and he doesn’t change. He’s a true using horse. He’s out there doing a job every day. I mean, you can see him, not all pretty and everything; he’s skinned up from one end to the other. He has been to the valley and back. Maybe that’s what (the judges) see, that’s he’s a real user horse. He does a job. It’s a true blessing to have a horse like that.”

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Back at the Triple J Ranch, the Holmeses are crossing their AQHA world champion Hollywood Dun It son, Dun It Big, on their Photon broodmares for the next generation of versatile horses. Speaking of the next generation, Morgan followed up her 2008 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show performance halter mare championship with Photons Cool Carrie(out of Cool Diversion) with a repeat win in 2009.