His drop-to-the-basement way of stopping literally revolutionized the style of reining.
Excerpt from Legends: Volume 3 written by Betsy Lynch published in the November 1997 issue
Despite his name, Hollywood Jac 86 didn’t look like a celebrity. He wasn’t handsome. He wasn’t big. He wasn’t at all impressive at the end of a lead shank. He was a 14.3, sandy-colored palomino with a dark dorsal stripe and floppy ears. Yet when Hollywood Jac stepped to center stage, he had undeniable star power. His drop-to-the-basement way of stopping literally revolutionized the style of reining. He passed this ability on so consistently that it became the signature trait of the Hollywood Jac family line.
Hollywood Jac 86 was bred by John and Mary Bowling of Sumner, Iowa. The Bowlings were well known for their strong performance lines. They owned Jac’s sire, Easter King, an own son of King P-234. Their broodmare band boasted more than 2 dozen daughters of Hollywood Gold, who was known in the 1950s and ’60s as the “King of the Cutting Horse Sires.” Among those daughters was Miss Hollywood, herself a Register of Merit-earner. In 1967, she foaled Hollywood Jac 86.
Hollywood Jac was first sold to Pat Fitzgerald of Mondovi, Wis., but Fitzgerald didn’t own the weanling long before trainer Spain Prestwich came along, decided he liked the colt, and took him to Minnesota.
“Pat had made some kind of trade and there must have been 30 to 40 colts in that pen,” recalled Prestwich. “When I told Pat I wanted the lop-eared colt, he laughed and said, ‘That’s the ugliest one in the bunch.’ But I picked Jac out because I liked the way he stopped. He would run from one end of the pen to the other and just slide into the fence, roll back, and then run to the other end and slide.”
Prestwich instinctively knew the colt would make a great reining prospect. He was not disappointed. He said that even as a yearling and 2-year-old, Jac continued to show this natural desire and ability to stop. Before he started riding Jac, Prestwich worked him on the longe line. The horse could be bucking and playing and racing .in circles, but when Spain called out “whoa,” Jac would drop on his hindquarters, slide to a stop, sit there on his butt, and look around like a friendly pup. Prestwich had never seen anything like it, before or since.
“He looked like Bullwinkle the Moose with his ears flopped out to the side,” Prestwich said with a chuckle. “He used to do that a lot.”
This peculiar talent remained with Jac when Prestwich started him under saddle.
“He was a really nice horse to train. He was a little studdy as a 2- and 3-year-old, which is normal for that age, but we didn’t have any problems with him. He was really smart. He pretty much taught himself. And you couldn’t make him miss a lead. In fact, we even showed him as a western riding horse,” said Prestwich.
The trainer also started Hollywood Jac on cattle. He noted that the stallion had a lot of cow sense, which didn’t surprise Prestwich, given the way the colt was bred. But Spain was more interested in developing Jac as a reiner. He occasionally showed Jac in cutting to help fill classes. One time, Spain’s father, an avid cutter, asked Spain to enter a class so the top horses could earn more points. He did and Jac placed second, beating the horse shown by Spain’s dad. “He wasn’t too happy about that,” Spain smiled.