Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter
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Photo: Ken Inman
Life is funny. Around the farm, we like to say, "Knee bone to thigh bone" when one thing has to happen before what you're really after will come to be. The long slippery slide from "normal" human life to horse breeding was greased by one horse, Wil-O-Mor Spitfire.
Wil-O-Mor Spitfire. Photo by Bob Moseder
We first saw this paragon of Morgan Park Horses at the North Star in Minneapolis, MN. We were with friends---also family Morgan owners. In short, we still had some sense left in our heads<VBG> Out into the ring blasted this flaxen mane & tailed 14.2 epitome of Baroque horseflesh. For us, it was a "one horse class", no matter the other contenders. At the time, Willy was 17 or 18 years old and standing at stud at the University of MN, Crookston. My fate was written in stone when the class lined up and "Willy" piaffed in harness for at least two minutes.
Later, we got to meet him in the flesh, left alone in the aisle, crosstied, his gaze about a million miles away. Little did I know, I'd be seeing that same look in the eyes of his grandson, Avatar's Incantation, sired by Funquest Bosquejo---"Joey."
We were "hooked." We had to have one of Willy's foals, but the only weanling available was $10,000 and this was twenty years ago! Our friends came to the rescue, locating a mare, Hillside Cindy and two years later, our Willy colt was born.
Already obsessed with breeding, we hauled Cindy and her son to a Morgan stud farm where four stallions stood, certain one of the guys would be right for her. (Unlike Venus born full-grown on her clam shell, pedigrees, breeding theory---all that "stuff" would come later.) The owner took us on the grand tour, but we were down to the last stallion and still hadn't found "the one."
We rode over to the last barn, an old red Wisconsin dairy barn, with a stone foundation. We waited as Jo was brought up from his windowless stall in the bottom part of the barn.
Jo at Avatar MN after barn fire
Plainly, he hadn't seen much time outside and with a flip of his head, he sprang into a trot that knocked our socks off! (That famous Flyhawk trot is just as balanced as they say it is.) The barn manager had something else to do and handed me the lunge line, ("Don't worry, he's a perfect gentleman."). It was our first time handling a stallion. With those kind of manners and way of going, we booked Cindy to Jo immediately. While signing his contract, the manager mentioned Jo was for sale. About fifteen minutes into the trip home, out it came: "Why breed to him? Let's just buy him." The rest, as they say, is history.