began when a beautiful palomino mare, Lady Moonbeam L.
met a handsome stallion, Ebony's Sunny Boy in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Their union
a set of twins: Sunny Boy's Dianna and Sunny
Boy's Apollo. As they grew and developed, Sunny
Boy's Apollo began to act too much like a young stallion,
and his owner, Laird Harman of Riner, Virginia sought a new home
for him. Mr. Harman contacted Sis Osbourne of the TWHBEA
and wanted to be put in contact with someone who might be
interested in a palomino stud colt and would be willing to keep
and train him in the natural, flat shod way. Sis contacted
Knight's Pals to see if we would be interested. The next
thing we knew, we were on our way to Virginia and brought the
colt home to Hermitage, Tennessee. Oh, what a beautiful Sunny
It was our plan to
keep Sunny Boy as a stallion and use him for
breeding. He was so pretty and of such good
bloodlines. He began his basic training with Carol Tosh,
who was training at 20/20 Farm at the time. He was the
subject of a video, "How to break and train a
learned his lessons well and was no problem to start under saddle.
He grew more handsome every day, but it soon became evident that he had
more things on his mind than lessons. With Joe Kovalick in the
saddle, Sunny Boy was set in his gaits and made to push and pull
to the best of his ability, even though he had other things on his
mind. He went through two teachers before the decision was made to
geld him and use him purely for pleasure.
spent several months at the well known Derickson Farm in Stanton,
Kentucky, and it was there at their annual plantation clinic that he was
started in his canter. With Herbert in the saddle, and H. T.
directing, he picked up his canter on the correct lead the first time,
both first and second way of the ring.
Oh, how proud of him I was.
discovering what a sharp, quick mind he had, I decided to enter
him in the Versatility Program as a three year old. As he
continued to develop, fine tuning his gaits and cues, it became
evident that he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of competition
- especially in the game events. He was sharp, quick,
alert, and eager to learn. We began to work on barrels,
poles, western riding, trail, reining, and, last of all,
jumping. Through the hard work of day-to-day training, and
with suggestions and direction from friends and professionals, Sunny
progressed remarkably. Then came my broken wrist, which
slowed me down, but not Sunny Boy. Wayne Hackney
picked up the reins and taught him roll backs, spins and
driving. Thanks, Wayne, for filling in the gap.
we started in versatility events, the opportunities were few and
far between here in middle Tennessee. Now, we at least
have our annual Versatility Day in conjunction with the
Celebration each year. An especially rewarding occasion
was when Sunny Boy became the western riding champion at the
1994 Versatility Show. PWHAT realized the need for such
classes and began adding versatility events to its monthly fun
days, thanks to our good friend, Shirley Davis. We still
don't have enough of these opportunities here in our area, but
our Heydays are growing and show managers are adding more of
How well I remember
the exhilarating thrill of our first jumping competition in
1994. Oh what a thrill and how exciting it was. Sunny
Boy loves it too. My appreciation goes out to Cathy
Hackney for jumping instructions and encouragement.
Boy bends these poles with exuberance and runs the barrels
with speed and accuracy with good friend, Carol Coppinger in the
saddle many times to perfect these events. It never ceases
to amaze me that horse people here in Tennessee don't realize
our Tennessee Walking Horses can do these things.
Sunny Boy has
been the subject of our Christmas card as a reindeer; been
The Lion King in a costume class; met important
dignitaries from the world over at Belle Meade Plantation; and
ridden the trails from the Daniel Boone National Forest, Big
South Fork National Reservation, to our own Bucksnort Trails
here in Tennessee. He is a versatile horse.
What a thrill
it was in October of 1995 to realize our dream and goal of becoming
Supreme Versatility Champion. I sent Sunny Boy's record in
for tabulation and was thinking we still lacked a few points here and
there which we hoped to gain in the remaining shows before the
deadline. The phone rang on October 11, 1995, and Sis Osbourne
asked, " Are you sitting down? You and Sunny Boy are
the Supreme Versatility Champions."
had excelled in trail, barrels, poles, western riding, English, model,
e-z rider, water glass, endurance and in promotion of the Tennessee
Walking Horse. It was truly a dream come true. I cried with
joy, I kissed Harlan, and went to the barn to kiss Sunny Boy and
tell him he didn't ever have to go to another horse show if he didn't
want to. He said, "That's okay. I want
to; it's in our blood."
He's right.. we
Along with my
thanks and appreciation to all the above mentioned, much appreciation
goes to the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors'
Association for giving us the opportunity, to our many friends and
teachers who helped us along the way (you know who you are), and
especially to our favorite groom (husband Harlan) who always got us
there on time to participate and a big hug to Wayne and Cathy Hackney.
Versatility Program offers a great opportunity to show what our great
breed can do. I encourage you to enter your best friend/horse in
this program and share the pleasure, joy and excitement it brings.
A dream did
come true....... once upon a time.