Sire of Champions
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HUNTER'S ALLEN was foaled
in 1909, the property of John Black of Noah, Tennessee. Black was the man
who also bred the immortal broodmare
MAUDE GRAY. HUNTER'S ALLEN was a rich
golden sorrel, off hind stocking, star and snip, with a long mane that
always gave a wavy appearance. His extraordinarily long tail touched the
ground even when he was in action. With the exception of
individual stallion did more to establish the Tennessee Walking Horse than
this show horse and sire.
It is an unfortunate fact that stallions tend to become lost to history unless they, in turn, beget other outstanding sires. This tendency is especially true in the history of Walking Horses, since the industry has historically put its emphasis on stallions. Because of this situation, ROAN ALLEN F-38 remains a dominant figure in the minds of Walking Horse breeders while HUNTER'S ALLEN'S influence has become buried in the female line of registration papers. Out of the 215 foals sited by HUNTER'S ALLEN, only 31 were stallions, and 2 of them were gelded by the time they were registered.
ALLIS, HUNTER'S ALLEN'S dam, was owned by Dr. J.E. Childress who lived on Panhandle Creek in Coffee County. The mare was named for Alice Osburne of Fairfield, Tennessee. Just why the spelling of the name was changed to "ALLIS" is not known. Dr. Childress used ALLIS to make the rounds of his medical practice in Coffee County since many of the homes involved were inaccessible except on horseback.
PAT first appeared at the
Childress home one night pulling a whiskey peddler's wagon. Dr. Childress
liked his looks and swapped another horse and two cows for the stallion.
The doctor was well pleased with his trade until it became obvious that
neither PAT nor his offspring cared for work. When this circumstance
was recognized the stallion was traded off never to be heard of again. It
was many years later, when the Walking Horse Association was investigating
the pedigrees of its Foundation Stock, that someone ventured the
information that actually PAT was the son of CUNNINGHAM'S COPPERBOTTOM, a
stallion that had once stood at service in the Beech Grove community.
In 1907, when Dr. Childress moved to Manchester, Tennessee, he sold ALLIS to John Black. ALLIS was then about seventeen years-old. The following spring Black took ALLIS to the farm of James Brantley to be bred to ALLAN F-1. In later years Black commented on the fact that when he arrived at the Brantley farm he saw a young roan stallion being ridden up and down the road. The roan stallion was no doubt ROAN ALLEN. After HUNTER'S ALLEN was foaled in the spring of 1909, ALLIS was again bred to ALLAN, but before the next foal came, the mare was sold. Her fate is unknown.
Black evidently was not
too impressed with the little sorrel colt from ALLIS. When the youngster
was only one day old, Black took ALLIS to the creek for water. The colt
wandered off and fell from a bridge onto a flat rock. For a few minutes it
lay motionless as if dead, but Black didn't worry since he believed it the
ugliest colt he had ever seen. The incident proved insignificant, and soon
the wobbly legs of the colt were propelling it toward its mother.
HUNTER'S ALLEN was never able to shake a reputation for meanness. Even when a very young horse his handlers had to take special precautions when he was taken out in public. The day the Walkers purchased the sorrel stallion, he was hitched to a wagon, but he was wearing a yoke to keep him from jumping fences. He was often-times difficult to catch in the stable, and sometimes it was next to impossible to get him out of the stable once he was caught. Many people who saw HUNTER'S ALLEN exhibited in horse shows remembered his bad behavior during these events.
HUNTER'S ALLEN began his show career in the county fair circuit of Middle Tennessee. According to the Hunter family, HUNTER'S ALLEN made his Tennessee State Fair debut in 1912. In that event the sorrel stallion won first. The next year HUNTER'S ALLEN returned to the State Fair and again won first, this time defeating ROAN ALLEN ridden by French Brantley. Both HUNTER'S ALLEN and ROAN ALLEN had been loaded on the same boxcar in Wartrace for the journey to Nashville, site of the State Fair.
Old-timers in the Walking Horse business often spent many hours arguing over the relative merits of ROAN ALLEN and HUNTER'S ALLEN. Although such arguments never resolved the issue as to which was the better horse, there is one aspect of them that proves interesting today. At the time these two stallions lived, no premium was placed on a crooked or " sickle" hock. The fact was that such hocks were frowned upon. Many horsemen believed HUNTER'S ALLEN was the better horse for the simple reason that his back legs were straight, with little or no angle at the hock. On the other hand ROAN ALLEN was noted, and oftentimes criticized, for his crooked back legs. In view of each horse's ultimate fate within the breed, the contemporary student cannot help but wonder if ROAN ALLEN'S crooked hind legs gave him an edge over his straight-legged half-brother.
In 1916, HUNTER'S ALLEN won the Stallion Class at the Tennessee State Fair, and in addition won the Walking Horse Championship. In 1917 he won the Stallion Class. He was not shown again until 1924 when, at the age of fifteen, he won the Stallion Class at the State Fair in Nashville for the fourth time. In 1926, HUNTER'S ALLEN was entered in the Bedford County (Shelbyville, Tennessee) Fair where he beat his famous son BROWN ALLEN and a son of MERRY LEGS, BUD ALLEN. The male line of HUNTER'S Allen's pedigree gave him a background of notable Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, Morgans, and Canadian Pacers. Assuming his maternal line to be that represented in the Registry, he traced to the MOUNTAIN SLASHERS and the COPPERBOTTOMS.
George Grout wrote in the "TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE" magazine of October, 1945,
In 1950 Jean Hunter,
daughter of Burt Hunter, and a writer for the "NATIONAL HORSEMAN"
magazine, wrote one of the more interesting articles ever published on
Walking Horses. It was entitled "HUNTER'S ALLEN As I Remember Him."
Miss Hunter not only included her own memories, but those of her father,
Burt Hunter, and grandfather, Bright Hunter. Miss Hunter points out
that HUNTER'S ALLEN came along at a time when county fairs were springing
up throughout Middle Tennessee, and that apparently the famous son of
ALLAN F-1 made his share of these events. The Middle Tennessee Circuit
began at Murfreesboro and continued in Shelbyville, Fayetteville,
Winchester, and ended at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville.
Usually such fairs lasted three days, with enough time elapsing in between
to allow owners to return home and prepare for the next event. Since
there were no trucks in those days, the only methods of transporting show
horses were either by train or on foot. Fred Walker usually
preferred riding HUNTER'S ALLEN to the show regardless of the distance.
Walker believed that the ride conditioned his mount for the show.
Many times there was no choice since the locations of some shows were not
serviced by railroads.
Undoubtedly, HUNTER'S ALLEN
played a major role in popularizing the Walking Horse during the period
from 1915 to the late 1930s when his get were overshadowed by those of
ROAN ALLEN. During their younger years, HUNTER'S ALLEN appears far more
prominent than ROAN ALLEN, both as a show horse and as a sire of show
horses. ROAN ALLEN'S dominance of the breed occurred only after his
sons became established sires in the thirties. An examination of
Tennessee State Fair records will substantiate this evaluation. The
official records of the Tennessee State Fair were burned many years ago,
but through the efforts of interested individuals many of them have been
collected. The existing information is a testimony to the importance
of HUNTER'S ALLEN, both as a show horse and as a sire. According to
these records, the following represent the winners of Walking Horse
classes in the years indicated:
Interestingly enough, three of HUNTER'S ALLEN'S most prominent offspring are not in the above list. These are BROWN ALLEN, LAST CHANCE and WALKER'S ALLEN. BROWN ALLEN was recognized as one of the most outstanding show horses of the thirties. LAST CHANCE was an exceptionally good two year-old but did not do well thereafter. WALKER'S ALLEN was always a formidable contender, and is considered by some horsemen as the best show horse sired by HUNTER'S ALLEN. Two other HUNTER'S ALLEN offspring, HUNTER and QUEEN, won Junior Championships at the Tennessee State Fair. A daughter of the old horse, LADY TURNER, was the first mare to defeat MERRY LEGS F-4.
The great broodmares from HUNTER'S ALLEN are too numerous to mention. Perhaps the greatest was ELLA 11, dam of HALL ALLEN, SAM ALLEN and PEARLE. PEARLE established her own dynasty by foaling five outstanding stallions by MERRY BOY, the most prominent of which were MERRY MAKER, REYNOLD'S PRIDE and WHITE MERRY BOY JR.
MERRY LEGS was bred to HUNTER'S ALLEN on at least three occasions. Two of the foals died as yearlings. The one that lived was LAST CHANCE. For several years it appeared as if LAST CHANCE would carry the family of HUNTER'S ALLEN forward in the male line. 'TROUBLE, son of LAST CHANCE, won the Stallion Class at the 1940 Celebration, while LAST CHANCE's daughter, NANCY ANN HENDRIXSON, won the two year-old filly class at the 1947 Celebration. TROUBLE sired the dam of World Grand Champion MACK K'S HANDSHAKER, but, in the final analysis, the sons of HUNTER'S ALLEN were forced to surrender the male line of Walking Horse pedigrees to the sons of ROAN ALLEN.
Nevertheless, the sons of HUNTER'S ALLEN provided the breed with valuable broodmares. LAST CHANCE sired LADY CHANCE, the dam of MERRY WILSON, five times the World Champion Mare. He also sired GYPSY TUCK, dam of ATOMIC LADY, ATOMIC GENTLEMAN, SURPRISE ALLEN, and MARTHA WILSON. BROWN ALLEN mares were considered among the finest in the breed. The same was true of mares from WALKER'S ALLEN.
The blood of HUNTER'S ALLEN made its chief entrance into modern Walking Horses through MIDNIGHT SUN, whose dam, RAMSEY'S RENA, was a grand-daughter of the old horse. Another important point of entry was through MAUDE GRAY, whose dam, MINNIE BLACK, was sired by HUNTER'S ALLEN.
Bright Hunter and his son Burt bred or owned many of the outstanding horses of their time. Among these horses were PAT MALONE JR., ROSKIN, JOE JOHNSON, ECHO F-1 8, GOLDEN SUNSHINE F-44, MEREDITH P. GENTRY F-40, and, in later years, NEAL'S ALLEN. Of all these great horses, the Hunters rated HUNTER'S ALLEN the best. Bright Hunter perhaps expressed it best by saying,
Near his eightieth birthday Bright Hunter wrote,
Hunter's Allen dominated the Tennessee State Fair up to the very year the National Celebration began in 1939. He won the State Fair when he was sixteen. He was featured in a movie about Tennessee Walking horses, that was sponsored by a Pittsburg lawyer by the name of R.T.M. McCready in 1929. HUNTER'S ALLEN remained the property of the Hunters until he died in 1932.