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NFR Stallion WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena Tops March Select Online Sale; Will Continue Breeding, Competing with Zito Family Rope Horse Program

Patrick Smith's NFR stallion WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena topped the March 2024 Select Online Sale, selling to Colorado team roper David Zito who will continue the horse's breeding and competition career. 

The 2004 dun stallion WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena—by Hesa Sonofa Dun out of Paulena by Doc Olena—has over $500,000 in earnings, having been raised in the Adams' family's famed Western States Ranches program. “Rooster” won California Rodeo Salinas, the Clark County Fair & Rodeo in Logandale, Nevada, and carried Dakota Kirchenschlager, Cesar de la Cruz, Russell Cardoza and Patrick Smith to NFR qualifications and big rodeo and jackpot wins across the better part of two decades.

“Rooster has had an unprecedented career for a stallion as a performer at the highest level,” said Smith, a two-time world champ and three-time NFR average champ. “He deserves to be in a home where his legacy will be a priority, and that’s what David and his family want for him. He’s been a part of our family, he was a part of the Adams family and now he’ll be a part of the Zito family, helping them build their breeding program from the ground up.”

Zito, from Eaton, Colorado, owns an oil and gas company, and he and his wife Miranda and son, Hudson, 10, got into team roping to develop a family hobby just a year and a half ago.

“I found out he was selling on Friday, and I bought him on Sunday,” Zito laughed. “It all happened so fast—we didn’t have weeks or months to sit here and do due diligence. My partner and trainer at 1957 Quarter Horses, Taylor Thompson, knew him, and we have a young own son of Hashtags that, eventually, we’ll want to transition the Riata spot to. And hopefully we’ll learn some stallion promotion along the way with Rooster.”

The Zitos have acquired 20 horses just in the last year and a half, including five futurity horses Thompson is hauling to all the Royal Crown, Riata Buckle and American Rope Horse Futurity Association events. They’ve already got plans to cross Rooster on their Once In A Blu Boon and Hickory Holly Time daughters, but they’ll also cross him on great mares that stand out as individuals to make good horses.

“I've watched Rooster since I was watching the Finals in high school," Thompson, of Merino, Colorado, said. "Any fans of the sport have seen the best guys in the world pull Rooster out at crunch time when they needed to win. He's gritty and built to work—he's the kind of horse a cowboy wants to ride, whether in or out of the arena. Plus, if we can cross him on some running mares, that will be anyone's closest bet to getting something like Transmission of Clint Summers, and that's probably the best head horse of this generation."

The stallion will remain at Highpoint Performance Horses for the remainder of the 2024 breeding season, and from there he’ll head to the Zitos to enjoy.

“I’m not a high-numbered roper by any means,” Zito, a 3 on both ends, said. “But I have every intention of getting on him and using him. The challenge of team roping is the exciting part of it. And I’m excited that Rooster will be able to show that he can do what he does no matter who’s on him.”


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