BY MEGAN ULRICH
During the final years of his life, legendary AQHA stallion Invitation Only enjoyed grazing in a green field reserved especially for him at Leeman Farms in Massillon, Ohio. The 1990 bay stallion by Barpassers Image and out of Bears Raisin Kane passed peacefully on February 15, 2019 after a well-deserved retirement with Fritz and Carole Leeman.
The Leemans acquired Invitation Only and Lazy Loper in May of 2015 from the Farina Family, owners of Pine View Farm in northeast Ohio, who were seeking to downsize and lighten the load of their business. Around the same time, Fritz was seeking to acquire some new studs to expand his breeding program. The moment the Leemans heard the news of Pine View offering Lazy Loper for sale, they wanted to know where Invitation Only would go. Both Fritz and Carole are admittedly softhearted and were determined to see the famous stud retire to the right place where he could live out his final years in leisure.
Lauren Erk, Leeman Farm’s breeding manager, began working with Invitation Only at Pine View in 2010 and, like all those who interacted with him, enjoyed his big personality. “Invy certainly knew he was king wherever he was,” she says. “His personality mellowed out some during his retirement, but he would check to see if you were paying attention to him.” Lauren says that if Invy were a person, she could envision him being an elderly gentleman sitting on his front porch luring kids in with candy, but yelling at them to get off his lawn all in the same breath.
Fritz expands on Lauren’s statement. “He had quite the personality! If you’d turn your back on him in the stall, and you had a mint in your pocket, he’d bite you right in the butt as if to say, ‘You can’t ignore me!’”
What certainly can’t be ignored is Invy’s breeding prowess and the legacy he leaves behind. “He had more than just the impact of being a sire,” says Fritz and Carole’s granddaughter, Katsy Leeman. “He’s a phenomenal sire of dams. If you want a good broodmare, you get an Invitation Only daughter. Also, I can’t count how many studs are sired by him that are producing very well. Rather than a pretty flower that gets admired for one summer, Invy is like a tree with a lot of branches, a lot of leaves, and far-reaching roots. He grew into something that people will shade under for years to come.”Click here to read the complete article