The Legendary Invitation Only Laid to Rest at 29
Over the years, the words most used to describe the late, great Invitation Only (Invy) would be “legendary,” “incomparable,” “once-in-a-lifetime,” and “record-breaker.” The 1990 brown stallion was by Barpassers Image and out of Bears Raisin Kane by Mr Kane Raiser. Invy was bred by Gene and Frieda Maxwell of Waterford, California and was owned by Fritz and Carole Leeman of Leeman Farm in Massillon, Ohio.
Invitation Only’s foals have earned $5.3 million and have earned more than 103,000 points in AQHA competition. He has sired 27 AQHA World Champions and 34 Reserve AQHA World Champions with get earning 477 Superiors.
His offspring amassed $2,856,291 in NSBA Earnings, $1,201,185 in AQHA Incentive Fund earnings as well as $512,681 during the AQHA World Championship Show. He is also a member of the NSBA Hall of Fame and will unquestionably be inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.
In 1996, AQHA Hall of Fame stallion Zippo Pine Bar held the number one spot as the all-time leading sire by points earned. But on October 14, 2014, it all changed when Invitation Only’s offspring reached 77,064 points, surpassing Zippo Pine Bar with 77,061.5 points earned by his get.
Some of his famous offspring include Only In The Moonlite, Fantastic Invitation, Hot Ones Only, Zippin The Breeze, Hope By Invitation, Only A Breeze, One Hot Krymsun and For One Night Only, to name a few.
GoHorseShow was honored to talk to the many trainers, breeders and owners who were associated with Invitation Only at one time during his lifetime.
David James – Invy was so incredibly special in so many ways. I watched him take his first breath, saddled him for his first ride, showed him the first time and bred him to his first set of mares. I always felt that God had His hand on him and was using him to bless me. The name I chose for him reflects that anything I have or have achieved is directly linked to three generations of great horses – Barpasser, Barpassers Image and Invitation Only. Invitation Only changed my life.
Roger Landis – The highlight in my lifelong career in the horse business was presenting Invitation Only at the Congress for his lifetime achievement award. Everyone was worried Invy would be scared or stressed for the presentation. When Invy took that first step in the arena with the spotlight on us walking down the red carpet, my heart swelled knowing I was leading the best horse ever to live.
Debbi Trubee – He was the most amazing specimen of horseflesh I have ever laid my eyes on. Invy never failed to strike a pose and show the world what perfection was. The look in his eye was one of greatness; it was palpable to anyone who had the honor of standing in his presence. There will never be another like him. It was our highest honor to care for him and his legacy. Godspeed, Invy…know that you were loved and respected by so very many.
Jeff Long – He was the sire of Hope By Invitation, my first Congress and World Champion and one of the greatest pleasure horses ever. He is also the sire of Only In The Moonlite who I won the Masters on and came back the following year and won the Three-Year-Old Open Western Pleasure – the only horse to ever do that. So given how these horses were a significant impact on my career as many other Invitation Only’s I rode, I will be forever grateful to David James for giving the world the opportunity to see and breed to a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Invy has done so many great things for our industry – it’s mind-boggling. He set the bar for beauty, conformation, movement and talent, all in one horse. There will never be as extraordinary of an individual in my lifetime. There will always be only one Invitation Only. It’s quite an honor to be part of his great legacy.
Milt Alderman – I was very blessed to have been with him through three breeding seasons – a legendary stallion that brought the great mares to the farm. He always got peppermints after he collected. Quite the personality – just like a movie star.
Lauren Erk of Leeman Farm – We were the ones able to give him the best end of life. We can’t claim any of his most significant accomplishments, but we were able to give him a well-deserved retirement and peppermints by the truckload. He was exceptional and all of his achievements he did on his own. David James is indeed the one person who got Invy started on the right track. We knew when we acquired Invy, he wouldn’t have many long years left. We just wanted to make sure the ones he had remaining would be the best we could give. Two of the most special times in a horse’s life is when they are born and when they pass. We are honored to have been there for one of those times. Greg Bender was indeed Invy’s person while he was here. He was dedicated to his everyday wellbeing and would spend a great deal of time grooming and taking care of him.
Gretchen Mathes – Invitation Only has been kind to us here at Powder Brook Farm. Our mare, Fantastic Invitation, is one of the greatest show mares there has ever been. She won for everyone that ever showed her, was kind to all of them and looked good doing it – over 2,600 points. She is the gift that keeps on giving. We have had many other Invitation Only’s – Bronzed Invitation, Only If Im Good, Figure Im Invited and many others because he has producing sons that have impacted our program as well. They are intelligent, trainable, good looking and sound. What more can I say?
Charlie Cole – We rode many Invitation Only’s, and they were always beautiful and talented. Jason was the first to win a world championship on an Invitation Only. He won the Senior Western Riding on A Special Invitation back in 1999 or 2000.
Kathryn Frederick – Dan and I were very saddened to hear of his passing and honestly were just talking last night about his age and how remarkable it was that he was still alive; that is a testament to the extraordinary care he has received in his lifetime. In studying statistics, I believe it is well documented that the cross of Invitation Only on our mare, Zippin The Breeze, was the most prolific cross about the western pleasure industry. Regarding the top four money earning mares by Invitation, as just reported on Facebook, the top two mares were out of Zippin The Breeze. To say that Invy had an impact on our breeding operation and our family is an understatement. He put us on the map. We were blessed to have a phenomenal broodmare and blessed that the cross on Invy was so successful. We lost Breeze just over three years ago. Invitation was always Breeze’s main man, and I imagine that she and Invy are now grazing Heaven’s pastures together.
GoHorseShow would like to send our deepest condolences to everyone who has been associated with this once-in-a-lifetime sire throughout his career. We had the honor of visiting Invy in 2015. RIP Big Guy!