Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1/16/13 Alloway's Saddlebreds

I began this blog telling how I became involved with American Saddlebreds, now I’ll tell how my husband was introduced to the breed over 50 years ago.  I never got to meet my father-in-law since he passed away long before I was on the scene.  However, I know he loved American Saddlebreds and made it possible for my husband to raise some colts while in his early teens.

 Sometimes, the road to Saddlebreds is circuitous, but eventually we get there.  My father-in-law went to school to be an attorney, but once he graduated, he didn't like it, so he went back to school and got his engineering degree.  He worked at an automotive plant (one of the many in the Toledo area), but that plant was going to relocate to the Carolinas in the late 1950’s.  For whatever reason, my mother-in-law went to visit the little town of Clinton, N. Carolina and put her foot down.  Did she really prefer the Michigan/Ohio winters?  Anyway, my father-in-law, having four children to support, opened a cabinet shop where he turned out kitchen cabinets.  One of the byproducts was a whole lot of wood shavings.  At age 12, my husband made a little spending money on the side by cleaning out the sawdust bin and selling it to Dr. Elrod, thus, the family’s introduction to Dr. Elrod and Saddlebreds. 

Dr.Elrod sent some of his broodmares a mile up the road for my husband to look after and keep at his barn.  They were mostly out in pasture, and when they got close to their foaling dates, they went back to the Elrod barn.  One day, it started to rain so my husband went to fetch the mares to put them in.  They all came in but one, so he went out into the pasture to find her.  The weather was getting quite bad by this time, and you guessed it, the missing mare had foaled in the pasture.  My husband carried the colt in to the barn and it was promptly named Stormy Weather.  I had heard this story many times from my husband over the years, but I found out years later that the mare was Vanity’s Virginia.  The Elrod’s had bought her from Elliot Bonnie, who had owned her sire Vanity’s Sensation for a while.  For whatever reason, Mr. Bonnie bred her to a pony stud and she was in foal when Dr. Elrod bought her.  Stormy Weather was a half saddlebred half pony, but over the years, Vanity’s Virginia produced a lot of nice horses, including my own dear Buddy. 

 About the same time, my husband bought a young mare that was a granddaughter of Society Rex.  He bred Sis to Dr. Elrod’s stallions on four occasions and raised four colts out of her.  A couple of them turned out to be pretty good.  He sold one to a family in Michigan who showed her for several years before she sold to Paul Priebe in Minnesota.  By this time, Dr. Elrod let my husband green break some of his colts.  Back then, he was a skinny, wiry kid, and he learned a lot about Saddlebreds from Dr. Elrod.

Sis with one of her colts
Alloway's Bonnie Lassie
1973 3-Gaited Champion in Michigan

Alloway's Bonnie Lassie
while at Paul Priebe's in Minnesota

My father-in-law also loved the Scottish poet Robert Burns, so they came up with the farm name Alloway’s for the colts they produced.   When the last colt was a yearling, my father-in-law passed away.  My husband was starting college, and the sad reality was that the horses had to go.  He sold “Sis” the mare, her yearling colt and a 2 year old by Oman’s Desdemona Denmark that he had bought at Tattersalls the year before.  It was a package deal, but sadly most of it had a bad ending.  Sis ended up aborting her latest colt, got an infection and was euthanized.  Whitneys Warrior got tangled in a fence and was badly cut up.  He later sold again, but was permanently disfigured.  The only good thing that happened was that my husband’s yearling was sent to Jr. Seay for training. 
Alloway's Tam O'Shanter
with Jr. Seay winning the 2 yr old 
Fine Harness class at Youngstown Ohio

By the time I met my husband, his barn was long since empty, and he’d lost track of his colt.  Being a faithful reader of Saddle & Bridle and some other publications, I was able to track down his colt and provide a little more info.  After Jr. Seay showed him for a season, Tam was purchased by Sallie Busch Wheeler and trained by Jim B. Robertson.  I don’t think they had great luck with him and the next time Tam surfaced, he was on the west coast, had been trimmed and had a new name………Big News.  A couple years later, Art Simmons had him and he went through his sale.  I wrote to Mr. Simmons to get some info on Tam/Big News.  Art Simmons was a truly nice man to take the time to write back to me and let me know that Tam had been sold to Connecticut.  That was the last I heard of him, but it was good to know that he’d been somewhat successful and literally went from coast to coast and had some of the best trainers in America work with him.

Alloway's Tam O'Shanter 
with Jim B. Robertson. 

Big News
with Frank Dye showing in Del Mar California

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