Miracle Stallion, Sire of Dreams
by Cheryl Chernicky and Laurie Loveman
Like a lot of folks “up north,” Sonnys Sugar Belle (“Sugar”), who was foaled at Rocking K Appaloosas in Ohio, later went “down south” to Diamond C Appaloosas in YeeHaw Junction, south of Okeechobee, Florida. She was a pleasure horse, but in the course of events, Sugar was bred to Dreamfinder. As the foaling date neared, Sugar’s former owner wanted to be on hand for the big event, so she and a friend flew down to Florida in time for Sugar’s foaling on May 31, 2000. This was Sugar’s first pregnancy and since she had not shown any unusual physical signs, no ultrasound had been done. Twins were totally unexpected! Lucky (DC Dreamin Double) was the first to be born, and he was indeed lucky to survive. He weighed 35 pounds, was blue and not breathing. He was revived, but then wouldn’t nurse. Just as Lucky (he earned that nickname later when everyone could think straight) was being cared for, Lotto (DC Reoccuring Dream) arrived! He was breech and had to be turned. He weighed 25 pounds, and while he didn’t have Lucky’s breathing and nursing problems, one of the bone plates in his right hock was crushed either in utero or upon standing for the first time. Lucky had to be bottle-fed every 2 hours and cared for by humans, while Lotto was spunky and nursed normally. The foals were so small that Sugar had to stand in a depression so the colts could reach her nipples. The veterinarians gave the twins a 0% chance of surviving.
When Lotto was 4 months old he was taken to the University of Florida Veterinary School to assess his leg problems. After learning from veterinarians that it would cost approximately $10,000 to repair Lotto’s damaged leg, and that there was no guarantee that surgery would be successful, Diamond C Appaloosas offered to give Lotto to Sugar’s former owner. They didn’t feel they could bear the pain if Lotto ended up in worse condition and had to be put down. But they knew, also, that having been present at the birth, Sugar’s former owner would be delighted to have one of her foals and that she would do what was best for Lotto. When Lotto was fifteen and a half months old, she flew to Florida through a hurricane on the Friday following the 9/11 tragedy to bring Lotto home to Ohio.
Lotto’s new owner placed Lotto in the capable hands of Amish blacksmith, John Byler, and John put his considerable talent and years of experience into trimming Lotto’s hoof to compensate for the angle that was a result of the crushed bone plate. The results were remarkable. Now, Lotto’s leg is quite straight, he shows no signs of lameness when ridden, and he’s very capable of breeding mares, although some of them are quite a reach for this little guy.
When Lotto was three years old, he came to Ron and Cheryl Chernicky’s Rainbow Ridge Farm in Novelty, Ohio, to be trained by Cedric Greene, a well-known and respected trainer in northeastern Ohio. Lotto was a quick learner and did extremely well under Cedrics’s guidance. Then, in July 2005, Lotto came again for a visit to Rainbow Ridge Farm to breed one of the Chernickys’ foundation mares, Cheyenne Rizngstar H.
Before Cheynne’s expected foaling date, however, Lotto’s owner found that as much as she cared about Lotto, having two stallions in her barn was too much to handle, so she offered Lotto to the Chernickys. It was a winning situation for everyone. Lotto’s new home at Rainbow Ridge Farm was only a few miles from Rocking K Appaloosas, allowing for frequent visits. The Chernickys planned to use Lotto as a foundation stallion for their breeding program. In the event that Lotto did not produce high quality foals, he would be gelded and used as a trail and lesson horse. When Lotto came to Rainbow Ridge Farm for good, he had sired only one foal—a lovely filly named Lotto Dreams—so his production record was extremely limited. Although the Chernickys gambled on Lotto, it was a bet that paid off on July 7th of 2006, when Cheyenne presented them with a strikingly beautiful bay leopard colt, Dreams Desert Knight (aka “Dream”).
Lotto has overcome many obstacles and has matured into a beautiful Appaloosa stallion that stands at 14.1 hands and weighs 900 pounds. It was through the love, care, expertise and faith of many good people that this son of Dreamfinder has had the opportunity to reach his potential as an Appaloosa sire.
Lotto, who’s basically a “laid-back” kind of guy, is now showing that he can pass on the quality of his great sire, Dreamfinder, to his own offspring. Lotto’s first colt, Dream, was in the ribbons at his very first show. At two-and-a-half months of age, Dream made his show ring debut with Cedric in an open show against mature horses. In his three halter classes Dream placed second out of nine, second out of four, and third out of thirteen. Dream has inherited Lotto’s calm, easy-going disposition and has taken to the show ring (with Cheyenne in the ring for moral support) like he was born to it! At five months of age Dream again placed second in his classes, this time being upstaged by Cheyenne, who won both of these classes as well as the Reserve Halter Championship. At 7 months of age Dream was a Grand Champion (Appaloosa Journal, May 2007), at 10 months of age, Dream became a show series High Point Halter Champion (Appaloosa Journal, August 2007). Dream is the youngest horse and the first appaloosa to earn this honor in the sixteen year history of the series. Lotto has sired a true champion.
The goal of Rainbow Ridge Farm is to breed a few quality Appaloosa horses with good dispositions and strong Foundation bloodlines that include Prince Plaudit, Chief Chelsea, Top Hat H, and Dreamfinder. Their mares also carry the best traits of AQHA Billie Fisher, Three Bars and the Thoroughbred stallion, Nearco.
Rainbow Ridge Farm was a dream for Ron and Cheryl Chernicky when, eleven years ago, they purchased an historic farmstead that needed a complete renovation. With the support of friends and Appaloosa enthusiasts, they restored the century house and several farm buildings, cleared pastures and bred a few quality foundation Appaloosa mares. They have now expanded that dream with the acquisition of Lotto and the birth of his first colt, Dreams Desert Knight. This is truly a story of no dream being impossible.