The Griffin family has decided to part ways with their lives’ work and a legacy of world-caliber reining horses. Just days after the phenomenal stallion Whiz N Tag Chex earned National Reining Horse Association Million Dollar Sire Status for his owners this past December 2012, the Griffin family, comprised of Lance, Terry and Samantha Griffin made a huge announcement: their beautiful copper-colored stallion would be offered for sale, in addition to the family’s astonishing 280-acre Oklahoma ranch, equipment and legacy of 80+ reining horses.
With a history peppered in major Futurity and World Championships and some of the reining world’s leading equine genetics a result of their life’s work, it is an announcement that is met with equal parts of excitement and sadness from the horse industry.
Since December, there has been a glut of questions. A Facebook page was set up by the Griffin family to spread the news. As pictures featuring the many amenities of the ranch began to upload, Facebook fans began to take note. With a twinge of melancholy, some of them even choose to click “Like.” After all, how can one truly “Like” the end of an era? Little was offered in the form of answers until Samantha, daughter to Lance and Terry, posted one tiny comment.
“The time is right,” she stated.
Griffin Quarter Horses has been instrumental for producing some of the world’s top pedigreed reining mounts and has captured several world titles including the 2003 NRHA Open Futurity Championship with The Great Whiz; the 2004 Cinch NRHA Non-Pro Futurity Championship with A Bright Chic; the 2006 NRHC Intermediate Open Futurity Championship with This Chics On Top and multiple World Championships with This Chex On Top.
Lance earned the first ever award presented for the NRHA’s Million Dollar Owner Status in 2007, but he has never been one to sit idly by either. This Canadian business mogul has amassed more than $335,000 in non-pro show earnings and has worked tirelessly on the sidelines as an ambassador for the sport since reining first became his passion.
Samantha took the reins as breeding manager and has prided herself on proven statistics and proven genetics throughout the operation’s entire 12-year history. She too, has earned numerous American Quarter Horse Association World Championships, National Reining Breeders Classic and major NRHA titles. In July of 2012, Samantha became mother to Hank Griffin Burns, a baby boy who arrived six weeks early and signaled a new chapter in her life.
With the dispersal date set for April 6, 2013, the world will have to wait to see where each of the carefully-bred Griffin horses will land. Both Lance and Samantha will continue to show reiners in the future but their involvement in the industry will be on a much smaller scale.
Following is a candid, one-on-one conversation with Samantha regarding the reasoning behind the dispersal and the new chapter the family is all hoping to pursue:
Jenn Webster (JW) – Congratulations, first off, on becoming a mom! Can you please tell me if this new role in your life had much to do with your family's decision to have a dispersal sale?
Samantha Burns (SB) – Thank you. Being a new mom does make it easier to say goodbye to the large-scale horse operation. My priorities have certainly changed. It was not however, the only reason for us to decide to have the sale.
JW – I'm sure many of us understand the concept of putting family first. Are there other reasons for the sale?
SB – For us, this decision to have our sale is only partly about money. Mostly, it is just time for us to make a change. Both Lance and my priorities have shifted in the last few years. Although it is still the goal to go and be in the Top 5 in all of the major events in the Non-Pro division, we have decided to remove ourselves from the large-scale breeding and training operation. Our involvement in the horse industry now is a huge undertaking and our plan is to scale it down to where it will become our hobby again.
JW – Does that mean any of you will remain somewhat involved in the reining industry?
SB – We plan on continuing to show in the Non-Pro events, both Lance and I. We will keep a few horses to show over the next few years. We will still show at the major events and most of the shows we go to now. For example, it looks like we will both be showing one or two horses each at this year’s NRBC in Katy, Texas.
JW – How hard was it to make the decision to sell Whiz N Tag Chex, especially after he just reached million dollar status?
SB – It was a major milestone to reach, having him become an NRHA Million Dollar Sire. “Tag” has earned a spot in our hearts; He is a great horse with a huge personality. He has made my life very easy over the past years and I know he will go on to be that special horse for his next owners.
JW – Are there other horses to which you or your family may be emotionally attached?
SB – Yes, of course we have horses that have become members of the family. We will always keep “Herman,” aka The Great Whiz (the 2003 NRHA Open Futurity Champion). He will always be with us, along with “Bert,” aka A Bright Chic (the 2004 NRHA Non-Pro Futurity Champion). These two geldings have, and always will be, in the pasture right outside. We are selling Kachina Oak Olena, better known as “Thelma.” She is the best show horse I have ever had and looks to be our very best broodmare. She is offered through the sale. All of the horses are close to my heart as I have been with them since they were babies, however I know they will be happy in their new homes and be treasured. All horses that are offered in this sale are selling UNRESERVED.
JW – This dispersal regards the sale of your Oklahoma property, all horses, equipment and tack, correct?
SB – Yes there will be tack – mostly saddles – 80 horses, and the land and equipment.
JW – Any time an influential business in the horse industry holds such an event it means the public will likely benefit by the opportunity to pick up a deal here or there. However, the industry also suffers as a whole because a cornerstone operation will no longer be in business. Would you agree with this statement?
SB – I do agree with the first part of the statement for sure. There are not many opportunities to find such well-bred, trained and managed horses all in one place that will all be sold. I’m sure the industry will feel us stepping out but I do not believe it will have much of an effect long term.
JW – Will you be offering telephone bidding, or internet bidding for the sale?
SB – Telephone bidding will be available. We are setting it up with a few facilities in the area for people who are on their way to the NRBC (which is the very next week). People will have the opportunity to stable at these locations and for a few days immediately following the sale, they will be welcome to come and ride in our arena to get ready. There is a link to the sale catalog on our website:
JW – I have to ask, flat out, is it possible to make money in the horse industry?
SB – Making money in the horse industry is possible. Bob Loomis is one of many examples of people who are extremely successful. The reining horse industry is primarily based on peoples’ hobbies, which must be remembered.
JW – What's next for you guys?
SB – I’m not sure what the future will bring. I know my parents will spend more time golfing and enjoying traveling. As for me, I want to watch and enjoy my son growing up.
JW – Are you excited for the next chapter in your lives? Or sad? How are you all feeling about it?
SB – It is exciting to have change. I am not sad, although on sale day it will be hard to watch them all go. But this just means a new chapter is beginning. We would like to thank the people who have supported our program over the past years. This sale is the chance of a lifetime to come and get a part of a program that is designed to produce some of the best reining horses available.