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Gunner Be Champions

When Australia’s No.1 Non Pro Reiner, Cameron Halliwell, took the reins of Gottagetagunner he was joining forces with progeny of NRHA $11m Sire, Gunner. Magic was always going to happen. This is their story.

Words: Karen Callinan

Pics: Ev Lagoon Photography, Ken Anderson, Tristan Dark

Cameron Halliwell and Gottogetagunner stopping up a storm at K Ranch Arena Sydney NSW

Where there’s smoke there’s fire

NRHA $11m Sire Colonels Smoking Gun

In 1996 Macarena was top of the charts, Keating handed over to Howard, the Nintendo 64 was launched and Ian Francis (OAM) rode into the Horseworld arena, Maraylya NSW, on board Ayres Roc (by Roc O’lena) to win what was known at the time as the NRHA Futurity (Australia). Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Oklahoma, a head turning baldy faced Stallion named Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) was about to launch a career that would leave a legacy for the Reining industry that would span the globe.

Gunner claimed NRHA Futurity (USA) Reserve Champion honours with Clint Haverty in the saddle that year. He went on to generate $177,670 in LTE and joined Wimpys Little Step as an $11m sire and sits second only to $12m sire Topsail Whiz. Stamping many of his offspring with the white face synonymous with Gunners and a natural ability to stop, high demand to breed to him was inevitable. Australian breeders would not be immune to his allure. In time Gunner semen was imported and breeders were putting the first Australian Gunner babies on the ground.

Literally Gottagetagunner

Fast forward nearly 18 years and a fairly straight forward conversation between Keiran Moses and her trainer Rodney Peachey following a show at Horseworld led to Gottagetagunner joining the team at Keiran and Cameron Halliwell’s property in Tatura Victoria. Being told “You’re showing well, you need to look at some better horses” reflects Keiran, was the catalyst prompting them to pick up the phone to Kate and Scott Glover of Macobri Farm Reining Horses. With a solid reputation for breeding to outstanding international bloodlines it was the logical place to go in pursuit of “one of those Gunner horses.” Fortuitously, Gottagetagunner was the only one left and a nearly two-year old at the time. Jed, as he is known at home, was theirs.

Gunner may have ticked every box available to award himself Reining royalty status, but he left one special honour just for Gottagetagunner’s Mum. Dam, Jessies Red Caddie is quite literally an Olympian. Piloted by Gina Eddie, Jessies Red Caddie was part of the Australian team in the 2000 Olympics that showcased Reining as a demonstration sport. She also had success at Equitana before retiring to brood mare duties and producing progeny like Gottagetagunner.

Only the greatest news in the world was to stand between Keiran and Gottagetagunner hitting the show pen together – a beautiful baby was on the way! So, after a brief stint with professional trainer Graham Cooper of Coopers Performance Horses (Stockinbingal) for breaking, the reins were passed to Cameron Halliwell to start what was to become one of the most successful pairings of their time.

Living up to the Legacy

2015 saw a nail-biter at the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. Casey Deary on Shesouttayourleague (Walla Walla Whiz) was the last competitor into the arena. Not only was he chasing an impressive 224 laid out by Franco Bertolani on Inferno Sixty Six (Gunnatrashya) (I66 Australian Breedings available from Genetically Gifted) but he was nipping on the heels of gaining the prestigious NRHA Million Dollar Rider status. He matched Franco’s 224 and they were headed for a runoff. Pipping Inferno by one point, Deary marked a 224.5 in the runoff and rode his way into the history books.

All the while 2015 saw The New South Wales Reining Horse Association NSWRHA take their State Championship and Futurity away from the usual home ground of Horseworld Maraylya to Tamworth’s AELEC. Gottatgetagunner dominated that July as he took out the Open, Intermediate and the Non Pro Futurity. It was a sizzling start to an outstanding show career that has seen over $50,000 in prize money next to his name.

With the Reining Australia National Championships just over two months away, Gottagetagunner had set the bar high. August saw the QRHA Futurity run and won, with Errol Thomas and Shiney Lil Jack (Shiney And Nu) and Greg Peters on Okies Fancy Step (RC Fancy Step) coming away with Champion and Reserve respectively. The stage was set for a showdown in Tamworth. Errol no doubt hungry for his first National Futurity title, Greg chasing his third and Cameron would be looking to notch up number 7.

With his signature jaw dropping stops Gottagetagunner drew +1 from the judges and took out the prestigious Reining Australia Non Pro Futurity 2015 on a 143. Friend and rival Greg Peters held the Reserve Champion position on a 140 and enjoyed the spoils of claiming Intermediate and Limited Non Pro Futurity glory. David Nixon and A Hollywood Jewel (A Hollywood Custom) tied with Guy Laurie on Wimpys Red Chilli (Wimpys Little Step) to slide into 3rd on 138.5.

Horsepower takes you to the top

Cameron Halliwell is no stranger to success in the world of Reining. He takes his position alongside John Wicks, Shaun Saunders and Warren Backhouse as one of only four Australians to amass Reining Australia (RA) earnings in excess of $200,000 and stands alone as the only Non Pro. There’s little doubt that Cameron is Australia’s most successful Non Pro, and a deserving inductee to the Reining Australia (RA) Hall of Fame in 2018 and recipient of RA Legends Award in 2012 and 2019. Both Cameron and Keiran have competed on the International stage with Cameron a finalist at the 2018 NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City.

Gottagetagunner is a solid contributor to this outstanding record. He and Cameron partnered to bring home an unprecedented 16 aged event Titles plus numerous Open

and Non Pro Championships. Including Reining Australia Non Pro Derby wins 2016 & 2017, VRHA Open Derby Co-Champion 2017 (with Graham Cooper on Special Guns {Son of Gun}) & Champion 2018 and the list goes on and on. Netting in-excess of $50,000 in earnings and going back to back as the highest money earning Reining horse in the country for 2017 and 2018. Their wins were prolific.

After you got your Gunner

7 National Non Pro Futurity titles in the bank entitles Cameron to an opinion on what to look for in a Futurity prospect and when breeding outstanding Reining horses. Both Keiran and Cameron are known for their humility, there is no self-promotion taking place in their camp that’s for sure. If you’re fortunate enough to hear Cameron’s hilarious recounts of how easily and thoroughly Reining can keep a person’s ego in check you will understand. But it is safe to assume that their actions alone speak volumes about their faith in this Stallion. Gottagetagunner is a major contributor to their personal breeding program. Despite many requests to sell the youngsters many of his progeny have been retained.

Breeding wasn’t a huge priority for them in 2015 even though Gottagetagunner was sought after, with only 2 outside bred plus 3 to Cameron and Keiran’s own mares. Demand for Gottagetagunner has increased steadily from there and with good reason.

Proof in the progeny

Keiran showed one of the 2020 contenders, Finallygotagunner (Gottagetagunner X OP Finally Dun It) at the Victorian Reining Horse Association (VRHA) shortly before Covid19 turned the world inside out. The result has given just a taste of what lies ahead for Gottagetagunner progeny. The new partnership marked a 141 despite a late lead change and every stop was rewarded with a +1/2. “It’s so nice to ride a horse that just runs down there and stops. I’ve never had one stop like her, it’s really cool” recalls Keiran.

In the wings awaits Gunnergetya (out of Lil Puss [2009 Futurity winner & producer of Kitty Kat 2019 GVRHA Open and Non Pro Futurity Co-Champion with Reddy Set Gunner {Gunners Special Nite}] and Bettergetagunner (out of OP Dun It Up A Notch [2006 Futurity winner & producer of 2014 Futurity winner Bamba Lamb]). Very wise

breeding choices when you consider Equistat recognises Hollywood Dun It mares as the #1 magic cross with Gunner. The progeny earnings on these lines is well in excess of $1m USD and has resulted in outstanding performers such as Pale Face Dun It, Americasnextgunmodel, Always Gotyer Gunsup and HF Mobster. The future looks bright for Keiran, Cameron, Jed and his progeny. They are certainly contributing to the Gunner legend and are valued and respected members of the Australian Reining community.

Gottagetagunner’s first foal crop hit the show pen this year and are following in the Champion hoof steps.

Gottagetagunner too?

Cameron and Keiran have every faith in the future of the Australian Reining industry and the quality of foals sired by Gottagetagunner. They hope to see many more Australian Reiner’s enjoy the feeling of natural talent, forgiving temperaments and easy stopping. Gottagetagunner is offered for breeder’s consideration in 2020. $1,200 +gst. Follow him on his own fb page or via Genetically Gifted on fb and at

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