Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #407333
Foaled:  1984
Died:   May 1, 2002
Color:  Bay

Dreamfinder - 1996 ApHC Hall of Fame inductee
Photo courtesy of Classic Acres

Often hailed as the best modern sire of our breed, Dreamfinder stole hearts throughout Appaloosa world.

When Dreamfinder was foaled, people knew he'd be one of the greats of the Appaloosa breed. From the moment Rex Kennard of Yukon, Oklahoma, saw the wobbly, brilliantly colored youngster stand up, there was no doubt in the breeder's mind what lay ahead for the colt.

Now, 18 years later, Dreamfinder has been laid to rest at his final home in Ocala, Florida. But the legacy this extraordinary stallion left behind far surpasses what anyone could have imagined.

Throughout his life, Dreamfinder passed through the hands of some of the most influential people of the Appaloosa breed. They led him to wins, to the breeding shed and throughout a lifetime as an outstanding stallion.

"Anybody who ever met Dreamfinder fell in love with him because of his personality," says Roger Perry, Dreamfinder's last owner.

"Even though when he felt the worst," Roger continues, "he'd perk up his ears the minute you walked into the barn. He had a great zest for life and an almost humanlike personality."

On May 1, 2002, the time had come to finally let him go. The great stallion, who'd suffered from laminitis for several years, was euthanized.

Rex Kennard and his father Herman were Quarter Horse breeders who hadn't anticipated getting into the Appaloosa business. But when Herman ran across Alias Smith & Jones in an Appaloosa Journal advertisement, he couldn't get the white stallion out of his mind.

Herman eventually decided to breed his Quarter Horse mare, Carlin, to Alias Smith & Jones. The resulting foal, Alias King, was a good-looking foal, but didn't cause much of a stir in the beginning.

"We were both involved in the business and didn't pay too much attention to the colt, except that we knew he was a nice colt," Rex said of himself and his father in a 1987 Appaloosa Journal interview. "He stayed out in the pasture and ran with the mares."

Soon though, "Alias" began to turn heads -- judges' heads to be exact. More importantly, Rex and Herman gave their Appaloosa colt a second and much more serious look. At the 1981 World Show, Alias took fourth in 3-year-old stallions, and in 1983 he took seventh in aged stallions. In 1985 he earned the honor of reserve World champion get of sire.

Sandwiched between those wins was a breeding to Aztec's Fanci Frani (AQHA) who gave birth to a loud, bay blanketed colt named Dreamfinder.

Alias King, pictured at right with Dreamfinder, sired 310 registered foals. Of those, 59 foals earned 1,739 performance points while 62 earned 861 halter points. His foals have also earned 76 registers of merit, one halter superior, two performance superiors, three club championships, three versatility championships, one supreme championship, 13 bronze medallions and three superior achievement certificates. But none would match the success of Dreamfinder. Dreamfinder and Alias King
Photo courtesy Appaloosa Journal

Rex and his wife Sheryl had saved the name Dreamfinder for two years, waiting for just the right colt. Once, while Sheryl was visiting with Joan Santos Whitehouse, she told her friend that one day she and Rex would send Joan a loud-colored colt for her to show, and his name would be Dreamfinder. In the spring of 1984, Rex gave Joan a call.

"When I saw Dreamfinder, I told Rex and Mr. Kennard, 'That colt will be the next Impressive of the Appaloosa world,'" Joan says. "And he was."

Dreamfinder and his dam
Dreamfinder with his dam Aztec's Fanci Frani (AQHA)
at 3 ½ months old.

Photo courtesy Appaloosa Journal

The Kennards sent Dreamfinder to Joan's California operation to fit and show his weanling year. During his weanling and part of his yearling show seasons, Dreamfinder enjoyed much success with Joan at the lead. According to ApHC records, Dreamfinder never placed lower than first and was often named grand or reserve grand champion.

In 1985 Dreamfinder went back to Oklahoma and the Kennards took him to the 1985 National Show. Mark LeBlanc led him to champion yearling stallion and grand champion stallion overall titles. Dreamfinder's success on the national level continued as he repeated the wins at that year's World Show.

Rex achieved his goal of winning big on the national level with Dreamfinder in a mere year. It was time to test Dreamfinder's potential as a sire. Rex retired Dreamfinder and sent him back to Joan's to stand at stud.

Joan stood Dreamfinder until July 1980 when Bill Laurie of Crown Center Farms in Columbia, Missouri, purchased the young but already-well-established stallion. "He had such a pretty head and neck, along with a presence you don't find in many horses," Bill said in a 1991 Appaloosa Journal interview.

Bill purchased Dreamfinder to produce mares to cross with Impressive Andrew. "Any breeder wants to have a long-standing effect on the horse industry," Bill said in the 1991 interview. "Impressive bloodlines have dominated the halter industry for the last 10 years, and I think crossing that blood to a horse like Dreamfinder will expand the blood so we have not only a pretty horse that can halter, but also a nice-looking horse that can ride."

Dreamfinder stood at Crown Center Farms until the fall of 1993. He changed hands again when he was sold to Susan Osborne of Pilot Point, Texas, who had him less than a year. In 1994 Roger Perry attended the National Show and was impressed with how well Dreamfinder progeny placed.

"I knew I wanted to buy him from the first time I saw him," Roger says. "And you could see the impact he made on his babies."

Dreamfinder's first foal crop hit the ground in 1987. From that crop he produced My Dirty Dreams, who took grand in weanling geldings at the National Show and third in that class at the World Show. My Dirty Dreams went on to earn championships in halter at the 1989, 1992, and 1993 National Shows, and the 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992 World Shows. He also garnered a reserve National championship in 1990. In addition, My Dirty Dreams won grand champion gelding overall at both the National and World shows multiple times.

Another outstanding Dreamfinder foal from that foal crop was TTS Midnight Blue who won two bronze performance medallions and one silver halter medallion. TTS Midnight Blue garnered National championships in hunter in hand and pleasure driving; and World titles in pleasure driving and hunter under saddle. In all, TTS Midnight Blue has earned more that 1,200 points including 686 youth points.

Ms Daydramin, also from that crop, took fourth in weanling fillies at the National Show and won her weanling fillies class at the 1987 World Show. She went on to win her class at the National Show the following year.

Other foals from Dreamfinder's first crop include Dreamin, Sheza Sweet Dream, Dreamwalker, DVS Dream Maker, Fantasy Dream, Dun Dreamin, Dream Dazzler and Jos Last Dream, who earned a combined total of 935 points in halter, non-pro and youth events.

"He put a pretty eye and head, nice neck and a big hip on his foals, which are what we all desire," Joan says.

As this issue goes to press, Dreamfinder has sired 489 registered foals. Of those, 55 have earned 2,814 performance points and 270 have earned 12,119 halter points. Dreamfinder progeny have 112 bronze and nine silver medallions to their credit.

"He is a very potent sire," Joan says. "You could pretty much count that if you had a decent mare and you bred to him, you were going to get a World or National champion."

Winning Dreamfinder progeny
As of June 2002, Dreamfinder had sired 489 registered foals that have earned:
169 ..... Registers of Merit
30 ..... Halter Superior Events
9 ..... Performance Superior Events
15 ..... Club Championships
6 ..... Versatility Championships
3 ..... Supreme Championships
112 ..... Bronze Medallions
9 ..... Silver Medallions
54 ..... Dreamfinder foals have earned:
     89 ..... National Show championships
     84 ..... World Show championships

55 ..... foals have earned 2,814 performance points
270 ..... foals have earned 12,119 halter points

"I don't know that there's ever been an Appaloosa stallion -- or ever will be -- that'll make his mark on the breed like he did," Roger says. "When his babies hit the ground, they went to the show pen, and he changed the look of the Appaloosa breed."

Roger believes Dreamfinder's greatest strength is his sons. The Appaloosa Horse Club's leading halter sires lists tell a similar story.

Still on of the top five leading halter sires, Dreamfinder ranked at the top of the lists for years. His son Maid's Dream currently stands at the top of the leading halter sires list.

Steve and Carol Dal Porto's 10-year-old stallion Maid's Dream topped the halter horse leading sire lists at the age of 8 and still holds the number one spot. Maid's Dream
Photo courtesy Appaloosa Journal

Sons Heza Dreamer, Heza Dreamcatcher, All Inclusive and Dream T' -- and Dreamfinder grandson Vision Maker -- all find themselves among the top 25 leading halter sires.

Both Joan and Roger say Dreamfinder's greatest legacy will be his ability to improve any nick.

"He could fix anything that the mare had a problem with," Roger says. "I never saw a baby that was of lesser quality that the mother. He always improved them, and they all had great personalities."

Dreamfinder's progeny have also gone on to excel under saddle. In recent years, three-time World's Best Appaloosa Recurring Dream and stallion Pleasant Dreams have dominated their events. Karen Grimm of Minden, Nevada, bred both horses and is now using Pleasant Dreams in her breeding program.

Recurring Dream, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Jeff Jirkovsky of Juanita, Nebraska, claimed World's Best Appaloosa titles in 1998, 2000 and 2001. He brought home the reserve honors in 1999. Recurring Dream has six National and/or World championships in halter, cattle and games classes, and six reserves in cattle classes. He earned his bronze medallion in halter and seven silver medallions in cattle classes. A supreme champion, Recurring Dream has earned more than 607 points, 21 national year-end top 10s and seven registers of merit in cattle and games classes.

To date, Pleasant Dreams has earned World championships in calf roping, judged heading, heritage and rope race; World reserve championships in senior reining, heritage and buckboard driving. He's also earned registers of merit in events ranging from most colorful at halter and hunter in hand to cattle, reining, western riding, heritage and games classes.

Pleasant Dreams has earned his supreme championship as well. The 10-year-old stallion has accumulated 550 lifetime points so far, and has placed as a year-end national finalist 15 times. Now a sire himself, Pleasant Dreams is also producing winners. Of his 39 foals, two have earned bronze medallions and one has earned its silver.

"If I was picking a performance horse to breed to, I wouldn't have picked him," Karen says of her decision to breed to Dreamfinder. "But I had halter horses, and as they got older I needed to do something with them."

Karen soon found that Dreamfinder progeny had a lot of try and were willing to do anything asked of them. That combined with people-pleasing personalities made Dreamfinder's halter-babies-turned-performance-horses successful in the showpen.

"I've had ones that you'd say, 'Oh that horse isn't going to be able to do that job,'" Karen says. "But they want to please their people, so they try pretty hard. They're successful in performance in spite of some of their physical limtations."

Karen now has six Dreamfinder mares, two stallions and a gelding. Her broodmare band comprises 22 Dreamfinder daughters and granddaughters, or Impressive Andrew-bred mares that Karen crosses with her Dreamfinder sons.

"I've lucked out," Karen says. "The bottom side of the pedigrees of the horses I've been most successful with have been mares that weren't performance mares themselves, but were physically acceptable plus mentally really good horses -- and they were athletes."

Both Joan and Karen say Dreamfinder's greatest strength is in the mares he produces. Mayra Orihuela of Aleo Appaloosas in Moorpark, California, agrees.

"I've got at least four on the ranch that I'll never part with," Mayra says. "How can you? They were great mares in the halter ring and they're great producers."

Mayra says that what makes them great is their ability to consistently carry out Dreamfinder's traits.

"Gorgeous heads, great balance -- they put out a horse that everybody wants and are consistent champion producers," Mayra says of Dreamfinder broodmares.

Shesaclassicdream is a bronze production plaque earner who consistently puts out champions. To Mayra, that makes the mare invaluable. Karen's mare Night Vision is a bronze and silver production plaque winner. To day, Dreamfinder has approximately seven other daughters who are on their way to winning their production plaques.

"I think it's kind of like Secretariat," Karen says. "Dreamfinder's a better broodmare producer than stallion producer. I think the value is going to be in his broodmares."

Dreamfinder was inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame in 1996. Statistically, he's already laid claim to being one of the greatest Appaloosa sires of all time. But the impact of his legacy has yet to be fully realized. The emotional ties so many in the Appaloosa breed have for him may be his greatest leagacy of all.

"He's been the horse that impacted our breed the most," Mayra says. "He brought color, balance and beauty. He was an eye catcher, and he won people's hearts. He became everyone's horse. Anybody that ever had anything to do with him -- if you just looked him in the eye, he was a part of your life forever. He was very, very special.

{This article, by Robin Hendrickson, was originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, August 2002, Vol 56, No. 8, "Dreamfinder" and is used here by permission.}

Copyright © 2002 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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