When you look through a sea of horses in the warm up pen at reining shows you see a rainbow of colors: reds, bays, blacks, palominos, buckskins, and maybe a cremello or perlino here and there. Of course you will see the loud splash carriers with signature white faces and blue eyes, no doubt of Katie Gun’s doing. But rarely anymore do you see the classic tobiano paint horses; like the greats Clint Haverty, Bud Lyon, or even Craig Schmersal used to be on. There is a farm located in California that is looking to change that though. And they have a very special buckskin tobiano stallion that they plan to do it with.
It was June 2nd, 2015 and Missy and Peter Benker of Secret Hills Ranch were eagerly awaiting the arrival of an extremely anticipated foal. The foal was by QTsGold MasterCard, one of Missy’s all time favorite stalions and an NRHA, NRCHA, and CMSA money earning son of the great Q Ton Of Gold by the tobiano legend QT Poco Streke. The dam was Diamonds And Spots, a daughter of one of Haverty’s favorite horses of all time – Mark This Spot a stallion who defied the “norm” himself. An NRHA Open Futurity Finalist and earner of over $42,000 in the NRHA that was talented enough to earn his ROM in Western Pleasure. Diamonds And Spots was out of the mare Lookin Like A Diamond – a producing daughter of million dollar sire – Like A Diamond by Grays Starlight. I bet you understand now why Peter and Missy were so excited to see this foal!
Little did they know however, that his sneaky momma had somehow taken off her foaling monitor. Later that evening Missy looked into the stall to check on the mare. What she saw was everything she had dreamed of. A strong, correct, striking, perfectly marked buckskin tobiano colt with a baby doll head and big liquid eyes. Missy’s grandfather bred tobiano paint horses for over 30 years and always told her about his dream horse. After laying eyes on this colt – she knew she had finally bred him. “SHR QTs DiamondCutter” was born and he was the real deal. His namesake – Missy’s Step-Grandfather, Arnold Bobick had a stallion by the name of Mr Diamond Cutter who was one of Missy’s grandfather’s favorite horses.
It wasn’t long before the colt shared his intangible greatness with Missy. As she stepped into the stall on day 1 his willingness to learn and be taught was apparent. This was a colt that was born looking to please and do whatever was asked of him. Everything came easy to him. It was like he was born broke – baths, trailer rides, trimming feet, tieing…nothing phased him. It was these traits that inspired Missy and Peter to show him in halter for fun until he was ready to ride. Missy entered Cutter in a local Pinto show when he was just four months old. Afterall, he took to new things with ease and poise. With only a couple of days to prepare and against all odds in a large Stock Halter Class, this fancy little buckskin tobiano colt bred to be a reiner, took a Reserve Championship title under all three judges. To see if this was just luck or if this colt truly was competitive, Missy took a few lessons with good friend and trainer Vicki Halsey and they began their journey down the Pinto circuit. The two proved to be unstoppable. Adding 53 Halter Wins (Almost Undefeated), 19 Grand Championship Titles, 4 Reserve Grand Championship Titles, and to top it all off he was the Pinto Halter Stallion of the Year in 2015. Talk about living up to expectations early!
Reflecting on the year at halter with this truly once in a lifetime colt, Missy and her family couldn’t wait to get him under saddle. She just knew this colt was “the one” she had been waiting on. Secret Hills Ranch resident trainer Garrett Thurner of GT Performance horses told us that “There has never been a day I haven’t looked forward to getting on Cutter. He is the easiest colt I have ever started and that superior mind has continued throughout his training. It is very difficult to list his strengths because they seem to be endless. With age he has gotten so incredibly strong and talented but his greatest strength is his brain. As a horse trainer he blows me away because he retains information unlike any horse I have ever been around.” Missy’s dreams of bringing tobianos back to the forefront of reining may be in the talent of this exciting young stallion. Garrett continue, “His maneuvers are quite good, he is a huge stopper, and plenty of turn, and so incredibly expressive while doing what is asked of him…However, the thing that truly makes him stand above the rest is that he comes to the barn every single day ready and eager to do his job. His kindness and temperament are on display daily as we have small children at the ranch and he has never so much as flicked an ear wrong around one of them. His work ethic is nothing short of spectacular. I can’t think of another horse that compares. Put simply, Cutter is by a wide margin my favorite horse that I have ever had the pleasure to be involved with.”
It’s now the end of summer. The futurity season is coming and we bet you will see quite a bit of a certain tobiano stallion in a show pen near you! The future for this colt has been set in motion. Missy and Peter bred a few of their own mares for 2019 foals including daughters of Smart Spook, Wimpys Little Step, Gunner, and Spooks Gotta Whiz. When friends heard he was breeding mares they eagerly jumped on board with the young stallion as well. Michell Anne Kimball – owner of NRHA’s newest million dollar sire Spooks Gotta Whiz bred Babys Got Rhythm by her powerhorse sire to Cutter. And Garrett Thurner’s good friend and fellow trainer Dallas Wedel bred his daughter of Gunners Special Nite to Cutter as well. The word of this exciting young stallion caught fire so quickly that Cutter will also be breeding to one of NRHA’s leading dams in 2019 at the request of an NRHA professional. He is currently booking a limited number of mares for 2019 and his books are filling up quickly to mares with owners that include proven NRCHA and NRHA breeders. All foals sired by Cutter will be tobiano as he is tested Homozygous Black and Tobiano as well as 6 Panel Negative.
The future of tobianos is bright with this family. Missy and Peter are focused on accomplishing their goals of bringing the tobiano back to the forefront of reining with the help of SHR QTs DiamondCutter. It is a long term goal of Secret Hills Ranch to breed tobiano horses that are competitive at major NRHA events, and encourage growth of participation of the tobiano in NRHA competition by encouraging APHA’s involvement in reining. Missy and Peter would love to work with APHA to continue reining growth within the breed, particularly at the APHA World Show, and especially in World Title Classes. They would also like to help encourage NRHA shows to offer APHA classes in conjunction with NRHA classes to inspire APHA owners to load up and head to a reining!
We are so excited to watch this young stallion’s future unfold, and we are thankful that Missy and Peter Benker have brought WhoaZone Equine on board. We are also thankful that the recent fires in Alpine, California that caused the evacuation of their home and facility did not overtake them, and that they only lost portions of fencing that can be replaced. Our thoughts go out to all of those devastated by these fires.