DT Horses, Bend, Ore.
DEAN TUFTIN QUALIFIED FOR THE WNFR in 2008 aboard Rich Skelton’s AQHA/ PRCA Heel Horse of the Year, Chili Dog, but for 30 years before that, he was riding and training horses of his own. In the decades that preceded his WNFR trip, he learned what he needed to succeed at the highest level, and today his program reflects that lifetime of experience in the arena.
“Really, if I can put it simple, if I were chasing a cow, and I were looking for a dog, I’d ride a Border Collie that can stop, turn and pay attention to the cow,” Tuftin said. “I wouldn’t ride a Greyhound. Great head horses have to be able to drag their butts and run. I think most of them have plenty of run. The really good ones have plenty of run. You’ve just got to breed the size into the cow horses with a bigger mare.”
While the vast majority of Tuftin’s 100-plus horses are strictly cow bred, one of his mares, King Snazzy Sugar, is a paternal granddaughter of Fols Native (TB). That mare is the fourth-leading mare of AQHA open performance points earners and has produced three AQHA world champions.
Tuftin has grown his program into the AQHA show market, winning five world titles in the roping events in the last four years. DT Horses starts saddling its colts as yearlings, starts roping the dummy on them in the fall of their 2-year-old years, and by the time they’re 4, they’re pretty finished, Tuftin said. Not unlike other programs on this list, Tuftin turns to JD Yates for his showing expertise.
“Two years ago at the AQHA World Finals, we went and watched JD, and we won first, second and third in the prelim,” Tuftin said. “I said, ‘Man I could die now.’ Then we won first second and third in different order in the Finals.”
Tuftin’s program will move to Scottsdale, Ariz., this fall, and looks to expand its cowhorse market—making his caliber of horse more available to the snowbird team roping market.