The stallion that reflected the very best of the pleasure horse industry was put down on Monday, January 12, 1998, after suffering a stroke. He had been a "living legend" for the past decade, and the loss to his owners is simply beyond measure. Bob and Ann Perry Quarter Horses in Valley View, Texas, is managed by Joe and Suzy Jeane, and it was Joe's sad duty to stand close and comfort his friend as Zippo Pine Bar was put to sleep. The Perrys were out of the country at the time,. but were in touch by telephone as the decision was made. If ever the saying, "gone but not forgotten" applied, it is here and now with this great horse.
Zippo Pine Bar is buried near the flagpole at the entry to the Perry's ranch.
He could have been anything, I think. His pedigree spelled out race horse: on top, close up Three Bars out of a Leo daughter. It also spelled out cow horse: on the bottom, he was out of an own daughter of Poco Pine who was out of an own daughter of Hobo. His sire, Zippo Pat Bars, was AAA and was considered something of a race sire in Texas long before he made his own name as a pleasure horse sire. Zippo's dam, Dollie Pine, was an AQHA Champion. Zippo Pine Bar truly had a royal pedigree, and it was only by chance that he wasn't raced or turned into a ranch horse. Either of those careers would have seemed logical at the time.
But Zippo Pine Bar was purchased by a Nebraska rancher, Norman Reynolds, out of a sale when he was a weanling. Reynolds, according to a friend, was looking for a sire of using horses in his cow-calf and feedlot operations. But plans changed when Reynolds' daughter took Zippo Pine Bar into the barn and shined him up. She took him to some weanling classes, and according to AQHA records, he won four out of four. That prompted some consideration for the thousand dollar weanling, and after he did some growing up, he was put in training with Bill Keyser. The rest is history. Reynolds had been looking for a using horse sire, but what he got was a pure talent who was capable of winning a halter class, a Western riding class or a pleasure class. He did all of that many, many times.
My own first meeting with the horse that was to build a whole new world of pleasure horses was only because the roads were nasty as I was driving back to California from Michigan after dropping off mares. There was black ice, and a friend in Nebraska put me up and took me around to see the local stars. Zippo Pine Bar was certainly every inch a star. He'd have been a star in Texas or California or anywhere on the continent. He was gorgeous, personable and a real "people" horse. Mr. Reynolds swore he still used him to move cattle. After all, he'd bought him to be a using horse.
An editorial by Quarter Horse Journaleditor Leslie Groves explains that Norman Reynolds put Zippo Pine Bar up for sale in the middle of the era of Willie Nelson "Farm Aid" concerts and farmers driving tractors to Capital Hill looking for relief. According to Groves' article, Reynolds put Zippo Pine Bar on the market due to that slump in his primary business, which was agriculture.
Ann Perry tells of hearing that the great stallion could possibly be for sale. She and her husband Bob worked up their courage, called Reynolds and purchased Zippo Pine Bar over the phone, sight unseen. It proved to be a very rewarding call. The package that finally arrived at the Valley View ranch included a set of broodmares and the 16-year-old stallion. He was already renowned as a breeding horse and was the sire of a long list of winning pleasure horses.
Ann Perry remembers hoping for "a few good years" with the aging stallion. Those "few good years" stretched to over a decade of successful breeding seasons with the top mares in the country lining up in the driveway.
According to my AQHA printout, Zippo Pine Bar has 1,636 registered foals. Half of those are performance horses with a point total that takes the lid off any record in the book. The sons and daughters of this fantastic stallion have 43,168.5 AQHA points! In addition, by my count, there are 14 World Champions and 29 Reserve World Champions. In the world of Western pleasure, big money purses are still relatively unheard of (for example, the 1997 high money earner in Open competition took home $33,464 for the year). Keep that in mind and then realize that Zippo Pine Bar could have earned over $1.5 million dollars in the pleasure futurity business! Some of the top cutting horse sires in the business brag about offspring earnings well below this figure, and an NCHA Futurity Champion earns over $100,000. In addition, AQHA reports incentive earnings of over $650,000. The horse that the Perry's hoped would give them "a few good years" paid his way for 11 seasons of productivity.
During his years with Bob and Ann Perry, Zippo really hit the big time. >From 1986 to 1994, he was the Leading Western Pleasure Sire, according to Equi-Stat. He was the leading Maternal and Paternal Grandsire from 1992 through 1996. In 1990 and 1991 he was second Leading Maternal and Paternal Grandsire....behind his sire, Zippo Pat Bar.
APHA and APHC also reflect the impact Zippo Pine Bar had on those breeds, with leading sires, Paint and Appaloosa, all showing Zippo in their breeding background. The Perrys bred quality mares in both those associations. According to APHA, there are 71 registered APHA foals by Zippo with 7,716 points and 12 APHA Champions and 10 Reserve Champions. Quarter Horse News reports a like number of Appaloosa foals with 2,271 performance points. Ann Perry reports there is an Arabian Zippo and even a few Zippo mules back in Nebraska!
Zippo Pine Bar has been the Leading Sire of Performance Horses in the AQHA for the past ten years without a break. During that time he bred a full book each year and even at 28 got some of the Perry's mares in foal. It is nice to think that this extraordinary sire may still have "the best yet to come" this spring of 1998.
In order to put this stallion's place in the history of pleasure horses into some perspective, I'll use the 1997 Equi-Stat report. Remember, this is just for 1997! Of the Top 50 Horses, All Ages/All Divisions: six of the Top Ten and 22 of the top 50 have Zippo Pine Bar in their pedigrees; Open Division: seven of the Top Ten and 13 of the top 20; Top Non-Pro/Any Age: 16 of the top 20; leading both Limited Non-Pro and Amateur Horse divisions; Leading Two-Year-Old All Divisions; Leading Limited Open; 3-Year-Old Division, four out of the top five.
In the Leading Sire category, four of the top five with Zips Chocolate Chip on top, followed by Zippos Mr Good Bar, Zippo Pine Bar himself and Zippo Jack Bar. The same stats hold true for Leading Two-Year-Old Sires, four out of the first five and top three in Leading Three-Year-Old Sires.
In the Leading Paternal Grandsire category, Zippo Pine Bar tops the chart with offspring earnings of $493,608 and he is followed by his sire, Zippo Pat Bar, then Zippos Mr Good Bar, The Investor, The Big Investment and Zips Chocolate Chip. And over in the English division, his son Zips Chocolate Chip is second leading sire. There has never been a horse with this kind of record in any discipline in the Quarter Horse records.
At Bob and Ann Perry Quarter Horses, there is a young stallion that is listed in many of the categories I've mentioned here. His name is Zips Chocolate Chip. He is already a World Champion Western Pleasure Horse with trainer Cleve Wells, and is the 1997 Over-All Leading Sire of Pleasure Horses for the third year in a row. The Perrys and their friends, Joe and Suzy Jeane, will continue the legacy that started with that phone call over 13 years ago.
Zips Chocolate Chip is following in his sire's footsteps as a performer and now as a producer. Considering that both Zippo Pine Bar's sire and dam lived well into their 20s, as did his grandsire, Three Bars, the Perry breeding program will go on well into the next millennium.
Zippo Pine Bar changed the pleasure horse world. He changed the look, the gait, the very heart of the pleasure horse. Now his own great heart has stopped but his influence will go on. He truly is a legend.
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