It was 1990, and Carol Rose Quarter Horses was already a force to be reckoned with in the Quarter Horse industry. By then, Rose had already competed with such horses as Gay Bars Gen, Zan Parr Bar, and Genuine Doc to earn world championship titles in National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) events. She was also already well on her way to becoming AQHA’s #1 all-time leading breeder of performance horses because of her innate ability to cultivate, promote, and stand quality stallions. By the time Shining Spark, a 1989 palomino son of Genuine Doc and out of Diamonds Sparkle, was a long yearling working in the round pen, Rose knew what a great horse in motion looked like.

[RELATED: SIXES PICK]

“Jeff Petska, who was working for me at the time, was starting Shining Spark. After only a few days, he called me and said, ‘I want you to come to the round pen,’” Rose recalled. “There was ‘Shiner,’ loose in the round pen. Jeff said, ‘Watch this,’ and then said to Shiner, ‘Whoa.’ You can’t imagine how that horse stopped. It was unbelievable. I’d never seen a young horse with that much stop.”

Shining Spark (age 31) with owner Carol Rose.

Shining Spark at age 31 with breeder and owner Carol Rose. 

Shining Spark was the result of Rose’s carefully planned cross between Genuine Doc and Diamonds Sparkle. His dam, Diamonds Sparkle, was the 1979 AQHA Superhorse. Today, she’s the all-time leading producer of AQHA world champions as well as a member of the NRHA Hall of Fame and AQHA Hall of Fame. Bred and raised by Rose herself, Genuine Doc is an all-time leading sire of both reining and cutting horses as well as an AQHA Superhorse sire, and the sire of countless AQHA and NRHA world champions. With such a pedigree behind him, Shining Spark was destined to be a star—and he quickly became one.

Inspired by her love of cutting and by the success she had had showing Gay Bars Gen in NCHA events, Rose initially wanted to compete with Shiner in cutting events. Her trainer, Bobby Lewis, suggested that Shiner might excel in reining. They decided to send Shiner to renowned reining horse trainer Bob Loomis. With Loomis aboard, Shining Spark took sixth place out of 408 entries at the 1992 NRHA Futurity. The following year, the pair were open reserve champions at the Lazy E Classic. After that, Rose decided she wanted to show the beautiful palomino stallion herself—so she went to Tim and Colleen McQuay to see if they would help her with Shining Spark.

Piloted by Tim McQuay, Shining Spark began racking up win after win in the show pen. In 1993, McQuay and Shining Spark won the junior reining at the AQHA World Show with a record score of 227.5.

“The first horse that went that night marked a 225,” Rose said. “Tim was last. He had a beautiful performance and marked a 227.5. I was so excited when I heard 227 that I started running down to the back and I didn’t even hear the half-point part! That was probably one of the most memorable wins for me. This was in front of a coliseum full of people, including a whole bunch of people from California, where I was born and raised. So many people came to find me and tell me what a beautiful horse he was and what a beautiful run it was. I was just so proud.”

The following year, the pair won the 1994 NRHA Derby with a 230.5—adding yet more laurels onto the head of a stallion who was quickly becoming one of the industry’s brightest stars. During his show career, Shining Spark earned more than $62,000, which was remarkable in those days.

Now 32, Shining Spark has sired more than 1,300 foals to date with total earnings of more than ten million dollars. In 2002, he became the youngest stallion to capture the title of NRHA million dollar sire—a number that has only grown over time. Today, Shining Spark is the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRHCA) No. 1 all-time leading sire and the NRCHA’s first three million dollar sire. He was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2011 and became an NRHA four million dollar sire in 2013. Some of his top earners in AQHA shows include Bald N Shiney, Shining Smokin Spark, and Shiners Diamond Jill.

“I always wanted a horse with the conformation to be an athlete but who was also pretty, with a good mind,” Rose said. “Shining Spark is right in line with all of that. He’s got every single trait that I could possibly expect out of a horse. I can’t say he’s a dream come true, because I never dreamed that I could ever have anything like him. He’s made to perform, and he passes that on to his babies along with his great mind.”

Related