Larry Rose of Ohio started squirreling away money in a savings account when he was 15, the year he won the open honor roll title in trail. He wasn’t sure what he was saving for, but if the opportunity knocked, he wanted to answer.
Larry was a swarthy, intense young man who knew the pedigrees of most of the horses he showed against and many in other classes. He caught Ron Renner off guard at a horse show one day as the older-but-greener Ron sat on his liver chestnut halter stallion, awaiting one of his first performance classes. “Larry looked over at me and said, kinda smart-aleck like, ‘Great Pine’s gonna step on his cinch,’ ” recalls Ron, who immediately tightened his dangerously loose saddle.
Great Pine was 4 and Larry was 20 in January 1970, when Ron put them together. Three short weeks later, they won the first of five consecutive reining classes and finished Great Pine’s AQHA championship before breeding season even begun. “He was naturally low-headed, which was unusual for a reiner at that time,” says Larry. “He had these huge, masculine jaws, made him look like he had a toothache on both sides. He had a lot of stop, and the best on/off switch in the world.”
Achieving the AQHA championship was supposed to complete the Larry-Great Pine partnership, but the kid talked Ron into entering Great Pine in the reining stakes at several big fairs that fall.
About the time Ron was cashing his checks from reining stakes in Illinois, New York and Indiana, a colt from Great Pine’s first crop, Tijuana Pine, won the yearling halter futurity at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. The return on Ron’s investment just kept coming. Larry’s primary investment at this time was a trailer house, but Great Pine kept adding to his net worth with his share of reining stakes, and Ron let Larry show the stallion another year.
By early 1972, Larry nervously decided to break open his nest egg when Ron priced Great Pine at $10,000. “After saving for seven or eight years, I had $9,500. That was everything I could possibly put together, and they settled for that,” Larry says.
Prior to Larry, Great Pine had been sold fairly often, and at bargain prices – he brought only $350 when he first landed in the Buckeye State. He was bred by B.D. Wheelis, a physician in Jacksboro, Texas, who wisely purchased his seedstock from one of his patients, Paul Curtner. Great Pine traced to Paul’s program on both sides of his pedigree: his sire Poco Bright Star, was by Poco Pine; his dam was by Town Crier. Though Larry had to transfer his life savings to Ron, Great Pine and his progeny paid great dividends.
A gritty little Great Pine daughter named I’m Great Too launched Great Pine’s reputation as a sire of reiners in the early 1970s. During the ’80s, Great Pine was the leading sire of National Reining Horse Association money earners and was the leading maternal grandsire of the 1990s. Great Pine transformed Larry from trainer to breeder. Larry climbed among NRHA’s top 10 all-time money-earning riders even after semi-retiring. In 1993, Larry won the Congress Reining Futurity aboard Primary Pine, better known as “A Famous Amos.” “If it wasn’t for Great Pine,” Larry says, “I’d probably be working at McDonald’s.”