The 52nd AQHA Open Supreme Champion
That Supreme Look
By Julie Mankin
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.
BRTsendingmyregards was the only entry in performance halter stallions at the 2013 AQHA Select World Championship Show. The judges were lined up and waiting for Dr. Bob Story to lead the gray stallion through the in gate. The duo strolled down the alley and through the in gate, but then the stallion paused, posed still as a statue and eyeballed every single judge, as if he were daring them to mark him anything lower than a world champion.
That wasn’t the only time the gray stallion had the full attention of an audience.
“He looks like a Greek god!”
Those words tumbled out of the mouth of a stunned audience member while trainer Steve Orth warmed up BTRSendingmyregards at a show. It wasn’t the first time the gray stallion shocked onlookers into silence. A handful of years earlier, racehorse trainer Eddie Willis recalled the handsome stud being the only horse he’d ever ponied to the track that prompted people to literally drop what they were doing just to watch him.
“It’s that ‘it’ factor that you can’t always define, but you know it when you see it,” says current owner Tim Meyer, who had his eye on the stallion as soon as the gray stepped off the track. “Big and powerful and pretty. Lots of balance and correct in structure. And he was one of those who could continually catch your eye, with charisma.”
The horse Tim calls “SMR” is the 52nd horse in AQHA’s 78-year history to have earned the rarest feat in the American Quarter horse industry: an AQHA Open Supreme Champion title. The title requires a horse to have raced and achieved a speed index of at least 90 on two occasions, and the same horse must earn at least 40 points in halter and performance classes at more than five different AQHA shows, including two grand champion titles. The performance points must come partially in reining, working cow horse, pleasure, jumping, western riding or hunter hack, and partially also in roping or cutting.
The BRTSendingmyregards name was passed down from his breeder, Dr. Bob Story, who combines his first initial with those of his kids, Ryan and Tyler, to add a prefix to horses he raised during his 30-year career providing veterinary services to New Mexico racetracks.
Dr. Story’s father and stepfather were both racehorse trainers, and his grandfather was a show-horse man. Dr. Story became involved in both worlds, which is why the Open Supreme title holds such special meaning for him. This kind of versatility has one simple source, he says: good conformation.
“Breeders have become so specialized that some important conformation traits have been dropped a little bit,” Dr. Story says. “He’s such a well-conformed horse with enough bone. And I think a little more bone is what the halter industry needs at this time.”
Dr. Story, now 69, retired seven years ago from a career in which his clients won 14 All American Futurities. He worked on up to 120 horses a day, typically 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and also worked for a racetrack veterinarian as a kid. Thus, in sheer numbers of horses he has examined out, Dr. Story had the chance to observe dozens of different bloodlines – and the various traits those bloodlines carried.
Dr. Story purchased SMR’s dam as a filly and changed her name to Aleisha Elaine, after his daughter’s best friend. The mare was a daughter of Holland Ease by First Down Dash.
“The First Down Dash line of mares has just been exceptional,” he says. “It’s a line that’s sure good to have on the bottom side.”
Although she was “very well-balanced,” he says she needed a cross with a prettier head, so Dr. Story chose Chicks Regard by Chicks Beduino. The 1999 multiple graded stakes sire passed down his gray color and more First Down Dash blood through his own dam.
On the racetrack under training by Eddie Willis, BRTSendingmyregards placed either second or third in eight of 10 races in 2011 and 2012.
“He ran very good speed indexes and was beating a lot of horses at distance,” Dr. Story recalls. “But not very many 2-year-old races have distance. He was very consistent and went out there every time and performed well.”
Directly thereafter, the stallion was undefeated in his halter career, winning the halter performance stallion world championship at the 2013 Adequan® Select World Championship Show. Tim believes SMR’s the first Open Supreme Champion to have also been a world champion at halter.
“I think a horse doesn’t have to be ugly to be smart,” he says. “And a horse doesn’t have to be pretty to be fast or ugly to be fast. Why not get back to horses that are versatile and multifunctional? That’s what a Quarter Horse truly is.”
Tim says people tend to get hung up thinking that if a horse has a certain bloodline, it can’t do a certain event. He points to Three Bars (TB), the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame sire who has been on the papers of a large number of the 51 Open Supreme champs.
“Chicks Regard goes to Three Bars, but so did Mr Impressive and so did Doc Bar,” he says.
Tim has an eye for raising and showing halter horses, but he also runs the family cattle ranch and feedyard in Sylvan Grove, Kansas, and must have an eye for raising good ranch horses. He currently uses SMR for branding duties and ranch roping, and plans to cross a variety of different mares with his versatile stallion, including some foundation Wiescamp-bred and Peppy San Badger mares.
“We’ve got some 2-year-olds by this horse now that we’re starting to ride, and they look like they’ll be as good and pretty,” Tim says. “They’re born a little too late to win halter futurities, but they’re all a nice size with nice bone. We’re excited about injecting some bloodlines back into the industry that aren’t just the same, same, same.”
Tim says his favorite attribute of SMR and his babies are their balance.
“His neck ties in high, he has a great slope to his shoulders, his pastern is right, he has a short back, long croup and long hip,” he says. “That horse would be all in the right proportion whether he was 12 hands or 18 hands.”
Dr. Story also saw that great balance in SMR as a foal, and says he was always good-natured, being a great stallion to handle. He never required a lip chain, and while at the track with Eddie, Dr. Story could walk into his stall and check him over without even a halter.
“My mother halter-broke him,” says Dr. Story, who got his first degree in education and started the horse program at Lamar (Colorado) Community College, complete with a student halter-breaking session.
“I brought in 50 colts for these students to train and we had a big show at the end of two weeks,” he remembers. “I’d developed a pretty good technique of halter-breaking in a positive manner and taught it to my family. My mom used it on the babies while I was working so much.”
It must have carried over to the roping end of things. Trainer Steve Orth nicknamed the stallion “Dragon,” yet was impressed with his first ride on the stallion. He simply stepped on him and walked into a pasture to gather the steers – two years after SMR had last carried a saddle … and his first time under a western saddle.
“I just went to sorting steers on that horse for a month,” Steve says. “That’s all I did, getting him to listen to me instead of thinking of going forward; just putting a cow in front of him. To this day, my 5-year-old daughter could rope on him.”
Steve has heeled on SMR quite a bit, and although his intelligence made the gray a bit fractious in the box, he now scores outstandingly.
“For being 16 hands with a 97 speed index, he’s got more rate than you could believe,” Steve says. “He’s got a lot of cow. I’ve doctored cattle in the pasture, and he stayed on the end of the rope; never got me in trouble. I was surprised for as big as he is, how he can stop. He can lay his ears back and drag his butt for a big horse.”
Like Tim and Dr. Story, Steve believes performance success is tied to how a horse is put together.
“Everything is conformation,” Steve says. “Conformation, conformation, conformation. I can train my German Shepherd to gather the steers, but it takes the right body structure. I’m not a marathon runner for a reason. If you’re built for it, then you can do it.”
On the other hand, SMR had more than just size – he was also trainable and smart. Steve describes him as “one of the best ranch horses you’ll ever ride.”
As for roping on a racehorse, Steve says he never had a rope horse that could really run that didn’t also pull hard and let you win. This stallion, in particular, has a lot of rate, can score well and anybody can rope on him. Steve looks for offspring by SMR to be “really good,” because the stud has all that speed and smarts.
“He’s a fun horse and a pretty son-of-a-buck,” Steve says. “He’s a clown, too. When you get a camera out, he knows he’s pretty. He likes to show off.”
Thanks to Bob Story’s vision for conformation that leads to soundness and athleticism, AQHA is able to reward yet another well-made, speedy equine that succeeds in any genre.
“I see the industry as a whole,” Dr. Story concludes. “We ought to work together to promote our industry and do everything we can do to perpetuate awards like this, to get people excited about the equine industry.”
Julie Mankin is a special contributor to AQHA Media. She lives in Fort Lupton, Colorado. To comment, write to email@example.com. This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.