A Formidable ladies man

With reproduction student Angela Peterson

With windswept bangs that fall as though artfully arranged to set off his deep- brown eyes to their best advantage, the ruggedly handsome face of Three Chimneys’ stallion Formidable will undoubtedly charm many mares and riders in his lifetime.

Already, the good-looking brother of Mad for Smarty, is making the ladies, both horse and human, swoon.

“The first time we saw his picture, a bunch of us had the same reaction: we looked at him and said, ‘Oh my God! That’s a good-looking horse!’ ” says University of Minnesota equine lab services coordinator Andrea Reed. “It’s not everyday that somebody gives you a horse this nice!”

But, last December, Mr. Handsome was wrapped up and delivered to the university’s equine program on the Crookston campus, courtesy of Three Chimneys Farm.

After earning $202,000 on the racetrack, the 2005 stallion by Sky Mesa, stepped off the horse trailer and into the warm glow of a 45-stall barn filled with broodmares and earnest students, all curious and interested in the new man on campus.

“I was a little skeptical at first,” Reed says. “I thought, oh no, another Thoroughbred stallion!”

But her concerns were quickly allayed by his charm and good manners, and by his good behavior that does not abandon him, even when he is getting to know the ladies.

Race name: Formidable
Sire: Sky Mesa
Dam: Santaria, by Star de Naskra
Foal date: Feb. 11, 2005
Winnings: $202,286
“The first time we bred him, I was a little concerned about how he might behave. But, he was fantastic! He listens so well. He’s been a prince,” Reed says.

Formidable is happily learning the ropes as a ladies man, and has successfully gotten a Palomino Quarter Horse named Norma in foal.

And, other mares are lined up, waiting to see if the chemistry is right for them!

“We take him down the mare aisle to see if anybody talks to him,” Reed says. “If they seem interested, we stop to let him chat them up a bit.”

The goal is not simply to find good mating prospects for the bearer of royal bloodlines of Seattle Slew and Storm Cat, but to provide hands-on knowledge for students of equine reproduction, Reed notes.

Among other things, they learn how to handle horses who may forget their manners in the height of the moment. “He’s tested them a little bit. He may start shoving you, but, if you get after him, he’s very quick to behave,” she says. “He’s Mr. Manners after that.”

Hello ladies!

Along with the breeding experience, skilled equestrians are also planning to train the explosive runner to be a riding candidate and possibly a lesson horse for their program.

He has been lunged a couple times under saddle, and come spring, may start work with an experienced rider.

“We’ll start him English style because that’s what he’s used to. If that goes well, we could put him in a western saddle, and see if he goes western,” she says, emphasizing that he will not be jumped. An earlier injury prohibits that, she said.

But for now, the goal is to “let him learn his first job” and, when lunging, to get him collected in groundwork.

Although Reed was a big fan of their previous breeding stallion, who was retired recently, Formidable has surpassed him with his good manners, charms and looks.

In fact, people outside the university are already trying to put their mares on Formidable’s dance card!

Reed gets Formidable all dolled up

“A good friend of mine has a Thoroughbred mare descended from Spectacular Bid and another has a granddaughter of Seattle Slew,” she says, and these pals are hoping for a chance for an introduction to the new guy. “When my friend’s husband heard about him, and his bloodlines, he said, ‘Oh my gosh, we should breed both our mares to him!’ ”

But beyond the fun of it, the excitement, and the sheer joy of working with such a fine stallion, there is something else that is special about the experience.

“Ever since we got him, I’ve paid more attention to the negative news about what happens with some racehorses,” she says, “and, I love that we can look at Formidable and say, he is one who has a good life.”

44 responses to “A Formidable ladies man”

  1. Alissa

    I love having Formidable at UMC and am very excited for his baby with Norma. I’m sure it will be super cute!!!

  2. Karen

    I find it very offensive that people would think Appendix quarter horses are not quality animals. Yes I understand some of them are which you are going to get that with any breed of horse. But I personally own one that I bought from UMC, He is a great guy. Does everything asked of him and more. By no means is he a slacker.

    And I do understand why some may be upset with how things are done at UMC, and sometimes I am too. But from what I have noticed that foals that are born at our facility seem to be bought by students or faculty because we are around them everyday and just fall i love with them, their personalities, and the fact that you know where the animal came from and their background. I would rather buy a ‘grade’ horse that was born in this facility because we put in the hard work, time, effort, and even sleep at the barns when the animals are due to be born. Because I know their background and their handling.

  3. Jessie

    I am curious if there is a link for Formidable through the U of M Crookston. I would love to have more information about him at the University. Do we know if any outside mares are accepted for breeding to Formidable?

    1. Sabra

      There is not a page for him yet but there will hopefully be one soon!

  4. Amy

    As a responsible breeder I understand all points of view. As I breed with a purpose and hours of bloodline research before making my choices of crosses. But my issue is not the crosses at the University, it is whether the students are actually getting the education they and their parents are paying for. The University has this beautiful new stallion to work with, but the individual in charge of managing the breeding end of the stallion appears to be very lacking in knowledge and experience in handling a breeding stallion. The students are in danger and have not learned a thing about collecting a stallion or A.I. because the “teacher” is too afraid of the animal and hasn’t put in the time to work with the stallion to train him to collect off the phantom or there are no mares in heat to use to collect! The students are learning nothing but how to give lame excuses of why they can’t collect a stallion. Enough of the excuses! Either get it done or the students shouldn’t have to waste their time and money on this class!! Take a field trip to an equine breeding facility or go to another University that can teach them what they should be learning.

  5. Anne

    As a graduate of the College of Agriculture at Texas A&M University and long time horse owner, breeder, AND rescue/foster home, Christy, you are way off here. I have ridden numerous crossbred horses (some were rescues and some were intentional outcrosses for hybrid vigor). You statement that appendix horses are GRADE is highly offensive and ignorant. Based on that statement I assume that you have no clue that inbreeding is actually a problem. I raise paints and AQHA cow horses, but on our farm we have a Morgan mare (AHSA World Ch in reining 20 years ago – Morgans are cross breds as are APHA and AQHA registered horses, including appendix AQHA horses!) My BEST cow horse is a GRADE mare that some fool decided to dump on our driveway 15 years ago as a horribly malnourished foal along with her mom and 3 other starving horses. It is not just GRADE horses that wind up “going south of the border”. It is ignorant people who breed inferior horses whether pure bred or out crosses, or folks who end up in tough economic circumstances who sell to anyone, including killer buyers who haul them south. We have reduced the number of foals we produce to one every 2-3 years, and we have 5, count them, 5 thoroughbred adoptees on our farm right now. Two of them are foster babies from the Many, LA seizure of 60 horses – all purebred thoroughbreds! Maybe you should do your homework and research before you spout off on a university’s breeding program. Take a tour of the school, take some classes in reproduction and ranch management and livestock management before you attack this program! It is people like you who do not know facts and rush to judgement on something you are not educated in…Formidable is well bred and is put together very nicely and will cross well on AQHA and/or APHA mares! I say good luck and congratulations to the university for the donation of this fabulous stallion. By the way, we are the folks you implied donate crap horses to university’s…we donated a filly to TAMU-Commerce in 2005 as she had tetanus a s a foal and had to have hock surgery to fix the angulation in her hocks due to the epiphesis in her growth plates. She was a granddaughter of Doc Olena and out of a Majestic Dell bred mare…top notch bred mare, but because of lack of care at the breeding/foaling location, we were given the filly to help her out. So thank you making me never want to donate another horse again if we cannot find a use for it at our facility (or a cross country move that required that we reduce our herd to a manageable number!

    1. Christy

      And yet, you assume I have no background in agriculture. Why? Because I dare to disagree with people willing to breed anything with a uterus or testicles? I graduated from UMCP with a BS in Animal Sciences. I now have an M.Ed. I’ve taken several courses in reproduction, livestock management, and ranch management. I worked in the barns in college. I now have my own barn.

      You graciously proved most of my points in your post. As you said yourself, you donated a horse to TAMU. A crippled horse. Awesome. I’m certain it was quite an educational experience for the students in the program, but you donating a horse with extensive health issues is to what I was referring. Where were you when you had nice healthy foals? Not donating them because hey were making you money. You donated a filly that needed major medical intervention that would have put a serious dent in just about anyone’s pocketbook. And reducing your herd size because of a cross-country move???? Horses travel well. Maybe you should have managed your herd size all along before you moved and you wouldn’t have had to downsize.

      I stand behind every word I’ve said. There are an innumerable number of ways the university could teach their students about breeding besides bringing more horses into the world. Go to any auction and you’ll find an abundance of bred mares. How about they adopt THOSE horses and put all that great education and training into them? Then they save two lives instead of bringing more into the world.

      You guys can bash me and think what you want of me. I just hope you never find any of your horses in a feedlot. Maybe then you’ll understand where I’m comin from.

  6. louise martin

    Sorry somehow I sent my comment before I was finished. I will keep it brief. Living 5 miles from U of Pa, New Bolton, I have had nothing but good experiences with the students and the staff. I would hope that UMC students have the same goals. My friends and I are so grateful that we live so close. I experienced nothing but love and compassion when my mare was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. Working with my vet, they were able to remove the tumor and keep it “at bay. I am sure UMC are so thrilled to work with Formidable. From the sounds of things he is being treated with a lot of love. I really don’t think Three Chimneys would have donated him without careful scrutiny. I realize that there are horses donated to Universities because of the money and tax write offs. But in this case there are all good intentions. It breaks my heart every day to think of the horrible things that are done to our horses. As Susan said, we are all truly working for the same goal

    Before Deena, 20 some years ago I had the incredible experience to have a wonderful Appendix Quarter Horse. In my early 40’s and a green, green rider, this mare taught me so much. She was sweet, beautiful and patient. I believe there are very good intentions coming with the breeding of this horse.

    Good luck UMC! Keep up the wonderful work you are doing, Christy. I understand your passion. And, once again, Susan, thank you for this wonderful story. I am sure Formidable will love his new life, with all of the ladies in love with him. 🙂

  7. louise martin

    First off, great article, Sue! 🙂

    I too am an advocate for Off Track Thoroughbred. My current project is raising money for Our Mims Haven Rescue, in Paris KY. I am an owner of a 30yr old OTTB mare. If you talk to my friends and family, they would tell you saving OTTB’s is my passion. From the looks of things with the press covering the situation at Aqueduct, I am seeing more and more that people are being educated and am hoping that some day the money I raise can go to other programs such as educating our youth what it means to be a horse owner.

    I believe one should see the facility and the equine programs to be able to make a fair judgement. Living 5 miles

  8. patrice

    As a horse fanatic, I agree with Christy. Every horse born, no matter how well bred, how well trained or how much loved, means one more not so fortunate, heading across the border.

  9. Kari

    I am an Equine Science student at UMC. The mare that was bred in this case is a great mare, and the colts that are born at UMC out of mares that are bred are worked with EXTENSIVELY as part of the production classes. They are handled daily as weanlings and many times have stayed at UMC as part of the training class as well. These are not poorly bred, never-touched or taken care of colts. After their training they are often sold to equine science students, who are very knowledgeable in care and management and are industry driven. The one colt that is born here per year is not bound for slaughter, and the students are taught how to responsibly breed a horse and FOLLOW THROUGH with the colt, which is a great way to prevent neglect and slaughter in the first place. It’s not fair to bash a program that you aren’t familiar with, especially when its goal and yours is the same. UMC is educating students, and education is what is going to solve the overpopulation of horses and the slaughter issue.

  10. Duane

    The two Thoroughbred mares spoken of in the article are my wife and mine’s, our big mare is a daughter of Spectacular Bid we bred out of a Red Ryder mare (full brother to Mr. Prospector, and our little tough mare is a great-granddaughter of Seattle Slew, Majestic Light and the amazing turf mare Garland of Roses. When we heard Mr. Clay was donating a stallion it peaked our interest.

  11. Jenn

    He is gorgeous, and good manners to boot! And the forelock…wow! Usually the horses I’ve known with forelocks like that are either drafts or warmbloods. Seems he found a very fulfilling life after the track, the lucky devil.

    I find it quite disappointing that some would automatically assume a palomino QH mare owned (and subsequently bred) by a university is somehow a useless “crap” horse that should never be bred. Appendix horses are very popular as riding horses and show horses. No one should ever assume a horse is “crap” just because it happens to be a QH at a university without personally seeing the mare. That’s just arrogant.

    1. Christy

      It’s actually more arrogant to claim someone said something they didn’t. I never said the mare or the resulting foal were “crap.” I said the University created another crossbred horse. That’s just truth, not arrogance.

  12. Natalie Keller Reinert

    I still think we should be breeding for awesome forelocks, that’s all I’m sayin’ 😀 Mr. Handsome has got forelock all day. SMOOCH.

    1. Katherine Abel

      Forelocks have an excellent purpose! Natural fly masks! Right, right? BREED IT IN, you handsome devil.

  13. Katherine Abel

    I’d like to point out that Rugged Lark was, in fact, half thoroughbred – and by your definition, Christy, a “grade” horse. The university should breed for soundness and good minds. Appendixes are very capable performances horses. Should extra horses be bred? Nah. But these horses have purpose, good breeding, and waiting homes. You are missing the point: PEDIGREES should not be the ultimate goal of a good breeder: sound, tractable horses should be. I can think of many breeds that have lines which are chock-full of genetic problems and weak conformation (many such horses end up at slaughter because they can’t do their jobs). Your argument is weak.

    1. Christy

      I ABSOLUTELY agree with that, Katherine. 100% in agreement. And that’s not “my” definition. That’s the definition of a crossbred, no matter how successful or popular the horse is. But, by the admittance of a student in the program, “We do not have top of the line horses … So we work with what we are given.” Horses that are not top of the line IN SOMETHING should NOT be bred. If that mare is a dead broke trail horse with decent conformation who takes care of her rider through thick and thin, should she be bred? Maybe. I can go for that. That’s a personality that could stand to be propagated. If she’s a failed riding horse who her owners donated for the tax break because she’s a nasty b**** who dumped her rider constantly, well, she doesn’t need to be bred. EVER, regardless of the stallion. I have no idea what she is. What I do know is, from the sound of the article, that the university is breeding indiscriminately.

      1. Katherine Abel

        I think you are making a snap judgement. Universities do not generally just turn out crap horses.

        1. Kayla


        2. Christy

          Sorry Katherine, but yes they do. I’ve seen them, I’ve ridden them, I’ve tried to place them. They do exactly what Kayla said. They work with what they have. I’d love to say that the horses that get donated are usually top quality, but they’re not. They’re usually from people looking to rid themselves of extra mouths to feed for a tax break. Sad, but true. One such example is the OSU debacle of a year or so ago. That’s just one example.

    2. Natalie Keller Reinert

      “PEDIGREES should not be the ultimate goal of a good breeder: sound, tractable horses should be.”

      That’s a really good point, Kat. Well said.

  14. Wendy Treadaway

    Another great article, Susan! Looks like Mr. Handsome will have a great future at Minnesota that’ll include lots of different “jobs” for him to keep him busy and happy. My nicely bred, beautiful Appendix mare would love to have a date with him, herself!

  15. Christy

    Breeding him to a quarter horse? WTF? As if there aren’t enough grade (aka appendix) horses in the pipeline already. Huge FAIL University of Minnesota. If you want to teach your students about reproduction, why not do it respectfully and systematically, to better the breed, not willy-nilly pumping out a bunch of grade crosses? Why not be selective to what you breed? Everything with a uterus does NOT need to be bred.

    1. rachel

      I am a graduate from the school and the foals produced are turned into well rounded riding horses. Don’t judge a horse you’ve never met. We are taught every aspect of reproduction and usually only breed for one foal a year.

      1. Christy

        I have no doubt the mare is wonderful. Everyone thinks their horse is wonderful. I have three wonderful horses, 2 OTTBs and a Welsh pony. All three are geldings because not every wonderful horse with testicles or a uterus needs to be bred. Why couldn’t the university work with Three Chimneys directly and send you guys to study at their breeding facility, where quality is bred to quality, instead of allowing their horse to be bred to whatever comes along? Sorry, as someone who fights everyday for horses NOT to be slaughtered, I stand behind my original reaction. FAIL. Universities and their vets are typically pro-slaughter. Why? Because they feel there is no better way to dispose of “overpopulated” or “unwanted horses.” How about they stop contributing to the mess we try to prevent and clean up? There are so many better ways for you guys to learn about reproduction.

        That said, I mean no disrespect to the students. You are doing what you are told and being taught what you need to learn. For that, I applaud you. I just wish it was done differently.

        1. Kayla

          I would just like to add that our school. Has been trying to teach Formidable to learn how to mount the fantom. Coming to our school he had no prior experience breeding. We did actually breed some other horses in our barn to just to help Formidable learn what breeding was. As for the other mares that we had him breed, we terminated the pregnancy. Some people may see this is wrong but in the end its educational and hopefully soon we will be able to learn about collection using Formidable and the fantom instead of breeding our horses.

    2. Kayla

      I would just like you to know that at the University of Minnesota, CROOKSTON. We do not have top of the line horses. Most of them are donated to us. So we work with what we are given. And she is a very nicely built quarter horse. So dont say that we at the University of Minnesota, CROOKSTON! are failing because we are just working with what we have.

    3. Natalie Keller Reinert

      It seems pretty unfair to imply that all cross-breds are automatically worthless. There are plenty of outstanding “grade” horses out there… and if this is an AQHA registered mare, then the foal will be eligible to be registered with the AQHA as well. Not to mention as an American Warmblood. Not exactly “grade.”

      1. Christy

        If you knew me, you’d know that I am in NO way implying, nor did I state, that all cross-breds are worthless. I advocate for all animals, regardless of breeding, but the bottom line is that registered horses are MUCH easier to pull and place in dire times. Talk to any rescuer. It’s sad, but true. I have known, owned, loved, and mourned many an animal of indiscriminate breeding. Personally, registries mean NOTHING to me, especially made up registries like American Warmblood and Warmbloods of Color, etc. I’d personally own a barnful of haphazardly bred animals. But, when it comes down to being shipped to Mexico or not, registered horses are far more likely to be saved “at the last minute” than horses that are not.

        1. Katherine Abel

          See my reply at the bottom of the thread…for some reason it didn’t attach to the right place…

        2. Katherine Abel

          Nevermind, I’ll just put it here. lol

          I’d like to point out that Rugged Lark was, in fact, half thoroughbred – and by your definition, Christy, a “grade” horse. The university should breed for soundness and good minds. Appendixes are very capable performances horses. Should extra horses be bred? Nah. But these horses have purpose, good breeding, and waiting homes. You are missing the point: PEDIGREES should not be the ultimate goal of a good breeder: sound, tractable horses should be. I can think of many breeds that have lines which are chock-full of genetic problems and weak conformation (many such horses end up at slaughter because they can’t do their jobs). Your argument is weak.

      2. Christy

        And, the AQHA will register and promote the breeding of anything to get your money. They’re a very vocal pro-slaughter group. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of AQHA members who are anti-slaughter, but the organization itself is pro-slaughter. Any group that not only allows, but promotes the breeding of N/H and Herda horses has no clout, IMO.

        Does that mean that I hate Quarter Horses or that I consider them POS? Heck no. I love Quarter Horses. Some of the sanest, most beautiful, most talented horses I’ve ever ridden have been Quarter Horses. I love them. This article must have caught me on a bad day. The fight against slaughter is tiring. Reading stuff like this just gets under my skin. We see enough impeccably bred horses getting slaughtered. I just don’t think adding another crossbred to the mix, by a university no less, just so these kids can learn about breeding is the way to go. Especially, in the words of a current student, “We do not have top of the line horses … So we work with what we are given.”

        1. Katherine Abel

          My point is that there is crap in EVERY BREED. Why not breed for quality horses? Then, put good training on them. Such horses are unlikely to end up at slaughter. Sound of mind and body are not the majority of slaughter horses. I’m not saying that good horses are never at slaughterhouses, but often they need retraining, weight, attention to an injury…there are exceptions, but as a general rule, a horse who is well trained and very sound is very easy to place in a home, regardless of a pedigree which is nothing NOTHING but fashion.

        2. Irina

          I totally agree with you Christy. I was surprised as well with the breeding to the quarter horse. You’re not having a bad day, you are completely right. Keep up!

    4. Monica

      There are appendix race horses and in my opinion are the best the two breeds have to offer. I would love to have a foal of his out of a quarter horse mare. He’s gorgeous and i wish the very best to the school 🙂

    5. Tareyn Stomberg

      I would like to say that as the owner of the foal in question, I couldn’t be happier. While Barney(Formidable) isn’t my favorite horses, he’s a bit sassy, I do love Norma and I couldn’t be happier with Belle. She’s adorable and definitely wasn’t a waste of breeding. If you don’t have anything nice to say about her keep it to yourself…since YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH HER AND NEVER WILL.

  16. Natalie Keller Reinert

    Oh my god THAT FACE. What a doll. This horse has the wrong name. Formidable? MR. SEXY FORELOCK.*

    *not insane

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