Did you almost buy a horse that ended up being famous? Let us know about the one that got away. Photo © The Quarter Horse Journal

We Ask the Industry: The One Horse that Got Away?

We’ve all probably had horse show friends reminisce about a handful of horses they had the chance to buy, but ended up passing on, that later went on to be famous. If you have been in the industry long enough, it has probably even happened to you.

GoHorseShow talked to several people about some of the horses they wish they would have bought. It is somewhat humbling to hear high-level professionals and exhibitors talk about how even they missed out on a great one at one time or another.

Some of these horses include the incomparable Vital Signs Are Good, Harley D Zip, Must Be A Detail, Acadamosby Award, Guns Flash Bull, Allocate Your Assets, Zips Chocolate Chip and Zippo LTD.

Life is full of coincidences, chances, and opportunities – some that are sometimes not meant to be. In this case, find out about some of the great horses that, for one reason or another, got away.

Janae Walker Bronson – I was at the Indiana State Fair in the early 80’s (before longe line classes) and the Quarter Horse show was still going on the day the show cattle moved in (my family showed cattle, but I was the only one who was into the horses). I was probably 14 or 15 at the time.

I was watching halter and this big bay colt walked into the arena and just had “it”. I saw it trot and then I ran back to the cattle barn to find my dad because he just had to buy me this colt. Well, let’s just say dad was not all that excited to leave the cattle barn to come look at the horse, but did it anyway. I didn’t get the horse. That yearling was Guns Flash Bull, who went on to win the World Show and Congress multiple times in the hunter under saddle and hunter events.

I always said if I saw another one that hit me like Guns Flash Bull did, I was just going to buy it. I didn’t have that feeling again until I saw The Fire Escape as a yearling, and that time, I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission. The Fire Escape also went on to be a Congress and World Champion, so if I get that feeling again, I’m going with it!

Steve Heckaman – There are several horses in my past that I, for whatever reason, missed on, that went on to make great show horses and/or leading sires or dams. The most notable of these was a weanling colt that Bob Perry asked me to go look at by Zippo Pine Bar at the Quarter Horse Congress. Looking at horses is just an ordinary part of doing business, but that year I had 14 horses to prepare for clients.

To be honest, I was slightly irritated about being asked to put everything on hold, to go look at a weanling several hours away, but Bob was a friend and a good client and he really wanted an outstanding offspring by Zippo to represent his newly acquired stallion. I figured that if it was important to Bob, then it needed to be important to me as well.

When I got to look at the colt, he was very cute as babies go, a pretty head, very square made with a nice hip. He seemed to move across the ground very well jogging and loping, but, at that time, I was uncomfortable giving a ‘buy’ recommendation on a weanling because their real talent is hard at that age to evaluate and there is so much risk involved.

I told Bob we should come back and look at him again as a yearling or maybe as a two-year-old after he had already been started. My hesitation ended up being very costly because the weanling turned out to be Zips Chocolate Chip.

Cathy Corrigan Frank – I had the chance to buy Vital Signs Are Good at the end of her two-year-old year when she showed with Keith Whistle at the AQHA World Show. I had taken an extended break from horses and was just coming back into it and was floored to see that prices had skyrocketed since I’d left. She was priced at $250,000 and there was no way I was going to pay that for an unproven show horse so I passed her by.

The rest is history, but, she would not have been the horse she turned out to be if I had brought her to Arizona. She needed to go down the path she went down to get the results she did. I did go back many years later and buy an embryo from her, so I did get my Lucy after all.

Leslie Lange – I had the chance to buy Zippo LTD before he was famous. Actually, he was a bit crazy at that point, and I passed on him. As they say, the rest is history.




Karen Graham
– I went to the show in Virginia to look at horses. Doug Pratt was showing Harley D Zip in the Junior Western Pleasure. Troy Oakley told me I should buy him, but he wouldn’t be for sale until after the Congress. I loved him but forgot all about him until I saw my good friend Jason Martin trying him out at Congress. I was so mad at myself for not putting a deposit on him in Virginia.


Kellie Morris
– I actually remember being grateful I didn’t purchase him because I would not have been able to do him justice. We saw him at the Tom Powers and asked for guidance from a trainer who was helping me at the time. We were advised not to purchase him because the trainer didn’t feel it was a good fit.

Perhaps the horse understood English and set out to prove us wrong and boy did he. The horse was Conclusives Bar Cody. Nancy Renfro went on with him later and did phenomenally. It just wasn’t meant to be.

I have been very fortunate to have owned some wonderful horses and always enjoyed watching them go on and enjoy further success. This is one I cheered for, but he was certainly a missed opportunity.

Jenna Dempze – I missed out on two great ones. Whatscookngoodlookin, I saw her as a two year-old in Raleigh and by the time we asked, she was already sold. I also missed out on Only A Breeze. I tried her out at the Reichert Celebration but ended up passing on her. Two great mares!




Candace Jussen – Yes. Of course, people always remember your wins but forget how much time was spent at the back of the lineup. I bought three mares from Edgewood as yearlings.

Doug Lilly and I walked through the pastures and picked two fillies and a gelding. My plan was to sell one, he show one and me show one. We were looking towards the Masters at Congress. I was thrilled.

Well, as plans often times do, they changed. I gave the gelding away; one of the fillies was not showable but went on to be one of my best broodmares, Ima Solo Loper, who is a multiple world champion producer. And the third one was Racy Rumors, the one that got away.

Troy Compton – Zippo By Moonlight. Nancy Walton Laurie was ready to write a check in Indianapolis at the State Show. Jon Barry and Dana Hunt beat me to her. She was as good as there ever was.



Larry Spratto
– I remember showing Acadamosby Award to a client when he was a two-year-old at the Tom Powers. Rick Skelly had him in training then, but my client was not interested at the time. The rest is Quarter Horse history.





Charlie Cole – I can’t really think of a horse I tried that I didn’t buy and then later regretted it. However, I do know of a horse I almost missed – Acadamosby Award. First time I saw Oscar was at the youth world in the hunter under saddle in August of 1993. I knew instantly he was the horse for 13-year-old Chelsea Knox. He had so much ring presence and just floated across the arena. We tried him out late that night around midnight, and he was a perfect fit for Chelsea, but I was afraid to buy a three-year-old for a 13-year-old kid, so we passed.

Then, we head to Congress and try every big time horse at that time, Itchin Easy, Winken Wazinger, A Certified Edition, but none made me stop thinking about Oscar. So, we go up to watch Oscar show in the first go of the Congress futurity, and he trots in stops and rears up which reassures me, he is not the horse for a 13-year-old girl. So, we leave the Congress with no horse and continue to the AQHA World Show.

At the AQHA World Show, Oscar wins the Jr Hunter Under Saddle on all five cards, but his price changes. Jason and I still haven’t found a better horse, but we aren’t courageous enough to buy a horse for that kind of money and now a reputation to uphold. We leave the World Show with no horse, and a family not happy we haven’t found a horse and losing confidence in their young trainers.

A week before Christmas, Chelsea’s dad calls and says, “We need a horse by Christmas.” So I fly out to Rick and Karen Skelly’s and go try Oscar the week before Christmas. I get to Rick’s place, and it’s cold and miserable. I don’t know why, but I was super nervous and uncomfortable, so much so that I didn’t even ride Oscar. I watched Karen ride him a little and then we loaded up and went to the vet for a pre-purchase exam. At the pre-purchase exam, we had to use Rick’s vet, and he said we couldn’t pull Oscars shoes off for the x-rays because he couldn’t get a farrier there at Christmas to replace them, so I agreed.

Oscar arrived at Highpoint the day before Christmas of 1993, and Chelsea meets him Christmas morning with a big red bow around his neck. He was the perfect horse for Chelsea. He is the horse that put Jason and me on the map. He’s still won more AQHA World Championships than any other horse, and he is and always will be my very favorite horse and the one who almost got away.

Laurel Champlin – Yes, I have great stories that include Jason Martin who was looking for a horse for me a long time ago. We flew to Ohio and tried out Steady Spirit who wasn’t well known at the time. Charlie had judged him recently and wasn’t impressed either. At the Congress, I tried out Certified Edition before he won anything, and as I was riding, he turned around and bit my foot. Jason turned him down. At the Redbud, we tried out Allocate Your Assets before Kathy Tobin purchased him. Once again, we turned him down. Just goes to show you that even the famous Jason Martin can miss one every once in a while. I forgive him because he found Skys Blue Eyes and Look N Hott for me.

Elizabeth “Spike” Brewer – There are plenty I saw as youngsters that I knew would be famous, but I wasn’t in a financial position to buy them. For example, I remember seeing, Shez Eye Candy at Wade Spells as a two-year-old, and I knew she was a great one. I couldn’t afford her, but I did call my friend, Erica (Lang) Greathouse, and said I saw this wicked horse and she ended up buying her.

At the end of the 2005 show season, we were at a show in Florida, and I saw this gorgeous brown minimal green two-year-old gelding riding around with Ann Turner. I inquired about him and asked some friends with me at the show. No one really liked him except my mom and me. I rode him, and I knew I had to have him because he was special. I bought him and I didn’t have him even a month when Wade Spell saw him and his client, Teri Luneack purchased him. I couldn’t afford to not sell him.

Certified Stride was his name and he has about 3,500 points with six riders, multiple top 3 placings at the world show and has just been an outstanding show horse for many years. He is still dominating with Meredith Landy to this day. She and I spoke at the APHA World Show last year about how special he is. It was neat to have one of his first owners and, likely, one of his last owners, share what a great horse he has been for each of them.

Paige Quarterman – In my story, I gave away what looked like a gawky, crooked legged colt as a weanling only to get it back as a two-year-old and win the Congress on it. I just got lucky he came back to me. His name was Sky Blue Heron.






Eric Mendrysa – Funny you asked that because we were just talking about this the other day. One horse that I had the chance to buy as a yearling was The Born Legacy. I was designing an ad for the breeder, and she sent me a video and picture of him and said she thought he was going to make an amazing pleasure horse and all around horse, and he was for sale.

I loved him but wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the risk on buying such a young horse. I remember seeing him at the Buckeye as a two-year-old with Ty and Karen Hornick and regretted my decision. He’s turned out to be such a cool horse and stallion. I’m excited to see his offspring in the future.

Carli Pitts – At the NSBA World, my parents looked at a horse with the Goodings named Aint Gota Lot. They were considering that horse and one other, but they decided to go with the other horse because the client wanted a horse for just the pleasure. Now, Aint Gotta Lot has gone on to win the Congress in the Senior Hunter Under Saddle. I still wish we had bought him that year.


Karen Evans Mundy
– I had already bought a weanling prospect that was at Ron Horn and June Warren’s farm. Don and I went back to Oklahoma a few months later, and there was another new baby that caught my eye. I later found out that colt was Must Be a Detail. I had a great eye, but I already had one that age, so I didn’t buy him….oh well.





Scott Reinartz – I never had one I wished I bought, but I had one I wished I had kept. I bought a weanling hunt seat prospect from Bill Bormes. I broke him out as a two-year-old, but I didn’t think he was going to be a great flat horse. I sold him as a three-year-old, and he later became a multiple World Champion in the hunter hack. I called him “Spentser” because I thought I spent a lot for him. His registered name was Naturally Broke. (laughs)


Lee Ann Koch
– My father went in search of a halter mare and saw Heavenly Ohara, but he passed on her because he knew how much I hated clipping white legs. She was high-point mare a few years later.






Has this happened to you? Let us know! We’d love to hear your story. Please comment below or on our Facebook page.


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