Special Invitation
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Leading sire Special Invitation dies at age 25

Special Invitation, one of APHA’s lifetime leading sires of performance horses, died May 9, 2023. The 1998 bay tobiano stallion was by Invitation Only (QH) and out of Ribbon In My Hair. Bred by Jill Marie Cozza of Satellite Beach, Florida, “Special” was owned by Yarnelle Farms of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for most of his life.

The Yarnelle family—Bill, Susie, John and Kathy—found Special in Arizona and purchased him in 2001. Special earned 129 points and a Superior in Western pleasure in 2001 and 2002. Simultaneously, the young stallion was also siring his first foal crops; he eventually took over as senior stallion at Yarnelle Farms.

A Leading Sire

Special Invitation headshot
Special Invitation

Special sired 575 foals over 20 years. They’ve earned more than 76,000 APHA points, 41 APHA world championships and 40 APHA reserve world championship titles. Among his most notable offspring are:

  • John Simon: 17 APHA world championships, 10 APHA reserve world championships
  • Endless Invitations: 4 APHA world championships, 1 APHA reserve world championship, 2006 Reichert Celebration 2-Year-Old Color Classic champion
  • He Sent My Invitation: 3 APHA world championships and 2 reserve world championships
  • Dont Try This At Home: 4,207.5 APHA points, 2 APHA world championships
  • Hang Over: 3,525.5 APHA points
  • Only One Invitation: 3,488.5 APHA points

Our hearts are broken, but we are so grateful for all the people who loved Special and built his legacy into memories that will last a lifetime,” the Yarnelles posted on Facebook.

The Yarnelle Farms program long focused on producing top Western pleasure Paints. Special and his offspring helped create a prosperous secondary focus on Youth and Amateur all-around horses.

“Special Invitation evolved us into that all-around market,” John said in an August 2010 Paint Horse Journal article (click to read). “They have a lot of size and substance to them, and they have brains.”

As of June 6, 2023, Special ranked as:

  • No. 3 Lifetime Leading Sire of Performance Winners
  • No. 3 Lifetime Leading Sire by Performance Points Earned


[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]

About APHA

The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.