Fort Worth, TX – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) recently announced the five finalists for the Horse of the Year. One of them is the American Paint Horse reining phenomenon Colonels Nite Special (also known as Gunners Special Nite AQHA). The Horse of the Year award is the top equine honor across the span of equine breeds and equestrian disciplines governed by the USEF.
Ridden by top reining competitor, Tom McCutcheon of Aubrey, Texas, the pair were an instrumental part of the success of the U.S. Reining Team at the World Equestrian Games earlier this year. The team won a third consecutive Gold medal by the largest margin in history. In the Individual Finals at the Games, Colonels Nite Special and McCutcheon brought the crowd to its feet with a phenomenal performance. Their score of 228 clenched the win and the distinction as one of the finest demonstrations of reining in history. McCutcheon is also nominated for the USEF Equestrian of the Year award.
McCutcheon has high praise for the stallion, “He’s just such a great horse. Sometimes you walk out of there patting yourself on the back and thinking you did a great job, but that horse just makes me look good. He’s easy. He’s a superstar.”
Colonels Nite Special is a 6-year-old sorrel solid Paint-bred stallion also registered with the American Quarter Horse Association. His sire, Colonels Smokingun, known as “Gunner” throughout the reining industry, is the top Paint Horse reining sire in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA). His dam is Mifs Doll AQHA, sired by Mifillena AQHA. Colonels Nite Special was bred by Kim and Debra Sloan of Newfoundland, N.J., and is currently owned by Sarah B. Willeman of Turnabout Farm in Gloucester, Maine. The horse is the 2007 NRHA Futurity Intermediate Open Champion and has over $235,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings.
“The American Paint Horse Association is proud to have this horse represent our breed and to be recognized with the nomination for the USEF Horse of the Year,” said Lex Smurthwaite, Executive Director of the American Paint Horse Association. “This horse has excelled at the top international level at the World Equestrian Games as well as the top levels for the National Reining Horse Association. He is truly worthy of this award and we hope that all of our members and his fans vote for him.”
Horse of the Year voting is taking place through Tuesday, January 11, 2011. USEF members and other eligible individuals may vote at usef.org. The winner will be announced during the USEF Pegasus Awards on Saturday, January 22, 2011, in Lexington, Kentucky.
More About APHA
Currently, American Paint Horses are being registered at APHA’s Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters at a rate of more than 30,000 horses each year. APHA has registered more than 981,000 horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded 48 years ago, and now serves approximately 85,000 active members around the world. APHA, a non-profit organization, prides itself on community involvement and educating the public about the beauty and talent of the breed. Among its many activities, APHA works to preserve bloodlines and maintain the outstanding characteristics of Paint Horses. For more information, visit the Association’s website at apha.com http://apha.com/> or call (817) 834-APHA (2742).
Photo Below: US Team rider Tom McCutcheon and Colonels Nite Special (Gunners Special Nite AQHA) won two Gold medals at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by: FEI.