Minnesota couple celebrates champion horse

Farm Forum

LISMORE, Minn. — After 13 years of showing quarter horses and nearly 30 years in the horse business, Marv and Pearl Wieneke of Lismore, Minn., are celebrating their first American Quarter Horse Association World Champion.

The Wienekes, owners of Southfork Stables just south of Lismore, Minn., garnered the title with a 2-year-old registered bay gelding, Non Smokin Kid, at the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Nov. 23.

Their gelding, nicknamed Nacho, garnered 235 halter points during the summer show season and, according to Marv, “I knew he was a good one.”

What makes the honor even more special for the Wienekes is that the horse is third generation born and bred at Southfork Stables. A lot of people, said Marv, will spend lots of money to get a champion-quality horse, but few actually breed their own show horses with much success in the show ring.

“A lot of people have horses their whole life and can’t do that,” he said.

This year alone, the Wienekes’ horses notched 76 grand champion and 20 reserve champion honors at 11 horse shows throughout the Midwest. It was the greatest year of their horse-raising career.

The Wienekes’ foray into the horse business began in 1985 when, with three daughters at home, Marv decided to give in to their requests to have a horse and purchased a mare and her foal.

They had good intentions to go on horse rides, but Marv, who owned his own meat locker business at the time, rarely had the time.

After the daughters grew up and left, and then he retired in 2000, the couple shifted into the arena of raising show (halter) horses.

They have 16 horses today, with more to be added once the foaling season begins in another month or so.

“We’ll try to sell a few,” Marv said.

“The economy the last few years has really hurt the business,” added Pearl.

They used to break some horses for riding, but now they opt to sell the young mares, geldings and stallions to buyers who may choose to ride, halter show or use for breeding purposes.

Nacho, who continues to be the world points leader in his class, is one the Wienekes hope to sell for either continued halter show competitions or for riding. The horse currently resides near LaCrosse, Wis., where trainer Brian Ellsworth works with him.

“Nacho can be a riding horse — he moves really good,” said Marv. The quarter horse is 16.1 hands tall.

Meanwhile, the couple is looking forward to the next show season and the potential to exhibit five horses from Southfork Stables. Nacho has a full brother, nicknamed Sir Loin (a nod to Marv’s 40-year career in the meat business), who was born earlier this year.

“We showed him in the (Breeder’s Halter) Futurity in Des Moines in October,” said Marv. “Nacho was a grand champion national down there, and Sir Loin took fifth in his bunch.

“He’s going to be as good or better (than Nacho),” he added.

“Secretly, you always hope for another world champion,” said Pearl.

Sir Loin and Nacho are offspring of Wieneke’s Blue Smokey Illusion, bred to Not Kiddin Me, a stallion out of Kansas.

Smokey, who competed in the AQHA World Show as a two-year-old mare without success, has now produced two world champions. The first was Cool Smokin Lady, who the Wienekes sold as a foal in the Minnesota Futurity two years ago.

“I didn’t think she’d be world champion — you can’t keep everything,” said Marv, adding that Cool Smokin Lady won top honors in the World Youth Show and has since gone on to be a three-time reserve world champion in Oklahoma City.

“(Smokey) has produced an excellent baby every time she’s foaled,” Marv said. The mare is due to foal again in March after being bred to Kid Coolsified.

The Wienekes show for points and prizes, from ribbons and trophies to money.

As a world champion, Nacho brought in the couple a trophy, ribbon, belt buckle, leather coat, cooling blanket for the horse and approximately $2,000 in cash.

He was shown in the ring by Tim Finkenbinder, a professional showperson from Texas. The Wienekes say it’s difficult to win a show these days without a professional leading the horse.

“There are three people down there (at the Oklahoma show) that are really good showing and it’s tough to beat them,” Marv said. “But you can get the crowd with you too. They know an underdog and they know a good horse too.”

Nacho, with his pretty head, wide eyes, long and slender neck, good legs, wide hips and large rear-end, met all of the criteria judges look for in a good horse, Marv said.