The 1999 son of Paddys Irish Whiskey was a multiple versatility ranch horse champion and champion sire.

Mike Major works a cow at his Colorado ranch on the champion stallion and sire Smart Whiskey Doc. Photo by Ross Hecox

Multiple versatility ranch horse world champion Smart Whiskey Doc died Saturday, October 21, 2017. His owners, American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage Breeders Mike and Holly Major of Bowie, Texas, made the decision to euthanize him due to cancer-related health complications. The stallion was 18.

A 1999 son of Paddys Irish Whiskey and out of Smart Little Carol by Smart Little Aleck, the Majors purchased “Whiskey” as a yearling from John Scott’s S Ranch Ltd. sale in Montana.

Whiskey earned his first AQHA title in 2006—the Select world championship in working cow horse. He went on to win two open world championships and one reserve in versatility ranch horse. Whiskey also claimed two world’s greatest versatility horse titles at the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association National Finals. More recently, he finished third in senior ranch riding at the 2014 AQHA World Championship Show and won the 2015 Stock Horse of Texas open world championship.

Throughout his show career, Mike continued to use the stallion in ranch work on the Major family ranches in Colorado and New Mexico.

In the first decade of versatility ranch horse competition, Whiskey, with Mike in the saddle, set a standard for the ideal working ranch horse in ability, training and temperament. The stallion was used in photographs to illustrate Ranch Horse Versatility: A Winner’s Guide to Successful Rides, Mike’s book on the event, published by Western Horseman in 2011.

Mike Major rides the stallion Smart Whiskey Doc and Holly Major rides the stallion’s daughter Black Hope Stik for a photo taken in 2016. Photo by Ross Hecox

Mike and Holly Major, honored as AQHA 50-year consecutive breeders in 2017, were featured in the April 2017 issue of Western Horseman.

“He’s buried at the top of a hill, in the middle of four trees,” Mike says. “We’ll get a headstone for him. I told Holly, that’s where you’ll have to bury me, too.” 

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