Penny Youngblood and Nancy Pearce with Im Countin Checks
While in her prime, three-time NCHA world champion, 1996 NCHA Horse of the Year, and (at the time) cutting’s richest mare, Meradas Little Sue, commanded the highest price ever paid for a cutting horse at public auction. That was in 2001, when she was 11 years old and Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt sold her for $875,000 to Frank VanderSloot, through the NCHA Futurity Preferred Breeders Sale.

On December 12, 2013, Meradas Little Sue, about to turn 24, again went under the hammer at the NCHA Futurity Preferred Breeders Sale. By now she had produced 27 foals, 22 of which were performers with official NCHA earnings of $1,128,914. Her last foal, a High Brow Cat filly, was born in 2013 and she was selling open, however, her breeding condition was not a factor when Penny Youngblood and Nancy Pearce made the winning bid of $46,000.

“We were actually looking at a daughter of Sue. We never saw any announcements that Sue was selling and we had not perused the sale catalog completely!” said Pearce, co-owner and associate manager of Circle Y Ranch. “After we passed on Sue’s daughter, I was thumbing forward through the catalog and went about ten pages past that mare and there was Meradas Little Sue! My heart stopped, and then I elbowed Penny and said, ‘Look! It’s Sue!’

“We thought nothing may ever happen with this mare reproductively, but if we can get her for a good price, she will have a wonderful loving home for the rest of her life. We may be able to get some oocytes out of her, but regardless, just to have her with us is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and July 4th all rolled into one.”

Two years ago, Youngblood and Pearce acquired their first cutting horse broodmares from Alice Walton’s Rocking W Ranch. NCHA Horse of the Year Boon San Kitty and her full sister RW Sallycat were especially dear to Walton, as the fourth generation of her breeding program. In addition, Boon San Kitty, the earner of $565,504, had produced Walton-bred Rockin W, winner of the 2009 NCHA Futurity.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever have two like them, but I am in the breeding business and it’s all about the next generation,” said Walton, when she sold the full sisters, twins from the same flush. “I can’t breed them to my stallions because Rockin W and The Boon are Boon San Kitty’s sons, and Boon San is a full brother. But I never would have parted with them, if I didn’t think it was the perfect home. I felt it was an opportunity to make sure they were together in the right place for the rest of their lives.”

Two months after the Circle Y Ranch became the proud owners of Boon San Kitty and RW Sallycat, Youngblood and Pearce purchased the young stallion Im Countin Checks, earner of $513,408, from his breeder, Tommy Manion. Five months later, they purchased Quintan Blue, multiple champion and winner of $609,140, along with her embryo by Smooth As A Cat, at the Marvine Ranch Reduction Sale.

Not long after they made their commitment to cutting horses, Youngblood and Pearce began looking for a ranch closer to the I-20 ranch corridor west of Fort Worth, than the original Circle Y Ranch, near Aubrey, Tex., northwest of Denton. As luck would have it, Dave and Clare Capps were selling their Radio Ranch cutting facility, with rolling pastures skirted by lovely wooded areas, near Millsap. Youngblood and Pearce purchased the property, along with venerable One Time Soon, 25, a top producer and dam of leading sire One Time Pepto. In the Summer of 2013, Circle Y also purchased the Peptoboonsmal daughter Poosmal, out of the great producer Hickapoo.

Improvements to the new Circle Y Ranch include bigger barns, paddocks, and mare motels to accommodate 14 broodmares and counting, along with foals, yearlings and two-year-olds. Also, beginning this month, John Sanislow joins Circle Y Ranch as resident trainer. “John worked for Gerald Alexander and Matt Gaines and he’s a great fit for the Circle Y,” said Pearce. “He’s excited about our breeding program and the horses we have coming up, and he will have two of our three-year-olds to show in the Futurity this year, although we will still have a few older horses with outside trainers.

“We wish we had started our cutting horse program years ago,” added Pearce. “We aren’t getting any younger and these great mares aren’t getting any younger. But we can hardly wait to see the Im Countin Checks babies out of these mares trained and shown.”