Written By Lauren Middleton
Often, the stories behind great horses are a huge part of their greatness. For Woody Be Lucky aka “Freak,” that was more than true. He was always a character bucking so often that he probably could have been a bucking horse rather than a cutting horse, but anyone who ever saw him in the cutting pen knew that cutting was his true calling!
Freak began his journey as part of the second foal crop of the famous stallion, Nitas Wood, who has now gone on to be a proven sire and grandsire. Freak was always a big horse and not really made to be a cutting horse, which resulted in him being sent to be a ranch horse when he was a yearling. The Crumpler’s have a great relationship with Red McColmbs who owns a ranch in west Texas, so they often send horses that they think might not cut it in the cutting pen to him to be ranch horses. Freak happened to be included in that string because just looking at him you would never think he could do the things he later became known for. After starting him, even though he was a bronc, they could tell he had something special to him. They called the Crumpler’s and said they had to take him back and try him as a cutter. Little did they all know that this decision would lead to a gelding with two Non-Pro World Championship titles and lifetime earnings of over $700,000!
Even though Freak was a little on the greener side when heading into the NCHA Futurity, the whole family knew he was something to look forward to. He always tried his heart out, a quality that caught the eyes of Dan and Karen Hansen. At one prework, the order of works was confused and there was not enough time to get the gelding ready. He was out of breath and a little wild, but it did not matter he still drew the audience in! They asked to buy him after already buying another nice gelding, Could I Wood I, the year before. Freak ended up failing the vet check by having an OCD, which is one thing a lot of people are fearful of today. The Crumpler family did not budge on his price, and rightfully so, Dan and Karen took the chance. Today, they are so glad they did! Obviously, the issue never phased Freak, he is now in the top ten of all-time money earners in the cutting arena. While the largest check of his career was $23,000 as a four-year-old at the Bonanza, $500,000 of it was earned after aged events. He was retired at age 16 after winning the Non-Pro Mercuria at the Houston Livestock show in 2015. To win that much money in weekend events is astounding! It was over $700,000 won the hard way, many runs, and extraordinary consistency. He won over $100,000 for three different riders in his career, and his accolades are endless. In addition, he is thought to be the horse with the most Mercuria event championships under his belt.
Dan Hansen winning the 2015 San Antonio Stock Show Non Pro Mercuria Cutting:
Setting all of his accomplishments aside, Freak was a very unique horse. He was weird, as many standout geldings are, and he had his own way of doing things. You never knew if you would be able to catch him that day whether in a pasture or a stall for that matter. He was a master at being able to grab a treat that you were bribing him with and still not let you catch him! If it was raining, you might as well go inside and not worry about catching him because it was not happening! Treats really were one of his favorite things, and he was always able to convince even a passerby to give him something. It did not have to be a horse cookie. It could be anything really. Dan recalled a time at the Houston Livestock Show that he was eating a peach cobbler with ice cream, and Freak really wanted to try it. He finally gave in, and the big gelding proceeded to eat every bite!
He always scanned the audience as he walked in to show with an air almost like, “I hope you are all ready, because I am about to put on a show!” He routinely bucked a little on the first cow, because that was just how he started things off, and he excelled the tougher the run was! The final cow that Freak worked in his career was a crazy Bremer that he ended up holding for 54 seconds. That cow won the cutting for them in the last hole draw. Dan said you could see Freak’s back legs on either side of his front legs because he was stopping so hard. It was just one of the moments that he will always remember out of all of the times he showed him. There were plenty of amazing runs for the duo and several with scores over a 230. They were almost unbeatable, especially when they were late in the draw and the pressure was on.
Dan will be the first to tell you, even though they had so many unbelievable moments, Freak was Karen’s horse. Through the years, he was always Karen’s horse. He loved her dearly always nickering as she came in the barn or when he saw her turn any corner. She was a softy too, always giving in to his little begging face for his treats. There is always something about a bond between a woman and her horse. They knew that with all of the goals Dan set for himself that Freak was the horse to do it, and Karen was happy to share him with Dan after she had enjoyed so much success on the gelding too.
Freak did that and so much more. He was a once in a lifetime for the couple, and undoubtedly, one of the very best horses the Crumpler’s have brought into this world thus far even with their spectacular track record. He made dreams come true for almost everyone who rode him. He was known to everyone as one of the toughest to beat for many years, and no cutting was over until Freak entered the herd. His big presence broke records, but the biggest impact that he made was on his family. The love they had for him was unmeasured. The memories they have with him whether it be trying to catch him in the rain, trying not to let him buck them off into a pond, or holding a cow that no other horse could possibly hold, they are were equally special, because that was all part of his persona. From a big, “probably not going to make it as a cutter” ranch horse to an all-time leading cutting horse, Freak was memorable in all of the stages of his life. We are so fortunate we were able to watch his story unfold, and Dan and Karen are so thankful that the big ornery gelding entered their lives. Gone but never forgotten until we see you again Woody Be Lucky, have some cobbler in heaven for us buddy we will be missing you!.