Pryor Ranch Celebrates Gunrunners Image: The Mare Who Produced Guns On Deck
By Gabrielle Sasse, PleasureHorse.com
Judy Pryor, of Pryor Ranch, wants to be sure that everyone knows not just about the stallions of her farm, but about the mares that help to pass along and add to winning bloodlines! She reached out to her friend Juli Brown for a story about Gunrunners Image.
“I have always liked the horses that you could do lots of events and jobs outside the arena with,” begins Juli. “We had several nice geldings that we showed, like Bambino Twist, Will Hawks Fly, and Achy Breaky Andy. The one thing they all had in common was they were good in the all-around events, but lacked a very ‘halter quality’ pretty to them. I had seen and liked the horses that Harley and Ruth Reile of Reile Quarter Horses in Gillette, Wyoming were showing. Their program had consistently produced horses that had a halter look but could do a multitude of events.”
She continues: “Their stallion Gunrunner Sonny had sired horses showing in everything from halter, pleasure, and roping to ranch horse competitions and had competed very well in most western events. He even looked pretty doing it, and he also sired horses that went to the NFR in bull dogging and barrel racing. A mare, Sights On Sonny, owned by Cindy and Forrest Stewart placed 3rd at the AQHA World Show in 2004 Amateur Barrel Racing. That mare has 396 points in different events and categories. She has produced a mare that also ran at the NFR that Lisa Lockhart rode and owned.”
Juli tells us about first meeting the mare who would go on to produce greatness. Gunrunners Image is by the Reile’s stallion Gunrunner Sonny (who traces back to Sonny Dee Bar and War Bond Leo) and out of Pasamonte Peg, by Pasamonte Pug.
“When I first saw Gunrunners Image (aka ‘Bunny’), she had won weanling and yearling futurities in South Dakota and Wyoming,” says Juli. “She had a big body and great legs and she was so mature of body and mind. I had seen this filly show and win at several futurities and really liked her. So we made a trip out to Wyoming to look at this coming two-year-old. I had been hauling around and had seen the filly a lot and was so in love with her. When I had visited with the Reiles about purchasing her, they shot me a price I could stand! The two things [I had to worry about]: My husband had never seen her, and she was a mare. ‘Why do we want a mare?’ he kept asking. We had always had geldings.”
“I convinced him to make the six hour trip to Wyoming. When they lead that big pretty mare out of the stall and took her blankets off, Dale’s jaw dropped! Well, we loaded her into the trailer and pulled out of the drive with Ruthie crying and waving.”
Juli and Dale had a great start with this mare. She turned two a few weeks after they brought her home and off they went to breaking her out. “She was big, strong and broke acting,” exclaims Juli. “It was like she had been broke her whole life! My husband had to bring in a cow to pull its calf. He said ‘I’m going to ride that mare out to get a cow in from a small pasture.’ Four rides on that mare, and she got her first cow experience. She was so cowy, and wanted to work a cow! She had come from a home that didn’t work cattle, but they knew that the Gunrunner Sonny horses where very cow savvy! Most of the ranchers out in that area were breeding their good ranch mares to him for his speed and cow abilities. Well Gunrunners Image did not let us down in that department!”
Juli gushes, “That mare had so much talent and heart, it didn’t matter if she was working a cow at the sale barn, or doing halter, maybe running a reining pattern or doing a showmanship pattern with our daughter. She could do those events and do them well. She has earned an Open & Amateur AQHA Championship! She has not only won Grand Champion Mare at the Nile Show in Billings, Montana but won the reining at the same show.”
As with most great performing mares, Juli wanted to pass along winning bloodlines. “We had finished up Bunny’s show career and we needed a stallion for her,” she explains. “I knew that we wanted to base our breeding around her. We just needed to find the right stallion. I had lots of people telling me I needed to breed her to the ‘in’ halter horse at that time. I just kept saying no. At that time, the specialty horses where just starting to go full swing. I knew I wanted to keep my halter look from this mare but to improve on it, and still keep form to function.”
“I had seen the Deck Of Stars horses showing while I was showing Bunny and I liked their minds, movement and their looks,” explains Juli. “What pretty horses they are! They were showed by amateurs and youth, and looked to be very mellow and laid back. So in 1998 we bred her to Deck Of Stars, who was on the All-Time Leading Sire List. His get have earned over 14,000 points to date with World Champions in everything from halter to pleasure driving. A true all-around sire.” And one that they wanted for their Bunny!
On April 22nd 1999 a chestnut, blazed faced, stocking legged stud colt came into the world for Dale and Juli Brown at 2:30 a.m. “When he was first born and running under his mother’s belly “to not get too close” [to us], we had no clue as to the rides that we would have off this beauty!” exclaims Juli.
In the fall of his long yearling year, Guns On Deck could do a walk-trot trail pattern. “There were times I would put a bucket in his stall and jump up on him bareback, love on him and slide off him. He was so big and strong feeling and he so wanted to please. He, like his dam, had that feeling of being born broke.” What a stallion!
Guns On Deck earned his first riding points when he was just two in the Open Trail, and earned his first AQHA Open All-Around trophy. “Guns On Deck has been the show horse of our dreams,” says Juli. “There are just not too many events that he hasn’t done with Dale or me, and done very well. He has earned his keep by working the weekly sale barns, moving cattle and going to brandings. I used him for 11 years on a cattle A.I. detection job and, like his mother, he had lots and lots of cow and ability.”
He began his high winnings in 2002, achieving his ROM in halter. In 2004, he received his ROM in Performance Open and Amateur, not to mention his AQHA Champion title. His following show years brought on many world qualification titles, halter winnings, performance halter winnings, Top Five Region 2 Experience in Trail, High Point Halter winnings, and then in his later years, many championships and placings in Heading and Heeling! This includes qualifying for World in Heeling, all the while still keeping up with his fantastic halter career.
Susan Larkin researches for AQHA in all of the old bloodlines. She ran a Hall of Fame search on Guns On Deck, finding these interesting stats:
“Guns On Deck has 18 different Hall Of Fame horses in 14 generations [in his bloodlines], occurring 218 times through unique descendants. There are 87 crosses to Peter McCue through unique descendants, and 52 to Traveler. The most duplicated ancestor is Stockwell, at 200 crosses; next is Lexington, with 151 crosses.
This is another thing I’ve noticed in doing this study. The horses with more documented TB behind them (combined with a high number of HOF horses) seem to be more versatile than those who don’t have quite as much. To me, this is a good thing when your goal is breeding for versatility.”
Peter McCue is legendary Quarter Horse racing stallion who was foaled in 1895. Of the 5.3 million Quarter Horses there are today, 5.1 million of those trace back to this immensely fast quarter racer. He was once recorded to have sprinted a quarter mile in :21 flat.
“Guns On Deck is proving to be that really great breeding stallion we hoped he would be,” shares Juli. “He is siring horses with his really good top-line and good legs, who are very good movers; and what great dispositions they have!” All this with just a limited foal crop. “We really love this horse, and believe that he represents the kind of horse our goal has always been to raise. Our goal has always been to produce great looking horses that can be ridden and used with ease and trust. It doesn’t matter if it is a nice show horse or that next ranch/rope horse. We are looking for the next great thing.”
“Well, Guns On Deck is 14 years young as I talk to you about him, and he has not slowed up yet! And boy has it been a ride of a lifetime! He has taken us places, met people and done things that will last us a lifetime! And to think, it all started with Gunrunners Image…” concludes Juli.
Dale and Juli are based out of Winner, South Dakota. Visit their website here for more information on this great stallion, or call them at 605-557-3211 or 605-208-0731 (leave a message). Thanks to Judy Pryor for sharing some more of her great producing offspring, and thanks to Juli and Dale for telling the story of their great all around horse, Guns On Deck!