Top Horse

Despite his registered name, John C. Brian isn’t exactly sure what Razzle Dazzle Rey did to catch the attention of the judges who selected him as the Top Horse at the 22nd Annual World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo last November.

“I don’t know what made him stand out,” Brian said. “All those cowboys think they’re riding a good one or they wouldn’t have brought them to the WRCA Finals. It’s really a privilege when someone else notices your horse. In my mind, he’s a real good horse. He’s pretty nice looking so he kind of stands out. He’s got a real good way of moving and he’s real cowy. I was just very appreciative to win the award.”

Razzle Dazzle Rey, whose barn name is Wild West, beat out 55 other nominated horses for the title. The streak-faced chestnut is a home-raised 5-year-old gelding by Stylish Rey (a son of Dual Rey) and Razzle Dazzle Pistol. Though the Dual Rey lineage is among the hottest in the cutting horse world, Brian would rather talk about Wild West’s dam-side lineage.

“I’m a sixth-generation ranching cowboy,” Brian, who trains horses, ranches for his family and day works for the Veale Ranch said. “My granddad was Jim Calhoun and he raised King’s Pistol, so all our bloodlines go back to him.”

In 1954, King’s Pistol was named an AQHA Champion with 10 halter, 19 cutting and one reining point to his credit. Then, in 1957, Calhoun hauled him to the NCHA World Champion Cutting Horse title, with a record-setting $16,217 in earnings. He was the first stallion to ever be named world champion. In fact, the early NCHA logo was based on a photo of Calhoun and King’s Pistol. Calhoun is in the NCHA Hall of Fame and John C.’s father, David, is the Director of Shows for the association.

“That’s what my family made a living on,” Brian said. “That line of horses is what I was raised on and it’s nice to still be competing on a horse that is really pretty old school.”

In fact, Wild West has an old soul, too. Brian describes him as “watchy” on the ground, hard to shoe, and dangerous to walk behind.

“The safest place around that horse is on him,” Brian, who started and finished the horse, said. “He’s such a pleasure while you’re on him you forget about all the other things. He’s willing to do anything. He’s good to cut on, good to rope on, and just a pleasure to ride. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve always got plenty of horse underneath you.”

Brian and Wild West worked the line in the team penning and branding and heeled the steers in the stray gathering at the WCRR.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable notes about Razzle Dazzle Rey, is that he’s only 5 years old, and his trip to Amarillo for the WCRR was just his third ranch rodeo. At the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in October, Razzle Dazzle Rey was top horse, too.

“He’s only left the house a handful of times and it’s pretty cool that two out of three times he’s left the house, he’s won top horse—and he’s still got a lot of life left in him.”

John C. and his wife, Beth, have two boys, Kaden and Cannon, who might get their turn on riding Kings Pistol blood in the form of a WCRR Top Horse.

“My granddad has been deceased for 20 years, but it’s nice to still be riding something that he put his heart and soul into,” Brian said. “Cowboys think as much of their top horse as they do of their wife and children. I was very blessed to be awarded with that award, pretty special, especially when I didn’t know it was coming.”