Equine Journal February 2001 Vol 13 #9
by Patricia Barraza Vos Chips Hot Chocolate 1990 Bay AQHA Stallion
Jane Curry Smith & Robert Smith
Highland Farm · Merrimac, MA
There are many ways to describe a fine Quarter Horse Stallion. He is balanced, he is good- minded, he is pretty ( or, to be more formal about it, he is correct in conformation). If you were seeking a top caliber stallion for breeding purposes you would add to his list of desired qualities a fine pedigree and a successful show career. For proof of his abilities as a sire you would look to his progeny- are they also balanced, good-minded and pretty?
Needless to say, the composition of a top qurater horse stallion is a very hard bill to fill Imagine how Jane Curry Smith felt when she discovered that she happen to have such a horse on her hands?
Chips Hot Chocolate, a 1990 Quarter Horse stallion who has all of the above-mentioned attributes and more, was not intentionally bought for stallion purposes. Rather, Jane purchased him as a weanling from her friend and colleague, Ann Myers, without ever thinking the word "stallion". She was looking for a prospect to start in the Western Pleasure Futurities, then train and show as a non Pro horse; Hot Chocolate would fit nicely into this plan.
Jane and Ann had formed a friendship years earlier when Ann lived in New Hampshire with her husband. The two women were both showing on the Quarter Horse circuit at the time and formed a friendship that naturally revolved around horses. Eventually, Ann moved to Ohio and fell somewhat accidentally into the breeding business when she purchased a mare who was in foal to the immortal Zippo Pine Bar. That foal, Zips Chocolate Chip,ended Ann's show career as she devoted herself entirely to his stud career. Shown by trainer Cleve Wells, Zips Chocolate Chip had a career as a show horse and stud that became so inordinately successful that it became all consuming for Ann.
Jane watched Ann's success with Zips Chocolate Chip with increasing interest, and kept an eye on another very special mare that Ann owned, Ima Blister Bug. Eventually Jane purchased a colt out of that mare, one which she enjoyed considerably. Naturally, when the time came to purchase her next youngster, Jane turned to her friend Ann. That year Ima Blister Bug was bred to Zips Chocolate Chip, and Jane immediately liked what she saw in the resulting weanling, Chips Hot Chocolate. "He was real quiet", says Jane, "and his conformation looked pretty good".
Besides, she says, " I had been watching the sire's offspring and they were doing well and I really like working with my other colt out of the dam".
She brought Chips Hot Chocolate home to her farm in Merrimac, Massachusetts, and set to work with him while at the same time continuing to work her other horses. As the young colt came along Jane began to see he was different from many horses: " He was so good- minded, " she recalls.
Jane began to consider a different future for her new youngster. For one thing, she says " he had no real negatives." He was pretty, he was balanced, and he was nice to work around. While she mulled over her horse's future, Jane learned that Chips HotChocolate's sister, Zippo By Moonlight (also out of Ima Blister Bug and with Zippo Pine Bar breeding) won a World Championship in Western Pleasure. Suddenly, Jane knew- her youngster was in the big leagues and her original plan to geld and show him as a Non Pro horse needed some magor altertaions.
She discussed her thoughts on the matter with Ann, who suggested she have Cleve Wells, who'd had enormous success with Hot Chocolate's Sire, take a look at him. Jane brought Hot Chocolate to a show in Florida where Wells was also competing to get his opinion. He was immediately drawn to Jane's youngster. Jane recalls that time of suspense. "In the spring he takes a lot of 2 year olds and starts weeding through them- by futurity time he had picked Chips Hot Chocolate.
The faith that Ann, Jane and Cleve put behind the young stallion paid off later that year as he won futurity after futurity and became the 1992 top money earning two-year-old Western Pleasure Horse in the nation. Under Cleve, his show career continued for the next two years, during which time he took home title after title, including congress champion and reserve world champion.
In the mean time, Jane went back to her home in Merrimac. There, she set about balancing her successful career on the amateur circuit with running her Trailer Sales business (Riverview Trailer sales), and began a new life with husband Robert Smith.
Together Jane and Robert have created Highland Farm, a 72 Acre Farm in Merrimac. The eight- stall barn is presently filled to the brim with three brood-mares ( in foal to Hot Chocolate) and a nice sampling of Hot Chocolate's progency, including a two- year-old (McChocolate), a yearling ( The Chocolate Choice), and two weanlings ( Molly McChocolate and A Chocolate Asset). Jane plans to keep, train and show some of the youngsters and offer the others for sale.
Many of Chips Hot Chocolate's offspring can already be found in the winner's circles across the country. There are congress winners, World champions, National champions, and Futurity Winners.
Amongst his outstanding progency are Chip Van Winkle, Pay Ya Saturday, Hot ChocolateChip, and Chockfullachocolate, who just earned a big win at Congess 2000 in Small Fry Western Horsemanship, a class which drew 87 entries. Chockfullachoclate exemplifies what Jane considers the finest attribute Hot Chocolate can pass on to his get: "Quiet enough for a child to ride".
In order to be an AQHA Champion, a horse needs halter points as well as riding points, and Hot Chocolate has already, in his short and productive life as a sire, produced two such Champions, indicating Jane points out, " how pretty and correct they are, as well as [how] good-minded [they are]".
The result of all this is a steadily growing reputation in the Quarter Horse world, particularly in the Western Pleasure circles. Recently, Hot Chocolate has been bred to a few Thoroughbred mares for possible hunter prospects. "It's to soon to tell" what type of babies will result, says Jane. Perhaps in a few years Hot Chocolate will be adding a whole new kind of winner to his list of Champion offspring.
In the meantime Jane is clear about her goals for her stallion. "To continue to produce horses that that only win at horse shows, but also that are pretty and nice to be around", she says. " Its nice to have foals that are quiet and nice to be around and are trainable. That seems to be the comment that we get from people."
Between managing her stallion and his get, her own show career on the amateur show circuit, a full-time job at Riverview Trailer Sales, and running Highland Farm alongside her husband, these are very full days for Jane Curry Smith. Her unexpected life as a horse breeder has certainly added its measure of time and effort, but Jane's respect for admiration of her stallion are evident. "He's such a strong breeder. When you look in the field you can tell which ones are his offspring. [They are] really pretty headed [and] balanced. And just fun to be around, she explains.