Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #301800
Foaled:  1979
Color:   Chestnut

Ima Doc and Wade Miller
Ima Doc O'Lena - "A Cut Above"
(with Wade Smith on board)

The mark of a great stallion is measured by his ability to pass his superior qualities on to generations following. As an Appaloosa cutting horse sire, Ima Doc O'Lena has no equal. Holding the number four position on the 1999 Appaloosa Horse Club's list of leading sires of Appaloosa performance horses and ranking number three on the list of leading sires of point-earning performance horses, Ima Doc O'Lena has proven himself both in the cutting pen and in the breeding barn. But more than that, he's proven that the qualities that've defined him as a premier cutting sire flow like molten lava, setting fires in other performance arenas as well.

Ride-along fortune
The late Jimmie D. Miller and his only child Jimmie Miller Smith have long demonstrated a knack for breeding outstanding Appaloosas. Working cattle on their 5,000-acre Geary, Oklahoma, ranch, the father-and-daughter team became impassioned with the horse world's equivalent to the adrenalin highs:   cutting. Once enslaved to the cutting discipline, the pair, joined by Jimmie Miller Smith's sons, Jimmie Jack (also of Geary) and Miller Wade (Wade, of El Reno, Oklahoma), set out to improve the natural ability of Appaloosa cutters. They succeeded as no others have and fostered a new respect for the breed in what has always been a predominantly Quarter Horse sport.

The Millers' influence in the Appaloosa cutting pen has been paralleled by Ima Doc O'Lena's. Just as the few members of the Miller and Smith families succeeded in improving the competitiveness of Appaloosas in the cutting pen, few horses have influenced the Appaloosa breed in the way that Ima Doc O'Lena has.

As a young woman, Jimmie had been bitten hard by the cutting bug. Doc O'Lena was the first horse ever to win all four go-rounds of the 1970 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Recognizing his talent, Jimmie approached Shorty Freeman, the Quarter Horse's owner, about breeding Doc O'Lena to her Appaloosa mare, My Happiness, in 1978. Jimmie's dad decided to send his Appaloosa mare, Wa Jo's Freckles, along. Though My Happiness's trip was canceled due to a positive Coggins test, Wa Jo's Freckles made the trip along with a substitute Quarter Horse mare. It was Wa Jo's Freckles who gave birth to the Ima Doc O'Lena cutting line legacy in 1979.

From an early age, "Ima Doc" exuded excellence. The first of just six Appaloosa foals by Doc O'Lena, only two of which were stallions, the sorrel colt with frosted hips showed such promise that Jimmie knew it was paramount to find him an outstanding trainer. She liked Hanes Chatham's slow and easy training style and chose him to bring the colt along.

A savvy marketer, Jimmie knew that if Ima Doc did well, Doc O'Lena and the Quarter Horse breed would get the credit. She was determined to prove the Appaloosa's excellence, so along with Ima Doc, she enrolled Wa Jo's Freckles in Hanes' care. She wanted everyone to know that Ima Doc also had a mother -- an Appaloosa mother.

Wa Jo's Freckles, who at 25 still resides on Jimmie's ranch, was a consistent winner in regional NCHA open cuttings and holds NCHA certificate of ability number 4688. Out of Jimmie's intended Doc O'Lena bride My Happiness and by Wa Jo Re, Wa Jo's Freckles carries the Joker B., Wapiti and Mansfield Comanche lines' legacy of performance prowess. The blood of these Appaloosa Hall of Famers contributed to the mare's impressive performance record, which includes a 1983 Appaloosa reserve World championship in senior cutting and fourth and eighth in senior cutting at the 1986 and 1987 World shows, respectively.

More than just good
"He was always so smart and athletic," says Jimmie of her cutting phenomenon, Ima Doc O'Lena. "When my son Jimmie Jack broke him to ride, he just floated over the ground. You could hardly tell he was putting a foot down, he was so smooth."

"I expected a good horse," she added, "and wound up with a great one."

Hanes, who'd worked for well-known reining trainer Paul Horne in the early '70s, earned the AQHA honor roll senior reining horse title in 1974. It was then that he decided to add another sport to his training repertoire. He found cutting the most exciting. Repeating his reining strategy, Hanes set out to learn the cutting business from the inside out, working for the top trainers in the business. He worked for Tom Lyons and Shorty Freeman, then struck out on his own to raise and train reining and cutting horses. A quick study, he raised Smart Little Lena (AQHA) -- also a 1979 Doc O'Lena colt -- the first triple crown champion in cutting and the highest money-earning cutting horse ever.

Ima Doc O'Lena and Hanes Chatham
Ima Doc O'Lena
& Hanes Chatham
in 1983

Hanes and Ima Doc were a match made in heaven. Under Hanes' tutelage, Ima Doc began to etch his name in the cutting horse record books. The pair earned some experience at their first major competition, the NCHA Futurity in December 1982, which Smart Little Lena won.

Next, Hanes and four-year-old Ima Doc entered the third (1983) Super Stakes held at Fort Worth, Texas. "Back then, it was even bigger than it is now," says Jimmie. "Ima Doc rode in the early morning," Jimmie recalls of what she considers to be Ima Doc's most stellar performance. "By late afternoon, he still had the highest score." Ima Doc tied for fifth in the second go-round and made the semi finals in that event -- a prestigious accomplishment.

Later that year, the pair traveled to the Texas Reined Cow Horse Reined Snaffle Bit Futurity. Competing in the first-year division, Ima Doc won the division herd work, took eighth in the herd work overall, fourth in the division's dry work and placed a respectable third overall in the first-year division.

Ima Doc's next big competition was the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association's Derby in June where semi-finalists from the NCHA Futurity gathered to do battle. Ridden by Shorty's son Bill Freeman -- Hanes' partner in the Smart Little Lena venture -- Ima Doc established himself early on with one of the high scores of 218 in the first go-round. Of 229 horses competing, 90 advanced to the second go, scoring 204 and above. Scoring a 217.5 in the second go, Ima Doc and Bill remained at the top.

Although the pair split seventh and eighth place in the semi-finals, they were the pair to beat in the finals, where previous scores are disregarded and competition starts anew. Here, Ima Doc made a clean run, scoring 219 to take top honors. "The Quarter Horse guys had a lot of respect for him after they saw him cut -- and they had a new respect for the Appaloosas," says Hanes.

Along with creating a sensation in NCHA competition, Ima Doc and Hanes claimed the 1983 Appaloosa World championship in junior cutting, the same year Wa Jo's Freckles took the reserve championship in senior cutting. The stallion also won the 1984 World in senior cutting. "There was some really tough competition there," recalls Hanes, adding that Ima Doc could handle any cow no matter how wild or tough it was to hold. "He gets very low when he's cutting," says Hanes. "Sometimes he'd get so low he'd look like he was cutting mice."

Passing it on
In the years since the renowned stallion made a name for himself and the Appaloosa breed in the cutting horse world, Ima Doc O'Lena's offspring have continued to uphold the family legacy. His 222 registered foals include numerous cutting title holders in Appaloosa Cutting Horse Association, NCHA and breed events.

His first filly, Ima Docolena Doll, still owned by Wade, earned five open and non-pro top 10 ApHC World and National placings including top honors in junior cutting at 1986's World Show and in senior cutting at the National Show in 1989. The 1982 mare out of Colidas Happiness also took home the bronze in cutting 18-and-under at 1989's National Show, ridden by Jimmie Jack's son, Jimmie Dillon Smith, also of Geary. She's produced four foals which have earned three ApHC bronze medallions.

A 1986 Ima Doc mare out of Quanah's Leo Girl, Ima Jo's Doll was the only Appaloosa entered in the Snaffle Bit Reined Cow Horse Futurity -- and claimed victory. Ima Jo's Doll earned more than $7,800 in NCHA competition from 1991 - 1993, claimed top honors in numerous Appaloosa regional cuttings and placed fourth in the World in senior cutting in 1996 redden by Doug Jordan.

At age nine, Ima Doc son Ima Docs Royal has consistently earned top rankings in both open and youth ApHC cutting ridden by Amber Lynn Connolly of Wapella, Illinois. The 1990 gelding out of Royals Winnie (AQHA) has tallied 125.5 open, 49 youth and five non-pro points in addition to register of merit and superior event status. In NCHA events, Ima Docs Royal won $1,027.69 in cash from 1997 - 1999.

Accounts of Appaloosa, ApCHA and NCHA events are studded with Ima Doc O'Lena namesakes, testament to the cutting icon's abilities to pass on the qualities that established the Ima Doc O'Lena name as the premier sire of Appaloosa cutting horses.

Masters of many trades
Although Ima Doc's athletic abilities and winning attitude were established in the cutting pen, his get have also excelled in reining, games and team penning in addition to earning points in the halter arena.

Respected reining trainer Terry Berg of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has ridden two Ima Doc babies to top reining honors and has a third waiting in the wings. Terry showed Little Peppy Lena, a 1991 gelding out of Little Peppy Zan (AQHA) to three Appaloosa National reining championships, and in freestyle won the Appaloosa World championship in 1996 and took reserve honors in 1995, 1997 and 1998.

Her next Ima Doc reiner, SFC Ima Docs Lil Sis, won her third National Reining Horse Association novice open at the Mountain Affiliate Champion Finals held October 2-3 in Grand Junction, Colorado. "She's a huge stopper," says Terry. "She wants to drop her neck when she stops. She has a very popular, modern style, which is something we're looking for in our Appaloosa reiners."

Terry's looking forward to showing "Sis" at the NRHA Derby and competing on her full sister, JMS Clarkaloosa Lena, next year. "I can't think of any other horse that's done as much as (Ima Doc O'Lena) has himself, or who's produced horses who've excelled like he has," she says.

Branching into other disciplines, Ima Docs Cheno began her career in the reining pen and has gone on to rack up an impressive record in games events ridden by Jeff Lankford of Princeton, Indiana. After a notable third place win in the Appaloosa Reining Horse Association Futurity in 1994, the 1991 mare out of Deoro Domino earned three reserve World championships in Appaloosa Games Horse Association competition in 1996 and 1997 and at the end of both 1997 and 1998, led the nation in three ApHC games events. Her wins tally five top 10 ApHC World and National finishes including the 1998 Camas Prairie stump race World championship. As this issue goes to press, Jeff and Ima Docs Cheno lead the nation in non-pro stakes, stumps and keyhole and open keyhole.

Jeff has owned four Ima Doc's babies and values the bloodline's athleticism above all else. "I've never ridden a horse that was that athletic and so smart," he says, "and also so good-minded. They're a working horse, and I don't think there's anything out there any better."

In Canada, an Ima Doc gelding won 1999's Calgary Stampede team penning. Six-year-old Ima Doc's Vince, out of Doc Bar (AQHA) granddaughter Genuine Billie, has won $15,000 in 1999 Canadian team penning competitions in addition to $10,000 in 1998. Owner Bill Frazier of Calgary says that after he trained four Ima Doc babies for someone else, "I simply decided I had to have one," adding that another Ima Doc purchase is in the works.

"He's the nicest moving colt I've ever had and that many people have ever seen," he says of Ima Doc's Vince. "He can run 18 - 20 runs per day and never even break a sweat. Then I can put a little seven-year-old girl on him and he just babysits her like you wouldn't believe."

Living the good life
Although Ima Doc used to go home to Jimmie's Geary ranch for the winter, he now stays with breeding manager Marvin Denny, DVM, at the Denny ranch in El Reno, Oklahoma. "My fillies keep him happy," says Marvin. "He's right across my driveway here, about 40 yards out my door."

"He's still as youthful acting as he's ever been," adds Marvin. "I used to ride him back and forth to the breeding barn bareback with just a halter, but I got older and he didn't," he adds, smiling.

The stallion's spunk is balanced by a gentle, eager-to-please personality. "Lots of places it takes three people (to breed a mare)," Marvin says. "At this farm, it's just me. I can lead him through a pen full of mares and check this mare and that mare. He's a super horse to deal with. It's just the attitude he has."

Although Marvin utilizes shipped semen, he prefers to bring mares to the ranch for breeding via artificial insemination.

"I'd rather have them here where I can control their estrus cycles," he says. "Ima Doc can tease across the fence and he lets me know which mares need to be looked at. If you treat stud horses like nature meant them to be, where they can run out and see the mare, they get along a lot better. As far as I know, Ima Doc's got all 41 of his 1999 mares pregnant."

Amazingly, the ApHC Hall of Famer's stud fee remains at the bargain rate of $750, unchanged since his early days. "Jimmie Miller Smith wants to promote the breed and she wants to make a good horse available to people at a reasonable price," says Marvin. "It'll let the person in who wants to get into the cutting business."

In sharp contrast to his remarkable low stud fee, Ima Doc O'Lena's abilities stand proven a cut above.

Ima Doc O'Lena honors

  • 1996 Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame inductee
  • 1999 leading sire of Appaloosa cutting and games horses
  • Second 1999 leading sire of Appaloosa reining horses
  • Third on 1999 ApHC list of leading sires of point-earning performance horses
  • Fourth on 1999 ApHC list of leading sires of Appaloosa performance horses
  • Winner of 1983 Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Derby
  • Semi finalist in 1983 NCHA Super Stakes, Fort Worth, Texas
  • 1983 World champion junior cutting horse
  • 1984 World champion senior cutting horse
Sire statistics:

Ima Doc O'Lena's 222 foals include:

  • 59 performance point earners with points totaling 1,270.9
  • Three halter point earners with points totaling 25.5
  • 32 non-pro point earners with points totaling 652.3
  • 12 youth point earners with points totaling 365.5
  • Six superior performance event earners
  • 16 bronze medallion earners

These foals have won:

  • 41 bronze medallions
  • One superior achievement certificate

{This article, by Diane Rice, and accompanying photographs, were originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, December 1999, Vol 53, No.12, "A Cut Above" and are used here by permission.}

Copyright © 1999 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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