Article by Kailey Sullins
“He can’t run a lick.”
That’s not what you want to hear when purchasing a barrel horse, but those sentiments were the beginnings of a flourish- ing barrel career between Tanya Jones and Rockin A Lil—the No. 1-performing paternal grandson of the late Dual Rey.
Jones says those words are now a joke as she chuckled through the phone after placing at a string of California professional rodeos with the now-7-year-old gelding by Rockin W by Dual Rey and out of Miss N Lil Hickory by Docs Hickory son Lil Bit O Hickory. Now with more than $52,000 in Equi-Stat reported earnings, “Slick” is proving he and his bloodlines are more than fit for barrel racing.
“At the time, they didn’t think he could run and they knew I was looking at him for a barrel horse,” Jones said. “I told them if he doesn’t make it as a barrel horse, I’ll make a rope horse out of him. Now when he does good or I post some- thing, they’ll message me as a joke and say ‘The slow horse did it again!’”
The Stephenville, Texas, resident purchased Slick from renowned National Cutting Horse Association champion trainer Phil Rapp of Weatherford, Texas, as a 4-year-old. The sorrel cow horse had been through the cutting program but wasn’t going to make the cut for the big shows. When Jones heard he was for sale, she jumped at the opportunity. Jones prefers cow-bred bloodlines to more traditional barrel horse pedigrees and says the worries of speed were quickly put to rest.
“I fell in love with him after about five minutes,” Jones said. “I rode him, and he just had an awesome feel to him and was real gentle. I like the way a cow horse moves and their dispositions. I breezed him out and it only took a couple times and he got it. He loves it now—he just puts his head down and runs.”
The prolific sire Dual Rey has long made his mark in the cutting world as the No. 3 cutting horse sire, behind High Brow Cat and Smart Little Lena, with offspring earnings of more than $39 million. According to Equi-Stat, he has sired dams of earners exceeding $13 million. Now, his babies are making their mark in the barrel horse world. His barrel racing offspring have earned more than $130,800 from 28 performers. As a paternal grandsire, his get have accrued more than $129,000 from 77 performers and as a maternal grandsire, more than $50,400 from 20 performers.
Dual Rey’s most outstanding barrel racing earner thus far is Kelly Yates’ Fiesta Del Rey. “Wizard” is the No. 1-perform- ing offspring of Dual Rey with more than $91,000 in earnings.
“He’s just phenomenal is what he is—I call him the Wicked Wizard,” Yates said.
Wizard, who’s by Dual Rey and out of Yates’ legendary mare Firewater Fiesta, was the result of Yates selling “Fiesta’s” eggs to the Bar Nothing Ranch in Colorado and Lannie Mecom. Out of that breeding, Mecom received a set of twin stallions— Wizard and a gray named Fiesta N The Rey, dubbed “Blizzard.” As 3-year-olds, the two studs came up for sale and Yates bought them back, quickly gelding both. They were both broke and started on cattle, but Yates holds the credit to their barrel training. Yates sold Blizzard and lost track of him over the years, but Wizard is still going strong and likely won’t leave the Pueblo, Colorado, resident’s home. She says perceptions of cow horses making barrel horses are often wrong—just like with Jones’ Slick. Cow horses can run, too.
“Wizard is a turner and a setter and quick,” Yates said. “A cow horse can dang sure run down the fence to cut a cow, and they have some speed and quickness about them. I’m real high on breeding to a cow horse.”
While Dual Rey and his offspring are most notably cutting horses, many are now showing up not just in the barrel pen but also in reined cow horse competitions. When crossed correctly, the Dual Reys’ athleticism is putting them above the mark in many industries outside of cutting.
“To me, [I see it in the turns] because they have to make three quick turns,” Yates said. “I know running is one thing, but the quick turns can make up for some of those that maybe can’t run as fast.”
Yates says while their quickness around a barrel is a benefit, it can also be challenging to ride. She learned how to ride that kind of turn before Wizard came along.
“I learned the hard way on the first one out of Firewater Fiesta by Popular Resortfigure [who’s by Dual Rey’s sire, Dual Pep]. We called him Go Figure Fiesta,” Yates said. “I had a hard time getting to where I could get him by the barrels. I learned not to [rate him at the barrels] unless it was necessary. He has that quick move as a cut, and I think that helped.”
Jones agrees quickness and agility play a big role in Slick’s success as a rodeo horse. Even more important for Jones and Yates is Dual Rey offspring’s tendency to show strength and the ability to handle ground.
“Slick handles different types of ground, which is huge in the rodeo horse deal. Dual Reys are tough,” Jones said. “They are dirty tough son of a guns.”
Yates says Wizard is the toughest horse she’s ever owned.
“He’s never fallen with me ever,” Yates said. “He is one tough horse—mentally and physically.”
While known for their idiosyncrasies and power as cutting horses, Jones says she hasn’t found that to be a drawback.
In college, Jones rode with reined cow horse trainer Jack Kelly, where she was first introduced to the cow horse. Ever since, they have been her horse of choice. She’s owned, trained and ridden several Dual Rey offspring throughout her career.
“The biggest obstacle to me is getting them to go forward. They shut down so hard and get on that hock. Slick is so turn-y and works a barrel like a cow,” Jones said. “They are very single-mind- ed—they don’t want to wait for you— they just go in there and take control and you better be hanging on. To me those are the biggest obstacles on a Dual Rey. They are real independent-minded. That can be a good thing if directed the right way.”
Yates has noticed a few quirks, but nothing detrimental or dangerous.
“When you’re on [Wizard], he is a pleasure and won’t kick or do anything like that—he’s just watch-y,” Yates said. “There’s certain things he does if you didn’t know how to deal with it, then some people might be unhappy. He doesn’t owe me one thing. He did well at the futurities, the derbies, the rodeos— he’s phenomenal.”
The No. 1-earning maternal grandson of Dual Rey is also shining up the barrel pen in his short career. Tampa Bay Rey Deal, with Ava Grayce Sanders on board, is lighting up the Southeast at both rodeos and divisional barrel races. Purchased as a 3-year-old, the now-6-year-old “King” has led Ava Grayce to more than $35,000 in lifetime earnings, according to Equi-Stat.
“He’s basically one in a million,” the 13-year-old Vero Beach, Florida, resident said. “I’ve never seen any- thing like him. Babies normally take a lot of time to progress and get their feet together and season out, but right out of the gate he was a winner. That really shocked us.”
King is definitely not an average barrel horse. Though strictly cow-bred on paper, the beauty of cutting horse rejects is that nearly all cutters go back to running hors- es somewhere on their papers—if even distantly. King is by High Brow Cat son Dealnwithacoolcat and out of Dual Rey daughter Emily Rey. High Brow Cat is a grandson of Docs Hickory by Doc Bar, who is by the Three Bars son Lightning Bar—a stakes-placed and American Quarter Horse Association Racing Hall of Famer. Dual Rey is by Dual Pep, who is out of a granddaughter of Doc Bar.
With Dual Rey-bred barrel horses cropping up across the country and sons of Dual Rey, such as Rockin W, gaining a produce record, the stallion’s legacy continues to grow. While all three of the competitors come from different back- grounds and even different experiences, there’s one thing they can all confirm— Dual Rey-bred barrel horses are worth the investment.
“[King] is going to be our once-in-a-lifetime horse. I think as a family we’ve learned cutters are a great option to a more traditional, running-bred pedigree,” Ava Grayce’s mother Cathy Sanders said. “I think people underestimate that. Ava Grayce’s next colt coming up is going to be cutting-bred.”
First published in the June 2019 issue of Barrel Horse News.