Sire Spotlight: High Brow Cat

Great stallions launch their careers in the show pen and create new generations in the breeding shed, but it’s up to their get to fashion truly remarkable sires into legends.

The offspring of High Brow Cat have done exactly that, catapulting the 1988 chestnut stallion into the rank of the all-time leading sire of cutting horses. To date, High Brow Cat’s get have earned more than $87 million across a variety of disciplines, from cutting to cow horse to barrel racing and more. The chestnut son of High Brow Hickory and Smart Little Kitty passed away in October 2019, but his impact on the cutting horse industry lives on through his offspring, including such greats as Dont Look Twice ($843,096), Metallic Cat ($637,711), Little Pepto Cat ($577,430), Boon San Kitty ($565,504), and many others.

Bred by Hanes Chatham and Stewart Sewell, “Cat” was purchased by Jack Waggoner and Susan Ferguson when the colt was just two months old. Cat’s early training was performed by Shane Rudibaugh, a team roper before he passed into the hands of National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Hall of Fame member and $3 Million Dollar Rider Faron Hightower. Together with his father, Olan Hightower, Faron prepared the colt for his first forays into the show pen.

All-time leading sire of cutting horses, High Brow Cat. Courtesy of Tracy Ross

“Cat had a whole lot of cow about him, but he was a tough little son of a gun,” Faron reflected. “He was difficult, but he was talented. There’s no doubt about that. I went to Bill Freeman once, who trained High Brow Hickory, and I asked him what he was like to train. Bill said, ‘Faron, whatever you did to that horse yesterday, it won’t work tomorrow.’ Cat was the same way. But I had a teacher, in my dad, who knew more about horses than anyone I’ve ever encountered, and he was involved quite a bit through Cat’s three-year-old and four-year-old years, helping me get him trained.”

With Faron Hightower in the saddle, High Brow Cat earned his first check in December 1991, tying for 13th in the Will Rogers Futurity. The pair continued to earn checks and later won the Classic Open at the 1993 Augusta Futurity. The stallion was also shown by Jody Galyean, Olan Hightower, Jack Waggoner, and Bill Freeman. Other show pen honors included winning the Chisholm Trail Open Classic championship, splitting 3rd place in the Abilene Spectacular Open Classic, earning 4th in the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Open Derby, and making the finals in the NCHA Open Super Stakes, the NCHA Super Stakes Open Classic, the NCHA Open Classic, and other events. Over the course of his show career, Cat earned a total of $110,800. But once the stallion entered the breeding shed, his true vocation became clear.

Cat first became a leading sire in 1997 with his second foal crop. By 1999, he was a top 10 leading cutting sire; by 2003, he was first on the list. Since then, High Brow Cat has remained at the top of the NCHA sire list. He is also a National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) all-time leading sire and an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) all-time leading sire of open and amateur register of merit earners, class winners, and point earners. At the time of his death in 2019, he was an Equi-Stat Elite $82 Million Sire.

According to Madison Smith of Beechfork Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, who became a co-owner of Cat in March 2019, Cat’s greatness is borne out by the talent and producing ability of his offspring.

“Cow, athleticism, and pure trainability and intelligence are traits that set High Brow Cats apart,” Smith said. “No other sire has produced more money earned or more Futurity champions in any Western discipline. His true impact is seen now in his offspring’s producing abilities, both daughters and sons. His foals are extremely trainable. They want to get up and do their job every day, and the rest falls into place. He consistently produces smart, athletic cow horses.”

The red roan stallion, Metallic Cat, may be the most famous of High Brow Cat’s sons, having amassed more than $637,000 in lifetime earnings. The 2005 stallion out of Chers Shadow then followed in his sire’s footsteps by becoming a multimillion-dollar sire, topping the all-time leading NRCHA sire list in 2021.

“Metallic Cat is first to mind, a Futurity champion, Horse of the Year, and now an incredible producing sire,” Smith said. “Other remarkable offspring include geldings like Little Pepto Cat, Faith In My Mate, and Oh Cay Felix, all with over $400,000 in earnings, and several World championships and a Futurity win between them. Several great daughters of High Brow Cat who have made an incredible mark on the industry in both the show pen and who are now producing numerous high money winners include Dont Look Twice, Highbrow Supercat, and Show Biz Kitty.”

Although High Brow Cat was laid to rest in October 2019, there’s no doubt that his life and bloodlines will continue to influence the cutting horse industry for generations to come.

“They always say the sign of a great stallion is one who outproduces himself,” Faron Hightower said. “To me, High Brow Cat is one of the greatest stallions that ever lived because he has definitely outproduced himself.” 

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