In an arena in Columbus, Ohio, a man tipped his hat to a horse. At that moment, for one family, 17 years of history came rushing back.
That man was Bryan Ford, and that horse, the horse, was 20-year-old Teddy Terrific in 2009 after his 10th All-American Quarter Horse Congress Championship – this time in Senior Pole Bending. The hat tip was a sort of “thank you,” but not just from Bryan, from the entire Ford family, since the family and the horse have been winning together for 17 years.
Teddy, as he’s called outside the show ring, has been a staple in the Quarter Horse industry for the better part of the last two decades as he has accumulated title after title and brought thousands into the Coliseum at the Congress to watch him weave the poles in sub-20 times. But beyond his titles and championships, Teddy has brought the Ford family – father Carl, mother Peggy, sister Jessie and brothers Bryan and Marc – a measure of shared success that few other families in the horse industry, or any industry, can ever imagine.
The horse came to the Ford’s Chillicothe, Ohio, farm through a trade from an old friend. Appendix-bred Teddy goes back to race horses like Go Man Go, Kitaman and Nasrullah, but with cow horse sprinkled throughout, like King. But, when Carl traded for the 2-year-old, he was planning on using him as a pleasure horse because he was so quiet. He started him as a snaffle bit prospect, but soon moved the “lazy” horse into barrel and pole pattern work to see if he’d pick up at all. But, at 3, that laziness slipped away and Teddy started liking his job as a pole and barrel horse.
Teddy’s first notable title came a year later at the Ford’s own arena with a young Bryan on his back at the 1993 Southeastern Pole Bending Futurity, where the pair won the Youth Classic Championship. Later that year, Bryan took Teddy to the AQHA World Show to compete in the poles, where Bryan became the youngest rider (at the time) to win a Reserve World Championship. Fifteen years later, the duo would again claim a Reserve World Championship.
In between those two runs, though, Teddy spent his life putting a name on the sport of pole bending while still staking a claim as one of the greatest barrel horses this region has ever seen. While he made his name as the dynamic pole horse that stopped the clock time and time again at the Congress, Teddy took all three Ford children to a Congress title, while winning the first division of youth and open barrels at a state level, too. Teddy took Jessie to an Ohio NBHA Youth 1D Championship in 2001, and took Marc to a Youth 1D Reserve Championship seven years later in 2008. In 2004, Bryan was the Open 1D Reserve Champion aboard Teddy.
The family has shared Teddy throughout it all, with each member doing their part to keep the horse running. Today, though, Teddy resides with Jessie, Marc, Peggy and Carl in Ohio, while Bryan trains horses in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Jessie and Marc share the riding time throughout the year and each get to run him at various big shows, but it is Bryan that jumps on Teddy at the Congress and at the World show in the big pole classes like the Sweepstakes and Senior Horse Poles – and those two never miss a beat.
While in that Coliseum Teddy has carved his legacy in dirt, it’s in the Ford home that the horse truly left his mark. Over the next few days, The Barrel Racing Blog will let the Ford Family tell their stories of this remarkable animal that has so impacted each of their lives. We’ve asked each one of them the same questions about Teddy, and the differences in their answers will surprise you, even if you know the Fords well. So, stay tuned all week for more on Teddy Terrific.
But, while you’re waiting to hear from the Fords about Teddy, take a look at how special this horse really is and watch this video of Teddy’s win this year in the Senior Pole Bending at the Congress: