"If he was sorrel I'd love him just the same."
Spotlight on McKenna Hickson’s Appaloosa “Spot”

"Spot" is a walking billboard for the sport of breakaway, and will always stop for a pet from a kid or a chance at food.

McKenna Hickson’s leopard Appaloosa gelding “Spot” turns heads at ProRodeos across the United States thanks to his unique color and habit of turning in really fast breakaway times.

“The fans love him,” Hickson, 22, said. “They always want to take his picture, and I think it’s good for the breakaway. We used to get negative attention when we rodeoed in high school. Some people don’t like him till they see him work.”

Hickson recalled a nasty comment someone made as she backed into the box at a 15 & Under roping at Roy Cooper’s. She went on to win the go-round, and the man who made the comment tried to buy Spot from her dad. He wasn’t going anywhere, though, and now Spot has been with Hickson for 8 years.

“When I first got him, I was really new to the breakaway,” Hickson said. “I had been a barrel racer for several years and he’s such a full contact horse that it was a lot of, ‘We’re going to be 1.9 seconds.’ He taught me how to make fast throws and take those risks. Even though he’s an older horse at 16, I feel like he steps it up every year.”

McKenna Hickston and "Spot" lope out of the arena at the 2024 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
McKenna Hickson and “Spot” lope out of the arena at the 2024 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. Photo by Hailey Rae.

At the 2024 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, Hickson and Spot went 1.9 seconds to tie with Sarah Angelone for a go-round in Bracket 4, earning $2,250.

“The entire time I’ve had him, he’s been the horse I picked when I needed to go fast, because he’s so quick across the line,” Hickson explained. “But last year, my other two horses were crippled so he got the call. I rode him at Cheyenne, Salinas, Reno… and he did fantastic. I think it was more of a mental block for me. He scored for me but I am definitely more comfortable on him at shorter setups.”

Hickson describes Spot as a “brick house” that comes across the line HARD. When he’s not prancing in the breakaway box, he’s trying to paw a hole through the trailer floor, trying to open his pen, eating or sleeping.

Spot is a registered Appaloosa bred in Alberta, Canada. His registered name is “Sign Of A Rebel,” and he’s by Hall of Fame stallion High Sign Nugget and out of AQHA mare Peppers Cat.

"Spot" takes his nap time very seriously. According to McKenna Hickston, eating and sleeping are the two most important things to him.
“Spot” takes his nap time very seriously. According to McKenna Hickson, eating and sleeping are the two most important things to him. Photo courtesy Hickson

“He has the biggest personality,” Hickson said. “He loves other horses and especially kids. Any time there are kids at the rodeos he’ll put his head down and be petted.”

Hickson, Spot and her other gelding “Tony” are heading out for the summer ProRodeo run with hauling partner Jade Mitchell. Hickson currently sits No. 49 in the WPRA World Standings with $12,210 earned.

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