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The Rock Captures Stardom

The Rock Captures Stardom
by William L. Bulla

Sonnys Rock Star captured stardom recently in Ft. Worth, Texas when he won the APHA World Championship.
Paint horse, Sonnys Rock Star, owned by James and Angela Burns of Hagerstown, captured the title at the 2005 World Championship Paint Horse Show. The show is the premier event of the American Paint Horse Association (APHA).
"When I first saw him as a yearling, I told Jim I thought he was the prettiest horse I had ever seen," said Angela Burns. "I am so thrilled that he won."
Sonnys Rock Star, a 3-year old stallion, captured the Championship in Tobiano Color Class. The horses are judged 40 percent on conformation and 60 percent on color. Sonnys Rock Star outscored a field of eight for the win.
"I wasn't too surprised 'The Rock' won in that event," said Jim Burns. "He took Reserve World Champion as a 2-year old because of his color. In the Tobiano Color Class, the judges look for the stark contrast of colors. The Rock's glossy black and shiny white coat provides the sharp contrast they are looking for."
"The Rock" is still in Texas on the ranch of J. Fred Tabor. Mr. Tabor prepared the horse for the show, and was his handler during the event. "The Rock" has now been moved from the training barn to the breeding barn.
Jim Burns told us that Mr. Tabor reported having his "hands full" while showing the horse. "It was like The Rock knew it was his day to win. He responded to the applause of the crowd and really showed off," Jim Burns said.
The World Championship Paint Horse Show is the richest Paint Horse event in the world, offering more than $250,000 in prize money, along with valuable awards and coveted trophies. Approximately 2,500 horses, from the United States, Canada, and several other nations competed in the event's 175 classes.
But you may ask, like I did, what is a Paint horse? I thought these two-toned animals were called Pintos.
Remember the many western movies where great colorful herds of wild horses filled the big screen? Or watching "Little Joe" on the Bonanza TV show riding his Pinto? Or hearing Tonto shout "Get 'em up, Scout" as his Pinto followed The Lone Ranger riding off to some distant place? I do! And, I'm sure many of my readers do also! Of course, I remember Linda Ronstadt singing about "Old Paint" in the 70's, but I thought it was just another Pinto.
The name Pinto comes from the Spanish pintado (painted), and this has come to be known as 'paint'. Generally, pinto refers to color, whereas Paint horses must carry quarter horse or thoroughbred in its bloodline. So most Paints are Pintos, but not every Pinto is a Paint because of breeding restrictions.
Paints come in an endless variety of color combinations. Their coat is always a combination of white with any of the basic colors common to horses: black, bay, brown, chestnut, dun, sorrel, palomino, gray, and roan. Sonnys Rock Star won in the Tobiano class. In this class, the coat is white with large patches of solid color. The legs are white, and a white area crosses the back or rump. The other class is called Overo. Typically in this class the white will not cross the back of the horse. Generally one of the four legs will be dark. Also notable is that Overos have bold white head markings.
Paint horses have literally been around since the beginning of time. They have been seen decorating the walls of prehistoric caves. Their images have decorated pottery, jewelry, mosaics and tombs over the centuries. Their likenesses have been found in paintings and artifacts in Europe up through the 18th century. In 1519, when the Spanish Conquistadors, led by Cortez, landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico, they brought 16 war mounts with them. Records indicate at least one of these was a Paint. After the Conquistadors arrival, ranches developed rapidly and horses became abundant. Marauding Indians took these animals, many of which escaped and formed herds of Mustangs running free across the Great Plains.
The APHA is devoted to preserving the stock-type American Paint Horse. The APHA Registry is based upon the bloodlines of horses registered exclusively with the American Paint Stock Horse Association; the American Paint Quarter Horse Association; the American Quarter Horse Association; or the Jockey Club of New York and its recognized affiliates. However, regardless of bloodlines, regular registered American Paints must meet a minimum color requirement. American Paint Horses represent one of the major horse breeds in the United States today.
For more information about APHA or APHA programs, call (817) 834-2742, or log on to
Jim Burns raises horses, like his father did before him. The Burns currently have over a dozen horses, which they raise in the Fairplay area. One of them is a pretty special Overo Paint having been named as an Honor Roll Stallion in 1998, which translates to mean he rated in the nation's top ten show horses.

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