Smart Chic Olena wasn’t just an intelligent and athletic performer: He transferred those skills to his offspring as he became a leading sire in cutting, working cow horse and reining.
The sorrel stallion was foaled in 1985 on the B.F. Phillips Ranch in Frisco, Texas, where cutting trainer Bill Glass first laid eyes on the colt.
“I paid $25,000 for him – and this was during the recession – so I gambled on ‘Chic,’ but he never made me sorry for it,” Bill says.
Bill broke Chic out himself as a 2-year-old for 90 days, then worked the colt on the ranch.
Bill showed the horse at several AQHA cuttings to qualify him for the AQHA World Championship Show. The horse won about $38,000.
In 1990, Smart Chic Olena won the AQHA senior cutting world championship. He was also the year-end high-point winner in cutting and senior cutting.
He was euthanized June 24, 2012, but his records keep piling up. Chic’s direct sons and daughters are still competing. He has – so far – sired 11 open world champions, four amateur world champions and two youth world champions.
Smart Chic Olena was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018. ...
Reined cow horse trainer Clayton Edsall rides his show horses outside the arena to help them understand the reason behind the maneuvers. There’s something to be said about quitting early when your horse is good. The horse quickly learns that if it does as it’s told, the reward is to be put up an...
Every once in a while, a horse comes along that is so beautifully conformed, so talented and, yet, so tragic, that it tugs at the heart of even the most rough and tumble horsemen. Such was the case of Poco Lena.
The bay mare was foaled in 1949 on E. Paul Waggoner’s Three D Stock Farm in Arlington, Texas. Poco Lena was by Poco Bueno and out of Sheilwin by Pretty Boy.
Poco Lena was 26 months old when she competed in her first cutting in Stamford, Texas, where she placed second. Pine Johnson continued showing the mare throughout the year and Poco Lena kept winning in halter and cutting. Don Dodge bought Poco Lena from the Three D in 1953, and showed the mare through 1958. The duo racked up awards and titles in both AQHA and NCHA. Dodge sold the mare to B. A. Skipper of Longview, Texas, in 1959. The Texan showed Poco Lena from 1959 through 1961, and Poco Lena won the AQHA Honor Roll and was reserve in the NCHA’s world standings all three years.
“She went downhill after foaling Dry Doc,” recalled Charlie Ward, the Jensen’s ranch manager. “It was just too much for her.” Poco Lena was the first horse inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame and the first mare in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Poco Lena died in 1968 at 19, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1991.
To learn more about Poco Lena and other Hall of Fame inductees, visit aqha.com/foundation.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HORSE WHISPERER. There never has been and never will be. The idea is an affront to the horse. You can talk and listen to horses all you want, and what you will learn, if you pay close attention, is that they live on open ground way beyond language and that language, no matter how you characterize it, is a poor trope for what horses understand about themselves and about humans. You need to practice only three things, patience, observation and humility, all of which were summed up in the life of an old man who died Tuesday (July 20, 1999) in California, a man named Bill Dorrance.
Dorrance was 93, and until only a few months before his death he still rode and he still roped. He was one of a handful of men, including his brother Tom, who in separate ways have helped redefine relations between the horse and the human. Bill Dorrance saw that subtlety was nearly always a more effective tool than force, but he realized that subtlety was a hard tool to exercise if you believe, as most people do, that you are superior to the horse. There was no dominance in the way Dorrance rode, or in what he taught, only partnership. To the exalted horsemanship of the vaquero -- the Spanish cowboy of 18th-century California -- he brought an exalted humanity, whose highest expression is faith in the willingness of the horse.
There is no codifying what Bill Dorrance knew. Some of it, like how to braid a rawhide lariat, is relatively easy to teach, and some of it, thanks to the individuality of horses and humans, cannot be taught at all, only learned. His legacy is exceedingly complex and, in a sense, self-annulling. It is an internal legacy. The more a horseman says he has learned from Dorrance the less likely he is to have learned anything at all.
That sounds oblique, but it reflects the fact that what you could learn from Dorrance was a manner of learning whose subject was nominally the horse but that extended itself in surprising directions to include dogs, cattle and people. If you learned it, you would know it was nothing to boast about.
There is no mysticism, no magic, in this, only the recognition of kinship with horses. Plenty of people have come across Bill Dorrance and borrowed an insight or two, and some have made a lot of money by popularizing what they seemed to think he knew. But what he knew will never be popular, nor did he ever make much money from it. You cannot sell modesty or undying curiosity. It is hard to put a price on accepting that everything you think you know about horses may change with the very next horse.