By Frank J. Buchman
“They’ve done really well.”
Lee Reeve returned a call Thursday afternoon from his Reeve Cattle Company office at Garden City.
April issue of Quarter Horse Journal arrived the day before picturing his horse Ima Petite Classic as one of the highpoint event winners in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) for 2014.
Likely best part of the recognition, especially among world-elite Quarter Horses, is that his daughter Darcy rode the horse to one of three titles and was a major help in two other categories.
“We were pleased with the results of Kramer, that’s what we call Ima Petite Classic, and Darcy, and all they’ve done during the past year, and in their careers showing together,” Reeve admitted.
With Darcy mounted, Ima Petite Classic earned the highpoint title in amateur western riding. “Kramer is kept at High Point Performance Horses in Pilot Point, Texas, and the AQHA professional horseman Charlie Cole is his trainer. Charlie rode Kramer to also earn the yearend highpoint honors in open western riding,” Reeve immediately credited.
For clarification, “western riding” is the name for a specific event within western competition where a horse performs a series of lead-change maneuvers.
Perhaps most impressive of Kramer’s accomplishments is that he was honored as the reserve all-around champion AQHA senior horse.
Kramer competed in additional events including trail, pole bending and versatility among others, if points were needed to collect a championship as show tallies neared end, the proud rider-dad and horse owner revealed.
Tabulations of the past yearend numbers indicate Kramer collected 396 points to take the reserve all-around recognition, collected 205 open western riding points, and with Darcy aboard, 80 points for the amateur award.
Bred by partners Kramer and Davis in Bradenton, Florida, Ima Petite Classic is a 16-year-old black gelding by the stallion named Petite Lord by Lord Sonny, and out of a Jolly Van Bar daughter called Sheza Classy Kitty. Sunny Dee Bar, Three Par, Missile Bar and El Clabbadore are known sires in the fourth generation of the winner’s pedigree.
While Lee Reeve is a “true cattleman,” he’s not one “in the saddle.” He operates the 40,000-head Reeve Cattle Company, Inc., feedlot in Finney County, his business since 1972, and obviously a story in itself.
“We have horses that are an important part of the feedlot operations, but I’ve never really been into riding and using horses much personally. Our oldest daughter Kelley, six years older than Darcy, was a ‘horse crazy kid,’ and actually the one who got us started in the show horse business,” Reeve clarified.
Darcy followed in her big sister’s boot steps, so to speak riding in horseshows. “Kelley competed successfully in major Quarter Horse shows throughout the country, had the world champion trail horse that was also the highpoint trail horse in the nation in 2004.
“But, like many kids, Kelley got involved in other activities during college, and away from horse showing,” said Reeve, personally a 1971 agriculture economics graduate from Kansas State University.
Now a senior at Kansas State University, Darcy has continued heavy in horse showing, moving from collecting many youth division titles, to amateur competition. “Darcy is really fortunate to have two outstanding Quarter Horses,” dad Reeve noted.
A Certain Vino, a 2003 brown gelding, is her mount in western pleasure competition, and an elite Quarter Horse in his own right.
“Vino, as we call him, has won more than a dozen AQHA world championships, including youth, amateur and open divisions, as well as a number of awards, and more than $200,000 prize money, in the National Snaffle Bit Association,” Reeve tabulated.
Sired by Certain Potential, and out of the mare, Dotevita by Zippo Jack Bar, Vino was bred by Tim and Lou Petty of Ocala, Florida, and is at home in Jamestown, Ohio, with trainer Karen Hornick, who shows him in the open division.
“Vino is a one-of-a-kind horse,” Darcy credited. “He loves the hype and wants to win more than anyone. If any horse deserves the name ‘Vino’ he does, because Vino just seems to get better every year, and you can always win him over with peppermints.”
Quickly Dad emphasized, “Yes, but Kramer is the versatile one. He had the highest score ever in western riding at the AQHA World Show and also the highest score ever in trail riding at the American Quarter Horse Congress.”
Okay, Darcy acknowledged, “Kramer is a perfect pattern horse. I swear, though, it’s the pole bending in the versatility class that just makes him give in to life.”
Reams of paper would be required to list all of the achievements of the Reeve horses, Kramer and Vino. But, suffice to know when either one’s name or their owners are mentioned, ears perk, eyes know, and there’s automatic agreed recognition as two of the best ever in the Quarter Horse breed.
So, with the opportunity to ride two Quarter Horses of such incredible ability, which one is the rider’s favorite?
“They are both so different in my mind,” Darcy replied. “Everyone asks me who my favorite is, and I can’t choose. They are both perfect.
“Kramer is the kind of horse that if I want to get on and ride bareback around the fairgrounds I could. You can just do whatever you want on him. With Vino, you kind of have to be careful, because he wants to get happy. Kramer is the older horse, but he acts like the younger one. He definitely has the energy,” Darcy described.
The 23-year-old exhibitor will graduate next month with a degree in advertising and a minor in geology. Juggling college classes to compete in all of the shows has been a task in itself. “It’s difficult, but I love what I do, and I sit down, and make myself manage it,” Darcy admitted.
Horseshow success involves many factors. Outcome can be influenced by first off the horse itself, then widely varying show conditions, different riders, weather and numerous other variables.
“Kramer and Vino have been there and done that; they’ve been in just about every situation imaginable, adapted to them all, to be consistent winners,” Reeve evaluated.
Because of limited time, the Reeve family is selective about which horse shows are entered. “We work for the major events, those with lots of entries, and several judges, so a horse can accumulate many points in just one weekend,” Reeve said.
Explaining that the family is not in the Quarter Horse production business, Reeve said his daughters have acquired young horses at times and competed in futurities with various successes, but then dispersed the horses.
What’s the future for the world class Quarter Horses owned by Lee Reeve? “Kramer and Vino are getting older, but they are sound, and with good maintenance are still very competitive,” Reeve said.
“Darcy will likely continue showing, although it depends on where her career takes her after she graduates,” he added.
Still interested in the horses and closely following her family’s horse achievements, Kelley is engaged to be married. “I would predict her children will be involved with horses, and she’ll become a horseshow mom, maybe start riding some on her own again,” Dad commented.
“Quarter Horses have been good to us. We’re fortunate to have owned some of the very best. I expect to be a horseshow grandpa and keep cheering all of the family on riding Quarter Horses,” Reeve concluded.