You’re My Best Friend: What About Bob and The Snooty Fox are BFFs in Retirement
Recently, we received word that two of AQHA’s most iconic geldings, What About Bob and The Snooty Fox, are happily living out their days together in retirement.
Both now twenty-six, these AQHA war horses are still as beautiful as they were twenty years ago and still have their giant personalities to go along with their flashy looks.
We decided to catch up with their former and current owners to take a trip down memory lane and see what they are up to now.
Let’s just say it is all serendipitous and just about perfect in every way.
What About Bob
The 1991 bay gelding by Im Surrounded and out of Bobalots has touched a lot of hearts over the years and has been owned and loved by Camilla Cumberland, the Van Pelt family, Tammy Dyer and Sharnai Thompson, Meghan Momont, Carrie Jo Sack, and current owner Johnna Letchworth (pictured right) of Horace, North Dakota.
His legacy includes superiors in multiple events including hunter under saddle, western pleasure, western horsemanship, showmanship, trail, hunt seat equitation, and halter. He has earned nearly $16,000 in the AQHA incentive fund and was a head turner from day one.
Camilla Cumberland said, “I went to buy this four-month-old weanling, and when I saw him lope two steps, I said, ‘wow did you see that?’ and bought him.”
She named the colt, What About Bob, and affectionately called him “Murray” after Bill Murray from the film of the same name.
Cumberland and Murray won the Tom Powers longe line futurity in both the open and the non-pro.
“This was when you had to go to all three Tom Powers shows and when the longe line classes were three to five lines deep,” she said. “It was a very exciting time. People would follow me back to the stall trying to buy him, but he was the all around horse I dreamed of having. He could jog and long trot and lope beside you while leading him to the turn out field.”
During Murray’s two-year-old year he sustained an injury while preparing for the Congress. After six months off, Cumberland went on to show him as a three-year-old in the English events.
“Then he re-injured himself and was off for a year and when he came back this time every one told me it was time to sell him,” she said. “So reluctantly I did and never forgave myself for doing it. That horse could do every event out there. The dream horse of a lifetime.”
“I think it was the name we gave him that everyone could remember, people would ride by me and say, ‘So .. What About Bob?’ then we would all laugh. I would say ‘I know… What About Bob?’”
Tammy Dyer and Sharnai Thompson purchased Murray from the Van Pelt family and Rusty Green in 2000.
“At that point, he was just doing the flat classes, but he was so unique because he was doing both the western pleasure and the hunter under saddle,” said Thompson.
Perhaps fittingly, Thompson was also ready to make the next step in her career as she had never done English.
“I remember sitting at the tack store with Valerie (Kearns) all loaded up with English tack and clothes just waiting for the call that he passed the vet check, and we were cleared to buy the stuff,” she chuckled. “He started my English career.”
Thompson still rides and shows in the same English saddle she purchased that day.
But there was one thing he wasn’t that great at; trail. Except for once.
“He was really almost too smart for the trail and a little too big,” said Thompson. “I didn’t really know what I was doing either. One year, at the Congress Brad and Valerie (Kearns) weren’t there as they were awaiting the arrival of their daughter, and I was all alone. We showed in the Youth Trail and ended up Reserve. We had never won a prize in the trail before, and I don’t think we ever did again.”
“But that’s what the great ones do. They step up when you need them, and that’s exactly what Murray did.”
In 2004, Murray found his way to Johnna Letchworth and his forever home.
Johnna’s mother, AQHA judge and Professional Horsewoman, Gretchen Mathes said, “Murray came to us at a low point in our lives and in his. I had a little girl who had lost her gelding, (I’m A Top Notch Poco) and Murray had really fallen out of favor. He was talented, beautiful, and had a great show record but he wasn’t easy and you had to treat him with respect or it wasn’t going to work.”
Of course, pressure from a daughter who wanted to have a horse to show after suffering such loss, reassurance from Gene Spagnola, and Mathes’ own belief that if you treat a horse fairly and take great care of them; Mathes took the plunge and purchased Murray for Johnna. (pictured left)
That same year, Johnna and Murray were crowned the 12-14 Hunt Seat Equitation Congress Champions, and in 2005, they won it again as well as the All-Around.
“It was the only time I have placed in every class (at the Congress),” Letchworth said.
And even though being crowned the Congress All-Around Champion is an incredibly prestigious honor, Letchworth’s fondest memory of her time in the show pen with Murray was in the preliminaries in the Youth Trail at the AQHYA World Show.
“I don’t remember what year it was, but we scored a 235.5, and I almost fell off when they announced my score,” she chuckled. “Everything just came together, and it was one of the greatest moments.”
Like the owners before her, Letchworth noted that Murray always knew when it mattered but didn’t hesitate to test her plenty of times even though she maintains he was always quiet and sweet about it.
“I am just so grateful that he’s mine,” she continued. “He was always so quiet and I got to do stupid youth kid things on him like the egg race or just ride bareback everywhere because he would take care of me. If there were more horses like Murray in the world, the world would be a better place.”
The Snooty Fox
The 1991 brown gelding by Mister Passer and out of Helenetta Pie has also been an iconic gelding in AQHA history and has been owned by Amanda Morris (Rambo), The Trucco Family, Kerith Gray, Kara Jo Cecil, and current owner, Brooke Ingstad of Fargo, North Dakota.
He has amassed over 800 points in the Hunter Under Saddle alone and boasts ten superiors and an impressive $19,965.63 in AQHA Incentive Fund earnings.
Amanda Morris (Rambo, pictured left) purchased “Snooty” in 1995 right before he won the Junior Western Riding at the AQHA World Show with Stephanie Lynn aboard.
“That silly horse taught me so much,” she chuckled. “We were both so young when we started as a team. I always remember he was quite possibly the worst showmanship horse ever. I think he hated it as much as I did.”
Despite his indifference to showmanship, Morris said her most memorable accomplishments were the countless all-around awards they received, all the miles they traveled, and the lifelong friends they met along the way.
“He is one of the smartest horses I have ever partnered with,” she said. “As aggravating as that big, beautiful horse was, he was equally amazing. He was my once in a lifetime, and I will never have another one like him.”
In 2003, at the Florida Gold Coast Circuit, the Trucco family purchased Snooty (who at the time was called Fred) for their daughter Alissa. (pictured left)
Alissa was under the guidance of Bruce Vickery and Sue Ellen Kaven who had been tirelessly searching for a new horse for Alissa to start the 14-18.
“Alissa thought they were just grasping at any horse to buy for her because he certainly did not fit the western part of her criteria,” said Alissa’s mom, Libby. “It only took one trip around the arena and two lead changes before she decided this was the horse for her.”
Trucco said on the way home Alissa didn’t think the name “Fred” fit Snooty’s big stature and toyed with renaming him Zeus but was afraid of the superstition of bad luck following a barn name change. Ultimately, she figured “Snooty” was a safer bet and that became his new barn name.
Together, Alissa and Snooty went on to amass 341.5 total performance points.
Trucco shared a known ritual her daughter had with Snooty.
“At every show, Alissa would give Snooty a handful of Frosted Mini-Wheats before the hunter under saddle and the western riding. If he performed to the best of his ability, she would pull a few peppermints from her pocket and reward him.”
The Trucco family eventually sold Snooty to Brooke Ingstad who purchased him when she was thirteen, and he was fourteen.
Ingstad said, “He had the most horrible vet check ever with twenty bone chips in one joint, but he never had a lame day in his life, and he showed until he was seventeen.”
Ingstad and Snooty (pictured right) always placed in the top ten at the AQHA Congress, clinching third in the hunter under saddle and fourth in the western riding one year.
“Snooty taught me how to be a great showman and how to anticipate my horse’s next move,” she said. “He was older when I got him, so he knew a lot of tricks and taught me not to be naive and how to stay one step ahead of your horse. Every day that goes by I am more appreciative that he is in my life.”
Ingstad credited Snooty for her continued success and said she honestly doesn’t believe she would go on to be as successful as she is if it weren’t for Snooty.
“Snooty is the prime example of what I feel an American Quarter Horse should be,” she said. “From the time he was three years old until he retired at seventeen, he was always relevant and always very competitive. He has always had a sass about him, and everyone knew him. He is super charismatic, but sometimes naughty.”
Ingstad’s mom, Vicki said, “From a mother’s standpoint, I feel Snooty made Brooke smile and cry more than any other horse she has ever owned. He was known for jumping the log in the western riding patterns with her. At his last All American Quarter Horse Congress, Brooke had a great western riding pattern, and we all held our breath as she approached the log (it was at the end). Maybe he knew it was his Congress grand finale, as he loped over the log perfectly and they ended up 5th overall that year/4th in NSBA.”
Mark Harrell, who also showed Snooty at one point had this to share.
“When I got him, everyone told me not to drive him. So I did,” he said. “Drove him all winter outside and took him to Florida and he was great. Ended up being top ten at the Congress that fall. I think everyone tried but he scared them to death. He trusted me and I respected him. He’s my all-time favorite horse I’ve ever got to show and haul.”
Both Murray and Snooty retired in 2008 but didn’t find each other until last year when Murray made the trip back from Tammy Dyer’s ranch in Texas to Johnna in North Dakota, where Snooty has been since the Ingstads purchased him.
“He gets turned out every day, and we do ride once in awhile,” Letchworth said of Murray. “He gets spoiled with treats. I am pretty sure he thinks all treats are good treats and doesn’t have a favorite.”
Letchworth shared that last winter on a particularly frigid day of -36F, she and her husband, Brett Clark had both Murray and Snooty turned out in the indoor arena.
“Brett went to dump manure and accidentally left the gate open,” she chuckled. “Next thing I know, here I am cleaning a stall and here come Murray and Snooty parading around the barn like they own the place. It took a while to catch them too.”
Recently, Impulse Photography did a photoshoot with the famous geldings and their beautiful blondes.
Ingstad shared that when Snooty was showing, he was notorious for getting away from whoever tried to longe him and when they did the shot of the boys in the barn she got a little nervous.
“He snorted the whole time,” she laughed. “I was just waiting for him to take off, but he didn’t.”
Mathes quipped, “Oh my, the stories those two must tell each other.”
One thing is for certain, they both did it their way and are enjoying their new life as BFFs.
Happy retirement fellas!
About Chenay: A Tucson, Arizona native Chenay started riding Pony Hunters at 6 years old until she found a passion for Paint horses in 1993. She began showing at APHA approved shows in November of that year and continued on with a successful Youth career until 2000. She went on to graduate from the University of Arizona in 2006 with a dual Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. Today, she lives in Yucaipa, California with her husband, son, and lots of animals, including a rescued APHA mare.
Photos © Impulse Photography, Jeff Kirkbride, KC Montgomery