Sire Spotlight: John Simon

Imbued with color, class, and flash, John Simon may well be the Paint Horse industry’s most popular sire – and with good reason.

The 2006 bay tobiano son of Special Invitation and Sensational Leaguer first made a name for himself in the show pen as Erin Bradshaw’s amateur show mount, impressing everyone who saw him with his stellar jog, gentle nature, and exceptional mind. Over the course of his show career, John Simon has won 16 American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Championships, nine APHA Reserve World Championships, two National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) World Championships and one NSBA Reserve World Championship. In addition to accumulating trophies, the personable Paint stallion is talented at accumulating fans. According to Bradshaw, John Simon has a huge fan base.

The 2006 bay tobiano son of Special Invitation and Sensational Leaguer first made a name for himself in the show pen as Erin Bradshaw’s amateur show mount. Courtesy of Erin Bradshaw

“John Simon is APHA’s most winningest Paint pleasure stallion, and I think that’s a mark that he’ll set on the industry for a really long time to come,” Bradshaw said, who co-owns the stallion with her mother, Charla Bradshaw. “I think he’ll go down in history for his lengthy show record and for staying at the World Show level and winning year after year after year, in the Amateur and in the Open, all while his babies are doing the same. I think that’s the biggest thing about him and why he has such a huge following. Then people meet him, and they see his personality and how sweet and calm he is, and that draws people to him even more.”

John Simon’s exceptionally gentle nature was one of the primary reasons that Bradshaw and her family first considered purchasing the tobiano stallion. In 2009, Bradshaw lost her show horse, Maximum Zippo, to a spinal injury, and while she was still grieving that loss, she met John Simon.

“Losing Maximum Zippo was devastating for me, because I won my first world title on him, and for that loss to happen during my first year as an amateur exhibitor was so hard. Horses like that are hard to replace and hard to come by,” Bradshaw said. “After his loss, my trainer offered us the opportunity to purchase John, a three-year-old stallion at the time, as a replacement. My parents said, ‘Absolutely not! Are you joking?’ John had just won third at the Paint World that year in the 2-year-old Western Pleasure. He had been lightly shown as a two-year-old but had done very well that year. I thought he’d be great. Vicky Holt, who bred, raised and owned him at the time, wanted him to go to a good home, so she allowed me to try him for a month and said if I wanted to buy him, great, and if I didn’t, she’d go on to the next buyer with him.”

It only took 30 days for Bradshaw to fall in love with the beautiful bay tobiano stallion.

Erin and John have a special connection that shines through in the show pen. Courtesy of Erin Bradshaw

“John was just so sweet and gentle-natured,” she reflected. “He didn’t act like a stud at all. I remember just falling in love with him. He never had one moment where he was tough to be around. And so at the end of the trial, my parents agreed to buy him and that’s how I ended up with him. The rest was history.”

Within just a couple of years, Bradshaw and John Simon began to take the show pen by storm. After their first few World titles at the APHA World Show, people began to approach Bradshaw about breeding their mares to him. At first, she was hesitant, but then her trainer at the time, Jeffrey Gibbs, suggested they do a trial run with just a few mares. Soon, Bradshaw knew she had a great horse who could both perform in the show pen and pass on his talents to the next generation.

“There aren’t a lot of stallions who are good-minded enough to both show and breed, but John showed us he could do it,” she said. “The first year that we stood him to the public, I bred one mare to him, and we got a foal we named Im Johnny Cash. That was the first John Simon baby that I raised. Over the course of three years, we went on to win the Non-Pro 3-Year-Old Western Pleasure, the Amateur Junior Western Pleasure, and Reserve in the Amateur Junior Western Pleasure at the APHA World Show. That was when it clicked for us that we had something on our hands as far as John being a breeding stallion. I knew I wanted to raise my own babies because I think if you own a stallion and stand him to the public and you want others to believe in him, then you need to support and promote his babies yourself with your own breeding program.”

By then, Bradshaw had met and married her husband, Scott Weiss of Scott Weiss Show Horses. Together, they decided to build a small Paint Horse breeding program around John Simon. According to Bradshaw, John Simon passes on many of his best talents to his offspring, including his great mind and movement.

“His babies are shown by a lot of amateur and youth exhibitors, which says a lot about the temperament of his babies,” she said. “I love seeing mare owners post photos of their kids leading John’s weanlings and yearlings around. They really have his docile mindset which is everything you want a breeding stallion to pass on.”

Erin and her husband Scott have built a small breeding program around John Simon. Courtesy of Erin Bradshaw

For Bradshaw, John Simon is a once-in-a-lifetime horse – not just because of his phenomenal show career, talent and prepotency, but because of the connection she has with him.

“I’ve never had a connection with a horse like that,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve had a lot of special horses in my lifetime, but when I talk with my mom or my dad about John, they say they’ve never seen a connection quite like the one between John and me. If I could put him in my living room, I would! John has not only achieved all of my goals in the show pen, but he’s also created a life for my husband and me. We have a very successful breeding business with him and a very successful selling business with his babies. He has changed my life. Even when I’m 80 years old, I’ll look back and think, ‘My God, that horse started our career in the breeding industry.’ He’s just so special to me.”