Owned by Nichole Branquinho and
Standing at 808 Ranch
STUD FEE: $3,000
SIRE: Smart Chic Olena
DAM: Fritzs Oak E Doakie by Doc’s Oak
Call it fate—or just a hungry horse—but Olena Oak, “Ernie,” came to Nichole Branquinho thanks to her dad Mel Smith.
“Dad bought him as a 2-year-old in a sale because he ate an apple out of his pocket,” Branquinho laughed. “I’m not kidding.”
Hugely successful in the National Reined Cow Horse Association, Ernie was shown primarily by Ron Emmons and retired sound at age 15. In addition to the NRCHA Derby Open Bridle Championship, Ernie competed at the World’s Greatest Horseman, making the finals in six of eight appearances and winning the prestigious event twice.
After receiving many offers, Smith eventually sold out his share to Emmons’ wife LaDona.
“Dad wanted to own mares,” Branquinho noted. “But I knew I would never own a horse like this again.”
“He’s a worker bee. He wants to do his job and be done,” Branquinho said of Ernie. “His babies tend to be the same. They want to learn quickly and do it right.”
Though most of his progeny have focused on the cow horse, his son Dual Oak E dominated the ARHFA regular season in 2022 with $25,805 in earnings. Branquinho’s husband Casey will venture into the futurities in the future, a good fit given his upbringing in the rodeo world.
“Our biggest problem is we keep them all and don’t sell enough,” Branquinho admitted. “Ninety percent of what our four kids ride on the ranch are Ernie’s babies.”