Friday, February 19, 2010

A Family History of Bay Colts

In a recent post I mentioned Ace's great grand sire Georgetown and that my first Saddlebred training project was a horse we bred by that stallion. I'll go into a little family Saddlebred history for you, since the winter is long and not much else is happening.

Long before I got the bright idea to raise a foal, my mother and her mother before her had been trying their hand at breeding Saddlebreds.

Gramma with Saddlebred Broodmare

To their credit they have 7 purebred Saddlebreds, and 5 half Saddlebred (half Arabian). It all started before I was old enough to walk with a mare named Anacacho Megan. Mom and Dad (and little me) were living in Shelbyville, KY next to my father's parent's house. Mom needed a horse. Who wouldn't? And in that area, Saddlebreds were plentiful. She went to a dispersal sale at Gwinn Island Stock Farm where George Gwinn had bred and owned more champion Saddlebreds than I've probably ever laid eyes on. Among the horses being dispersed was a three year old gaited mare who Mom thought was the most beautiful horse she'd ever seen.

Anacacho Megan at 3 yrs old in front of the tobacco barn

George Gwinn in his office with photos of a small percentage of the champions he owned.

So, Mom bid on and bought this mare. She was very green and had been rushed a little to get her ready for the sale. Still, she was a beautiful horse and very suitable to live in my PaPaw's tobacco barn and be ridden up and down the lane by a housewife. She did send her to Don Harris Stables for a little work, but mostly she was a personal horse. Before Mom and Dad moved back to New York, Megan was bred to Starheart Victory.

SV was standing at stud at a farm nearby and just beginning to make a name for himself. He went on to the top end of Saddle and Bridle's stallion ratings for the rest of his life.

The filly born from the breeding to Starheart Victory was named Starheart's Hot Slippers. As a two year old, Gramma sent her to nearby Terrace Farms to be trained in preparation to sell. She was shown a little. I remember traveling to Syracuse to watch her shown at the International. I was four years old that time.

Gramma and "Foxy" (Starheart's Hot Slippers) as a two yr old

Foxy as a four year old

Foxy continued in training, and in the mean time, Megan was bred to the stallion Terrace Farms was standing named Spanish Moss. "Moss" was a lovely bay stallion by the great Beau Fortune and out of a daughter of Leatherwood Genius. He was owned by Dave Scanlon. I suppose it's no coincidence that Dave now owns Ace's sire "Clint". Megan was bred to Moss three times and produced three identical bay foals.

Spanish Masterpiece a.k.a Flash as a yearling

After a year or two Gramma wasn't satisfied with the efforts to sell Foxy so she was sent to Kentucky to the trainer who had been the colt man at Don Harris's and had worked her dam Megan. In Kentucky, he could hopefully sell her quicker. He did find a buyer, but I remember her being there for a couple of summers when I was around 8 years old, and one of the highlights of our family vacations to Kentucky was for me to go to the fairgrounds where she was stabled and jog around pretending to be a fancy show rider.

When Foxy was sold, one of the terms of the sale was that Gramma would get her first foal. Gramma told the trainer she trusted him to choose the stallion. His choice was Georgetown who he said would be great some day. Unfortunately, Georgetown never had that chance. He was lost in a fire only a couple of years later.

The resulting foal was a little bay colt. Foxy was being boarded at a farm where she was the lowest mare on the totem pole. Within two months, the foal and the sparse grass in the field had dragged Foxy down to where her owner was suddenly concerned that she could die. The foal was abruptly weaned, and Foxy was nursed back to health. When we went down for vacation later that summer, we picked up the forlorn little five month colt who had been shut in a stall until then. When Mom went in the stall to catch him, the farm owner said "Watch out, he'll kick ya." He was one scared little guy. It took two men to turn him around and shove him backwards up the trailer ramp. Dad screwed a piece of plywood over the open trailer back, and we headed for NY.

Gramma named him The Yorker. Actually, we put down three other name choices, but all of them were taken. I remember that because his grand sire was Yorktown, they all had to do with our home town Jamestown New York. Back then there was no way to log into the registry data base and check whether a name was available or not. The registry picked The Yorker. Gramma soon had "Yorkie" straightened out, but he was still rather nervous and reactive and remained so for the entire time we owned him.

When he was three years old, Gramma sent him to a local dressage trainer where she knew he would be treated gently and slowly. He was there a couple of months. When he was ready to go home, I went and took a couple of lessons on him. He was just green broke to walk and trot but he was willing. I was, at that time, 15 years old.

We took him home, and I lunged him about weekly, and rode him now and then, but we really didn't do much with him. When he was four, I was 16 and had a "real" Saddlebred show horse, and decided that it was time I had a second one. So I began working with him. Before long I had him in a double bridle and was able to ride him outside of the paddock (we had no actual "arena") and up and down the road. The following year I took him to the local county fair which had a nice Saddlebred show. There were 9 horses in the Show Pleasure class. I don't remember what ribbon I got in the first class, but when I brought him back for the Championship class, we won. His apprehension was gone, and I remember weaving in and out of the heavy traffic at a smooth strong trot.

I showed him for a couple more years, on and off. He turned out to be a nice horse. Here he is at age 8 just before we sold him.

Mostly I rode him around home. He made a very nice road hack. Once we even had a match race with an Amish buggy. I remember turning off to our road home, and seeing the Amish man hanging out the side of the buggy to look back at my horse. I tried showing him western, but he thought a show ring was good for only one thing, and that was trotting.

He did look pretty fancy under western tack though. Now I have an even prettier bay colt to develop. York was by the same sire as Ace's sire Clint's dam was by. It will be interesting to see what he turns into.


Catherine said...

I really enjoyed that, thank you! Would love to hear more Saddlebred history anytime :)

SmartAlex said...

If this is the Catherine I think it is, you owned one of those bay foals.

Denali said...

I just found your blog through another random blog. Your baby is the CUTEST THING EVER!!! Oh my gosh, I'm in love!

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

asbntx said...

What a cool post this is! The history is very neat, and I love the old family photos!! Ace should be proud of his heritage :)

Pony Girl said...

Fun post, I like all the old stories and photos. The second to last of Yorkie is great, you can really tell he is fun to ride there!
It was fun to see bay Saddlebreds too, I have only seen chestnuts in "real life"!! The barn where I take my lessons, I have yet to see anything that isn't chestnut or grey.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about a seeing a picture of cousin George Gwinn. He used to let me build up my muscles mucking out the stables.

Anonymous said...

Love seeing the pics and reading the stories...Now I think I know where I get my love of Bay's from, although I'm a Rocky Mountain fan;) Technically...George was my Uncle. His brother Hubert was my grandfather. Although My father and I carry the Yocum name.
Thank you again!