Riding

A Life with Quarter Horses

Stan Immenschuh lived the kind of life many only dream about while leaving his mark on the Quarter Horse industry.

The late Stan Immenschuh was a successful racing American Quarter Horse trainer in his day.

The late Stan Immenschuh worked with many horses during his lifetime. When he reflected on horses he had known, one that he always recalled fondly was Make It Do, also known as “Peanuts.” Make It Do was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame on March 8, 2009, and in 1979, the gelding was named a ProRodeo Hall of Fame horse. In 1966, he earned an AQHA Register of Merit for his racing achievements. Here, Stan shared memories of his time with “Peanuts.” This piece was first printed for the May 14, 1980, issue of ProRodeo Sports News.

“Peanuts first came into my life in January 1966, when I arrived at the Shamel Ranch in Murrieta, California. Early one morning, I was there to load up a bunch of running horses to go to Bay Meadows Race Track at San Mateo.

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“Along with Peanuts, there were six other well-bred 2-year-old Quarter Horses. These colts would make up about half of my racing stable.

“After looking over my new stock, checking out their bloodlines and how they had been working, I asked the ranch trainer, LaRae, which one she liked best. At this time, LaRae was my wife, and I was sure she was putting me on when she pointed at Peanuts. She went on to let me know that Peanuts would not only win more races than the others but would win the first time I started him.

“I went back to his stall to take another quick look before he was loaded on the van. What I saw for the second time was the same as the first. There stood an 850-pound midget racehorse. Everything on him was sure in the right places, but he looked like a Shetland alongside of his 2-year-old stablemates.

“As I drove away from the ranch, Judd Morse (Peanuts’ owner) and LaRae both waved goodbye and said, ‘Take good care of Peanuts.’ As I headed up that long, old highway from Southern California to San Mateo, I was still wondering about this horse. If he was the best I had for 2-year-olds, I might be in trouble with that van load of horses.

“When we pulled into Bay Meadows and unloaded, my grooms were anxious to see our new prospects. Right away, they wanted to know which one was ‘The Runner.’ Grooms naturally want a chance at taking care of the stable’s best. I guess they thought I had come down with lockjaw or something, as I didn’t say very much for awhile; then finally came out with ‘They say this little shrimp is the best.’ The two boys walked away and went to work setting up the new stable. I imagine they probably flipped a coin to see who would have to take care of this little pony.

“The next morning, my first-call rider, Jack Robinson, showed up. He, like my grooms, wanted to see the new 2-year-olds. I choked, coughed, got a shank and led out Peanuts. When I told (Jack) that everyone at Shamel Ranch though Peanuts was the best of the lot, Jack grunted, turned away and asked how the weather had been down south, and had we hit any rain on the way up. He even asked how the pony horse, ‘Clyde,’ had shipped.

“In about two weeks, we all found that this little horse, Make It Do, might just do. He qualified in good shape and the first time we started him, he left the gate like a scared jackrabbit and won by a couple of lengths with some good colts behind him. Jack came back to the winner’s circle all smiles and said, ‘Stan, I don’t know how far he’ll run, but he can sure as hell leave that gate.’

“To make a short story shorter, Peanuts just kept on leaving that gate and winning race after race. All of us who looked down our noses at Peanuts because of his size at the time had to take still another look at this tough little racehorse. He never made a mistake and ran every jump of the way in all of his races.

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“When Peanuts turned 3 years old, he finally started to grow and changed into a horse that would later be stout enough to carry a ‘big cowboy’ to a steer.

“He had an ankle that was giving him some trouble, so it was decided that he’d be turned out for a while. During this time, his chance to change occupations and become world champion came about.

“Traded to cowboy Bob Barnes, (Peanuts) later became the hazing horse in C.R. Jones’ doggin’ team. After about a year working well at that, he moved to the other side of the chute, and the rest is history.

“I picked up the Sports News the other day to read that Peanuts had won another world championship. I thought now 16 years old, Make It Do — alias Peanuts — made it do one more time.”

Stan passed away in 2012, but he left his mark on the Quarter Horse industry and helped an unlikely horse do the same. Learn more about Quarter Horse racing and the future of the industry by subscribing to the Q-Racing Journal.