Cutting great Gun Smokes Wimpy: 1984 to 2009

January 29th, 2009

Gun Smokes Wimpy, the second highest earner in the history of NCHA world championship events, with $661,431, was put to rest on January 26, at the Tecumseh, Oklahoma ranch of his owner, Debbie Patterson.

The former NCHA non-pro world champion had bounced back from colic surgery four years ago, when it was necessary to remove so much of his small intestine, veterinarians weren’t sure he would survive. But colic symptoms earlier this week indicated that the 25-year-old gelding had developed another blockage.

“He didn’t have enough intestine left to take out this time,” Patterson said. “I couldn’t put him through that surgery and then have him starve to death. I loved that horse with all of my heart.”

Patterson, a three-time NCHA non-pro world champion and NCHA Non-Pro Futurity champion, received Gun Smokes Wimpy, known as “Gunner,” as a Christmas gift from Ernest Cannon, who had used the gelding as a backup in 1991, when he won the NCHA non-pro world championship on Jae Bar Fletch. In 1992, Cannon rode Gun Smokes Wimpy to place ninth in NCHA open world standings behind Patterson’s brother, Kenny, on Jae Bar Fletch.

Pat Patterson, a former world champion and father of Debbie and Kenny, was riding Gun Smokes Wimpy for Cannon in 1993, when lung cancer claimed his life. “He had planned on hauling Gunner the next year,” Debbie said. “So that horse had a lot of sentimental value for me. He was the last horse that Dad rode. He rode him two days before he died.”

It took Debbie and Gunner about a year to develop a solid working relationship, but once they did, there was no stopping them. In 1995, they won the NCHA world championship non-pro title with $78,777. “When we won that first championship, we were on a mission,” Patterson said. “I dedicated that win to Dad.”

The next year, Patterson and Gunner finished third in non-pro world championship standings with $85,915, despite being sidelined for three months, while Gunner recovered from thrombosis. In 1997, the pair earned another non-pro world championship, this time with $112,730.

“There was a stretch for about three weeks in 1997 that we made a cutting every day and won every one of them,” Patterson remembered. “I never worked him. I just kept him in shape and went and showed. He had a heart as huge as Texas.”

If she had to pick a favorite performance, Patterson thinks it would be the 2002 NCHA Non-Pro World Finals in Houston, her third World Finals win on Gunner (they also won in 1999 and 2000). “He loved Houston,” she remembered. “The louder the crowd would get, the more he would turn it on.”

Gun Smoke Wimpy’s last performance came as 2005 NCHA senior youth scholarship champion at the NCHA Summer Spectacular, under Clint Pooley.

“Those kind of horses are a once in a lifetime, dream come true,” said Patterson. “I thank God that I had him every day that I did.”

Gun Smokes Wimpy, a 1984 foal by Gun Smokes Pistol out of Lacy Jo Whipple, by Davey Whipple, was bred by Lanna Wolfenbarger, Ledbetter, Kentucky.