When Long Pines Land and Livestock put up national champion Bettin Yer Smart for standing to outside mares at the Colorado State University Equine Reproductive Lab in 2020, it created the opportunity for breeders to continue one of the breed’s most impressive bloodlines.
Bettin Yer Smart is the own son of the legendary Smart Little Lena.
It’s a difficult task to choose which of Smart Little Lena’s accomplishments to showcase, but here’s our attempt:
Bettin Yer Smart, a 2007 red roan stallion out of Bet Yer Boons, alone accounts for more than $38,000 awarded in reined cow horse and cutting competitions, with winnings in all NRCHA divisions (snaffle, hackamore, two-rein and bridle) and has qualified for the World Show in all but snaffle. Bettin Yer Smart is one of an honored few named NRCHA Supreme Working Cow Horse.
Like his father before him, Bettin Yer Smart stamps his offspring with “strong, correct conformations, great minds and athleticism,” according to Deb Brown, owner.
Born in 1979 out of Smart Peppy (Royal Smart x Peppy San, and full sister to Royal Santana), by Doc O’Lena (Poco Lena x Doc Bar), Smart Little Lena was both smart and little. He had 5 rings in his massively think coon tail, a sign of luck according to cowboy lore. Many of his offspring also have coon tails.
As a young foal in Pilot Point, TX, where he was bred by Hanes Chatham, Smart Little Lena would chase butterflies while others practiced bucking. He appeared to be attracted to the movement. Not an overly attractive colt, by all accounts, he was born late and started late. At full adulthood, the sorrel stood just 13.3 hands high.
He was headed to a futurity sale when Chatham’s neighbor and cutting trainer Bill Freeman took note. The potential was immediately obvious. Freeman bought half ownership in Smart Little Lena, and he and Chatham syndicated him before he hit the show ring.
Smart Little Lena leapt into the spotlight at the 1982 NCHA Futurity, just 3 months into recovery from a near-fatal bout with blister beetles. He competed against 781of the cutting world’s finest 3-year-olds, made the final field of 23, along with 19 other Doc Bar grandsons, was second in the semis by 1 point, and scored the first ever 225 in the finals to win the NCHA Open Futurity and $264,085.
He finished the 1982 season with total earnings of $267,084.
His sire Doc O’Lena was a thinking kind of horse. He’s been described as cowy, smart, with a good disposition and a natural connection to the cow. He swept all rounds of the 1970 NCHA Futurity.
Smart Little Lena’s dam, Smart Peppy, was a 1966 mare sired by Peppy San, a horse with Joe Reed blood through Leo and Leo San. Peppy San is described as a cow horse with lots of action, who won the first ever NCHA World Championship, and was the first sire to produce another NCHA World Champion.
Peppy San also sired Smart Little Lena’s uncle, Royal Santana, known as the smoothest most attractive cutting horse of his time.
Eyewitness accounts tell of the arena crowd growing quiet when Smart Little Lena entered the ring.
Smart Little Lena took on 1983, his 4-year-old year, with all the grit and determination he always displayed in the show pen. Tapping his well-known linage for natural cutting ability, Smart Little Lena was quick and smart. He could “sweep down under the cattle, read their minds, and block their every move while filling his rider’s boots with dirt,” said Tabitha Smith of TS Quarter Horses. AQHA describes him as having “fight in his heart with style on the ground to match.” Others point out his low, flowing, snaky style.
Full of heart, keenly intelligent with the ability to read a cow, and beat the cow to the turn, Smart Little Lena was known as a solid performer with finesse, grace and grit. He generously passed his traits on to his offspring.
Smart Little Lena, like his own son Bettin Yer Smart, exuded what Long Pines’ Sterling Brown calls “try.”
Smart Little Lena’s “try” earned him $376,190 in 1983. He won the NCHA Open Super Stakes, Bonanza Open Cutting, Bonanza Open Cutting Super Horse, and was co-champion of the NCHA Summer Open Cutting Spectacular. Smart Little Lena competed 8 times in his third and fourth years, and won $643,275. He didn’t stop there. As a 5-year-old he earned another $100,000 and won the 1984 Masters Open Cutting Competition.
The gritty little stallion was retired from competition in 1984 and spent his later years as a stallion at Manion Ranch in Aubrey, TX. He sired world champions, reserve world champions, and Register of Merit winners in every performing discipline. He claims as his offspring Quarter Horse and Paint champions.
He has been cloned multiple times. Today, there are only 2 places to attempt to get an offspring out of this legend: Colorado State University and Weatherford. With so many great stallions to choose from, the most successful cutting horses carry Smart Little Lena blood.
At age 31, the “little horse with the big heart” died of a stroke on August 30, 2010.
His grit, intelligence and showmanship live on.
AQHA Tribute Video
We respect copyrighted work and do our best to credit sources and photographers. Because of the historical nature of some of our topics, that becomes a difficult task. Please contact us to provide information about usage of any image or content. Thank you!