Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2007
“Other horses have been just as talented – maybe even better – but you’ve never seen one with so much strength. He would just pile-drive his back end into the dirt,” said Al Dunning, who trained and showed Expensive Hobby for most of the gelding’s life.
Expensive Hobby was born in 1971 and was sired by Hobby Horse and out of Jan’s Helen, by AQHA Champion Stormy’s Sugar. Mehl Lawson, the sculptor who created the Dogwood bronze and the National Reining Horse Association’s bronze trophy, started the buckskin gelding. Lawson was showing “Hobby” in hackamore classes when Al Dunning, and Arizona trainer, bought the horse for his “youth kid,” Georganna Stewart of California.
Stewart qualified Hobby for the 1976 AJQHA World Championship Show, but otherwise left the showing to Dunning. According to a book on reining, co-written by Dunning and Pat Close, Hobby won 29 of 32 hackamore classes, including Del Mar and the Phoenix A to Z show. In the bridle classes, the gelding won the stock horse championships at the Santa Barbara National, at the Phoenix A to Z three times and at Del Mar five times.
The secret recipe for all this success was keeping Expensive Hobby mentally fresh and physically fit. Dunning trotted the gelding innumerable miles across the desert landscape. The trainer started cutting on Expensive Hobby, a real test of patience for a horse used to chasing cows down the fence.
After a nine-year reining career, Expensive Hobby helped teach Dunning’s daughter to cut. The buckskin appeared on Dunning’s tack catalog and was on the cover of Dunning’s reining book, the second edition, published by Western Horseman publishing.
Expensive Hobby was finally retired from his show career and spent his days on Dunning’s Almosta Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona.
He died in 1996, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2007.