Survivor of Fatal Trailer Accident, KM Zippin the Best, to Compete at the AQHA World Championships
Late in the fall of 2012, the then two year old AQHA gelding KM Zippin the Best (by RL Best of Sudden) was on the way from Purcell, Oklahoma to his new home with trainer Kristy McCann outside of Seattle, Washington when the trailer transporting him was over-run from behind by a semi during a severe dust storm.
“I got a very disturbing call from my friend Candice Hall the day before Thanksgiving,” recalls owner Jeff Williams, “telling me that she’d just spoken with our horse hauler Ray Wegner.” Hall’s western pleasure and performance halter mare Only Invite the Best was on the same trailer. “Ray called her with limited details. Really, all we knew at that point was that two people and two horses had died at the scene somewhere in West Texas, but Ray insisted that our two horses were among those that had survived.”
Williams had just purchased KM Zippin the Best from Ken and Marilyn Masterson during the 2012 AQHA World Championships after the two year old chestnut gelding had finished in 5th place at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in the 2YO Masters with Gil Galyean and 7th place at the AQHA World Show in the 2YO Western Pleasure with Aaron Moses. It wasn’t until two days later that Williams was able to speak to the horse hauler directly. Williams continues, “Ray kept apologizing and seemed kind of in shock over the whole thing. He told me that due to the terrible visibility he was traveling at less than twenty miles per hour on the highway when a tractor trailer literally ran over the back of the horse trailer at a very high speed. He said my horse and Candice’s mare were in the 4th and 5th slots in the trailer and that the two horses directly behind them died on impact. Ray told me the trailer landed on its side in a field, and he felt the only reason our two horses survived was because they stayed very calm and still while waiting to be cut out and lifted from the wreckage.”
From there, the story goes from tragic to bizarre. Williams continues, “Ray told me that amid the chaos at the scene of the accident the highway patrol called a local cattle rancher who arrived with a stock trailer and picked up the surviving horses from the side of the highway and took them to his ranch. So now I’m picturing this injured, hairless show horse turned out with cattle in the middle of a bad storm in a pasture in God-Only-Knows-Where, Texas. Then Ray explained he’d found a ride for the horses with a guy heading back to California from a cutting horse show.”
When this man got to the cattle ranch days later to pick up the gelding, the rancher told him that his grandkids loved the horse, and they had even been riding KM Zippin the Best . . . and he also reported, as Williams had feared, that when he got to the ranch the horse was standing outside in a cattle pen without a blanket. Williams says, “I remember at that point my mind was completely blown, I really couldn’t handle any more of the grisly details.” By the time the gelding made it to California, a series of severe early winter snow storms made travel on the mountain passes between California and Washington dangerous, and prevented McCann from driving down to get the horse. Williams states that he was out of town for the holidays when the horse finally arrived just after Christmas, more than a month after he’d left Galyean’s place in Oklahoma. McCann, the first person who knew the horse to see him since the accident, called Jeff to confirm that they had indeed received the right horse at her barn.
Following extensive veterinary exams, it was determined that the gelding had superficial cuts and pulled, torn muscles in his back and hindquarters. At the time it was feared that these could be career-ending injuries. After some time off McCann started him back to work slowly, deciding not to push him during his three year old year.
“We took him to a few West Coast futurities where he did well,” Williams recalls, “but Kristy still didn’t feel that the horse was back to normal. It’s only been just recently that Kristy and I felt he could successfully compete on a national level again.” Williams adds, “This year I’ll be showing him at the AQHA World Championships in the Amateur Western Pleasure. I would have never guessed after all this horse has been through that he’d be back at the World Show competing as a four year old.”
Williams expresses gratitude for the complete strangers who saved and cared for the horse immediately after the accident. He observes, “This horse’s story still amazes me, especially when I think of all of the people that came to his rescue, from the scene of the deadly wreck in Texas to the time he finally made it to Washington. If there was ever a horse I’ve owned that I wish could talk, it would be KM Zippin the Best.”