Dean Tuftin's DT Horses earns its second straight Farnam All-Around Horse title with DT Elenor Shine Whiz's junior win.
WHEN DEAN TUFTIN OF BEND, OREGON, THREW HIS FINAL HEEL loop in the 10th round of the 2007 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, he knew he was closing one chapter in his life and would soon be opening another.
"I knew what my plan was," he says. "It was to go home and raise horses and my kids. I didn't want to drag my kids around the country. If I'm going to drag them around the country, it's going to be doing what they want to do and not what I want to do. I felt like that's what I needed to do, and I don't regret it one bit."
As Dean and wife Leslie's daughters grew, he found himself trading time at ropings for time spent courtside, watching his daughter Maysa, 14, play tennis and his youngest, 12-year-old Maggie, play volleyball.
The time away from rodeo also allowed Dean to take the fledgling breeding program that had started years earlier with his late mother-in-law Margie Denton to the next level. The program, which started as Canyon Horse Sales, has produced two AQHA all-around champions, four AQHA world champions and a two-time AQHA-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Heel Horse of the Year.
The program's most recent champion is DT Elenor Shine Whiz, aka "Elenor," a 2011 daughter of Shiners Lena Chex and out of the Kings Zantanon mare Slynking Sugar Whiz, one of the foundation mares of Dean's program. Elenor is the 2016 Farnam All-Around Junior Horse and the overall all-around winner.
ELENOR GOT HER START WITH CHAMPION REINED COW HORSE trainer Jake Telford and spent most of her second year at his Caldwell, ldaho, facility. In the fall, she headed south to Scottsdale, Arizona, where she started her training as a rope horse with Shawn Grant. After four months in Arizona, Elenor returned to Bend, where Dean continued to train and rope on her until she was ready to go to AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates in Pueblo, Colorado.
"We knew how good she was going to be pretty early, but you never know how they're going to show," Dean says. "She was great at home really early, right off the bat. By the end of her 3-year-old year, I felt like she needed to go to some shows because she was really good. She just felt like a 5-year-old when she was 3. She still shows that maturity now.”
J .D. showed the mare enough to get her qualified for the 2015 Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show as a 4-year-old. She was the reserve world champion in junior heeling and third in junior heading - her only two classes.
"She was a good horse when I started showing her," J.D. says. "It's just easy for her to go do her job and win."
Knowing how talented she was, Dean planned on having Elenor shown extensively as a 5-year-old. In addition to winning the all-around title, Elenor also won 2015 junior highpoint titles in tie-down roping, heading and heeling.
"She was just super successful," Dean says. "She's just really solid and really good minded. Obviously, she's really talented, too. She's really quiet - which is a trademark of those (original) mares - yet she can step up and be super athletic."
DEAN'S SUCCESSFUL BREEDING PROGRAM BEGAN WITH THE PURCHASE of Elenor's dam, Slynking Sugar Whiz, whom he bought as a 2-year-old, and the mare's 3-year-old full sister, Kings Sly Sugar. Both Kings Zantanon daughters are out of Samantha Whiz by Topsail Whiz.
"I love those little old mares," Dean says. "I loved their look. We ended up raising a lot of good ones out of them."
Dean found the mares in Rhode Island when he was looking for cow-horse-type mares that would cross well with Fols Classy Snazzy, Margie's barrel racing stallion who carried Marlene McRae to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The pairing yielded just one foal crop due to the tragic loss of Fols Classy Snazzy to a broken leg.
Fortunately, Dean had already stumbled upon a magic cross with sons of the all-around western performance sire Shining Spark. He liked the cross so well that he purchased Shiners Lena Chex, a son of Shining Spark who is out of a Smart Little Lena-Bueno Chex-bred mare.
Unfortunately, both of his grand old mares were open for 2017. However, their daughters are now in the broodmare band and producing the next generation of champions like King Snazzy Sugar, who produced world show roping finalist DT Diamonds R King by Lena Docs Diamond.
"There are definitely more to come," Dean says.
THAT'S BECAUSE DEAN'S H0ME-GROWN WORLD CHAMPS HAVE A funny way of finding their way back to him.
Dean sold DT Shesa Dun Whiz, aka "Roxie," to Brazilian roper Marcus Orefice, who had J.D. show her in the open division at the Lucas Oil World in 2014 and 2015. Roxie didn't win any trophies at either of those world shows, but she had enough points during the year to be the 2015 Farnam Senior All-Around Horse.
"(Roxie's owners) came up to me at the (2015) World Show and said they were going to sell her and asked if I would be interested," Dean says. "I said, 'Sure, I'd love to raise babies out of her.' "
So, Roxie, whose dam is a full sister to Elenor, came home.
Elenor, on the other hand, had been given to country music legend, roper and AQHA life member George Strait, whom Dean knew through roping and his own country music career. In 2015, Dean brought Wrangler, Resistol and Justin Boots on board and presented the 4-year-old mare to George at his annual team roping classic.
After the 2016 Lucas Oil World, George offered her back to Dean with one stipulation.
"Our little horse swap is for me to get a horse for his grandson down the road," Dean says. "So I've got her back and we're getting babies out of her."
Dean is looking at crossing his two all-around superstar mares to his champion reined cow horse stallion Hickory Holly Time, a son of One Time Pepto and out of the great mare Hickorys Holly Cee, by Doc's Hickory.
"I felt like those mares have wonderful outcross potential," he says. "Those mares have shown and won so much and proven so much that we have a lot of potential to go that direction."
Dean says they're currently in the process of flushing an embryo out of Elenor and by Hickory Holly Time so they can continue riding her at home.
"My daughter wants to start riding her around the ranch," he says, "and I'll probably steal her for a roping every now and then."
Tanya Randall is a special contributor to the Journal. To comment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.