Professional athletic crossovers prove an athlete's incredible strength, skill and stamina, but it often seems the athlete's second career pales in comparison to his performance in the sport that made him a household name. For example, MichaelProfessional athletic crossovers prove an athlete's incredible strength, skill and stamina, but it often seems the athlete's second career pales in comparison to his performance in the sport that made him a household name. For example, Michael
Professional athletic crossovers prove an athlete’s incredible strength, skill and stamina, but it often seems the athlete’s second career pales in comparison to his performance in the sport that made him a household name. For example, Michael Jordan was a spectacular basketball player, but his stab at a professional baseball career paled in comparison to his prowess on the court. Equine athletes often experience the same situation of dominating one discipline, but settling for mediocrity in another. However, exceptions do exist.
A Chic In Time, a 1993 sorrel Quarter Horse stallion by Smart Chic Olena and out of Paula Tari, is one of few horses to excel in three distinct disciplines – cutting, reining and working cow-horse competition. His lifetime earnings include $101,746 in National Cutting Horse Association competition, $22,848 in National Reining Horse Association events, and $34,000 in National Reined Cow Horse Association contests as we went to press. A Chic In Time also has garnered more than $14,000 in American Quarter Horse Association earnings and $1,267 in American Cutting Horse Association winnings. Each of his three events share common elements, but it’s uncommon for a horse to experience such notable success in all three areas.
Owned by Broken B Ranch in Gainesville, Texas, A Chic In Time, aka "CT," excels as a performer and a sire, and ranch proprietor Sharon Babcock and CT’s trainer Randy Butler couldn’t be more proud of CT’s achievements and the early successes of his offspring.
Sharon raised CT and initially planned to sell him in one of the prestigious 2-year-old sales during the 1995 NCHA Futurity. As Randy began working with the horse, he noticed something special about CT and questioned the decision to sell the horse.
"Randy started working with CT, and everything the horse showed Randy was sort of freaky," Sharon recalls. "He picked up everything so willingly. Randy told me that we might think twice about selling CT. I watched the horse and agreed that we had something special."
From that point on, Sharon and Randy focused on preparing CT for the 1996 NCHA Futurity. In what seemed an unfortunate twist of fate, Randy wound up with three horses for the futurity – two outside horses and CT. Riders may only show two mounts at the futurity. Randy felt obligated to show the two outside training horses, and he chose to do so. Randy experienced real disappointment that he wouldn’t get to show the horse he thought to be his best mount and was reluctant to hire a catch rider, so it seemed the horse’s futurity career was over.
During the same time, Randy was preparing Sharon’s younger son Troy and reining-horse trainer Craig Johnson’s daughter, Sara, to cut at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show. He took the two youths on the road and left CT at Craig’s place for about a week. Through Sara, Randy learned that CT was developing quite a stop and spin, but Randy didn’t take the news seriously because he and Craig always played jokes on each other. Furthermore, Sharon and Randy had no intentions of CT becoming a reiner.
Craig kept CT for more than 3 weeks and called Randy and Sharon to tell them he planned to show CT at a reining futurity in Ardmore, Okla. Randy and Sharon were sure he was kidding, but the horse went on to win the futurity with only 4 weeks training.
Following that performance, Craig prepared CT for the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. With only 4 months’ training, CT placed eighth at the NRHA Futurity, marking a 220 – a fantastic finish for a horse with such limited experience and schooling.
"We were tickled to death that he made that kind of showing," Sharon raves. "We would’ve been happy with CT just making the finals!"
Back to the Cutting Pen
Following the NRHA Futurity, CT’s owners removed the horse’s slide plates and turned him out for a rest. However, his career soon took off in another direction – this time in his predestined discipline of cutting.
"He hadn’t even cut out of the herd since July (1996)," Sharon recalls.
Sharon and Randy hauled the horse to a few small weekend NCHA and AQHA cuttings in early 1997 to afford CT some experience working out of the herd. Soon Sharon’s son, Troy, decided to show CT at the NCHA Derby.
"I didn’t think there was any way CT would be ready, especially given that both horse and rider were very green," Sharon relates. "Most of the other horses had been to four or five major aged events, but we agreed to let Troy show for experience.
CT carried Troy to mark 222 points and win the amateur finals.
That set CT and his family of exhibitors on an unstoppable path toward success. CT made the finals of nearly every major aged event with either Troy or Randy in the saddle. Later in his career, CT took Randy’s daughter, Lydia, to a fourth-place finish in the NCHA Summer Spectacular’s Youth Scholarship Cutting. Troy experienced yet another triumph with CT at the 2002 AQHA World Show, where the pair won the reserve world championship. Obviously CT isn’t just a performance mount, but also a family horse.
Once CT turned 7 years old, making him ineligible for aged-event competition, the horse went back to Craig’s barn for another shot at reining stardom.
Reining the World
Following a 3-year reining hiatus, CT was taken off cattle and returned to reining training.
"If you just switch hats, CT switches events," Sharon laughs. "He can stop, spin and change leads with the best of them."
With Craig at the reins, CT won the NRHA open class at the Texas Classic, qualified for the 2000 AQHA World Show in senior reining and bested a tough class to win the world championship.
"He was dead-on and had all the confidence in the world," Randy shares. "We had a feeling he’d win. It was exciting, and we enjoyed every bit of it."
Little did Randy and Sharon know that bigger victories and more intense competitive moments laid ahead in CT’s future, including CT’s NRCHA debut- his third discipline.
"The NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman was always at the back of my mind," Randy shares. "But I always stay so busy around the ranch training and showing horses, it seemed like I’d never have the time to prepare a horse and myself."
Randy never doubted which horse in the barn would serve as his partner in the one-horse, one-rider, four-event contest, but Randy wanted CT to have a fair shot at winning with someone well-versed with the competition.
"This horse deserved someone who could do it all, somebody who could show the horse to the best of his ability" Randy says.
Few are more familiar with the World’s Greatest Horseman event and NRCHA competition than Gainesville, Texas, trainer Ron Ralls. The horseman won the 2003 World’s Greatest Horseman title astride Cowgirls Are Smart, also sired by Smart Chic Olena, and finished second at the 2003 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity with Chromium Cowboy, CT’s most successful offspring.
"I rode him (CT) a couple of times at Broken B Ranch, messed around with his turnaround, loped a few circles and changed leads," Ron recalls. "I knew right away that he’d be all right, even if he’d never been down the fence."
CT had to learn two new events- roping and fence work-start to finish, in less than 3 months. Even with limited preparation, CT and Ron won the World’s Greatest Horseman contest by 41Ú2 points.
A Special Horse
Only a unique equine can win major titles in three disciplines. CT’s attitude, relaxed temperament, versatility and longevity make him stand out among other stallions as a performer and a sire.
"He’s just an awesome horse," Ron raves. "He’s incredibly smart. It sounds hokey, but if you show him what you want, he does it."
"Early in his training, I had to be very careful what I showed him," Randy echoes. "I didn’t want to show CT anything wrong, because whatever I showed him one day was there the next, be it right or wrong."
Ron even jokes that CT’s willing attitude would allow him to crossover into English classes.
"If you wanted to make a jumping horse out of him, he’d try it," Ron says. "He might not be any good at it, but I honestly believe if he was asked to jump, he’d try."
Calling CT relaxed might be an understatement. The stallion lacks the "studdy" qualities shown by many aged breeding stallions. In fact, it’s not uncommon for CT to travel in a two-compartment stock trailer with a mare in heat, foal by her side, to the breeding farm and then on to a horse show or training session.
Furthermore, Sharon points out that the stallion is comfortable away from home.
"He doesn’t fret about anything," she says. "We can park him anywhere we want, in a stall next to a mare or beside another stud. He takes it all in stride and it doesn’t bother him. Once CT’s in a stall, he smells his neighbors and goes to eating. If he’s tired he just lies down. He knows how to take care of himself."
"But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have get-up-and-go," Randy adds. "This horse has sting. When asked, he has strength and stamina."
CT’s versatility probably comes from his owners’ willingness to try new things and different directions from which other owners might overprotect their horses.
"I protect him, but yet I use him," Randy says. "I swing ropes off CT and play on him. If I need to pen cows, I take CT."
Attitude, temperament and versatility promote longevity. CT’s competitive career has spanned 8 years, and the horse shows no signs of being ring sour, burned out or ready to retire from competition.
"He’s been shown so much, yet he’s so honest in the show pen," Ron says of CT.
"We’ve hauled CT, but we don’t ride his legs off," Sharon says. "He’s exercised and kept in shape, but we don’t show him every single weekend."
"That’s a mistake a lot of people make with good horses," Randy adds. "They think they have a good one, but they burn out the horse in a short time by keeping him in the trailer and showing him all the time."
"At this point, we haven’t decided which direction to take him next," Sharon says. "He’s proven himself in all aspects so far, and I’d hate to park him and just let him grow old. As long as he shows that he wants to go, we’ll keep doing something with him. And there aren’t many stallions 11 years old that show against their foals. We take CT, and all his offspring are showing along with him."
Reflections of Their Sire
CT’s genetic prepotency shines through in many ways. Almost all of his babies are sorrels with blazed faces and at least one white leg. Athletically, CT’s offspring are known to bury their hindquarters for powerful stops. His foals also reflect CT’s admirable disposition.
"I haven’t ridden one of CT’s offspring that didn’t stop," Randy says.
Ron’s wife, Patti, owns Chromium Cowboy, a sorrel 2000 son of A Chic In Time. Ron showed Chromium Cowboy to the reserve championship in the open division of the 2003 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. "Cowboy’s" big stop played a large role in that success.
"Some say he slid 35 to 40 feet in the reined-work finals," Patti says. "Ron thought he’d run the horse past the marker because Cowboy slid so far!"
Non-pro cutter Sandra McBride, Azle, Texas, bred her mare, Make A Smart Move, to CT because of the stallion’s stopping power. That quality stands out in the product of the cross, 2000 gelding Big Time Moves. Sandra also values that her horse has CT’s temperament.
"My horse has a big stop, a low working style and was very easy to train," she says. "I trained him myself, and he’s been very successful."
As of September 2004, Chromium Cowboy had earned $90,000 in open and non-pro competition, and Big Time Moves had nearly $10,000 in non-pro earnings. Combined, CT’s offspring have earnings in excess of $169,000 in NCHA, NRHA and NRCHA competition.
Sharon and Randy look out their front door at a pasture full of CT’s offspring and recognize the same qualities Patti, Ron and Sandra value as well as other traits.
"We laugh about how pretty the babies are," Sharon smiles. "We could put silver halters on some of them, because they look like halter babies."
"All of CT’s offspring will have jobs," Randy adds. "They’ll go to the cutting, reining or cow-horse pens. We try to break our 2-year-olds to go in any of those three directions."
"We’d like to have a barn full of horses just like CT," Sharon says. "He certainly raises our expectations. In fact, we have to be cautious not to compare every horse to CT, because they’re all different.
"It’s different if a horse is mediocre at a few events," she continues. "CT can do it all well-he tries and puts his all into everything. Everyday we thank our lucky stars that we have a horse like CT."
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