Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #391413
Foaled:  May 3, 1983
Died:  1990
Color: Chestnut

A Touch Of Blue
A Touch Of Blue
ApHC Supreme Champion
(photo credit Appaloosa Journal)

The gate opened before the horse and rider were ready. A Touch Of Blue lunged forward instinctively, and he and rider Carl Woods, of Delta, Colo., overtook the steer in a blur. Carl's mind was racing. He made a clean hit and daubed the steer in nine seconds.

The steer daubing class at the 1990 Rifle Show in Colorado was a nine-second bid for a goal Woods set for his stallion. "Touch" was two points away from earning his ApHC Supreme Champion Award -- an award only one other horse in ApHC history has earned -- Ha Dar Hadley in 1986.

In order to earn the award, a horse must be extremely versatile, earning at least 100 points, with at least 40 points in halter classes and 60 points in performance classes. To further complicate matters, no more than 10 points can be from one performance class, and the horse needing at least one ROM in four of the five performance class categories. And the points earned had to be under at least five different judges.

Woods has been involved with Appaloosas since he met Cecil Dobbin in 1961. "Like almost everyone in this funny business, I started with some pretty rough looking critters and slowly learned and gained knowledge. After many years of slowly grading up and culling back, I decided to enter the world of horse showing. I got a big surprise and found I needed to learn a whole lot more. My old style stock wasn't glamorous enough for the show ring," he said.

"I needed a versatile stallion with good looks to produce those winners," said Woods. "After what seemed like years of studying pedigrees and performance records of sires and dams, I put out word for what I wanted. The horse would need to have world champions in his pedigree."

When Woods purchased Touch in 1983, the Supreme Champion award wasn't yet a gleam in his eye. The colt was only five months old, bred by Dr. Harbord Cox of Pampa, Texas. He was sired by Run For Blue, a son of Roman's Straw Man. Touch's dam Dolly Parton, is by Prince's Tyson, a son of the legendary Prince Plaudit. Dolly Parton's pedigree also traces back to several foundation horses, including Joker B. A Touch of Blue's bloodlines fit the requirements Woods was looking for.

"If his pedigree hadn't been so flawless, I would have passed him by. He was a good looking horse, but he was only a baby, and I was taking a big chance paying $10,000 for a weanling."

By the time he was 2 years old, the colt was under saddle, learning the basics and impressing his owner. "He was exceptionally well-mannered, and took to anything you wanted to do with him," Woods recalled.

When the colt was three, Woods sent him to a trainer with western pleasure, trail and halter in mind. "Touch took to riding like a duck to water. Nothing frightened him, and he was interested in everything around him."

Touch breezed through western pleasure and hunt seat pleasure, bored but patient, and took on western riding, hunter hack and reining. By the end of his 3-year-old season, the talented colt had earned 21 halter points, 34 performance points, two ROM's, a top ten in the nation in trail, two Colorado State Championships and numerous regional high points.

As a 4-year-old, Touch finished his ROM in hunt seat pleasure, gained five points in halter, and earned his ApHC Club Champion award. Woods decided to try for an ApHC Versatility Champion award and a trip to the National show.

"It just about didn't happen when a business I sold collapsed and I had to take it back and get it on its feet again before trying to resell. The old dolla got squeezed pretty hard that year," he said.

At the 1987 National Show, Touch finished fourth in western riding. Woods was disappointed, but enjoyed seeing Touch's foals doing well. A yearling filly went fifth in youth mares, and a weanling gelding finished eighth. Touch went on to earn six more points in western riding to garner his fourth ROM.

Looking for another event for a fifth ROM for the Versatility award, Woods decided on heading and heeling.

"Touch must have thought the first day he saw cattle was the first real day of life," Woods said. "I never saw a horse so eager and excited."

He added a Colorado State Championship in cattle to his fourth-year awards. Late in the fall of 1987, Woods set his sights on the Supreme Champion Award. Touch needed a ROM in a games event and Woods settled on steer daubing with Touch's talent in cattle classes in mind.

"He had such speed you had to grab leather when the gate opens, or you'd find yourself still in the box when he and the steer met down the arena somewhere."

The horse continued to add points in heading and heeling, steer daubing, and halter. The Supreme Champion Award was coming into sight, but Woods remembers a series of obstacles that he thought might close the door on the horse's chances.

"The business went under again, and I had to repossess, restock and get running profitably and try to resell it. The money for the horses stopped and Touch got the rest of the year off. Then, while I was away from the ranch, Touch was playing in his pen one day and pulled a tendon in his right rear leg."

The vet called for surgery, and Woods swallowed hard and waited to see if his stallion would be sound. Just a month after his operation, Touch gave his owner another scare with a bout of colic. He came through fine, and Woods was able to resell his business again.

By the beginning of his fifth year, they were on track. In 1988, he finished in the top ten nationally in steer daubing. One of Touch's daughters placed seventh at the World show in the 2-year-old English Snaffle Bit class. Touch continued to earn points in halter, cattle and steer daubing classes. But when Woods broke his arm, he hired a trainer to fit him for halter. As a 6-year-old, Touch finished in the top ten in the nation for aged halter stallions.

"I could have had someone ride Touch for the remaining steer daubing points that Fall, but I really wanted to finish this long road together, as we had started it. I decided to wait and get the last two points myself at the first show that had cattle in 1990."

At the Rifle Show, Woods' heart was in his throat when he realized they had overtaken the steer. "My heart fell when the time was announced at somewhere around nine seconds. The next rider to go out also broke out late and couldn't get his horse to the steer. My heart started beating again. The the next rider went with what seemed to be the slowest slow motion I had ever seen. Suddenly my world came back to real speed when the rider waved off the steer and brought his horse back to a trot. 'We did it!' kept running through my head:  Six ROMs and ApHC Supreme Champion."

Almost five months later, A Touch Of Blue died following surgery for a twisted intestine. He was 7 years old. ""My sadness lies in the loss of a friend and companion for the last seven years," Woods said. "I spent more time with him than anyone else in the family. We would exchange greetings, a nudge or pat several time a day. He was as much a part of me as my arm. His legacy now lies in the 45 foals he sired. One stands at stud in Germany, and another will try to fill his father's mighty tracks here. The others are scattered across the United States, each one proving by their diversity that Touch was one of a kind."

{This article, and accompanying photograph were originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, December 1990, Vol 45, No. 12, "A Touch Of Blue" and are used here by permission.}

Copyright © 1990 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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