World Grand Champion in 1999
July 23, 2005 - The Walking Horse world is saddened with the news that the 1999 WGC Tennessee Walking Horse RPM has passed away. RPM , who stood at Rising Star Ranch in Shelbyville Tennessee was found this morning suffering from a bout with colic and passed away in route to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was being transported for treatment.
RPM #942628/BL

RPM was bred to win, of that there can be no doubt.  It's in his genetic makeup.  His sire, the late Dark Spirit's Rebel, was sired by Pride's Dark Spirit.   RPM's dam, Ebony's Emmy Lou, is of Another Masterpiece lineage.   As one of the only sons of Dark Spirit's Rebel, RPM will carry on his heritage.

Bud and RPM - showing 'em how it's done. RPM is a horse that has revved up plenty of excitement throughout his entire career.  He claims a long list of impressive titles beginning with the Two Year-Old TWHBEA National Futurity Championship in 1996. He earned the Three-Year-Old Futurity Championship the next year, and carried that back in the Celebration oval days later to win the 1997 Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship. As a four-year-old, RPM gave the crowds a double thrill. Not only was he crowned the 1998 Four-Year-Old Stallion World Champion, be went on to win the title of Reserve World Grand Champion a few nights later. This makes him one of only a handful of four-year-olds to carry that honor.

On Saturday evening, September 4, 1999, before a standing-room only crowd of 29,106 at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, Bud Dunn, 81, became the oldest trainer in the show's 61-year history to win the World Grand Championship when he earned the blue ribbon aboard RPM, breaking his own record.

For Tennessee Walking Horse fans, the Saturday night before Labor Day is probably the most exciting night of the year. That's the night when close to 30,000 people hold their collective breath as a decision is made about the new Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion.

This year though, something revved through the crowd. It started even before the show and swept fast, racing around the grandstands until the excitement was full throttle. The powered excitement literally hummed in anticipation.

It had been an awesome class of mighty contenders, but the sleek black stallion proved his worth above and beyond anyone's already high expectations. Professional trainer and long time crowd pleaser, Bud Dunn rode RPM to his mighty win just like he directed the late Dark Spirit's Rebel.  It didn't escape anyone's notice or heart strings that RPM's sire was the same great horse that Bud Dunn had ridden years before.  Dunn at 74 rode RPM's sire, Dark Spirit's Rebel, to the World Grand Championship in 1992.

The judges don't make it easy for the crowd either. After a loud, vocal and enthusiastic competition of the best stallions in the world, anxious, nerve-wracking minutes drag by while the results are tallied in the centre ring. A long long list of memorial trophies and perpetual trophies are made ready for presentation, while the crowd waits... and waits... and waits.

A win so popular even the losers find themselves happy with the decision

Taking home the roses.

Curtains up; light the lights: Bud and RPM set the stage for the final act when they entered the Celebration oval that hot September evening to the roar of the revved-up audience. The excitement was at full throttle and continued to climb.  Then, just when no one could stand to idle another moment, the gauge topped out.  The fabulous black stallion, appropriately named RPM, was called - - and the crowd went wild.  Bud Dunn, the seasoned veteran ended the drama when he and the beautiful black stallion pulled out of the lineup to claim the title of 1999 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion.

RPM and Uncle Bud

World Grand Champions RPM and Bud riding into history.

"I can ride as good now as I ever could," Dunn said. "I'll keep going as long as I can.  It makes you feel good to hear the crowd cheer like that.  I don't know how to describe the feeling except that it's great!"

For the owners of the horses, the impatience is even worse. And for the trainers and the horses waiting in that Celebration oval, well - - who knows what they are thinking.  It's Celebration night.

The RPM team - Trainer, Bud Dun, and RPM's owners, Rusty Hyneman of Memphis, and Tommy and Nancy Mills of Eads and Shelbyville Tennessee

RPM's owners, Rusty Hyneman of Memphis, and Tommy and Nancy Mills of Eads and Shelbyville Tennessee were convinced RPM was a winner and believed in his abilities right from the very start. Speaking for the owners, Nancy says, "We were asked repeatedly on the night of RPM's preliminary class why we were so calm.   Well, the drama was unfolding and we were waiting for the next act.   When RPM won his preliminary class that night, we were ecstatic.   That win gave him his World Championship title and us the gas to go the rest of the mile.   There was no stopping us now!.   By stake night, we were ready for anything and everything.   We felt like we were watching the happy ending of the most exciting action-adventure movie ever made.  We weren't writing the script, but we were watching the drama unfold.  RPM's win has given us feelings of hope, pride, gratefulness, and confidence in the sport and industry."

The T. R. and N. Limited Partnership made industry and regional headlines when they purchased RPM the previous May for a record $1.25 million dollars.  RPM can command that price too. He is everything a walking horse owner could want.  Excellent bloodlines, incredible natural talent, and a heart big enough to take him places.

Former owners Pete Hammond and Robert Kilgore agree. "He's one of the greatest horses that has ever been," says Hammond. "The first time I saw him, I knew that he had what it took.  I bought him when he was just 14 months old and brought him along."  Bob Kilgore concurs. He liked RPM so much that he purchased half interest when the stallion was only three.

RPM cameo

RPM receives a hug from one of his owners, Rusty Hyneman.

"RPM impressed us the most with the extent of his ability, his athletic condition and his conformation;" said Nancy Mills in explaining why they purchased the horse for the then record amount.

This impressive win shouldn't be surprising as RPM is a most excellent example of the Tennessee Walking Horse. He has talent, heart, beauty, and bloodlines. His foals are the foals of the year 2000, the future of the breed in all regards. He was also the late Bud Dunn's last Celebration ride, and he didn't let the grand old man down.

RPM at stud at Bridlewood Farm

RPM with trainers, Bud Dunn and Sammy Day

RPM with trainers, Bud Dunn and Sammy Day.  Mr. Bud Dunn died too soon after this final win, but this great horse, RPM will not let us forget him soon.

RPM was one of only 5 Tennessee Walking Horses who have sold for in excess of a million dollars.
RPM was retired in 2000 to Bridlewood Farms in what has gone down in the record books as one of the most stunning and moving retirement ceremonies ever conducted during the Celebration , and remained at Bridlewood till 2005 when he was purchased by Jaclyn Smith and was standing at Rising Star Ranch.

If you wish to print off this pedigree, click HERE to load a black and white copy.
RPM Pedigree

July 23, 2005 - The Walking Horse world is saddened with the news that the 1999 WGC Tennessee Walking Horse RPM has passed away. RPM , who stood at Rising Star Ranch in Shelbyville Tennessee was found this morning suffering from a bout with colic and passed away in route to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was being transported for treatment.

Memories of RPM by Tanya Hopper

Some of my fondest personal memories of RPM a/k/a "Big Hoss" (my nickname for him) during my time at Bridlewood.....

Riding him (what a thrill -- and to think Larry2 and Scott had to MAKE me do it!)

The way he would curl his tongue back and suck on it like a baby nursing. Pete Hammond told me once RPM had done that all his life.

How grumpy he was in the morning until he'd had his breakfast. Just like Mr. Bud, I always said. LOL

Rubbing his face right between his eyes (his most favorite spot to be petted)

Brushing that long, thick magnificent tail and the time I french-braided it and Larry2 got so mad because he almost never got it taken down.

Feeding him peppermints (and apples, and carrots) of course! (He NEVER got enough!)

Seeing him and Iron take their mid-morning naps together -- their stalls were side-by-side and they would stand right together, Iron's head at RPM's rear-end and vice-versa and they would nap together.

The time he was turned out and I was the only one he would come to so they could get him back in.

Showing him off during the famous Bridlewood tours -- he was SO easy to handle and would park out perfectly in a half second. It was way cool and so impressive to people.

The picture I took of Scott and Larry 2 BOTH sitting on him and riding double -- freaking hilarious. I also just remembered the pic I took of Scott giving him a drink of coffee that I think Tommy posted on this site.

The thrill of the older lady (I can't remember who she was) whom he took for her first ride on a TWH. She was speechless. It was VERY cool.

Watching Larry2, and sometimes Scott, run him down to the breeding barn and he would be doing that big bold running walk. Cool to watch.

The time Evander Holeyfield visited Bridlewood and he and RPM had a photoshoot together. Cool.

How sad we were and how much we missed him went he first went back in to training and how ecstatic I was the first time he returned to Bridlewood. I remember running out to the crossties and just throwing my arms around his neck and he just put that big 'ole head down like he was hugging me back.

That's all I can think of right now and I'm sure you're tired of reading. I just felt like sharing.

RPM was a very cool horse, and like Tommy said, a gentle giant. I'll always cherish my memories and my time with the "Big Hoss."

ok,.. I'm crying now..  RPM was one of the great talents and personalities of breed, and the big horse and the little man who rode him will always have a place in my heart.  Maybe Bud will get to ride him again now..... I sure hope so.
                                                                      - J. Handel, webmaster for Walkers West.

Nicole Taylor
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 12:28 PM
Subject: RPM
Dear. Walker West,
A week before RPM died I went to see him at the stables and he was so beautiful. He still had the winning look to him from the time he won. He nudged me on the cheek and it was heaven he was just so out there. I was just so devastated to see that he had died. He was just standing there and they brought him out and lead me up and down the hall once on him and it was just so breath taking to be on him. Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of this because we thought he would be around much more longer.

That is quite a story...I'm glad you had that experience before RPM died.  I think he was one of the greatest TW horses ever.  Without a doubt, he had the very best canter of any TWH in history.  Did you get to see him show?  His passing was a great loss to the TWH industry.  Thank you for sharing your experience.
Mary Ellen Areaux
Walkers West

If you have a story or photos of RPM
that you would like added to this page, please forward them to Walkers West.

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