An Un Forgettable Horse-Showing Star

This 2007 gray stallion was the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show Farnam Superhorse.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

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Here’s one of the most "Un Forgettable" moments from last year’s World Show:

Un Forgettable made his second trip to the AQHA World Championship Show one to remember as he captured the Farnam Superhorse title November 23.

For owner Laura “Shad” Te Grotenhuis of Marshall, Illinois, the win was a culmination of 14 whirlwind months, beginning when she first saw the gray stallion.

“There’s not a prettier horse,” she said, “and with the personality? Had to have him.”

Last year, 50 horses contended for the Farnam Superhorse title, the highest honor that can be won at the World Show. It’s for the horse who earns the most points in three or more events in two categories during the show.

Un Forgettable competed in five classes: performance halter stallions, senior pleasure driving, senior hunter hack, senior working hunter and senior hunter under saddle.

Un Forgettable is a 2007 son of Iron Enterprise and out of the Skys Blue Boy mare A Walk In The Sky, a world champion in youth hunter under saddle herself.

After Shad bought the stallion in September 2012, she had a “What, now?” moment, and then she met AQHA Professional Horseman Keith Miller of Reidsville, North Carolina. Keith suggested Shad call over-fences trainer Bill Ellis of Colts Neck, New Jersey, who had briefly trained “Smoke” before his sale.

“And history goes on,” Shad said. “Less than two months later, he won a world championship.”

That was in progressive working hunter at the 2012 World Show, a title Smoke and Bill followed up with a reserve world championship in junior hunter hack, which gave Bill an idea.

For official coverage of this year’s AQHA World Championship Show, including details on the 2014 Farnam Superhorse winner, make sure you subscribe to the industry’s most versatile publication, The American Quarter Horse Journal.

“After last year (2012), when we won one event, I threw it out to Shad. I said, ‘We can go to Florida and get him qualified in Florida and then bring him (to the World Show), with the hopes of maybe taking a shot at Superhorse,’ because obviously that would be a great thing for his breeding career,” Bill said.

“It all worked. We got him all qualified in Florida in the five events, and then he went to the breeding shed and did well there. Keith got him back and did the legwork to get him back in shape. Then he came to us to do a little bit of jumping, and it all worked out.”

At the 2013 World Show, Un Forgettable won a world championship in senior pleasure driving with AQHA Professional Horseman Jerry Erickson, a reserve championship in senior hunter under saddle with AQHA Professional Horsewoman Nancy Sue Ryan and was sixth in performance halter stallions with Joey Shortino. With Bill, the stallion placed fifth in senior hunter hack and12th in senior working hunter.

“Well, it’s a beautiful team that has been assembled,” Shad said. “In my opinion, the dream team in the equestrian world. I couldn’t ask for better or more. Keith has worked with him in under saddle and did some cart with him in North Carolina. I also want to thank Sandy Vaughn for starting him in driving and Lee Paul Shinn for qualifying him.”

Trainers Brian Holmes and David Connors also helped prep Smoke, who has yet to spend a single night in Laura’s barn.

“For an event like this, it takes a village,” Bill said.

Smoke handled the many different trainers with aplomb, said Jerry, who drove him to the title in senior pleasure driving.

“He’s pretty easy,” he said. “Stallions are agreeable or they don’t get to this level.”

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And even arranging schedules so every trainer had enough time to prepare for every class was a team effort.

“The horse is worth it, and it’s paying off,” Jerry said.

Smoke’s reward for winning the Farnam Superhorse title was a little vacation and then a few visits to the breeding barn.

“He will be standing with Mike Hayes at Pilot Knob, joining the last English Superhorse, The Krymsun Kruzer,” Shad said.

Besides Shad, no one was more thrilled with the win than longtime breeder Nancy Swarm of Ocala, Florida, who bred Un Forgettable.

“Un Forgettable represents four generations of my breeding,” Nancy said. “I bought his great-grandmother when she was 2 and showed her in futurities and then bred her. She produced Frankly Im Hot, who was his grandmother, who produced A Walk In The Sky, so I had all four generations.”

Nancy chose Iron Enterprise to cross on A Walk In The Sky because of his movement.

“I liked his conformation compared to A Walk In The Sky,” she said. “There’s some education that goes into breeding and a lot of things you look for, but many of the crosses on my personal mares were more gut feelings, the feeling you have when you think it will work. And by golly, it did. I can’t say enough about (Un Forgettable). He’s a really nice horse.”

Un Forgettable was born almost black, Nancy said, slowly developing the exotic gray coloring that made him noticeable in the show pen.

“He was drop-dead gorgeous when he came out,” she said of naming the stallion. “I love that song by Nat King Cole. I thought (the horse) would be unforgettable. And now he is.”