Left to Right: Fred Smith; Tommy Sondgroth; Billy Arthur on Chex of Chex; Les Vogt on Bob Chex; Kenny Sutton on Royal Cutter
This photo was taken during the 1970’s, which were some wonderful times that I thought would last forever. At that time, I was blessed with the King Fritz horses, the Chex horses. I had quite a few of them. When I first rode one, It was like all of a sudden, I was a really good horse trainer. I thought it was me, but it really wasn’t. It was the access to those remarkable, wonderful, and great horses! This photo brings back such great memories.
On the far right is Kenny Sutton riding “Royal Cutter.” Kenny was a gentleman horseman–a real horseman and a real gentleman. He was one of those trainers that really studied the art of horsemanship. I never saw Kenny do anything but complement a horse. He was also blessed with some of the greatest horses that ever lived.
Royal Cutter was one of Kenny’s best horses. Bobby Ingersoll helped Kenny train him and did a lot of the work on him. Another one of his great horses was a horse that Don Dodge trained called, “Right Now.” Both horses were way ahead of their time and could have been kings of the road today. They were as great as any horse out there.
Royal Cutter was a Cutter Bill. He was out of a mare called Royal Ida May, a Royal King mare. He was so great! Kenny jumped on him and showed him at the Snaffle Bit Futurity and won the Open and the Non-Pro, then came back and won the Hackamore the next year. Then, the year after that, he won the Bridle. He was invincible!
He was the horse to beat for many years. Whether shown by Kenny or Bobby Ingersoll. He was as great a horse as I have ever seen in today’s world or yesteryear. This is a magic picture to have of him and Kenny.
The Cutter Bills had an interesting impact on California. I think it was a negative impact. What happened was, Royal Cutter was so dominant with Kenny and Bobby that all of us went and bought Cutter Bill horses in Texas. I went as far as to buy Royal Ida May, the mother of Royal Cutter. I thought I’d breed her to King Fritz and watch out world! I also bought the full sister to Royal Cutter.
Well the full sister was no good at all. She was as disappointing as could be. She was stiff as a board and didn’t want to be a good horse. Royal Ida May never produced anything at all, except Royal Cutter. Royal Cutter was a freak, a one-time deal.
So everybody bought Cutter Bills. I mean all the trainers. You had to have a Cutter Bill. Frankly speaking, I think it set the industry back by about 10 years. It was way more work than we planned on, and we did not get paid for the work. We just didn’t get the results that we thought we would with a Cutter Bill. We all decided that they were not good. But because of it, we had to deal with those blood lines for a while. Now they have just gone by the way-side.
Next to Kenny it the picture is yours truly on Bob Chex (second over from the right). He was by King Fritz and out of a Buzzy Bell H mare (a halter horse mare). I had him and a full brother to him. They kind of lied to you once in a while, but boy could they do the deal! Bob was the Hackamore Champion for the year. I can still feel him stopping under me and turning the cow. He was pretty darn good. I really liked him; however, he wasn’t the favorite of favorites.
The favorite of favorites of some of the old wonderful horses I got to ride, the horses that really helped make me who I am right now, was Chex of Chex.
In the photo, Billy Arthur is on Chex of Chex (third over from the right). Billy worked for me at the time. He then went on to win the Snaffle Bit Futurity. When I started Chex of Chex, he started out so slow that I didn’t think he was going to make it. He was a touchy, big, strong horse, but quick as a cat. He was way before his time, believe me, before his time. Neal and Linda Mussallum owned him at the time. He was out of Camay Five, a Scarborough Ranch Mare. She was a lot bigger too and her ears stuck straight out the side of her head. She had shoulders and forearms like a work horse, but she was a friendly horse.
She also produced Panda Chex. Panda Chex made a lot of money cutting and doing everything else. Johnny Brazil showed her.
Chex of Chex and Bob Chex both had a lot of bend to them, a lot of flex. They were incredible stopping horses, and incredible fence horses. You can look at them in the picture and see they had a little leg under them. They could run and catch a cow and really stop.
I think Chex of Chex could turn around as fast as any other horse I have seen. Royal Cutter was right there with him. Bob Chex would have been a little bit behind; he was fast but not quite as fast.
Chex of Chex was stingy and snappy. He would hit the ground and just go forever. It was like he was electric. I showed him in an indoor arena one time in southern California at a place called Coto de Caza. The roof of that indoor pen was about 40 or 50 feet. I can still remember, still see it in my mind’s eye, where I ran him down there in the Hackamore class.
He hit the ground so hard I could hear the pebbles ding, ding, ding off the roof. He would turn around so fast too. We didn’t hesitate like we do now. He would turn around while the dirt was still in the air from the stop. I would come out of the class with dirt all over my clothes. He was really sensitive, and really explosive–a real cow horse. I would give anything to have another Chex of Chex. I think I could have done better with him had I had any idea of how great he was.
Chex of Chex was unbeaten all that year. He just ran away with every class. He took over the Hackamore class. It was like, don’t enter unless you want to win second place behind Chex of Chex. One day, somewhere, I can’t remember where, I won second. I came out the back gate and there was Linda Mussallum, his owner, with tears in her eyes. I had won first every other time, but this time, after winning second, she said “What happened?” I said “Gosh, I don’t know, just didn’t win first.” She said, “Fix It.”
I’ll never forget that. She was a wonderful customer, and we are both still wonderful friends. I really love that story. I’ll never forget that, “fix it” for winning second.
The next horse, second over from the left, was shown by Tommy Sondgroth, my great friend who lives in Paso Robles. He was one of my inspirations. Back then, the Cow Palace was the deal. There were two shows in California: the Salinas Rodeo and the Cow Palace. If you won both shows you were the man, the king of the road for the year. That was as much prestige you could get in those days. I saw Tommy show at the Cow Palace (he started before me), and watched him win three classes in a row and three belt buckles. Tommy was great!
The other horse, I can’t recall it’s name, was shown by Fred Smith (farthest to the left), who was a really good trainer. I had a lot of respect for Fred, a wonderful person.
And there you have it! I thought I would give you a little history behind the photo and about Royal Cutter, Bob Chex, and Chex of Chex.
Ok, take it and run folks! Bye for now!