For the last 5 years the APHA Leading Performance Sires List has looked pretty much the same. Zippos Sensation sits at the list’s top, looking down at Special Invitation and All Time Fancy who are distantly second and third, while the remainder of the top 10 is usually comprised of some combination of the good sires Real Bonanza, Gentlemen Send Roses, Will Spot Ya, Zips Heaven Sent, Paint Me Zippo, Dirty Rocki, R Big Time Fancy, Frozen Assets, Zippin, and a few others.  And while all of these studs have produced many useful offspring, I think there are a few underrated studs out there that despite their lack of mare support have shown they have the ability to sire athletic offspring  with the kind of modern movement that could help bring performance-bred paints to the next level.

My biggest complaint about Paints as a breed has been the sluggish pace at which the quality of performance-bred stock has increased. Don’t get me wrong, breeders have come a long way from the days when movement was forsaken for color. The result of that mentality are the big-headed, big-footed, long-backed horses that Paint enthusiasts have worked tirelessly to get away from in the 1990s and 2000s. More emphasis has been placed on form-to-function, and breeders and judges alike have been great about prioritizing quality movement over color. Still, there is a gap between the degree to which Paints are improving in each successive generation and the degree to which Quarter Horses do.  

With a few exceptions, the modern Paint pleasure horse competing at the national level is not of the same quality as the Quarters competing at the same level.  This is forgivable given that Paints as a breed are still in their infancy when compared to the American Quarter Horse (AQHA was formed in 1940, while APHA was not formed until 1965), but I’d like to dispute the idea that the only way that Paints will ever be as good as the Quarters is if Paint breeders consistently outcross to Quarter Horses to essentially produce a Quarter Horse with spots.  The APHA studs below are consistently improving upon the book of mares to which they are bred, and with the exception of one come mostly from foundation Paint bloodlines. They offer a strong challenge to the idea that Paints can only be improved by outcross.

A Good Zippo:

Admittedly my favorite of the underrated sires (my current show horse is by him and another daughter is in my broodmare band), A Good Zippo is currently 4th on this year’s APHA Leading Sires List. What is remarkable about this feat is that he has far fewer offspring on the ground (123) than Zippos Sensation (756), Special Invitation (386) and All Time Fancy (358) who sit above him on the list, as well as many other stallions who comprise the top 30. To top that, A Good Zippo’s book has not exactly been filled with mares that you would call “pleasure-bred.” Despite this fact, he consistently stamps his get with great front-ends and powerful hocks that have made them the prospect of choice for trainers like Wade Spell.  A son of Zippos Mr Good Bar (QH), A Good Zippo is also passing along the family trait of durability to his offspring. His 50 performers have 6921 points to their credit, performance and halter combined.  The most famous of these offspring is Come Get Ya Some, who won the 2-year-old, Junior, and Senior Western Pleasures.  A Good Zippo was himself an earner of an Open Superior in Western Pleasure, and the only thing I think which has limited him thus far as a sire is that he is essentially a breeding stock, being that he is out of a tobiano and qualifies  for regular registry as an overo  based on some white on his chin. Still, he offers a tremendous cross for colored mares.

Hes A Cool Hotrod:

The youngest sire on this list and the only one double registered APHA/AQHA, Hes A Cool Hotrod was unanimous World Champion as a lunge liner. Unfortunately he got injured and didn’t make it back as a rider, but to watch him lunge was like watching a finished riding horse lope around without tack.  A son of Certain Potential out of a granddaughter of Hotrodders Jet Set and The Invester, I think this stud is going to be a tremendous outcross on Zippos Sensation and Special Invitation-bred mares. Hotrod is just getting started as a sire, but word around the barn is that the foals he has on the ground are awesome. Two offspring out of daughters of Zippos Sensation just made successful debuts at the Tom Powers, with Hesa Special Hotrod shown by Stanley Scott winning against the Quarter Horses. Hotrod’s offspring have that stay to the hock that is characteristic of the Certain Potentials, as well as very clean front-ends. Again, I think the only limiting factor that will impact Hotrod as a Paint sire is that he is a cropout with minimal color. Despite this, look for Hotrod to make an impact in both APHA and AQHA in the years to come.

 A Danson Impulse:

If you haven’t realized already, I’m a front-end guy.  Nothing gets me more excited than to see a rail horse with a flat front leg and great lift to the shoulder. A horse with a good front end will have a light, cadenced jog and an exotic lope that is like poetry in motion. It is for this reason that I am a big fan of the descendants of A Sudden Impulse (QH), of which A Danson Impulse is one.  A Danson Impulse is the earner of 508 lifetime points, mostly in western pleasure. He is passing along that great Sudden Impulse front end to his offspring out of a wide variety of mares. He has only 16 performers who have earned a total of 1302 points, with Reichert winner A Scenic Impulse being the most famous of those to show. A Scenic Impulse traces to Zippo Pine Bar through his dam Ima Scenic Pinebar, and I think A Danson Impulse is a great cross for Zippo-bred mares. He should also cross well on Invitation Only-bred mares too. You should also look for A Danson Impulse to make an impact as a broodmare sire, as  Double L Paint Horses, who stand By Appointment Only, Three Chips, and One Kool Krymsun, have a number of Danson daughters that they have recently started using in their broodmare band.

Rock Four:

A superior pleasure horse from the foundation lines of Sonny Dee Bar(QH) through his sire Mark IV, and Jetalito through his dam Scenic Sabula, Rock Four is a quality individual that is  great outcross to practically every stallion on the APHA Leading Sires List. From limited foal crops out of mostly foundation-bred mares, Rock Four’s offspring have done tremendously well in futurity competition at the national level. He has sired  State and Congress champion lunge liners, as well as numerous top 10 and top 5 placers at the Reichert and the APHA world show. As Rock Four’s owners exhibit primarily at futurities, I think it’d be interesting to see what happens when his offspring end up in the hands of big name trainers and when breeders send their good mares to this stud. All the pieces are in place for a really quality individual to come from this line. 

Just Say Jose:

Just Say Jose is a superior pleasure horse and the earner of 256 Western Pleasure points. Though he has only 63 babies on the ground, mostly out of halter-bred mares, he is proving that he is capable of siring offspring which are competitive at the top level of national competition. Jose’s babies have deep, driving hocks and such amazing lift in the shoulder that they look like they are floating over the ground at the trot. I think that Jose’s ability to put a good front end on a horse even when bred to halter mares (which, no offense, can sometimes be hot messes up front) is a testament to his sire power. Just Say Jose is also an outcross to most on the APHA Leading Sires list, and his pedigree is actually one of the things I like most about him. By the World Champion and good sire RR Jose Cuervo, Just Say Jose is out the superior earning mare Dollie Pine Robin. A blue hen, Dollie Pine Robin is the dam of 7 performers who have earned 845 points.  I think a strong dam line is something that is important to have in a stud, and is also indicative of the quality offspring that stud will produce. Crossed on the right mares, Just Say Jose could up a force to be reckoned with not only as a western pleasure sire, but also as a hunter under saddle sire.

07/02/2010 08:44

Dear Sam,
If, as you contend, the good APHA studs are basically gentically AQHA studs with spots, therefore should be of the same quality, one might have to consider training a factor in the finished product when comparing top AQHA to top APHA, no?


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