A Family Tradition

by: Jennifer Wenzlick

(As Featured in the Michigan Quarter Horse Journal - January 2006)

Raising quarter horses is a tradition for the Phillippi family. Gene and Maryfrances began raising Quarter Horses shortly after they were married in 1968. Their family business - Phillippi Quarter Horses - has been in operation for over 35 years. And if you ask the Phillippis, they will attribute the success of the last 35 years to the help they have received from the people in the Quarter Horse industry.
 
What started as an interest in a weanling filly at Steyskal’s Training Stables in Papillion, Nebraska has become a family business spanning three equine disciplines. Gene’s interest in that filly, and the patience of Stan and Mary Kay Steyskal to help newcomers to the Quarter Horse industry, comprised the foundation of Phillippi Quarter Horses. Although Gene and Maryfrances had owned horses previously, Pennsy Pab (by Tiger Hank out of a Texas Pine mare) was the beginning of what would become a business focused on a small band of quality broodmares. According to Gene and Maryfrances, “The Steyskals were always very helpful and, when we were at an age where money was scarce, they always worked with us so that we could afford quality horses.” In the mid 1970’s - a few years after Bane was born - the Phillippi family moved from Gretna, Nebraska to Ludington, Michigan, where they currently reside. With them came the horse business and the quality bloodlines of Steyskal’s. At this point, the business consisted of only two mares, Pennsy Pab and Cutter Barb (by Leo’s Question out of a Buckskin Jim mare). Over the next several years, they bred these two mares to the Steyskal’s two studs, Iron Rebel and Tiger Leo. Bane and Sam (who was born shortly after the move to Michigan) would join their dad in the long trip from Ludington to the Steyskals in Nebraska to haul mares for the breeding season. As the boys grew older, they would spend time during school breaks with Stan and Mary Kay Steyskal, soaking up Stan’s training savvy and Mary Kay’s unparalleled knowledge of horse bloodlines.
The background the family gleaned from Steyskals was a perfect compliment to the tight-knit horse community they discovered in Ludington, Michigan. From the time Bane and Sam were very young, they were active showing horses. The Mason County 4-H Program and the Ludington Fair were what initially sparked the boys’ interest in showing horses. With the quality riding instruction available in the area and the support structure of the 4-H program, their abilities and interest grew, until they finally began showing on the Quarter Horse circuit in the then Michigan Junior Quarter Horse Association. “From day one, we were always treated like a member of the Michigan Quarter Horse family, whether it was by leading amateur competitors or the top trainers,” Bane commented. The boys initially focused on showmanship, western horsemanship and western pleasure under various trainers, including Christie Showerman, and later became involved in halter, under the guidance of Tom and Mary Robertson. With the added interest in halter, the family expanded bloodlines and again were guided by one of the nation’s leading breeders of halter horses, Lee Smith. In Bane’s final year of youth, he showed Hold It Mister (a Mr. Conclusion gelding) to top-three finishes at the Quarter Horse Congress and the AJQHA World Show. In Sam’s final year as a youth competitor, he showed Surely a Mister (a Mister Conclusion mare that would later go on to become World Champion) to a top ten finish at the youth world.
 
After graduating from high school, Bane’s next stop was Texas A&M University. At Texas A & M, Bane’s involvement in horses continued - he was involved in the equestrian team (where he placed in the top ten at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships), the horse judging team (which finished in the top ten at the AQHA World Finals), and was commanding officer of the nation’s only collegiate military cavalry unit.
Sam’s success went beyond the show ring. In 1992, he served as the Secretary to the then American Junior Quarter Horse Association and, in 1993, he was elected President of AJQHA. That same year Sam enrolled at Texas A&M and balanced his freshman year with the demands of the AJQHA presidency, a role that took Sam to state associations across the country. During his time at A&M, Sam was deeply committed to the Texas Aggie Bonfire and a member of the military cavalry unit.
During the first part of law school, Bane took time off showing but was soon back at it, showing Cut N Chip (by Zips Chocolate Chip out of a Tiger Leo mare) at local Texas Quarter Horse shows during his final two years of law school. Until 2003, Bane showed Crashin the Bash (by Invitation Only out of a Zips Chocolate Chip mare) in western pleasure on the Texas quarter horse circuit. In 2003, Bane switched to showing cutting horses and competes at cutting events in Texas. He currently shows Playboys Cut Up (by Freckles Playboy out of a Doc O’Lena mare) in the non-pro cutting events in central Texas.
 
The Phillippis have anywhere from three to five broodmares in Ludington at a time. Gene, the administrator of a cancer center, and Maryfrances, an occupational health nurse and folk artist, both are integral to the broodmare operation. After studs are chosen in the fall to cross on broodmares the following year, Gene and Maryfrances monitor the breeding of each mare in the spring. Each foal is imprinted when born, weaned, and then fit to sell.  Depending on the bloodlines of each foal, they generally are raised until yearlings and taken to specialty sales around the country. For instance, foals are entered into the annual NRHA Futurity Reining & Cow Horse Classic Sale in Oklahoma City or one of the Tattersall sales in Columbus, Ohio each year. The family periodically meets at these specialty sales to take part in the selling process. 
 
So, even though the family is miles apart, involvement in horses keeps them very close. Horses have always been a part of the Phillippi family. They hope to carry on the tradition of raising and showing quality horses and promoting the spirit of the state and national quarter horse associations that have given so much to the Phillippi family tradition

This was the summer that Sam worked for the Dow Chemical plant as a painter.

Sam got his first horse when he was 5 years old and has been showing ever since. His horses are his other world away from college and the Corps of Cadets.

The Phillippi Family - Bane, Maryfrances, Sam and Gene

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