Road to the Horse Colts Picked
From the brushy rolling hills near Guthrie, Texas, to the spotlights of Lexington, Kentucky, 13 American Quarter Horse colts from the Four Sixes Ranch prepare to start traveling down the Road to the Horse.
By Holly Clanahan | October 26, 2014
Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland says it’s like Christmas for her when she gets to go look at horses at the famed Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas.
It was for me, too, when I got to go to the ranch last week with Tootie and Road to the Horse director of operations Tammy Sronce for the unveiling of the 2015 AQHA-Four Sixes Remuda.
All of us quickly picked out our favorites, although there was something to like about each of the 13 2-year-old geldings that Dr. Glenn Blodgett had selected. There is an amazingly stocky (He’s really a 2-year-old?) sorrel with some fancy cutting-horse bloodlines; a couple of incredibly elegant sons of Mr Playinstylish (a world champion working cow horse); and some of the best racing blood on the planet, including offspring of Mr Jess Perry, Stoli, Eyesa Special and Bigtime Favorite.
The colts’ bottom sides are equally interesting, representing a couple of daughters of Tanquery Gin, some Frenchmans Guy mares and more of that racing influence.
“There are a lot of special horses out there,” says Dr. Blodgett, who is the ranch’s horse division manager, as well as AQHA’s second vice president. “I’ve got a story I could tell about just about every one of them.”
Twelve of the horses will race into the Road to the Horse arena next March in Lexington, Kentucky, with one of them being held as an alternate in case of any injury or illness between now and then.
It’s mind-boggling to see them now – living in a 5,000-acre pasture on the expansive Four Sixes Ranch, largely unbothered by humans – and envision how their lives will change in a few months. They’ll be thrust into the spotlight and asked to partner up with a strange human in front of a boisterous crowd of thousands. Amazingly, they’ll step up to the task, and they’ll impress that crowd with their willingness and responsiveness. By the time the event’s over, they’ll be started nicely under saddle and ready to continue a lifelong partnership with people.
That amazing progression is what keeps spectators coming back to the colt-starting championship event year after year, but imagine what it’s like for Dr. Blodgett, who has been there from the colts’ Day 1, or actually even before.
“It’s an emotional experience for me,” Dr. Blodgett says of Road to the Horse. “You had something to do with the decisions that were made to mate the sire and dam, decided what to feed them, decided where they would live. We’ve cared for them all this time, trying to prepare them to be really good all-around versatile western performance horses. That’s just what a Quarter Horse is. It’s a true all-around athlete. “
Tootie teases Dr. Blodgett about being the horses’ father figure, but it’s an emotional journey for her, too, as she meets the horses that will become such a part of her life and her event in the coming months.
“It’s exciting for me to go out there and see these horses that I know that are going to take a journey that will make some of them famous. Some of them will go to people’s homes and make those people very, very happy, but they’re all on a journey,” she says. “That’s an emotional part of Road to the Horse is coming out and seeing these young horses and knowing what’s ahead for them. When we stand out there in the arena, you know where it started, and you see the performance level and the trust and the belief that these horses put in these guys … yeah, we cry.”
So far, these colts have been halter-started as weanlings and have been given their vaccinations and dewormings in a chute. They’ve had their feet trimmed a time or two as weanlings, and then they’re left on their own to develop. “Very lightly handled” is a good way to put the degree of training they’ve had when they’ll be put into the hands of competitors Chris Cox, Jim Anderson and a yet-to-be-decided “Wild Card.” Each of them will select two colts to start under saddle, so that spectators can see (and judges can evaluate) their skills at handling different personality types. The winner leaves with $100,000.
Road to the Horse is March 26-29 in Lexington.
Stay tuned to www.roadtothehorse.com for a full listing of the remuda, as well as pedigrees and photos on each horse. In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow, offering some scenic scenes from the “Sixes” and a great preview of the colts.
I’ve got my fave picked out; which one is yours?