Lights, Camera, Action!

Rush To Happy Hour is a Paint ambassador on the small screen, starring in Lawman: Bass Reeves.

By Lyssette Williams

In early 2023, filming for the 101 Studios show Lawman: Bass Reeves took place in the golden fields of Bosque Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. The miniseries tells the story of the American West’s most iconic United States Marshal, Bass Reeves. Long believed to be the real life “Lone Ranger,” Bass was one of the first Black men to wear the legendary silver star of the Marshals, the only federal law enforcement arm serving the American Frontier. While the mud-splattered dusters, woolen waistcoats, faded cotton trousers and trademark false-front architecture helped recreate the late 1800s for viewers, it was the silent, four-legged co-stars that stole the show for horse lovers everywhere.

Among the menagerie of grays, bays, Paints and even a speckled mule or two stood a stoic solid black Paint Horse named Rush To Happy Hour. “Happy” wasn’t bred to teach actors to ride or navigate the world of full-day shoots with multiple takes, noisy war reenactments and staged gunfights; his natural beauty, quiet demeanor and affable nature, however, made him a natural in front of the camera.

Recipe for Success

Born in 2018, Happy was bred at I-44 Horses in Carthage, Missouri, by Bill Zobel and Lorie Garner. His sire Rush To Excellence, is a two-time APHA World Show reserve champion at halter. Happy is out of Classic Rosalita.

“We raise all-around horses using halter bloodlines,” Bill said. “They are pretty-headed, structurally correct, with wonderful minds and great trainability.”

This has been Bill and Lorie’s winning formula, having bred foals that have earned top honors at the Breeder’s Halter Futurity and in multiple breed organizations.  Typically, their young stock are purchased within a couple months of foaling.

“Ninety percent of our customers are repeat customers,” Bill said. “We have never had anyone come to look at a horse and not purchase it—a record we are very proud of!”

California Bound

Raised in the entertainment industry of Los Angeles, California, Happy’s first owner, Renee Thomason, had worked with several top movie horse trainers.

“They taught me to train horses without hurting or intimidating them,” Renee said. “We used only a snaffle bit—no whips or spurs.”

Her methodical, slow-paced and kind method led Renee to success in the barrel racing arena as a young woman. In 2019, as her family’s horses were aging, Renee set out on a cross-country quest to find a replacement. The trip brought Renee and her husband to I-44 Horses.

“I found him by accident,” Renee said about Happy. “There was something about him—the soft look in his eye connected with me. I wanted to write a check for him, but we were in a hurry. We ended up bringing home a little palomino, but a voice in my head told me to buy him.”

Back home, Renee made the call to Bill and Lorie to purchase Happy, and the gelding moved to California to begin his training as a family horse. Renee took her time, and Happy’s people-pleasing personality shone through. For years, he happily toted her children and grandchildren around their property, at rodeos and along California trails.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2024 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.