Like the famous 16th century portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci, the Hobson Ranch-bred reined cow horse Mona Lisa became an icon for her industry. Foaled in 1950, her excellence and achievements are being noted and recognized over four decades later. Her sire, Aliso Boy, was mostly Thoroughbred and her dam was a ranch mare by Hi Step.
Mona Lisa was originally trained by Joe Yanez, and later ridden by American Quarter Horse Association, National Cutting Horse Association, and National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Famer Don Dodge. Don and the distinctive mare accumulated numerous titles during the fifties, winning the Champion Stock Horse Trophy and later the Stock Horse Championship twice. They also won the Monterey National and Santa Barbara.
The mare was later paired with Ronnie Richards after being purchased by Arthur and Alberta Elliott. Purchased for their daughter Patty, who would later ride the mare during college, Ronnie and Mona Lisa rode to heart stopping performances that dazzled spectators and trainers nationwide. Among the titles claimed during her performance years are a string of continuous Top Ten finishes with the California Reined Cow Horse Association, and her stake wins continued for over a decade.
Producing only three foals in her lifetime, Mona Lisa was bred to a Thoroughbred race horse stud named Mister Triple Chic all three times. She was exposed to Doc Bar and numerous other Quarter Horse studs, but never caught. Her offspring included Lisa Chic, Mona Chic, and a black gelding that was later sold by the Elliott Ranch.
Lisa Chic did really well, winning at Monterey and showing well at the Cow Palace. Ronnie started her and had her bridled up by the time Patty started showing her during her time at Cal Poly University. Patty won the Year-End Championship on her in the reined cow horse classes.
Ronnie started Mona Chic and showed her in the Hackamore for awhile. She was injured and never got back into showing.
Good cow horses her babies became, but they werent their mother and Mona Lisas accomplishments remain unrivaled.
Interestingly enough, Mona Lisas original rider, Don Dodge later ended up living on the Elliott Ranch. He recalled that at one time, there were seven saddles offered for major stock horse classes in the western United States and Mona Lisa won six of the seven saddles.
Mona Lisa is still considered one of the greatest reined cow horses of all time and was the first horse to win all three bridle horse classes at the Cow Palace. The unforgettable chestnut wowed the hearts of many. In trying to find a bit that worked well for Mona Lisa, Dodge had a Garcia Bit made specifically for her and it is still being used today. Appropriately, it carries her name, another facet is the legacy of this remarkable athlete.