"If we had more horses like Monkey, they would require so much less work both physically and mentally than many of the horses in the show pen now," Kari told us. Photo © Superlative Equine

Up-and-Coming Stallion, Gone Viral, Lives Up to His Name in 2017

The year 2017 couldn’t have been better for Kari Craft and her young stallion, Gone Viral. This talented and breathtaking stallion took the show arena by storm and racked up numerous wins at the most prestigious events in the country.

Gone Viral, better known as “Monkey” has already lived up to his name in one show season and now, there is high demand for him in the breeding arena.

GoHorseShow sat down with Kari to talk more about her incredible year and plans for the future.

GoHorseShow: Hi Kari! Thanks for sitting down with us. So, tell me about your background. Where are you from? How did you get involved with horses?

Kari: I grew up and still live in Georgia. We now live on Lake Oconee, halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, and we are absolutely loving lake life. I live here with my husband, Mitch and our seven-year-old son, Brooks. I live about 20 minutes from my trainer, Jason English, and my boys, Gone Viral, James Deen Daydream and Its A Southern Dream.

I started riding before I was born – in my mom’s belly when she was pregnant with me. I got my first pony, Rose, when I was seven and she was the best Christmas present I have ever received. She would take me under tree limbs as she ran full-speed back to the barn. She taught me a lot though. She lived to be over 40.

Then, I graduated to my trail riding horse, Fancy and later on to my first show horse, Sweet Spot. I started showing 4H in 1997, and then quickly begged my mom to start letting me show AQHA and started riding with Jason when he was an assistant trainer with Michael Colvin in 2000. My childhood horse, Boog, is 35 this year and still doing great.

GoHorseShow: Tell me about your stallion, Gone Viral, who is affectionately known as Monkey.

Kari: Monkey is a 2014 stallion by No Doubt Im Lazy out of Suddenly Style N, who is a full sister to The Rock. He is a two-time Congress Champion, two-time Reserve Congress Champion, AQHA L1 Champion, four-time NSBA World Champion, two-time BCF Champion, Buckeye Classic Champion, Tom Powers Champion, Show for Dough Champion, Hylton Maiden Reserve Champion and The Little Futurity Novice Horse Slot Class Reserve Champion. His NSBA Earnings thus far for 2017 are over $60,000.

GoHorseShow: How did you find him?

Kari: Jason saw him as a weanling at Waymond Robert’s farm, and he loved him. Then, he saw him again as a yearling and loved him. Then, as a two-year-old, Waymond sent him to Jason to work with him and he rode him for the first time and fell in love. I came to the barn to see my gelding, Hotrod, and across the aisleway, there was Monkey.

First thing I noticed was his forelock – it was huge and luxurious and I always wanted a horse with a forelock that thick. Jason said, you have to see him, so he took him out in the round pen and let him jog and lope around. He was gorgeous. I said, “I want him” and both Jason and my mom just laughed. I don’t know why because I was dead serious.

So time passed and they brought him to Virginia for the Hylton Maiden. I watched him and I loved him. I told Jason I wanted him. He laughed again. I was like, come on, what’s the deal here? So, then I said, “Well if I can’t buy him, can I at least just ride him?” He ignored my question (laughs). Well, at the Tom Powers, I had had enough, took Jason to the side and said, “I want him. What’s it going to take?” I took a selfie with him, sent Jason a picture and said, “Monkey wants to be a Monkey Craft.”

Then, a week later, at the Big A, we all finally decided that Monkey needed to be mine. I rode him for the first time there, and I had chills. My mom watched him and said, “That’s the first horse of yours that I have ever wanted to ride.”

GoHorseShow: What do you think is unique about him?

Kari: Monkey is so much more like a gelding than a stallion with his easy-going, pleasant personality. He is the whole package. It’s difficult to pick just one thing that is so special about him because I just think everything about him is exceptional. If I had to pick one, it would be his mind. He is quiet, kind, willing, trainable and only wants to do his job, and he does it so well. He is the same every day and truly seems to love what he does. It just comes so natural to him. Jason never had to teach him how to jog and lope. He simply just taught him how to hold his body and taught him the pace.

Monkey knows when it’s time to show and he puts his game face on and goes in there and shines. Then, the minute he’s finished showing his little personality comes out, and he starts sticking his tongue out and turning around for neck scratches.

GoHorseShow: What are you favorite wins this year?

Kari: My favorite win with him this year is when Jason won the Open 3-Year-Olds at the Congress. Our whole barn was sitting in the stands cheering him on. It was just so much fun to sit there as a group, all supporting him and wanting him to win. When they called the last judge and he was first, we knew he won and all of us just started screaming. It was so fun.

NSBA World was also great. I showed him in the Intermediate and Open Non-Pro Western Pleasure, and we won both. It was my second time showing him and he was great. He is straightforward to show and he makes you feel beautiful while you are out there loping around. I felt great about our ride that day so winning both the divisions was amazing.

That show was amazing. He won every class he was in and we had to haul a wheel barrel down to the photography place to hold all his trophies for a win picture. Shows like that don’t happen often. It may never happen again in my lifetime, so we are just living in the moment, soaking it all in, just enjoying our time with this special horse.

GoHorseShow: Jason English – what’s it like to work with him?

Kari: Jason is the brother I never had and one of my lifelong best friends. I’ve known him since I was 15 and have been riding with him for over 17 years. We respect each other’s opinions and I trust him with everything that has to do with my horses. He makes having the horses very easy for me because I know that he has things in control and it’s nice to sit back and see that he has my best interests at heart.

At the shows, he works so hard to make sure my horses are always ready. He pours his whole heart and soul into these animals and truly loves them with his entire heart. The most significant thing for me is that my horses are taken care of and loved and I know they are with him. He loves the horses like a parent loves their child and it just makes my heart happy.

GoHorseShow: Do you have any breeding info on Monkey?

Kari: Monkey’s stud fee for this year is $1,500. He is standing at Parker Farms with Gene Parker. At this time, we are not offering any specials but hope to next year. He is in the Western Pleasure Super Sires, Premier Quarter Sires and the NSBA SIF.

GoHorseShow:  What are next year’s plans with him?

Kari: Our goal is to bring him back after the 2018 breeding season in June and take him to all the major summer futurities, NSBA World, Congress and the AQHA World. Jason will show him in the Open Maturities and I will show him in the Non-Pro Maturities.

For my entire life, I had a goal of winning the AQHA World in horsemanship. I accomplished that in 2007 and I had set another goal after that to win the western pleasure, but that is so incredibly hard. You have to have such an exceptional horse that I wasn’t sure if it was possible for me, but with Gone Viral, I am hoping to accomplish that goal next year.

After the AQHA World Show in 2018, we may retire him from the western pleasure and let him just be a stallion, or we may teach him the western riding. I would love to ride him in a western riding pattern. He is so soft and smooth, it already feels like I’m floating when I’m riding him. I can’t imagine how a western riding pattern would feel.

GoHorseShow: Why should mare owners breed to him?

Kari: We were going to wait until 2019 to start breeding Monkey. However, there was so much interest in him. Jason and I didn’t want to wait another whole year to start riding his babies, so we decided to stand him in 2018. If we had more horses like Monkey, they would require so much less work both physically and mentally than many of the horses in the show pen now. Monkey can go a month without work, just being turned out, and he comes back the same horse, mentally and movement-wise. He does not require much preparation and knock on wood, has never had any vet work, which is somewhat unheard of these days. We just cannot wait to start riding his babies. We hope they are just like him.

GoHorseShow: Can you tell us a little more about Monkey’s personality?

Kari: Monkey is so sweet natured. He loves to sleep and is always taking power naps at shows. We like to go in there and lay with him and give him muzzle scratches while he is sleeping. We’ll even move his food and hay underneath his nose, so he doesn’t have to get up to eat. He knows when it’s show time and he gets serious. It’s so funny, he has a focused look on his face before and while he is showing and then, when he goes to the lineup, that tongue starts flopping and he looks around at me for neck scratches. He has a spot on the top of his butt that he loves to be scratched. He will move his whole butt to you to keep you scratching it. He’s a sweet little clown.

I call him Mr. Wonderful because I’m not sure there is anything that could be more wonderful about him. The other day when I was riding, I loped him off and rode about 10 strides and looked over at Jason and said, “Oh my gosh, I am floating.” I wish everyone could experience riding a horse like him just once. The best way to describe riding him is like riding a Great White Shark. He is strong and brave and is just pure muscle and floats across the ground like he is gliding through water. His ears are always forward, and he only slowly moves, effortlessly. Monkey makes you feel elegant and pretty when you are riding him. He loves his job and is the same every time we go out to ride him. He is just Mr. Wonderful.

GoHorseShow: What are some of your favorite memories from this year?

Kari: My favorite memory is Jason’s Open 3-year-old win at Congress. My mom and I were sitting in the stands along with everyone else in the barn, and everyone was just so cheerful and happy hoping that Jason and Monkey would win. We have a supportive group, and everyone was so excited. This whole year has been a dream come true. I really can’t pick just one moment, but I will remember this year for my entire life. It may never happen again, but the fact that it happened to me once in my life, is enough.

GoHorseShow: Congratulations on having a fantastic 2017 and we wish you the best of luck in 2018.

Kari: Thank you and you are welcome!

Gone Viral will be standing in 2018 to a limited number of mares at Gene Parker Farms in Orrum, NC. Shipped semen is available. He is 5 panel negative.

Shannon@parkerfarms.com, 843-455-4434
Geneparker@parkerfarms.com, 910-258-1616

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Photos © Shane Rux