He was special from day one.
When Shesa Hot Cookie’s 2010 foal by Only In The Moonlite was born at Gumz Farms in Morganfield, all of the staff teased Amy Gumz that he knew who to warm up to – the one who pays the bills.
“After delivering over a thousand foals, you can easily see the stars shortly after birth,” Gumz said. “He had way too much personality and absolutely loved people, especially me.”
Its A Southern Thing (known as Moonpie) is no accident. He is the product of careful genetic planning.
“I did not own Shesa Hot Cookie at the time, but desperately wanted a foal from her,” Gumz explained. “I knew I couldn’t afford to buy one on the ground so I worked with the owners regarding an embryo purchase and bred her to Only In The Moonlite, a great junior stallion we were standing at the time. I thought the cross would work after studying her previous foals as well as the two of them as individuals.”
Moonpie made his debut under saddle by placing fourth in the Congress Masters Western Pleasure class with Burleson, Texas trainer Shane Dowdy in the saddle. He continued to show in Western Pleasure events in 2013 and then in 2014 started adding additional events. He placed Top Five in the Green Hunter Under Saddle in a tough class of 118 entries at the Congress and third in Junior Western Riding at the AQHA World Show with Shane’s wife, Jamie.
“I think, as an individual, he is the total package,” Gumz said. “He has size, the look, great confirmation and movement. I like a bigger mover and he has so much balance and lift that it is very easy for him.
Over the next two years Moonpie would earn Superior awards in Western Pleasure and Western Riding from the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA); a National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship in Junior Western Riding and a Reserve Championship in Junior Western Pleasure; and an AQHA Reserve World Championship in Junior Western Riding.
“His reserve World Championship in the Junior Western Riding was history making as the top two horses tied an unprecedented two times. Losing by .5 point on a composite of 10 score cards, he was awarded the silver trophy,” Gumz explained.
Moonpie has been retired from showing and the focus is on his career as a breeding horse.
“I tried very hard to make this horse fail as a sire,” Gumz said. “I loved him as an individual and thought he certainly had the dam line to be a stud horse but I really didn’t want the burden of making and promoting a stallion.”
The first obstacle was the five-panel genetic test.
“I knew that was going to become a huge obstacle to overcome if he was not negative,” she said. “So that was the first test he passed as if he was a carrier, he was going to be gelded.”
A show record was Moonpie’s second marker.
“He did well as a 2-year-old but wasn’t the superstar we hoped for,” Gumz said. “We brought him home for a few months and bred him to five of our lesser mares (not all but most). I couldn’t risk unmarketable colts out of our best mares when foals out of those great mares make the farm payment.”
But the resulting foals were very nice.
“Fortunately we had five good babies and felt more comfortable breeding him to our better mares,” Gumz explained. “We froze some semen to breed the next season and he went back into training and the rest is history – he really excelled in Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle and Western Riding.”
Moonpie’s first foals are now just 3-year-olds and Amy said they are all very similar.
“We only have five but they are strong prospects. Two have shown, one is injured and two more are waiting for the 3-year-old events,” Gumz said. “The reports have been strong from the trainers as all state they are very trainable and smart with tons of lift and cadence.”
Since Moonpie’s book was opened to outside mares in 2015, many more mares, with varied bloodlines, were bred to him and those resulting foals are just yearlings.
“If you walk the pastures, it’s easy to pick the Moonpie babies out of the crowd,” she said. “Most astonishing is the similarity in their top lines and shoulders. They have tons of pretty but most importantly they strong movers.”
Gumz is optimistic about the future of the Moonpie babies.
“I am super thrilled to see a few of the 3-year olds debut as well as this larger 2-year old crop,” Gumz said. “We are blessed to have some great stock placed with very competent trainers and are holding our breath till futurity time. So far the initial reports have been good, so fingers crossed. The 2018 show season will be particularly exciting as the larger group of babies enter the training barns.”
Gumz herself owns one 3-year-old Moonpie baby and one 2-year old. Both, she hopes, will be successful in the show pen.
“I try not to own too many foals after their yearling year,” she explained. “We are a breeding farm, not a training/show barn, so if I do my job well, I don’t own any horses in training. We do have yearlings and now weanlings in about every shape, size and color. These babies have so much presence, much like their father. As they lope across the field, even the non-horse enthusiast, has to stop and watch them. Such pretty horses with such lift and athleticism; it’s a very exciting time.”
Moonpie is standing at Gumz Farms, managed by Amy and her husband, Kevin.
Amy earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Ball State University.
“While working on my MBA, I paid my way through school as a cadet for the BSU Mounted Patrol and patrolled the campus on horseback,” she said. “Once I graduated and was working, I began to acquire show horses and compete at breed shows.”
With a special interest in the science of reproduction and breeding technology, Amy’s interest in the breeding business started as a hobby in Indiana which grew into a business.
“We purchased a stallion that had some breeding issues so I quickly surrounded myself with experts that shared their knowledge and experience. Soon we began getting requests to stand stallions and the rest is history,” she explained. “We grew at an alarming rate. Fortunately, my husband constructed the facility and was able to keep up with the growth. At one time, we had 21 stallions at our Indiana facility (not something I would ever attempt again or advise). During that time frame we were actively freezing semen as part of a SBS franchise and specializing in working with stallions with behavior and breeding disorders.”
The business was relocated to Kentucky to take advantage of the exploding Kentucky Incentive Fund.
“We found a hobby farm in existence and expanded it to meet our needs,” Amy said. “We have a 22-acre separate foaling facility which is climate controlled with 24 foaling stalls, laboratories, ICU area and individual turnouts. The other side of the farm has 80 acres of pastures and paddocks, climate controlled 18 stall stallion barn and indoor arena plus two mare barns with over 100 stalls.”
Kevin Gumz runs a commercial hunting lodge and specializes in wetland creations. Amy said he is the backbone of the Gumz operation, juggling to keep the facilities up to USDA standards as well as providing a safe and efficient facility for the horses, staff and clientele.
They have a daughter, Taylor, 22, a senior at Western Kentucky University and a son, Matthew, 19, a freshman at the local community college.
Amy says it’s attention to detail which sets Gumz Farms apart.
“That is what makes a successful program along with customer service,” she said. “People tend to forget that at the end of the day, this is service based industry. The horse industry is unique in that it doesn’t follow a typical business plan but all businesses need to concentrate on customer service or soon they won’t have any business. I pride myself on surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me and employees that are truly dedicated to the animals.”
Moonpie’s 2017 breeding fee is $1,750. His foals are eligible for the AQHA Incentive Fund, NSBA BCF and SIF, APHA Breeders Trust, Southern Belle Breeders, Premier Quarter Sires and Tom Powers Stallion Program. For more information visit www.itsasouthernthing.net or call (219) 689-1985.
Amy says the best thing about owning a stallion is that she really likes her horse.
“I have had many opportunities to sell him but I really just want to enjoy my horse,” she said. “I am enjoying crossing my mares to benefit my stallion. I have helped many outside stallions excel as breeding horses with the group of mares that I own – now it’s time for Moonpie to capitalize on that.”