Four Sixes Ranch homebred horses carry generations in their brands.
I love broodmares. The “bottomside” mare line of a bracket pedigree holds secrets to a horse’s greatness that most people miss for the more familiar “topside” sire line.
It’s also why I love the No. 2 on this Four Sixes Ranch colt’s left jaw.
On paper he’s Bet Hesa Ginnin, a 2016 Quarter Horse colt by stallion Bet Hesa Cat, and out of broodmare Ginnin Stoli by Stoli. We watched ranch trainer Terry Riddle work him on our staff visit there in May 2019, while putting together our August 2019 Western Horseman special issue on the ranch. We also visited with Four Sixes Mare Manager Phil Fox.
The “L” on his left shoulder means he’s a Four Sixes Ranch homebred. But the “2” on his jaw represents his mare line. He inherited the jaw number from his dam, Ginnin Stoli, who inherited it from her dam, Ginnin Hollywood, and so on.
In fact, that No. 2 traces back through nine generations of ranch mares to the very first mare jaw-branded with it on the Four Sixes Ranch—that was Miss Tommy 2, by the ranch stallion Tom (Scooter) and out of a “Burnett riding mare,” foaled and branded in 1935.
Since 1935, the Four Sixes Ranch has used mare family number brands to track the mare line, or “tail female line,” in the ranch’s homebred horses. If you look at a bracket pedigree chart, it’s the bottommost line in the bracket, going from a horse’s dam, to his maternal grandmother, maternal great-grandmother, and so on.
At the Four Sixes Ranch, only mares pass on the mare family number brand, so it always indicates the tail female line. For centuries, horse breeders worldwide have used similar systems to trace their horses’ maternal tail female lines.
For Miss Tommy 2’s descendants, it means that nine generations of her female descendants have produced horses good enough for the ranch to keep daughters in the broodmare band, decade after decade. That’s just cool.
So, why is an “L” brand used on horses bred by the Four Sixes Ranch? Who started the number brands back in 1935? And why does Glenn Blodgett, DVM, current head of the Four Sixes Ranch horse division, still use it?
The answers to those questions are just a small part of the ranch’s colorful 150-year history. It’s a story of West Texas cowboy traditions, of Joe Hancock and Hollywood Gold, of ranching in old Indian Territory, of ranch horse championships and paintings like Tom Ryan’s Sharing an Apple.
And it’s a story of several great broodmare families producing generations of great horses.