Forrest and Kim Saunders are relative newcomers to the Cutting and Campdraft arenas, but since becoming involved 12 years ago they have watched, listened and learnt alot. They now own a very successful team of horses and have experienced the true highs of both industries as owners, with Little Rey of Hope winning the NCHA open Futurity in 2012.
After first being introduced to cutting by a friend they thought it was something they should have a go at. Forrest wasn’t a rider but he encouraged Kim to try the sport. Kim started learning and competing and Forrest followed, learning to ride and then after attending several Ian Francis clinics he started in Snafflebit competitions and then One Handed.
However it is as owners where they truly lead by example. They have always wanted Hi-end Open Cutting horses so they have watched horses working and studied breeding, always looking to chase better horses.
With quality horses already in their team they decided to add a world class stallion to the stable. This was a task that was never going to be a quick process because the brief included top class cutting genetics, impeccable type and temperament and a horse that was versatile to come back to Australia and compete in the campdrafting arena after he finished his cutting career.
Several agents were commissioned in the US to find this special horse and two years later after several false starts where people were simply trying to make the deal rather than source an exceptional animal, Hayden Upton came up with the right horse for the Saunders.
Proud Lil Pepto was by the 1995 NCHA Champion Peptoboonsmal and from the Smart Little Lena daughter, Little Proud Mary who was an NCHA Open Finalist herself. This cross had also been very successful in reining Cow Horse events in the States so the genetics were there to transfer to the campdraft industry in Australia. He was exceptional in all areas and Hayden bought him as a 2.y.o for Forrest and Kim.He then stayed in America where Hayden prepared him for the 2011 US NCHA Futurity. He was the first Futurity horse Hayden had trained since moving to the US, so the young duo entered the Futurity as relative unknowns. In the GR1 they finished 2nd which was an amazing feat for a Rookie trainer. They continued on to qualify for the Semi Final and finished 3rd in the Limited Open.
After two successful seasons in the US which included winning the 4.y.o Breeders Invitational and finalling in the Bonanza Open Derby the decision to bring him back to Australia was made. He was sent to Dean Holden and he had more success winning the Q14 Senior Cutting Horse of the Year and was a regular Classic Finalist at the Australian Futurities.
Campdrafting was Proud Lil Peptos next challenge and he changed stables to Warwick Lawrence where he has achieved a great deal in a very short time frame. He started drafting at Upper Horton in July 2015 and five draft later he was an Open Horse having placed in the Stallion Draft at Paradise and won a Novice before winning his Open at Singleton. Few drafts followed because they were continually washed out in 2016 and cancelled in 2017 due to drought.
Warwick rates Proud Lil Pepto very highly, he knew he was a great cutter, but he can’t believe his achievements after so few starts. He’s a natural who can cut a circle, hold his ground and does so at speed. Warwick has been taking it steady with him because he sees him as a long term horse.
Breeding their top mares to him last season, Warwick and Fiona have complete faith in him.
The full story of this exceptional colt is covered in his promotional video.
In 2020 circumstances dictated that Proud Lil Pepto was to be sold at auction, a reluctant sale without doubt but at the 2020 Nutrien Classic auction to two young brothers, Matty & Luke Morrison. A realisation of a dream that’s for sure. Read their story in the Tab below.