50-Year Breeders: Cliff Whitelock

50-Year Breeders: Cliff Whitelock

Looking back on a life with horses – some of which have gone onto be hunter-jumpers or barrel horses – it’s a life well lived.

broodmare and foal running (Credit: Jeni Dieringer)

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Growing up, Cliff Whitelock, now 90, used horses in perhaps the slowest way possible, farming with true horsepower pulling the implements. Later, things sped up as he used them to work cattle and hunt on horseback. And then things got really fast.

“I wanted racehorses,” says Cliff, whose wife, Audrey, has also been along for their speedy journey. They first purchased a son of Oklahoma racehorse Mr Bar None, who would later join the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. “We didn’t have much for mares to breed to in this country at that time,” says Cliff, of the race industry around Drayton Valley, Alberta, in the 1960s and early ’70s. But the Whitelocks kept working at it. Next up were a couple of Moon Deck sons, Moon Deck Jr and Limdeck, purchased from Everett Limbeck of Oregon, and they were off to the races. 

Whitelock horses raced at Alberta’s Century Downs and Century Mile, as well as a little in Portland, Oregon, and on Vancouver Island. These days, Cliff likes to send horses to Remington Park in Oklahoma to get training and a few starts before bringing them home, although COVID-19 travel restrictions made that difficult.

With six broodmares in service, Cliff owns three homebred stallions, including Rolling Timber, a son of First Timber who earned his Register of Merit on the track; and two sons of Six Packa Moonshine, a son of Mr Eye Opener the Whitelocks purchased at a Heritage Place sale in 2013. Those stallions are Western Moonshine and A Verygood Moonshine.

While Rolling Timber and A Verygood Moonshine trace on their dams’ sides to El Rey Burner, an All American Futurity finisher and progenitor of many of the Whitelock broodmares, Western Moonshine’s bottom side has a story of its own, tracing back to Bunny Bid A Deck, a 1989 stallion bred by Wes Oulton and purchased as a baby by Cliff to race, stand at stud and take Cliff back to his versatile roots.

“He was really a nice horse, that Bunny Bid A Deck horse. We could run him, you could chase cows on him, whatever. A guy said, ‘You’re not going to take that horse and ride him out in the bush.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s the horse I’ve been riding. He goes where I go.’ He was just plain nice. A quality horse and he could run some, too.”

Looking back on a life with horses – some of which have gone onto be hunter-jumpers or barrel horses – it’s a life well lived.

“It’s nice if you can raise them and they do good,” says Cliff, who only stopped riding two years ago. “The bloodlines we’ve got, we had horses that stayed broke. The ones that wouldn’t stay broke, I got rid of them.” With the good-dispositioned ones, “you could turn him out for six months and saddle him up and get back on where you left off.” And besides good horses, the Whitelocks have come across a lot of good people.

“We met so many nice people through the horses that we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Audrey says. “It’s really amazing the people you do meet.”