Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #F-3366
Foaled:   May 13, 1952
Died:      July 25, 1983
Color:    Chestnut

High Hand
High Hand - A Hand Me Down Horse
(courtesy Appaloosa Journal)

(The following article originally appeared in the February 1983 issue of Appaloosa News.
Note:   December 2001 - Added short article from September 1983 Appaloosa News.)

Every horse has a history -- a story to tell. High Hand's story is full of anecdotes, and is possibly one of the most interesting you'll ever hear about a horse.

He's had a myriad of owners, tried his hand at countless endeavors, and travelled a multitude of miles. He seems to have a quality that awes and inspires those who know him. He commands respect for his achievements, and for the abilities he passes on to his get.

Since last April, High Hand has been residing at Bar DK Ranch in Pampa, Texas, with Dr. Harbord and Dolores Cox. And there he'll stay for the rest of his life. When he dies he'll be buried in the yard, and a permanent monument will adorn his grave.

But the Coxes don't own High Hand. For that matter, most people would have to agree that no one really "owns" him. High Hand is pretty much his own horse.

Technically, Harold Calhoun of Byers, Colo., and Martin Abrahamsen, who passed away recently, are the registered owners of the horse.

The story of how High Hand came to his current home in Pampa is full of twists. As a living foundation Appaloosa, he has had a long and full life. This year he'll be 31 years old, although according to Cox, he doesn't look it.

He was foaled May 13, 1952, in Hugoton, Kan., on the farm of rodeo clown Buddy Heaton. His dam is Deacon Bess, AQHA. Heaton owned Hands Up, the sire of High Hand, and used him in his rodeo clown act.

Lucy Palousey (Palousy), another well-known foundation Appaloosa, was the dam of Hands Up. According to the article printed in Appaloosa News in the 60s, Lucy Palousey's "flying hooves made a name for herself in match racing."

Cox mentioned that there are photos of Buddy Heaton carrying High Hand when he was a foal, and from all reports, Heaton and the horse were very close. Heaton broke him, trained him and used him in parades and in his clown act.

In one part of his act, Heaton would lay his hands on the horse's back, Cox said, and High Hand would jump straight up, making it look as though Heaton had lifted him.

One of High hand's best tricks was to walk around on his hind legs. There are reports of him walking all the way round an arena this way. Calhoun, who has known High Hand for most of his life, said that walking on his hind legs was "sorta natural for him."

In the years since, High Hand has been known to jump up onto his hind legs and show off whenever there's an audience. He did that last summer when a birthday party was held in his honor at Bar DK.

The birthday party was attended by about 36 of High Hand's admirers and well-wishers, including Calhoun, who drove 500 miles to get there.

Calhoun said that High Hand was a pretty good cutting horse in his day, except that he was always rearing back on his hind legs, which automatically disqualified him in cutting competitions.

"He could cut calves completely on his hind legs if he wanted to," Calhoun said. "No calf would ever get away."

Calhoun first got to know High Hand when he was owned by Heaton. Often, when Heaton was not using him in his rodeo act, he would leave High Hand at Calhoun's ranch, where Calhoun would use him for ranch work. It was there that Calhoun fell in love with him, and with the Appaloosa breed.

Calhoun remembered days when High Hand was pitted against such famous early Appaloosas as Bright Eyes Brother.

"I think Bright Eyes Brother and High Hand were quite ahead of their time," Calhoun said. "They're still modern-day horses -- they've proven that in their get."

Cox would tend to agree that High Hand's conformation was superior to most in those days. "He's got a big chest, big hindquarters and a small head," he said. Cox added that High Hand's foals are usually tall, although High hand himself is only 14 hands.

Much of High Hand's life, and much of his competition against other horses went unrecorded. It is said that Heaton would often set the stallion up in match races, and usually won. He passed on his speed to many of his get.

In 1965 and 1969 High Hand was the fifth leading Appaloosa race sire for money earned; he was also fifth leading all-time Appaloosa sire of race winners in 1969, according to The Complete Book of the Appaloosa.

Some of his get include Patty Hand, who was third leading running horse by wins in 1964 and second leading 3-year-old filly by money in 1965. Patty Hand was also a World Wide Derby winner. High Hand had another World Wide winner in Dr. Judge in 1963. Another, Breeze Hand, was the leading 2-year-old colt by wins in 1969. He was also second by money for 2-year-olds, fourth in money overall and seventh in wins overall.

High Hand's offspring did well in other areas too. American Girl was grand champion mare at the 1970 National Show, and Pat Hand Jr., a grandson, was grand champion gelding at the 1969 National.

The High Hand line is also know for prowess in cutting, roping and other performance events.

High Hand was registered in 1955 by Heaton and his step-father, Fred Hagaman. In 1958 they sold the horse at auction. Calhoun said he bid $10,000 for High Hand, but the horse went for more than he could afford. L. G. Blackmer of Hooker, Okla., became the new owner for $10,500.

The following year Blackmer sold him to his son-in-law, John Albright, who took him to LaVeta, Colo., where he stood at stud and later began training with Jack Rydberg in reining and cutting.

Although High Hand was not shown a great deal, he did win grand champion stallion at the Colorado State Fair in 1960, reserve champion at the National Western Stock Show in '60 and '61, and the Appaloosa reining at the Colorado State Fair in '61.

High Hand was sold again in 1962, this time to Dwight Parks, who turned him out to stud. Parks paid $18,500 and 12 breedings for him, which made him worth $24,500. At that time, High Hand became one of the highest priced Appaloosas in the country.

Three years later, Charlie Walker of Amarillo, Texas, bought High Hand from Parks. But not long after, he had to put him up for auction again.

At the sale, auctioneer Dean Davis joined forces with Walker, Martin Abrahamsen and Calhoun to buy the popular stallion for $60,500.

Within a year, Calhoun said, he and Abrahamsen bought the other two out. For several years the two owners alternated keeping High Hand. When Abrahamsen moved from the area to Wagner, Okla., High Hand remained in Byers with Calhoun. And there he remained for some time.

As he grew older, there was talk of reserving a space for High hand to be buried at the Horse Hall of Fame in Kentucky.

Another young man, Teddy Kemper, fell in love with High Hand about that time and offered to take the stallion home with him to Kentucky, to live there until he died. Then, when the time came, he would be buried at the Horse Hall of Fame. Abrahamsen and Calhoun agreed.

But they never made it to Kentucky. On the way, High Hand became sick and Kemper halted the journey in Oklahoma. According to Cox, High Hand was so sick that Kemper decided to stay in Oklahoma until the horse got back on his feet. He got a job hauling horses for Carl Weber, and for awhile boarded High Hand out.

After High Hand recovered he remained in Oklahoma, boarding out at several places, including Mary Hummel's Circle H Bar H Ranch in Yukon, Okla. It was at Hummel's that Cox first saw High Hand, and he too, developed a certain awe for him.

"I have always heard about High Hand and respected his get," Cox said.

Cox and Hummel took High Hand to the 1981 World Show Sale as a special treat to those attending. Monte Heinrich, the sale auctioneer, had requested that High Hand attend, since many of his get were being sold there.

But getting him there was not easy, Cox said. "He doesn't like to be hauled." Cox was witness to the attempt to load High Hand into a trailer, and said that the horse just laid down and refused to go in.

He was finally forced into a stock trailer, under much duress. And when they finally got him to the sale, he was not keen on the idea of getting out of the trailer. Eventually, he was led into the ring, and there his frustrations disappeared. He pranced around like a young horse, as if he were glad to have an audience again.

The following spring, it became apparent to those close to the horse that he really had nowhere to go. Carl Weber, who had been keeping track of him, called Cox and asked if he'd take him.

"I admired High Hand so much that I said it would be an honor to keep him," Cox said.

And so High Hand ended up at Bar DK Ranch. "I'm glad he's got a home," Calhoun said when Cox called to let him know were High Hand was. Later he added that he thought High Hand was getting very good care there.

When High Hand was hauled to Bar DK Ranch, the stallion's distaste for being hauled was again obvious.

"Have a good look at him coming out of that trailer," Cox told those present. "He'll never be put into a horse trailer again."

Cox was true to his word, and High Hand has never left the place since, though there have been requests for High Hand to attend certain events.

"He's had a rough life. He's been hauled a million miles and worked all his life. Now it's time for him to retire."

High Hand lives the life of Reilly now. He's got his own Spanish-style stall, his own lot, "even his own shade tree," Cox said. He does get ridden now and then, and Cox said he has put little kids up on him. He's pretty much the star boarder at Bar DK.

"He's the first one I feed in the morning," Cox said, adding, "He eats like a pig."

Even though High Hand is healthy, age is catching up with him. Due to a hormone problem, his hair doesn't shed out, it just keeps growing longer. "It's long and wavy ... I wish I had hair like that," Cox said. In summer the long hair makes him uncomfortable, so Dolores gives him a bath every day.

The horse has his idiosyncrasies. "It's a major ordeal to give him a shot," Cox said. "He tightens up his muscles til he's so hard the needle breaks." And he has adopted for his best friend a St. Bernard named Mindy.

Another of High Hand's oddities is that he seems to prefer winter over the other seasons and he loves the snow. "He doesn't want to go into his stall when it snows," Dolores said. "We've blanketed him to keep him warm, but he doesn't want them. He just dances and prances around in the snow."

The Coxes have noticed that he always sleeps with his head to the north, and what when he stands under the shade tree, he always faces east.

High Hand is living out the rest of his life in comfort, with everything he needs and probably everything he wants.

"It's nice to see him relax," Dolores said. "I guess he knows he's not going anywhere."

Visitors are always welcome at Bar DK, and if you catch High Hand on a good day, he'll probably show off for you.

There is a certain something special about foundation horses. High Hand not only has this quality, he also has something more -- a rare magnetism that attracts the hearts of the people around him.

{This article, by Beth Goff Grubb was originally published in the Appaloosa News, February 1983, "High Hand: A Hand Me Down Horse," and is used here by permission.}

High Hand 1952 - 1983
(from Appaloosa News September 1983)

High Hand, F-3366, was put down July 25 to relieve the pain he was suffering from cancer. He was 31. High Hand's owners, Dr Harbord and Delores Cox of Pampa, Texas, acquired the stallion about a year ago from Teddy Kemper of Oklahoma. High Hand had been in retirement at the Cox's DK Ranch.

Foaled May 13, 1952, High Hand was known for his intelligence, conformation and his prowess in many performance events. According to ApHC records, he sired more that 200 get during his lifetime. He was bred by Buddy Heaton and Fredd Hagaman in Hugoton, Kansas, out of the Quarter Horse mare Deacon Bess by Hands Up, F-2217.

Copyright © 1983 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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