Horse-Related Facts About ‘Yellowstone’

Horse-Related Facts About ‘Yellowstone’

Trivia for horse enthusiasts, including the names of famous American Quarter Horses, their pedigrees and riders from Paramount Network’s ‘Yellowstone.’

Kevin Costner, playing John Dutton in

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Compiled by Kylynn Copeland and Tara Matsler

The new season of the dramatic modern-day Western “Yellowstone” kicked off June 21. To celebrate, we compiled 10 things you may not have known about “Yellowstone” and its cast ­– both horse and human.

First though, “Yellowstone” is not your father’s “Big Valley.” It pushes the limits as it tells the story of Montana rancher John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner. It’s a Western with a level of authenticity never seen before, from famous actors to American Quarter Horses.

Some of your favorite characters may include Rip, Beth, Jimmy, Jake (as in Jake Ream Cutting Horses), Kayce and, of course, John Dutton, but we are a little partial to the American Quarter Horse reiners and cutters that play major roles in the TV series.


“Yellowstone” is written, directed and produced by AQHA life member Taylor Sheridan. Taylor competes in reining and cutting competitions, which is why he incorporates the sports and its athletes into the TV show. For his work with “Yellowstone” and “The Last Cowboy,” Taylor was presented the AQHA Spirit Award during the 2019 AQHA World Championship Show. The AQHA Spirit Award is presented to an individual who represents the western lifestyle and heritage of the American Quarter Horse to an exceptional extent. Taylor’s passion for the American Quarter Horse led him to a career in acting and directing, and has put American Quarter Horses on millions of television screens around the world.

Yellowstone" writer, director and producer Taylor Sheridan sits aboard Pale Black Gun next to his reining trainer, Tom Foran

"Yellowstone" writer, director and producer Taylor Sheridan sits aboard Pale Black Gun next to his reining trainer, Tom Foran (Credit: photo courtesy of Tom Foran)


Reining fans rejoiced in Season 1, Episode 5 when AQHA reining world champion and National Reining Horse Association Futurity champion Lil Joe Cash appeared onscreen with NRHA $5 million rider and trainer Andrea Fappani. Lil Joe Cash, owned by Lil Joe Cash Inc., is a 2008 sorrel stallion by Nu Chex To Cash and out of AQHA Superhorse RS Lilly Starlight.

Andrea Fappani does a sliding stop on Lil Joe Cash en route to the junior reining world championship at the 2012 AQHA World Show

Lil Joe Cash secured the 2012 AQHA junior reining world championship with AQHA Professional Horseman Andrea Fappani in the saddle. (Credit: Journal)

Lil Joe Cash's pedigree


The cutting horse industry is highly anticipating Metallic Cat’s role in Season 3. Bobby Patton, owner of Metallic Cat, snagged his horse the rights to be written into the script of “Yellowstone.” Bobby purchased the casting rights at a gala in December, during the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. The final bid of $165,000 will benefit the NCHA Charities Foundation. Metallic Cat was an NCHA Futurity champion and NCHA Horse of the Year, and now is a leading sire of cutting and reined cow horses.

red roan stallion Metallic Cat

Red roan stallion Metallic Cat was the leading sire of cutting and reined cow horses in 2019. (Credit: photo courtesy of NRCHA)


Metallic Cat pedigree


Custom Made Gun, The Run for a Million co-champion and World Equestrian Games medalist, also appears in Season 1, Episode 5. Custom Made Gun, owned by Maria Cecilia Fiorucci of Italy, is a 2011 palomino stallion by Colonels Smoking Gun (best known as “Gunner”) and out of the Hollywood Dun It daughter Custom Made Dunit.

Cade McCutcheon performs a sliding stop on palomino stallion Custom Made Gun at the 2018 World Equestrian Games

Cade McCutcheon performs a sliding stop on palomino stallion Custom Made Gun at the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Cade and Custom Made Gun led the way to the Team USA gold medal in reining. (Photo by @Sportfot)

Custom Made Gun pedigree


Although Custom Made Gun made his show-pen success with NRHA’s youngest $1 million rider and trainer, Cade McCutcheon, its Cade’s grandfather, NRHA $3 million rider and trainer Tim McQuay, who rides Custom Made Gun in Season 1. However, Cade does appear with his parents, NRHA $1 million rider and trainer Tom McCutcheon and NRHA $2 million non-pro rider Mandy McCutcheon, in Season 2, Episode 5.


NRHA professional trainer Matt Mills also appeared in Season 2, Episode 5 as part of a reining sliding competition between the McCutcheons, Travis Wheatley (played by Taylor) and Yellowstone ranch hand Jimmy Hurdstrom.

Matt Mills runs a large fast reining circle on Wallas Chic Diana

Matt Mills appeared in both "Yellowstone" and on the Paramount Network show "The Last Cowboy." In this article, Matt shares tips to improve your reining circle scores. (Credit: Shane Rux Photography for AQHA)


Walla Walla Starbuck is ridden by reining trainer Tom Foran in Season 1, Episode 5. Owned by Taylor, Walla Walla Starbuck is a 2012 red dun stallion with more than $50,000 in NRHA earnings.

Walla Walla Starbuck pedigree


Also included in the series are Spookernickerin, an NRHA money-earning sorrel gelding owned by Jules Stewart, and Dun It Chexinic, a 2007 bay gelding with more than $32,000 earned in reining and who happens to be owned and shown by Taylor Sheridan.

Dun It Chexinic


Besides focusing on casting the best horses, Taylor also wanted the “Yellowstone” actors to be authentic. He sent the actors to “cowboy camp,” coached by Taylor’s cutting horse trainer, Jake Ream. “Cowboy camp” was a four-day experience in the mountains of Utah. They camped out, moved sheep and had to take care of themselves and the horses. Lots of hours were spent in the saddle, which resulted in exceptional on-screen riding by each character.

Jefferson White, who plays Jimmy Hurdstrom, sits astride a horse

Jefferson White – like his character Jimmy Hurdstrom – was a newcomer to the horse world. "Cowboy camp" acquainted with horses, and through the series, he – and Jimmy – learn to ride together. (Credit: Emerson Miller for Paramount Network)


The character Beth Dutton is known for her hatred of horses, due to an accident where she blames herself for killing her mother. Funny thing is, actress Kelly Reilly has been riding since she was very young and horses are a passion. Kelly primary grew up riding English, so toward the end of the series, when she gets back in the saddle, she worked with Tom Foran (Taylor’s reining trainer) and Sled and Tamara Reynolds (owners of Gentle Jungle, one of Hollywood’s oldest and best-known animal wrangling businesses) to help perfect Kelly’s western riding.

Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth Dutton, sits astride a horse

Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth Dutton, is a longtime horsewoman. She says, “I have always dreamed about being in a Western.” (Credit: Emerson Miller for Paramount Network)

Yellowstone: Season 3 Premiere

The premiere of Season 3 of “Yellowstone” is only a few weeks away and will surely be filled with Dutton family drama. But let’s be honest, all of us horse enthusiasts will be waiting on the edges of our sofas for the amazing American Quarter Horses Taylor has worked so hard to feature.

Tune in to “Yellowstone” Season 3, premiering June 21 at 8 p.m. CT on the Paramount Network.