From left: Kyle Manion, Penny Youngblood, Nancy Pearce, Chris Manion, Tommy Manion
Circle Y Ranch, which purchased NCHA Horse of the Year and NCHA Futurity champion producer Boon San Kitty, along with her twin, RW Sallycat, this past March, cemented its commitment to the cutting horse industry with the purchase of Im Countin Checks, LTE $513,408, whose first full crop of foals are 3-year-olds of 2012.

“We gave this a lot of thought,” said Tommy Manion, who raised Im Countin Checks, by Smart Lil Ricochet, out of million-dollar producer Autumn Boon. “It was a tough decision. He was bred to some fabulous mares and those colts are just now beginning to show.

“But we think the world of Penny (Youngblood) and Nancy (Pearce) and know that they are willing to dedicate themselves to making Circle Y Ranch a major player in the cutting industry. This horse will go a long way toward letting them achieve their goals and we will continue breeding him to some of our Smooth As A Cat daughters.”

Youngblood, owner/manager of Circle Y Ranch, Aubrey, Tex., and Pearce, associate ranch manager, were already thinking about acquiring a cutting stallion, when they purchased Boon San Kitty and RW Sallycat from Alice Walton’s Rocking W Ranch. Their list of well-connected stallions was a short one, but as fate would have it, their first choice was practically in their own backyard, just two miles north of the Circle Y at Manion Ranch, lifetime breeding home of the legendary Smart Little Lena.

“His pedigree opens up so many different ways of breeding, it’s the magic outcross.” said Youngblood, whose father, the late J. Lee Youngblood, stood famous AQHA champion sire Pawnee Eagle.

It was Im Countin Checks’ dam that initially clicked for Youngblood and Pearce. “We loved the Autumn Boon bloodlines,” said Pearce. “The Royal Blue Boon and Dual Pep was pure magic for us, and of course, Smart Little Ricochet through Smart Little Lena and Moria Sugar.”

“The first day I saw Penny at the Super Stakes, she showed me a hand written pedigree she had made with Im Countin Checks on the top and Boon San Kitty on the bottom,” said Don Ham, who will stand Im Countin Checks in 2013. “She had done her homework pretty good.”

Im Countin Checks will finish out the 2012 season at ESMS on the Brazos with Tommy Manion as the contact, but Ham will stand the stallion at his Whitesboro, Tex. breeding facility in 2013, along with High Brow CD and Spots Hot.

“Don Ham is kind of the father of all this,” said Pearce. “We went to his place to see High Brow CD and asked him if he knew of any Smart Little Lena mares that might interest us. He said, no, but he’d get back with us. And the rest is history (April 2012 Cutting Horse Chatter, page 118).

In addition to sterling credentials, Im Countin Checks also comes to the Circle Y Ranch with a personality that has endeared him to all of his connections, including trainer, Matt Gaines, who showed him as a finalist in 23 major events, with six championship wins, and Kyle Manion, who showed him for two major non-pro wins and six finals.

“I know that he holds a special place in Matt’s and Tara’s hearts,” said Kyle, who owns homebred Smooth As A Cat, a leading sire in 2011. “Whenever Tara would bring a mare to the ranch to be bred, she’d go see him and sit in his stall. And when she’d leave, she’d break down and cry.”

Im Countin Checks also elicited similar emotions from Kyle’s mother, Chris Manion, on the day that his sale was finalized.

“We were getting ready to sign the papers and I looked over at Chris and she had tears welling in her eyes,” Pearce recalled. “And I knew at that moment this had to be a really special horse to evoke that kind of emotional response from his owner.”

“He has so much charisma and has always been this really, really happy horse,” said Chris. “I had a little trepidation about selling him because he’s a friend. But after I met Penny and Nancy, I felt differently because I saw how loving and and respectful they are toward their horses.”

Youngblood and Pearce have promised that as soon as Im Countin Checks comes home following breeding season, to the special barn they are building for him at Circle Y Ranch, the Manions will have carte blanche visiting privileges, just as Alice Walton does with Miss Piggy (Boon San Kitty) and Jenny (RW Sallycat).

“We love and spoil all of our horses,” said Youngblood. “They are a passion that Nancy and I have had since a very young age and they deserve to be loved.”