Saturday, February 7, 2015

2/8/15 San Juan

San Juan was a stallion born nearly a century ago, so he never appears in today's Saddlebred registration papers.  In his day, he was  a sought after stallion of almost pure Denmark breeding.  My friend, Dr. Robert Elrod Sr., was a fan of this horse, and owned several broodmares by San Juan that he bred to his stallion Grey Mac.  He also owned a number of San Juan's get that he showed.  This is quite natural since San Juan was owned for a time by James Marker of Blendon Farms in Columbus Ohio, which was where Dr. Elrod purchased his stallion Grey Mac.  While scanning some of Dr. Elrod's horse photos, I came across a two page pamphlet dedicated to San Jaun.  There were also a couple of nice photographs of San Juan, thus he became the topic of the week.

The pamphlet was apparently written by Mr. Marker, his owner from 1931 until the early 1940's, as an advertising brochure.  One side had his photo and pedigree, and the other side contained a write up of his credentials.  Someone had done some serious pedigree research, and this in the day before the ASHA data base of pedigrees.  It states that he traced 15 times to Old Highlander, 7 times to Grey Eagle, 10 times to Gaines' Denmark, and 5 times to Black Squirrel.  This is some very old research, but remember, San Juan was born in 1921 and this pamphlet must have been from the 1930's.  Rex McDonald appeared twice on his pedigree, as his dam's sire, and also as his great grandsire on his sire line.  Also appearing on his registration papers were Rex Peavine, Chester Dare, Black Squirrel (3 times), Squirrel King and Peavine 85.

The brochure refers to the fact that the stallion had only been shown by his amateur owner, Mrs. A.W. Pike of California, and yet he amassed an enviable show record and defeated some of the best horses showing in California.  His get showing in California were consistent winners.  The brochure also stated that it was predicted that San Juan would out rival Rex Peavine as a sire of great show horses.  It admired his natural saddle horse trot, perfect natural high action all around while using relatively light shoeing.  He has a "finer head and longer neck than any saddle stallion now living."  He can also trot or rack a mile in 2:20.  "In conclusion, I (James Marker) might say he has a combination of speed, finish, and action blood lines unequaled by any present day stallion and unexcelled by an former star."

To learn a little more about San Juan, I looked him up in Susanne's Famous Saddle Horses.  Interestingly, quite a bit of her info was taken from the pamphlet.  It referred to the same pedigree research, tracing to Old Highlander, Grey Eagle, etc.  Susanne also pointed out that in 1932, he trotted a 2:20 clip under a stop watch.  She must have had a long conversation with his proud owner, Mr. Marker. 

Susanne did have some earlier info on San Juan, who was bred by Mrs. Charlotte Anderson of Pleasanton, CA and purchased by Mrs. A.W. Pike in 1922.  Mrs. Pike showed him with great success until she was no longer able to ride when struck by illness in 1930.  While she was away, someone sold the horse to Mr. James Marker of Columbus Ohio.  He had a major breeding establishment at his Blendon Farms, and also stood the stallion Lee Rose McDonald.  Mr. Marker stood San Juan for nearly a decade, but finally dispersed his horses at a sale in 1939.  He retained the stallion, who was 18 years old at that time.  Several years later, he was repurchased by Mrs. Pike and sent back to California where he lived out his days.

Among his get were Kitty O'Shea, Tiger San, Royal San, Dark McDonald, Don Juan, and Peavine Laddie. Mr. Marker's claim that he would out rival Rex Peavine as a sire of great show horses didn't come true, and although San Juan appears in the pedigrees of some of today's horses, he did not rival Rex Peavine in that regard either.  However, he was a very nice horse and a handsome individual.

San Juan and his informational pamphlet

San Juan in a George Ford Morris painting

San Juan at the trot with his owner Mrs. A. W. Pike

San Juan at the rack with his owner Mrs. A. W. Pike

Don Juan and Mrs. A. W. Pike
sired by San Juan

Dark McDonald and Dr. Robert Elrod Sr
sired by San Juan

Royal San and Dr. Robert Elrod Sr.
sired by San Juan, he was champion at the Muncie, IN horse show
Royal San shown by Mrs. Robert Elrod

San Angela and Jim Ragsdale
sired by San Juan, showing at Cincinnati Ohio in 1942

Tiger San and Dr. Robert Elrod Sr.
sired by San Juan

Tiger San and Dr. Robert Elrod Sr
showing at Muncie Indiana.  
Look at all the spectators!

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