Securing His Place in Halter-Horse History

Owner Steve Jensen talks Kid Coolsified and how the two-time world champion just became the halter industry’s first million-dollar sire.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Kid Coolsified, a 2000 chestnut stallion by Kid Clusified and out of Coolsie Coosa by Ima Cool Skip, won two AQHA world championships before retired to stud. (Credit: Don Shugart, provided courtesy to The American Quarter Horse Journal)

Every segment of the American Quarter Horse industry has its legendary sires, those who have made significant impacts on the breed and etched their names in history. The industry now has Kid Coolsified, who secured his place in history in September by becoming the first million-dollar halter sire. He accomplished this achievement after finishing as the overall No. 1 AQHA leading halter sire for the past three consecutive years.

A 2000 chestnut stallion by Kid Clusified and out of Coolsie Coosa by Ima Cool Skip, Kid Coolsified was bred by Scott Haack’s Arcadia Farm of Spring Lake, Michigan. In 2003, “Coos” was purchased by Kelli Jensen of Freeland, Michigan. During that storybook year, Kelli’s husband, Steve, showed Coos to amateur 3-year-old stallion championships at the AQHA World Championship Show and All American Quarter Horse Congress, while AQHA Professional Horseman Ted Turner Jr. of Aubrey, Texas, showed Coos to Congress and world championships in the open division, including a Congress grand champion stallion title.

Following his open world championship, Kid Coolsified retired to stud under the management of Rick and Julie Leek of Dryden, Michigan. Through his 12 foal crops, Coos has sired 594 registered foals, 174 of who are point earners. His point earners have set the halter ring on fire, earning 7,921.5 total points, 206 Registers of Merit, 26 AQHA world championships, 20 reserve world championships and three year-end high-point titles. He has sired 244 money earners, who average earnings of $4,541.

In January 2015, Kid Coolsified passed into the co-ownership of Steve Jensen and Billy Franks. He now stands at Billy and Suzonne Franks’ Three Nails Ranch in Cisco, Texas.

Speaking on behalf of Team Coos, co-owner Steve Jensen sat down with the Journal to give some insight on this history-making sire. 

Journal: Given all of his success, one would imagine Kid Coolsified to have a persona larger than life. But what’s Coos really like to be around?

Steve: Coos is a puppy dog. I remember one show where Rick Leek and I arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pulled Coos out and got him ready, only to find they were taking a break before they showed the studs. Rather than put Coos away and get him ready all over again, I sat in a lawn chair in the make-up pen. There I was, holding a 3-year-old stud with no lip chain because he never needed a lip chain, and he stood there for an hour with his head in my lap. I would let anyone lead or handle him; he’s just that gentle. But he has a lot of personality, too. And so do his babies. That’s part of what keeps mare owners breeding back to Coos year after year.

Does he have any quirks?

Coos loves to lick your hands. He doesn’t want to bite, so what you do is hold your hand out flat, and he loves to come up and lick the salt off your hands. When we stood him on Stallion Avenue at the Congress, we gave out buttons that said, “I got licked by Coos.”

Looking back at the beginning, what was it about Kid Coolsified that convinced you to purchase him in 2003?

I first saw Coos when he was a yearling; Rick Leek pulled him out of the stall for me to look at. He was a really nice, pretty horse, but at that time, he lacked the muscularity that I prefer. I saw him the next year at the Congress and didn’t even recognize him – he had grown that much. But still, I wasn’t sold. Around that time, I convinced myself I wanted a horse I could show at the 2003 AQHA World Show, and not just show – go there and be competitive. Rick and I were all set to go out to California at the beginning of 2003 to look at an aged gelding. Just weeks before the trip, we drove to a show in Iowa. We had my mare on board, and little did I know that Kid Coolsified was also on board. When Rick pulled Coos out the next day to show, once again I didn’t even recognize him. He had matured. He had grown. And he developed muscle. He was exactly what I’d been looking for but I still never thought he would be for sale because I assumed he was going to be Rick and Julie’s replacement for Coos’ sire, Kid Clusified.

When Rick priced Kid Coolsified to a gentleman at the show, I couldn’t believe it! After the gentleman walked off, I said to Rick, “You’re telling me we’re spending $3,000 to fly out to California to look at a gelding, when I could buy a stallion that’s right here in front of me?” Rick hadn’t mentioned Coos being for sale because he thought I wanted a gelding that my kids could show as well. My reply to him was, “The kids have all the mares and the geldings; I want a horse for me!”

Ted Turner was also at the Iowa show, and at the time, I had horses with him, too. So I asked him if he thought Kid Coolsified could place at the World that year. Ted replied, “I don’t think he’d just place; I think he’d be one of the horses to beat.” My second question was, “If I buy him, would you be interested in showing him?” To which he replied, “Absolutely.” Needless to say, I walked back to Rick, wrote a check to him, and that was the end of Rick owning that horse.

What were the highlights of that show year?

At the Congress, Coos and I won right across the board in amateur. In the open with Ted, Coos won under all four judges, then he went unanimous Congress grand champion open stallion. It was really phenomenal.

Ted took Coos home before the World Show, and when I saw him at the World, Ted had probably put another 75 pounds on him and he was even bigger and better. In amateur, we won straight across the board again. And he ended up winning in the open with Ted. That was actually the last time Coos was shown.

Ted Turner Jr. showed Kid Coolsified to the Congress grand champion stallion title in 2003 for owners Steve and Kelli Jensen

What made you decide to retire Coos to stud?

I never planned on being in the breeding business. The goal was to have a show horse. But I wanted Coos to have the opportunity to be a great sire because I thought he deserved it.

Clearly, Coos’ offspring have been successful. What does he pass on to his babies?

Coos’ best quality is his topline. And as a sire, he strengthens and shortens the back, puts the strongest loin on a horse I’ve ever seen, and puts this perfect croup with a big hip on everybody. I haven’t seen another horse that breeds as consistently, as correctly as Coos does. For backyard breeders – people who are looking to be owner-breeder-exhibitors and can’t afford to have a miss – Coos is exactly what the breeding industry needs.

AQHA has always pushed form-to-function, and he’s the epitome of that. Most Kid Coolsifieds are being ridden. Maybe they aren’t being shown in riding classes right now, but they’re being ridden. For instance, most people don’t know that Coos’ first world champion rider was this gorgeous buckskin filly. She won International Buckskin Horse Association world championships in halter as a yearling and as a 2-year-old. Then, as a 3-year-old and 4-year-old, she went back and won back-to-back world championships in hunter under saddle while continuing to add multiple world champion halter titles. I also have reining horses, and my reining trainer loves riding Coos babies because they’re so athletic. I’m really happy that, along with his other outstanding traits, Coos is also going to be remembered for the consistent correctness and athleticism he sires.

Kid Coolsified (Credit: Don Shugart, provided courtesy to The American Quarter Horse Journal)

What tactics did you use to market Coos?

When we first started, we’d buy mares, breed them, and then sell them in foal. The new mare owners liked the babies they got and started rebreeding to Coos. We also stood him on Stallion Avenue at Congress. That was a big success not only in terms of marketing but also of the widespread exposure he received.

Recently, we have done our own Kid Coolsified incentive program. If a breeder calls us and tells us their Kid Coolsified baby is now a point-earner, we them give $500 off their next breeding fee. We give $1,000 off for Registers of Merit. And if their horse earns a Superior, we give a free breeding. We wanted to increase people taking horses out and showing them, and it has worked very well. We think it especially helped his status as the AQHA leading sire.

After owning Coos for 12 years, what compelled your family to partner with Billy and Suzonne Franks on Kid Coolsified?

At the time, partnering with anyone on Coos hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was only considering a partnership on my young stallion, Ecredible, who I think is going to be another phenomenal sire. Promoting a stallion is no small job, and the thought of doing this again all on my own was somewhat daunting. So after a friend also suggested that I look into a partnership for Ecredible, I decided to make an exploratory call to Billy Franks. Both Billy and I are involved in the Breeders Halter Futurity, and he seemed like a really nice guy, the kind of person I would like to be in partnership with. When he got my call, I don’t know which of us was more surprised – Billy because of the fact that I was willing to partner on Ecredible, or me because he was interested!

Fifteen minutes later, the deal was done over the phone, and we both couldn’t believe how easy it turned out to be. I was literally getting ready to hang up when Billy said, “Steve, before you hang up, this worked out so easily with Ecredible, what do you think about partnering on Coos, too?

It was so easy working out the partnership with Billy on Ecredible, that I replied, “OK, let’s at least talk about it.” Two days later, we had all the details worked out, and Billy and I became partners on not one but two stallions. Above all, I do what I do because of an abiding love for horses. The same is true for Billy. Therefore, I can say unequivocally it has been, and continues to be, a privilege to have someone with Billy’s integrity, ethics and passion for horses as a partner. 

The one part of the partnership agreement that did cause a lot of us a bit of anguish was the fact that the studs would be moving to Texas to stand in the new Three Nails Ranch breeding barn. That was a tough one. And perhaps no one agonized over it more than Julie Leek. Julie is Coos’ mother. She raised him, she babied him, she took care of him for 15 years. So, for her, it was like losing one of her children.

Moving from Michigan to Texas also took some adjusting for Coos, but he’s in incredible hands with Billy and Suzonne. Late every night, Billy checks on the studs and gives Coos his treat, something Julie started years ago. And needless to say, it doesn’t matter whether he’s in Michigan or Texas – Coos is still a huge fan of that!

Now that Coos has hit $1 million, how does it feel to own the halter industry’s first million-dollar sire?

There is part of me that wants to take credit for this and think, “Wow, I’m a really great promoter.” But when I look back at what has happened, I know the credit does not belong to me. It belongs to Coos. He has been able to accomplish so much of what he’s done as a sire by being the backyard breeder’s best friend. A majority of his offspring have been from small-time breeders looking to raise a baby better than their mare and better than Coos, wanting to go to futurities and weekend shows and looking forward to having a good time with their horses. To me, that’s what the industry is all about.

For more on Kid Coolsified, visit www.temptationfarm.net/kidcoolsified or www.threenailsequine.com/kidcoolsified, and look for Coos' story in the December 2015 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal