This article was written and sent in by Marni Malet and approved for printing on Curly Horse Country.
I cursed the Nevada heat that only hours before I had found so enjoyable. I was 900 miles from home and sitting along side the road in my broken down pick-up truck. McGill, Nevada-July 1997. My husband and I had come down to pick up a horse I had purchased the week before, my first curly. At that time we were raising Thoroughbreds for racing. My husband wasn't too happy when he found out a "non-Thoroughbred was moving in with us. He was even less happy when I told him he had to drive from Washington to Nevada to pick it up. Now, with the water pump fried, our relationship was getting' VERY fragile.
I didn't know anyone in the area but had met a woman name Sunny Martin the previous week during the ABCR convention. I gave her a call - she was, after all, a Curly person! I only hoped that she would remember me. Well, I don't know if she remembered me or not but in no time at all she came roaring up in her old pick-up truck, assessed the situation, stuffed us into her truck and we were off to find a mechanic, no easy task on a Sunday. Once we had the truck in a garage, she took us back to her house and served up a 15-course lunch. She even offered us her guests room if we needed to stay over!Cooling off in Sunny's kitchen, I couldn't help but notice all the horse pictures on the wall. I asked about them and Sunny just lit up like the sunshine she must have been named for. It didn't take much coaxing and the stories started to flood the room. She brought out an old picture album to use as a visual aid and so began one of the most enjoyable afternoons of my life. The story that seemed to be her favorite involved the purchase of her first Curly horse. It was back in 1968. She and her husband Sarge were living in the same location where she is now but they had about 23 acres and owned 15 or 20 horses. They had gone into Ely to have dinner at the Nevada Club. As was their tradition, they stepped into the lounge first to have a drink. They ran into another rancher by the name of Gailin Manzonie who had a ranch about 50 miles away on Currant Creek. He had a lot of horses and was into roping and racing. He told Sunny that he and his friend, Stump Halstead, had finally managed to capture the bay stallion that they had been chasing for two years. They were chasing him in the old pick-up truck and managed to get close enough to get a rope around him. They choked him down, tied him up and then went back to the ranch to get a bigger truck. They hauled him home where they tied him in the barn. Gailin said the next morning he went out to check on him and the horse was standing there like he'd been Raised in the barn. He went on to tell Sunny that he was the cutest horse he'd ever seen- "had curls from his nose to his toes." "Well," Sunny told me, "A light just went off in my head and I knew I had to have that horse." Sunny bought him that very night-sight unseen. Her husband, Sarge thought she was nuts but never denied Sunny a single horse she never wanted.The next morning they got up and headed for Manzonie's ranch. Something told her that she should go back and get her saddle. When she told Sarge to go back, he was a little upset and argued that she wasn't going to be riding that wild horse. Well, they went back for the saddle.
When they arrived at Manzonie's they found the little bay stud standing in a corner of the cow pen. He had a halter on. Gailin took a rope in. The horse was just quietly watching them. The stud gingerly walked up to them and sniffed Sunny all over. Then he looked at Sunny like "wanna be my friend?" Gailin put a rope on the horse and led him all around. Sunny took the rope and the stud followed HER all around. Sunny was amazed. She told Sarge to go gather saddle out of the truck. Neither Sarge nor Gailin were happy about that idea because Sunny had already undergone three back operations. Sunny told them "Look at his eyes. They're the sweetest, softest eyes. He'd never hurt me." It was obvious that Sunny wasn't going to be talked out of this so Gailin insisted that he, at least, be allowed to saddle the horse. The horse stood there without problem. Gailin led him around with the saddle on- no problem. He stopped and cinched it up tight- no problem. Sunny mounted with nothing but a halter and lead rope for control. The horses just stood there. It took about five minutes to get him to take a step. When she pulled the rope to make him stop "he almost set his tail in the ground." Sunny was thrilled and took her little black Curly stud home. Sunny named that little horse CURLY-Q. She paid $200 for him, which in 1968 was considered pretty high. She said he was worth every penny of it and described him as "easy riding and just as sweet as could be." Sunny used him for trail riding and bred many of her mares to him. She never bred outside mares because people at that time, weren't interested in Curlies. They all wanted cutting horse.
CURLY-Q was stabled in a private corral with a little loafing shed in one corner. When Sunny would bring a mare to him, he would anxiously trot up to the fence to meet them. All she has to do was tell him "Go get in your corner." He would turn around and retreat to the back corner until she had safely released the mare inside his corral. After the breeding she would say "Go get in your corner" and off he went. That was the end of it! CURLY-Q is registered as the number three (#3) horse in the ABCR studbooks. The first few pages are full of Curly-Q offspring. He has the distinction of being the first stud to move from temporary to permanent status within the registry. Probably the most famous of his offspring is Q-Card who, in the hands of Corine Mead, won many International Sidesaddle Championships and was placed in the International Sidesaddle Horse Hall of Fame. I asked Sunny what became of Curly-Q and the question was met with a long silence. "He was shot." She finally said. "About six years ago after I got him.someone drove by on the highway and shot him." A truly sad ending for such an amazing horse- may his lineage carry on.
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