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Kathy Higgins photo

Smart Boons with Corey Cushing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the heels of a dominant year in working cow bridle competition, Smart Boons has been retired from the show pen as he embarks on his new career as a breeding stallion.

Under trainer Corey Cushing, the striking 8-year old red roan stallion (Peptoboonsmal X Smart Little Easter) recorded two major 2012 wins in his first year in the bridle — the Magnificent 7 at Horse Expo in June, then the World’s Richest Stock Horse event at the National Stock Horse Association Futurity in August — and pushed his lifetime earnings to almost $200,000.

Smart Boons, the 2009 National Reined Cow Horse Association Derby Open champion, is owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight. The owners and Corey and Kristin Cushing first made the announcement Dec. 26.

“He’s been a great horse for a long time, and I think the most important thing if you want to have a breeding stallion is to finish when he is at the top of his game,” said Cushing, who took Smart Boons early in his 4-year-old year. The colt had been trained as a 2-year-old by Jason Herschberger to a 2008 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Limited Open Finalist.

“With the success Smart Boons had this year, we felt he was at the height of his career, and this was the best time,” added Cushing, who ranks the stud atop his list of career show pen partners. “Not only was he one of my most favorite horses to ride, he was probably up there with the greatest horses I’ve ever swung my leg over. It didn’t matter what event you were riding him in — whether it be the cutting , reining or down the fence or even in the roping — he just made me feel like the possibilities were endless.”

Cushing has been impressed with Smart Boon’s consistency through the competitive ranks.

“For him to go through all the different changes in the various parts of his career — as far as being good in the futurities, to the derbies, to being a good hackamore horse, to a good bridle horse — that says a lot,” Cushing said. “It’s one thing if the horse has a big hit here and there, but what’s more important to me is a horse that stays consistent all through his career.”

The horse’s versatility also stands out, and Cushing expects that quality to influence his breeding career.

“I think he’s going to produce in whatever direction you want to take him,” he said. “A lot of guys as well as myself believe he could have been a bigtime cutter, could have done the reining, and he proved himself in the cow horse. And you can make a great rope horse, on top of that. The possibilities are endless. And the great mares that we’ve gotten to him and the great mares that are coming — that’s what we’re really excited about.”

“It’s the next step in his life, and hopefully he throws all that to all his babies,” he aded. “We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that things go on and make him the true breeding horse that we’re sure hoping he’s going to be.”

Smart Boons’s retirement announcement came within weeks of the tragic loss Dec. 14 of Chic’s Magic Potion, the top cow horse money-earner of all-time who was put down after a leg fracture during a demonstration. Cushing said the accident had no bearing on the retirement.

“That was devastating, and I’m so sorry for Bob and his loss,” said Cushing. “We had already decided to retire him in beginning of December before that ever happen with Magic. That was one of those absolute freaky things that you would never in a million years see coming.”

Smart Boons will now reside in Weatherford, Texas, at Weatherford Equine with Justin Ritthaler, DVM.

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