About Steyskal Quarter Horses

Jack Benson Award
2001 Winner:
Stan & Mary Kay Steyskal
August 2001 NSBA Magazine

For 30 years Stan and Mary Kay Steyskal, of Papillion, Nebraska, have been breeding horses.
Each year brings a new herd of future champions.

And Each year, since 1987, the Steyskal breeding program has been listed on the AQHA leading breeders list. Now, they are on the All Time Leading Breeders list of Register of Merit performance horses, as well.

Success like that is not left to chance. Top breeding operations are developed by combining such factors as pedigree, conformation, soundness, athletic ability and disposition.

For their numerous contributions to the pleasure horse industry through their breeding program and Mary Kay's service to the NSBA as a Board member, the Steyskals have been awarded the Jack Benson Award. Mary Kay accepted a bronze trophy of mare and foal at the NSBA Awards Banquet June 26, in Wilmington, Ohio.

"Stan and Mary Kay Steyskal, are perfect examples of what the Jack Benson Award is all about," said NSBA Executive Director Terri Green. "Not only because of their contribution as breeders of great pleasure horses, but also for Mary Kay's countless hours and efforts as a past, yet still involved, Tiger LeoNSBA Board member."

Mary Kay and Stan both grew up with horses. When they met, Mary Kay was riding pleasure and barrel horses. Stan was a rodeo rider. They shared their individual interests with each other and developed new ones together. From reining to cutting and western pleasure to breeding. No matter what the short-term goal, over the years the Steyskals have remained true to their original beliefs.

"In the back of your mind, you have to remember that good conformation delivers good performance," Mary Kay explained.
At the heart of the Steyskal breeding program are the stallions Tiger Leo and Iron Rebel. Tiger Leo serves as a prime example of the success of the Steyskal breeding program. This great stallion became a National Snaffle Bit Association Hall of Fame member in 1995 because of his role as a great broodmare sire in the modern western pleasure industry.

Tiger Leo was actually sent to Stan Steyskal as a training horse. While in Stan's program, Tiger Leo finished his AQHA Championship. When owner Walt Chamberlain offered Tiger Leo for sale, the Steyskals formed the Tiger Leo Syndicate and the 10-year-old stallion was purchased. The Steyskals stood Tiger Leo until they had to put him down at the age of 28 with heart trouble.

Tiger Leo's get earned 5,943.5 AQHA points, in such events as halter, cutting, reining, western pleasure, hunter under saddle, western Trophyhorsemanship, trail and barrel racing. He is the sire of 69 Register of Merits, 31 Superiors, 11 AQHA Champions and a World Champion.

But ask Stan and Mary Kay the key to their success and they are quick to credit their broodmares. One of the mares bred to Tiger Leo was Kiowa's Diana. This mare is the dam of Bill Tiger Leo (319 points), Tina Tiger Leo (148 points), El Tigre Leo (76 points) and Lonsum Tiger, NCHA Reserve World Champion Cutting Horse. All of these foals were sired by Tiger Leo. Kiowa's Diana was the dam of the mare Miss Band. Miss Band is the dam of Tammy Tiger (649 points) Jimmy Tiger (511 points), Jenny Tiger (251 points) and Tracy Tiger (dam of Congress Pleasure Futurity winner Trace of Goodbar) when bred to Tiger Leo.

The success of Kiowa's Diana and her daughters in the Steyskal breeding program have become what many breeders term a "mare family." Breeders retain fillies from their outstanding broodmares and these mares and their daughters form families within the herd. The mare Connie's Kitten is sired by Tiger Leo and out of Kiowa's Diana. Connie's Kitten was retained by the Steyskals as a broodmare. She has produced foals like Kitten Cause, an AQHA Champion and Honor Roll Hunter Under Saddle Horse. Kitten Cause was sired by Iron Rebel, the other stallion in the Steyskal breeding program.

They Steyskals had decided they needed an outcross for Tiger Leo, so they purchased Iron Rebel, who had been on the race track as a two-year-old. They put some points on him before he was sold to Herb Jekel, of Mundelein, Ill. Jekel turned the horse over to Dale McDavitt to show and he finished second at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Junior Western Pleasure.

While the Steyskals owned Iron Rebel, they had the opportunity to breed mares to the young stallion. This first crop of foals included Son Of A Rebel and Kitten Cause. Both went on to be outstanding show horses. So when Iron Rebel became available for sale in 1985, the Steyskals bought him back. When Iron Rebel completed his show career, he was an AQHA Champion with 158 points in five events. He earned a Superior in Western Pleasure with 127 points, 24 halter points, 3 heading points, 3 heeling points and 1 reining point.

Today the Steyskals stand Ironmaker, a Superior Western Pleasure son of Iron Rebel, and Iron Cadillac, also by Iron Rebel and out of a mare by Tiger Leo x Kiowa's Diana family. They also stand TigerAFlame, by Tiger Leo. TigerAFlame features 31 percent Leo breeding.

The influence of Tiger Leo will continue in the Steyskal breeding program for some time. They have three stallions with Tiger Leo breeding and 15 daughters of this great sire. In all, they own 30-35 broodmares and raise about 25-30 foals each year.

"If there's one bit of advice I'd offer, it would be to remember that you are breeding to the whole family, not just the individual," Mary Kay said.
Stan and Mary Kay are also very involved in the Breeders' Classic Pleasure Horse Sale. It's a venture they, along with friends, Dan & Carol McWhirter, Jim & Renae Dudley and Joe & Liz Geeslin, started in 1991. Each year 150 head of some of the finest pleasure prospects and proven horses, representing both the bloodlines of these four farms and the produce of many other top quality breeders, are sold at this public auction.

"The industry has changed so much over the years," said Mary Kay. "We are in an era of specialization, but we still want to raise a horse that can do more than one thing. We must continue to emphasize correct conformation, athletic ability and a willing mind to do that."

With a foundation herd of Tiger Leo, Iron Rebel and Zippo Pine Bar broodmares, there will no doubt be many more fuure champions to grow up on the pastures of this Midwestern operation.

"You have to have a vision and raise horses that satisfy you first", Mary Kay said. "And hopefully, they will satisfy someone else too."