Starbucks: X Factor

Ryan Motes—four-time NFR qualifier and 2019 winner of The American—on what made his 2013 PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year, Starbucks, rise above the competition.

Breeding, etc.

Registered name: CD Starbucks

Sorrel gelding

Owned and ridden by: Ryan Motes

Sire: CD Olena

Dam: Cari Me Starlight

Further Back: Doc O’Lena, Peppy San Badger, Grays Starlight

Born: 1998

Height: 15 hands

Weight: 1,200 pounds


He’s reasonably tall and pretty stout. He’s not terribly long-legged but he’s not short legged. He’s longer-legged for a cutting-bred horse. He’s low-hocked, and he’s dang sure not built downhill like a lot of cutters. He’s not built uphill either. He’s got really round withers and a really round back. He’s very well proportioned for a heel horse.


He’s great to be around. He loves being home, loves being turned out in the pasture. He’s laid back with kids, but when you get somewhere, especially a performance, he gets real amped up real quick. He’s all business during the run. He might prance out of the arena. We laugh about some of the stupid things he spooks at, and we realize he’s never going to get over it.

X Factor

Honestly, he does everything well. What makes him good for me is that I can ride him anywhere, whether it’s Salinas or Cheyenne or the NFR. He scores amazing, you can put him anywhere you want to. He can run and stop, and his timing and his own read of what’s going on in the run and what the steers are doing is exceptional. I tell anyone who gets on him to ride him however their horse works. He’s so adaptable to everyone’s style.

CD Starbucks (left) spent the 2019 summer season as a trailer companion for Motes’ CD Rockstar—”Rocky”—Starbucks’ younger, full brother, on whom Motes won The American. Courtney Motes

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