Replacing the Irreplaceable

Learn which sires were chosen to be Hollywood Dun It's successors in Part 1 of this three-part series.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It’s an unfortunate part of nature: Horses die. But when it happens to a farm’s top breeding stallion, his successor can mean the difference between continuing a successful breeding business or going bust. Choosing another stallion is not all that simple, though. Do you pick a sire’s offspring to step in or do you go out and buy another? And if you decide to purchase, do you choose a young stallion or one that has already produced winning offspring?

The Journal sat down with three top Quarter Horse breeders and asked how they have dealt with this dilemma. This is Part 1 of a three-part series.

Choosing a Proven Stallion

When Hollywood Dun It was diagnosed with testicular cancer in early 2004, it was a wake-up call for owner Tim McQuay. “I knew ‘Dun It’ was getting to the end, but it wasn’t really until the last two years that it hit me, and then it slapped me in the face,” the AQHA Professional Horseman says. “Sometimes you don’t want to think about (a successor) until something like this does come up.”

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Dun It was Tim’s first venture into breeding. He and his wife, Colleen, bought the then-4-year-old stallion in 1987 for the unheard-of sum of $100,000. “When we bought him, everyone said we were nuts because we gave so much money for him,” Tim says. But he wasn’t crazy. In fact, a foal from Dun It’s first foal crop was third at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity, a foal from the second crop was the Futurity reserve champion, and by the third crop, there were seven Dun It foals in the Futurity’s open finals. “There’s not much I would have done differently (in promoting him) because he took care of himself by proving he was a stallion to breed to,” Tim says. Dun It was a sought-after sire until his death in March of 2005, and his offspring even today are competitive in the reining arena. Although Tim has several straws of frozen semen from Dun It, he knew he would need a top successor sire in his barn. Tim owns two of Dun It’s sons, who stand at his Tioga, Texas, ranch.

Dun It With A Twist, a 1994 stallion by Dun It and out of Peppymint Twist by Peppy San Badger, was the 1997 NRHA Futurity open reserve champion and has lifetime earnings of almost $100,000. With more than 200 foals, he is already starting to prove himself as a successful sire. His 5-year-old daughter Dunnies Prescription has more than $125,000 in NRHA earnings. Reminic N Dunit, a 1998 stallion by Dun It and out of Reminic Chex Bar by Reminic, is a two-time National Reining Breeders Classic Derby open champion and has lifetime earnings of almost $165,000. As his oldest foal crop is only 2-year-olds, he has yet to prove himself in the breeding shed, but Tim says he has high hopes for him. “I have an instinct and know when one’s going to be a good breeding horse,” he says. But even with these two top sons of Dun It, Tim thought he needed to bring in a stallion who had proven himself. And when cropout Colonels Smoking Gun, or “Gunner,” received his AQHA registration papers, Tim knew the 12-year-old stallion was the right sire for his breeding program.

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“I was not even interested in him until he got his Quarter Horse papers,” he says. “It is just way too limited trying to breed to Paints.” Just like Dun It, Gunner is in the NRHA Hall of Fame, and he has produced several big money earners. Many have been finalists in major events like the NRBC Derby and the NRHA Futurity. Tim first rode Gunner when the stallion was a 3-year-old in training at Clint Haverty’s. Tim immediately liked Gunner. In 2001, while preparing a Gunner son, Colonels Lil Gun, for the American Paint Horse Association World Championship Show, he was further impressed. “I’ve seen the willingness and stop he puts on so many of his colts,” he says. Those traits, especially trainability, were the top priority when selecting a successor sire. It was those same qualities Dun It passed to his foals. “Trainability (in his foals) is what helped Dun It become popular though all the years,” Tim says. “Maybe they weren’t all open horses, but they’d make a non-pro horse. People would come to me at every horse show and ask what I had ready to sell. They would say, ‘I want a Dun It. I want a Dun It.’ “I hope it’ll be the same with Gunner’s colts.”