Born in 1910, Jamie Ray Ragsdale grew up in Missouri surrounded by saddlebreds. However, after high school, he decided to go out west and worked on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. After meeting up with some saddlebred folks out there, he decided to come back to work with his favorite breed again. He worked as a groom for Chester Caldwell and was present when King's Genius and Caldwell won the Stallion Stake at Louisville in 1933 and 1934. He also worked for CE Fisher at Dixiana Farm under Ross Long. JR Ragsdale and Marvin Conatser were both grooms for Howard Dickey in Detroit Michigan in the late 1930's. About this time, JR Ragsdale met another future employer, Dr. Robert H. Elrod of Toledo, OH.
Dr. Elrod owned Ottawa Creek Farm near Berkey Ohio. JR Ragsdale trained and showed many horses for him, including his stallion, Grey Mac. For many years, there was a large portrait of Jim Ragsdale showing Grey Mac that hung in the tack room at the farm. He said he adored the stallion, and his biggest problem was that he was grey. One of his fondest memories while at Ottawa Creek was being able to show Grey Mac against Oak Hill Chief. He chased Oakhill Chief around the ring at Lexington and stayed up Lee Roby's tail. He may not have won, but there were many good horsemen that told him he should have.
Another memory from his Ottawa Creek years was a December day in 1941. The radio was on in the barn, and Pearl Harbor had been bombed. He continued to train at OCF in 1942 and 1943, but was drafted into the Army late in 1943. He wound up at Fort Riley Kansas, along with horsemen Charlie Huston, Whitey Kahn and Dick Lavery. There he was in charge of the staff stable for the cavalry.
After returning from the service, he went back to training horses for Tom Mills at Broadview Farm, then on to Stonyridge Farm in Ohio for Joe McAdams. They stood the stallion Genius of Stonyridge (King's Genius X Kate Haines), who was a full brother to Bourbon Genius and The Genius that he handled while at Dixiana in the 1930's. Fritz Jordan and Claude Alexander also worked at Stonyridge, but when Joe McAdams dispersed in 1954, JR went to work for Lin Mac Stables in Waynesville, Ohio. After that, Jim Ragsdale moved to Florida and spent the rest of his career in the Sunshine State.
While in Florida, he worked for Dale Shaffer, whose daughter Candy had a great show string. JR Ragsdale told his amateur riders to "be consistent, stay on the rail, and show the horse, not yourself." He was noted as a patient trainer who brought his horses along at their own rate, but he could sometimes be impatient with people. Once again, the stable he worked for had a dispersal, but the Shaffer's gave him the horse Starlight Starbright, and he bought the farm from them. Over the next few decades, Ragsdale continued to train horses and was inducted into the UPHA Hall of Fame. He showed horses up until a week before he died, which happened suddenly, but fittingly he passed away at his barn at age 82.
Some of the horses he was associated with were CH Technistar, CH Heavenly Gorgeous (shown as Starlight Starbright), CH Cora's Time, and CH Glory Kalarama. A lot of people couldn't get Starheart Stonewall horses to rack, but Jim Ragsdale proved them wrong with CH Anna Rooney Stonewall. The pictures below are in chronological order, from the 1930's until 1992. Many of the pictures came from his son Carter, and quite a few were from his years at Ottawa Creek Farm.
1935, showing in hand
1938 Good News at Northville, Michigan
1938 Spellbinder at Northville, Michigan
1940 at Northville, Michigan
1942 Dark McDonald
1942 Grey Mac
1942 Noble Miss at the rack
1942 Noble Miss at the trot
1942 San Angela at Cincinnati Ohio
1943 Grey Mac at Lexington, Kentucky
1946 Ottawa's Headliner
1946 Ottawa Commander
1956 CH Anna Rooney Stonewall
1959 CH Heavenly Gorgeous
1962 Kissin Kalu
1965 CH Glory Kalarama
1965 CH Glory Kalarama
1973 CH Cora's Time
1992 Star Swinger
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