GoHorseShow is sad to report the passing of an AQHA legend, Mr Zippo Pine, due to complications from old age and arthritis. The 1995 NSBA Hall of Fame inductee was 30 years-old when he passed and was buried at owner Abby Jo White's parents farm located in Salina, Kansas.
"He truly was one of the best, and lived a great life. He touched a lot of people - from great horse trainers and breeders to some of the best in the horse show world, not to mention 4-H kids, neighbors and family. I was very lucky to have a horse like him," says owner Abby Jo White.
Known to many as, "Big Boy" and "Big Guy", this talented 15.3 hand gelding wasn't really that tall but his heart was huge. He was by Zippo Pine Bar and out of Tamara Wess making him a full brother to Zippos Mr Good Bar. Big Guy is known by many for setting the standards for the modern-day western pleasure horse. The 1982 sorrel gelding was owned by Darrell Saul of Des Arc, Arkansas when he won several prestigious awards with Jody Galyean in the saddle. Some of his wins include the Texas Breeders' Futurity, the Texas Classic, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, Arkansas Jamboree and the Grand Twenty.
According to an article in the September 1995 issue of The Quarter Horse Journal, Mr Zippo Pine had futurity earnings of $184,000 in 1984 and 1985. Winnings were not tabulated as well as they are today, and according to Galyean, "A more accurate estimate would be close to a quarter of a million dollars for those two years."
Galyean also states in the article that, "Mr Zippo Pine won because he was great-minded and very consistent. He just hardly ever made a mistake. He also naturally carried his head and neck in the perfect position, and he left it there all of the time."
In 1995, at the age of 13, Big Guy was sold to 11 year-old youth exhibitor Abby Jo White for her to learn how to ride. Her parents purchased him from Gayle Wilkins who was her 4-H club's horse project leader and a friend of the family. Gayle and her husband, Chuck, lived in Kansas on a beautiful ranch, but they had recently purchased a house near a golf course in Salina, Kansas, and they needed to sell their horses.
"When I first got Big Guy, he was a total diva. I don’t think he’d ever been ridden outside of an arena. I tried to take him on a trail ride that fall, and he spooked at just about every leaf that fell from the trees," White remembers and laughs. The two eventually became best friends. "Big Guy was a good old boy. He was so sweet, and gave the best hugs. Anytime I was upset, I would bury my head in his neck and things always seemed like they were going to be okay. He was also smart. He would walk, jog and lope on the announcer’s cue in a western pleasure class."
Abby's mom also taught Big Guy how to shake hands. Even though he was so slow and had that perfect western pleasure jog and lope, he also loved to run.
"I would occasionally take him at a dead run down the county road," Abby recalled. "We even won a high point buckle once by entering the running events. We used to say the NSBA Hall-of-Famer has a nine second time in Flags!"
In 2004 at the age of 22, Abby's family tried to retired Big Guy from the show ring, but he was bored. "I was busy with college and starting young horses, and Big Guy wasn’t happy just standing in the pasture – he wanted to be ridden. I remember taking one of my two year-olds to fun night at a local arena one evening, and Big Guy just stared at the trailer, like he wanted to go along – so I loaded him up, too," she fondly remembers. "That evening, a friend’s son, Vaughn Plumer, fell off of his horse, and was too nervous to get back on. Instead, I offered for him to ride Big Guy for the rest of the evening, and they had a blast together."
Abby continues, "Later, Big Guy went to live at their house, and continued to teach kids how to ride. Vaughn and Big Guy went on many long trail rides together. When Vaughn outgrew him, he was passed on to another family so he could teach their daughter how to ride. He was never truly retired and a true legend. He will be greatly missed."
Abby would like to thank the Sparacino Family and the Plumer Family, for taking care of Big Guy in his old age.
This is the name we gave him when he was a yearling. I am surprised that the name stayed with him. To this day we use his traits to rate our other horses. Mr. Zippo Pine was actually broke out by me, Kathie Saul. I was pregnant at the time and didn't know it, When I found out I quit riding and Dean finished him out. We didn't take him to Jody until he was almost ready to show. We loved that horse. So many people had the opportunity to purchase him until we realized what we had and then he wasn't for sale any more! He became so famous winning saddles, trucks, trailers and big checks. You know that if Mr. Zippo Pine had not been so great and perfect we might not have left his full brother Zippos Mr. Goodbar ( a roan in 1984) a stallion It was all meant to be. I am thankful Mr. Zippo Pine touched so many lives he had such a great home and so many people loved him. Kathie Saul