Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #7322
Foaled:  May 9, 1958
Died:  ? 1976

Absarokee Sunset - Renegade

Absarokee Sunset's parentage is something of an enigma. By the Appaloosa stallion Flamingo Of AA (by Chief Navajo and out of an unregistered Thoroughbred mare) and out of Powdered Sugar (a mare with unknown parentage top and bottom), Absarokee Sunset didn't have to live up to much. However he proved to be one of the finest sires in the Appaloosa breed.

Foaled May 9, 1958, Absarokee Sunset was bred by Gwen McKittrick, then of Ashland, Montana. He was named after the region in Montana in which he was born, Absarokee, and the Montana sky at sunset which turned orange while white clouds sprinkled the horizon -- much like the sorrel colt with the big white blanket.

From the time Don Mecklenburg, a friend of McKittrick's, saw Absarokee Sunset, he knew he had to have the colt. Mecklenburg knew Absarokee Sunset's sire's and dam's backgrounds and that, together with what he saw in the two-year-old, spurred Mecklenburg to strike a deal with McKittrick.

Mecklenburg, a forest service ranger, took Absarokee Sunset to Colorado where he broke the rambunctious youngster and began using him in the mountains.

"He was about half raunchy," said Mecklenburg in an October 1986 Appaloosa Journal interview. "Every time I'd try to ride him as a two year old, he'd try to buck with me."

But Mecklenburg also realized Absarokee Sunset's natural ability and potential, and he took the stallion to Bob Hankla for further training and a run at the show pen. Eventually Mecklenburg also showed Absarokee Sunset, but it was Hankla who entered the majority of the competitions on the versatile horse who won in halter, Western pleasure, reining, roping, trail and games events. In 1961, Absarokee Sunset won the World Show rope race and in 1962 Western pleasure. At one time Mecklenburg had collected over 250 trophies with Absarokee Sunset, and the stallion consistently took top honors at the Colorado State Fair and the Denver Stock Show.

"You could win anything on him," said Mecklenburg in the October 1986 interview. "You could run the rope race, then turn right around and put him in Western pleasure and he'd settle right down and win the thing. He was a super horse by today's classification." [Joe's note: Information shows that Absarokee Sunset sired many champions, earning an Appaloosa Horse Club bronze production plaque. Prince Plaudit was the first stallion to receive that award.] Earning the points mostly in performance, his 449 registered foals included 64 performance winners who earned a total of 2,165 performance points. In addition, even though many of his foals were being shown before the medallion system, 14 of his foals earned 51 halter points, he sired 10 superior performance horses, one versatility champion and 15 bronze medallion winners.

Bred to mares such as Miss Blue Light (AQHA), Pokeylo Revenue (AQHA), Miss Bay Dog (AQHA), Senator Louise, Delicate Dodger (AQHA), Just Plain Jane, Bendi Charge and Jodie Bess (AQHA), some of Absarokee Sunset's progeny included: Absarokee Too Much, Absarokee Rebel, Absarokee Wise Guy, Absarokee's M.G., Absarokee Sunny, Absarokee Dodger, Absarokee Wisebuy, Absarokee Tico, Absarokee Candy Bar, Absarokee Do-Rite, Sudden Death, Absarokee Jodie and Absarokee Smutt. Absarokee Smutt's dam, Smutty Scoot (AQHA), proved to be the finest cross, producing nine foals, six of which were National and/or World Champions.

It was Absarokee Sun who proved to be his sire's greatest competition.

"What happened is Sunset got out one night when he was at Bob's and apparently bred this mare," said Mecklenburg in the October 1986 article. "On the Fourth of July the next year she had a colt, and that was Absarokee Sun. We hauled those two horses all over the country. Absarokee Sunset usually stood in front of Sun until Sun got to be about three years old, then Sun would beat him at halter quite frequently. At some places one would win and at other places the other would. Absarokee Sun was probably his most outstanding horse colt. He and Sunset stood grand and reserve almost everywhere we hauled them."

Unfortunately, Absarokee Sun had to be put down as a four-year-old after hanging a leg in a gate. A year later, Hankla, who was in the process of purchasing Absarokee Sunset in partnership with Dr. R. H. Durham of Kansas City, Missouri, was killed in a car wreck. Dunham went through with the purchase, and Absarokee Sunset moved to Missouri in 1965.

Mecklenburg's reasons for selling his favored stallion were purely financial. In Missouri, Absarokee Sunset died at the age of 18. Although it's believed that he died of colic, no autopsy was performed to determine the exact cause of death. Absarokee Sunset was inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame in 1988.

{This article, by Robin Hirzel, and accompanying photograph were taken from an article originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, December 1997, Vol 51, No. 12, "Legends ABSAROKEE SUNSET Renegade" and are used here by permission.}

Copyright © 1997 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

Chestnut TB mare
Dam:  POWDERED SUGAR (ApHC) WILDFIRE (Sorrel range stallion)
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