Sire Spotlight: FM Cottonwood

A last-chance royal cross started this stallion on a path to greatness.

Dr. Khris Crowe has spent enough time in the horse industry—as a respected veterinarian and an owner/breeder/competitor herself—to have phenomenal connections. Her network led her to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that resulted in 2014 sorrel overo stallion FM Cottonwood.

Photo courtesy of Kate Bradley Byars.

Only One

In 2012, Crowe helped friends Michael Moynahan and Floyd Miller prepare for their dispersal sale at their own Cottonwood Ranch in Oklahoma. Among their stock was Sonita Lena Chick. A cutter with earnings in excess of $160,000 and current progeny earnings nearing $300,000. Crowe took on the mare, who faced life-ending lameness issues, and nursed her to a level of soundness that produced one single follicle—truly miraculous. Crowe had seen a foal by Gunner out of the mare. She knew that’s who she wanted to partner with in this miracle opportunity.

During this time, Gunner faced his own mortality. Thanks to her trusted network, Crowe reached out directly to Gunner’s owner, Tim McQuay. She received perhaps the last fresh collection of the only NRHA 13 Million Dollar Sire. Achieving a successful embryo, Crowe found a reliable recipient mare in which to implant her dream foal. Just a few days later, Sonita Lena Chick ruptured a tendon and had to be euthanized.

Miracle Produced From a Gift

Even before he hit the ground, people tried to buy the recipient mare carrying FM Cottonwood. Crowe stood her ground, knowing exactly what horse she’d get and what he’d become.

“He’s a miracle produced from a gift,” Crowe shares. “He’s phenomenal. FM Cottonwood has the explosive Gunner moves along with the fluid movement of a Chic (Smart Chic Olena, Sonita Lena Chick’s sire). He’s such a pretty mover.”

Cottonwood started his career in the reining pen and excelled every time he was shown, both in open and non pro competition. In a reining industry full of Gunners, Crowe knew she wanted to take Cottonwood’s potential as far as it could go, so she partnered the stallion with reining and ranch riding professional Bud Lyon. The horse’s beautiful movement, exceptional gait extensions, and fluid transitions took Cottonwood to the top of the ranch riding world, too.

Royal Blood

Once called a “genetic powerhouse” by Tim McQuay, Cottonwood has thus far passed his royal bloodlines to three foal crops. The first two crops were “tests” on Crowe’s own mares. Those foals proved straight-legged and good-minded, which led her to opening his books to the public. The offspring are aimed at the highest-profile Western events: reining, cutting, cow horse, and ranch riding.

“He passes on his smartness and his wiliness,” Crowe says. “We often hear how compliant and willing his babies are, along with sharing his smooth movement. He breeds well to mares that might need to be calmed down a little. But don’t think his babies are backyard pets—they can execute explosive movements when called upon and then come back to being quiet again.”

Cottonwood’s genetics include the Splash 1 and Splash 2 genes, which can lead to flashy white and blue eyes, but also more solid patterns, usually in sorrel and bay. Crowe shares that he’s five-panel negative and he can hear. (Gunner was deaf.)

Along with his breeding career, Cottonwood will continue to be shown in ranch riding events this year with Lyon.

“He’s still a gentleman in the pen,” Crowe says. “In the rail classes, he can retire to the rail and never look sideways or scream. Bud has said when Cottonwood is on his game, he can’t be beat.”

[Check Out This Other Impressive Sire]

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