By Blanche Schaefer
The Quarter Horse industry sadly lost one of its top sires this year. Judge Cash, a 1987 grey by Dash For Cash and out of Mary Mito by Mito Paint (TB), was humanely euthanized due to colic at age 30 on September 18, 2017. Owner Scottie Johnson of Cross Country Ranch in La Pine, Oregon, says “Judge” went peacefully and lived his last days in excellent health and happiness.
“He was extremely healthy the day he died—his teeth, his weight, his muscles, the fluidity in his movement; you could hear some clicks in his stride, but for the most part all four feet hit the ground evenly,” Johnson said. “He didn’t have to suffer, being a crippled, old haggard-looking horse. He was beautiful until the day he died. His presence and beauty are something I’ll never forget.”
Judge sired barrel racing earners of more than $1.3 million and racetrack earners of more than $1 million. He held a speed index of 110 and earned $115,936 on the track as a performer, highlighted by running as a 2-year-old in the prestigious All-American Futurity.
“He sired well on the track, and then his babies went to be amazing barrel horses,” Johnson said. “There’s one that was an NFR pickup horse, there’s some bulldogging horses that are top, and there’s a head horse that won Pendleton [Round-Up]. He’s an all-around sire—it wasn’t just barrel horses or racetrack horses.”
Judge produced two National Finals Rodeo-qualifying barrel horses, Amy Dale’s Quick Judge and Brenda Mays’ Judge Buy Cash, a six-time NFR qualifier and 2010 American Quarter Horse Association/Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Barrel Horse of the Year. “Jethro” is Judge’s highest earner, boasting more than $309,340 in career earnings with Mays. A third will be added to that list this year, as first-time NFR qualifier Kathy Grimes heads to Las Vegas with KG Justiceweexpected—Judge’s second-highest earner with $211,560, according to Equi-Stat. He is also the maternal grandsire of Lisa Lockhart’s An Oakie With Cash (“Louie”).
“[Judge Cash offspring] are highly diversified athletes, very intelligent and keep their head together—they’re thinkers, they can handle pressure,” Johnson said. “A quote I always felt was Judge Cash was “They jump into the halter.” They want to work. They want to have a job, and they’ll work all day long.”
While horses can easily be measured by their success in the arena and dollars in the win column, Johnson says Judge’s signature mark on his foals is his kind-hearted personality and floating movement.
“Personalities and movement were the two biggest things his babies expressed. People who got to know Judges; you understand the movement—it’s almost a Lipizzaner type of graceful suspension and extension,” Johnson said. “He was so kind, you could set little kids on him that had never been on a horse … he’d stand there with no halter or anything. I used to get people to write me when they’d have their Judge and it’d still be on the mom, and if they’re out working on the fence, they were always amazed that the baby would come be with them and leave the mother. They’re people horses.”
Johnson says the biggest testament to Judge was the fact that his colts sold themselves.
“Most Judge Cash people have more than one. I’ll always remember that’s what made him so great,” Johnson said. “I always got this consistently in the emails, [breeders] would say ‘I’ve been breeding horses for years, and this is literally the best colt I have ever had.’ If I had a dollar for every time someone sent me that!”
Judge’s legacy will carry on for generations through his offspring. Johnson believes his best athletes are yet to come, as his book of mares continued to include more top-performing bloodlines each year. However, there will never be another Judge Cash.
“Not very many people get the opportunity to own something like him. I know there are generations of farms and ranches that work their whole lives to try to get something like him, and how I was blessed to care for him, I don’t know, but he took me on a hell of a ride,” Johnson said.