It was 2013 when Nicholas and Stoli My Guy (Traffic Guy x Six Futures x Stoli) hit the futurity ranks. During the ultra-competitive Diamonds and Dirt Barrel Futurity in March of that year a 16th place finish in the finals and over $6,000 in earnings placed the team high on the futurity “watch list.” Following it up with consistent 1D, 2D and futurity placings at major races like D&G Productions, Elite, the Bar Nothin Barrel Bash and more, the consistent team captured reserve honors at the JB Quarter Horses Futurity where they also won the Amateur Incentive. They punctuated their season at the Barrel Futurities of America World Championships, earning a season-high $23,284 for third in the futurity, and notched an arena record in the process.
“She’s coming 6 now and I’d still hesitate to call her broke,” says Nicholas of her super mare. “Jeremy and I shared a lot of time on her as a 2- and 3-year-old because I couldn’t get her quiet by myself. She was an obvious athletic talent, but I just couldn’t tame the beast.”
“Perpetually fresh and on guard,” Stoli has been known to spin out from underneath her rider in the blink of an eye, even in the familiar confines of her home arena.
“Hauling her was, and still is, a challenge. She gets mad if the arena sound system pops, if the ground gives way underneath her, and if any horse gets too close to her in the warm up pen. Any of these can trigger a ‘Stoli episode’,” Nicholas laughs, adding that the mare’s fractious nature had given her owner reason enough to plan on training and selling her early-on.
Jeremy, however, disagreed and told his wife that selling the mare would be a big mistake.
“I’m now glad I listened. I went full speed ahead. For better, or for worse, I was going to futurity her. And we had an amazing futurity year! Stoli is now approaching lifetime earnings of $100,000. I never even hauled her out of Texas and Oklahoma her futurity year, and never entered a major slot race. That number is from just good, solid, consistent winnings. Her high point of the futurity year was setting a BFA Futurity go round arena record last year. She’s won multiple open and derby races, as well, and continues to amaze us with her speed and consistency. She has opened so many doors for us, for which I will be eternally grateful.
Those doors include sponsorship deals with Double J Saddlery, MVP and Iconoclast boots, as well as a project with Darren Stoner, creator of The Perfect Bit to design the new rope nose combo version that Stoli runs in.
“We want to thank all of them and the family and friends who offered to help when I absolutely could not be in two places at the same time,” says Nicholas.
For all her quirks, Stoli finds calm in a place where other barrel horses sometimes lose their cool.
“Stoli’s happy place is the holding pen,” says Nicholas. “She is patient and lets me gather her up in the alley and place her where she needs to be. She doesn’t run through my hands, or lunge – she waits until I let her go and makes a solid run every time. She stays low and smooth, there’s no jerkiness to her pattern and she tries hard every time.”
Nicholas describes the mare’s move around a barrel as a rollback on the backside that makes her tough to beat. That move, coupled with the fact that she morphs from ornery to at ease when running barrel patterns to near perfection, has made her very valuable.
“By profession Jeremy is a man of numbers so they’ve all got a price tag on them, but not Stoli. Ultimately, he leaves that decision up to me. Anytime I got close to making a deal, I’d get sick to my stomach. I believe that’s my answer. I don’t feel right about it – I feel like she was a blessing sent to remain with us and I don’t want to sell the dream that was intended for us,” says Nicholas.