With his floating jog, signature driving lope, and gentle temperament, Zips Chocolate Chip was the epitome of the all-around sire. Bred, owned, and loved by Ann and Phil Myers of Myers Horse Farms in Ashland, Ohio, Zips Chocolate Chip’s potential was apparent to Ann from birth. By Zippo Pine Bar and out of Fancy Blue Chip, ‘Chip’ was an elegant, long-legged foal with his mother’s kind brown eyes and his sire’s natural talent.
“As a baby, Chip was a standout,” Ann recalled. “Everywhere he went, he was very graceful. He floated. He was balanced. He never went through that stumbly, fumbly stage that some foals do with their long legs. He also had a lot of presence and was very eye-catching. I loved him, but that’s easy for me to say because he was in my backyard. I had no idea then that he’d become beloved around the world someday.”
Although the exceptional 1985 bay American Quarter Horse stallion passed away in 2015 at the age of 30, Chip continues to make an impact on the industry at large as well as in the lives of his owners and the owners of his talented progeny.
AHEAD OF HIS TIME
Originally bred by the Myers in the hopes of producing a quality stallion to keep in their own barn, Chip’s talent quickly outpaced Ann’s hopes and dreams for the exceptional colt. For Chip’s first futurity event, he was entered in the 2-year-old class at the 1987 Texas Breeders’ Futurity.
“When we went to the futurity, I remember sitting in the stands, watching the other trainers warm up their prospects in the arena. Chip looked so young and so little because most of the other horses were born in January, and he’d been born in May. They looked so much bigger and more mature. I felt so intimidated,” Ann confessed. “Then they held the class, and he just had that specialness about him. He placed first under all five judges! We were total unknowns, and I think everybody was in shock, including me.”
That unexpected victory proved to be the first of many for Chip, who went on to compete in five futurities as a 2-year-old and five more as a 3-year-old. Of those ten futurities, the stallion won seven and placed reserve in three. In 1989, Chip won ten American Quarter Horse Association Western pleasure classes in a row to qualify for the AQHA World Championship Show. The pair then went on to unanimously win the junior Western pleasure at the 1989 AQHA World Championship Show. With every victory, Chip began to set a precedent for the ideal Western pleasure mount.
“He was so ahead of his time because people were still showing many different types of horses in Western pleasure at that time. Chip was on the cutting edge because people weren’t breeding specifically for Western pleasure horses, but he was already the perfect example of what you’d want in a Western pleasure horse,” Ann said. “It was easy for him. That’s what was so neat about watching him go. He had that little precise two-beat jog, that slow, deep, driving lope, a level topline, and a big, brown, kind eye. He also always wore his happy ears, and he was a beautiful mahogany bay with those four little white socks. Chip just had the whole package.”
Over the course of his show career, Chip earned 81 AQHA Western pleasure points and $59,443.25 in show winnings. In addition to his stellar performance in the show pen, Chip was a crowd favorite at shows and events because of his signature chocolate chip cookie recipe. Ann perfected the recipe over time and enjoyed sharing it with people everywhere Chip went.
“People would take a bite out of Chip’s cookies and their eyes would get so bright,” Ann remembered. “I just thought if they loved his cookies, that would help them love the horse even more!”
MAKING AN IMPACT
After his victory at the 1989 AQHA World Championship Show, Chip retired to stand at stud at the same farm as his famous sire, Zippo Pine Bar. To date, Chip has sired more than 1,700 foals, that are located all over the world. Chip’s offspring have won more than 20 AQHA world championship titles, 12 AQHA reserve world championships titles, 52 All American Quarter Horse Congress championships, and countless other titles in five other organizations, including the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) and the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC). Collectively, his progeny have earned more than 44,380 AQHA points and more than $2 million in earnings through the AQHA Incentive Fund, AQHA World Championship Show, and National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA). In 1999, Chip became the first horse to ever be inducted into the NSBA Hall of Fame as both a show horse and a breeding horse. Then, in 2017, the legendary stallion was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.
Although his prowess as a show horse and a sire are undeniable, for Ann, the real success behind Chip is the joy he has brought to her and the lives of countless others.
“I still have people email me and send me photos and tell me all about their Chip grandbabies and great-grandbabies,” Ann said. “I love those feel-good stories about how the owners and their horses connect. It doesn’t really matter to me what they achieve as long as those people love their horses. That’s what’s so great about Chip’s babies. If you can enjoy your horse and have fun riding and working with your horse, that’s what it’s all about for me. I go back to thinking about when I was growing up and how I wanted a horse so bad. I just loved riding. And I just loved my horse.”