Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2013

Greg Ward was a young, part-time horse trainer in California in the spring of 1961 when he arrived home one day to find an unhappy sorrel mare tied to his fence. She had battle scars on her nose and legs and was so intent on pawing a hole into the ground that she barely noticed Greg.

The little mare named Fillinic was born at Goodyear Farms in Arizona on July 7, 1957. Her sire, Arizona Junie, was powerfully built, and his sire, GF’s Punchinello, was a local legend known for cutting cows riderless in an Arizona feedlot. Fillinic’s dam, Alouette, was the Arizona broodmare of the year in 1950. But none of that was obvious at first glance.

What was clear was that Fillinic had sensitivity, energy – lots of it – and a temperament that Ward described as genius bordering on insanity. He recognized the potential in her, though, and eventually borrowed money from his mother to buy the mare for $3,000.

With Ward as her trainer, Fillinic won the Cow Palace open hackamore championship twice, then the Cow Palace open bridle championship. In 1966, the pair won the California Reined Cow Horse Association’s open bridle championship. In 1989, CRCHA became the National Reined Cow Horse Association, and both Ward and Fillinic took their places in the association’s hall of fame.

Fillinic had 10 foals, and her daughters became the foundation of the Ward Ranch broodmare band. The sons and daughters of Fillinic kept up her traditions.

The family’s love for the wild-eyed mare was summed up by this inscription on her gravestone: “A man is lucky to have one great horse in his lifetime. She gave us a lifetime of greatness … we will never forget her.”

Fillinic died in 1983 and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2013.