Appaloosa Stallion

Registration:  ApHC #55156
Foaled:   May 30, 1963
Died:      June 1988
Color:    Chestnut

Prince Plaudit
Prince Plaudit
"The Legend and His Legacy"

{Note: This article was written and published in January 1988, prior to Prince Plaudit's death.}

At 24 years of age, the leopard stallion is still a grand old gentleman. He stands in a royal-sized box stall with his name plaque next to his door. His eyes are aged but wise, and haven't lost their sparkle for a mare. He is surrounded by sons and daughters and grandget, but despite his age, time isn't passing him by -- in fact it seems it's only just caught up with him.

Foaled on May 30, 1963, Prince Plaudit hit the ground ahead of time. It wasn't that he was an early foal; it was his genetic make-up in addition to his confirmation and loud-colored coat that made him different than many of his Appaloosa peers. At the time he was foaled, the Appaloosa registry was only in its second decade, yet he is a horse who will see the Club through its 50th anniversary, with grandget still winning some of the same classes he and his get have won and continuing in his tradition of versatility.

For the first two years of Prince's life he was simply a loud-colored colt at Hank Wiescamp's Alamosa, Colorado ranches. Wiescamp is a master of the breeding game, having bred more than 81 AQHA champions, while his son Grant has done well with Appaloosas, Paints, and Palominos. His prized bands of mares are elite and somewhat mysterious, grazing and foaling in remote and unknown pastures in the Colorado mountains. Among this band of mares was Princess Rita -- a sorrel Quarter Horse mare who had been pasture-bred to an Appaloosa stallion named Red Plaudit.

Princess Rita was foaled on May 20, 1953, bred by D.B. Boswell of DeBeque, Colorado. She was purchased in January 1960 by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Merling of Grand Junction, Colorado, but in November of that same year, the Merlings sold her and she became a part of the Wiescamp herd. Red Plaudit was foaled on July 11, 1960, bred by Clara Wilkins of Alamosa, Colorado. His name was originally Johnnie Morton W., but in 1961 it was changed to Red Plaudit. Wiescamp purchased the stallion on November 1, 1960 -- 14 days before Princess Rita arrived at his ranches.

Prince Plaudit was the product of this 1962 breeding between Princess Rita and Red Plaudit. A leopard with sorrel spots, he carries his own special "brand" on his left hip just above his gaskin: an almost perfect heart-shaped spot.

Prince Plaudit spent his first two years in Alamosa, until December 15, 1965, when Carl Miles of Abilene, Texas purchased him along with 40 of Wiescamp's mares. Miles was already well established in the Appaloosa breed as the owner and promoter of foundation horse Joker B. In search of a replacement sire, Miles recognized in Prince a breeding horse. Beneath the loudly patterned coat of a still growing two-year-old, Miles saw excellent confirmation and a profile similar to that of the old foundation Quarter Horse, Old Fred. Miles, a firm believer in bloodlines, knew Prince's pedigree traced back to Old Fred a number of times, and he studied the stallion's lineage carefully when it came time to select mares to be bred to him.

But Miles' first task was in promoting Prince. He began by getting the horse in front of the public. According to a September 1971 article in the Appaloosa News titled "Carl Miles and the Super Horse," Prince was the grand champion of the Fort Worth, San Antonio and Southeastern Stock Shows, as well as grand champion at the Dal-Worth Club Show, Denver National, West Texas Club Show at Sweetwater and the Crippled Children's Show at Abilene. The article continues, stating that Prince never lost a get of sire class in shows from Denver to Houston -- including almost every major stock show in between.

While Prince was named grand champion stallion the three times he was shown prior to being sold to Carl Miles, his long-time trainer and manager Harry Reed of Abilene, Texas explained that Prince wasn't shown in the halter classes much until he was an aged horse. "Then he came in and won everything as far as those stock shows go," said Reed.

As the National and the World became more established as important shows, Prince and his get were there and winning. Prince won the get of sire class at the National in 1969, 1975, and 1976 and at the World in 1975.

His ability as a sire proved Harry Reed's first impression of Prince to be right on target. "I thought he'd sire them. The first thing we thought was that he'd be a breeding horse. His first crop of foals started becoming grand champions when they were yearlings and coming two-year-olds," Reed said.

After Prince Plaudit's get started winning, it was time to market him as a sire of champions and producers. Carl Miles accomplished this task with the same business sense he used to promote Joker B. Every issue (except for one in 1972) of the Appaloosa News from August 1967 to February 1984 carried a full page advertisement for Prince Plaudit on the back cover of the magazine. It was tactic that helped to make Prince Plaudit's name a household word for Appaloosa owners, and succeeded in changing some of the people's views outside the Appaloosa industry. For many, the leopard stallion represented the future of the breed with his confirmation and disposition.

In "Prince Plaudit," an article which appeared in the January 1981 issue of Horseman magazine, author Linda Blake quoted the stallion's current owner, David Stahlman, as saying, "It's fortunate that Prince Plaudit's future rested in the hands of Carl Miles. He was a promoter. I doubt that Prince would have reached this point without the help of Carl. However, I don't think that Carl could take just any horse and promote it to a Prince Plaudit status."

Carl once said his dream was to create a "super horse" -- one that was superior to any horse in every way. "To do it," he explained in a 1971 Appaloosa News article, "you would have to be able to breed the finest horses in the Thoroughbred world to the finest Appaloosas. They would complement each other. The Appaloosas would give the Thoroughbreds better legs and a whole lot more."

Miles bred Prince to several daughters of the Thoroughbred Baffles. Reed explained that he and Miles hoped to get a race horse from the crosses, but they were never able to quite get the nick.

The best halter and performance horse crosses seemed to be when Miles concentrated on mares that traced back to Old Fred and Peter McCue. It was his belief that when crossed with Prince's Old Fred background, these mares would produce champions. The theory is still being tested and proven by Prince's get and grandget, and the show records lend strong support to Miles' ideas.

Prince's sons and daughters have won more than 40 national or world titles and 30 reserve world and national titles. While his get were winning long before the medallion system was enacted, he has sired 18 bronze medallion winners, three silver medallion winners and one gold medallion winner. He was the first to be awarded the bronze production plaque, which he earned in 1978.

Prince's get excel in both halter and performance events, and on the basis of the ApHC point system, 66 of his foals have earned performance points, 65 have earned halter points and 41 have earned registers of merit (ROMs). His get have placed in the top ten at the National or World shows more than 175 times.

But it doesn't stop there. His get have proven themselves as producers of champions as well. Of his grandget, 43 have earned bronze medallions, two have earned silver medallions and one has just recently earned her gold medallion.

With such an outstanding production record, it seems that Prince came pretty close to achieving Miles "super horse" status. In fact, in a September 1984 issue of Horseman, Prince appeared in an article listing ten all time great horses. Of those ten horses, nine were Quarter Horse greats, Doc Bar, Mr. Gun Smoke, King P-234, Leo San, Poco Bueno, Poco Lena, Skipper W, Two-Eyed Jack and Impressive. Prince Plaudit was the only non-Quarter Horse listed among this roster of equine legends.

"Prince Plaudit was manicured for the public as well as any politician, and Carl Miles' efforts paid off. This stallion...has become a symbol of excellence for the Appaloosa breed," the article stated.

Because he was a symbol of excellence, his get were in high demand and commanded top prices. In the late '60s his foals sold for an average of $7,500, while other quality Appaloosa foals were being purchased for less than half that amount.

There was something about owning a Prince Plaudit foal, and it wasn't just the prospect of winning. He was a celebrity, and just the opportunity to see or touch the leopard brought emotions to the surface for many Appaloosa enthusiasts.

"People were overwhelmed when they came in contact with that horse," said Harry Reed. He recalled how people were affected by the opportunity to own one of his get. Reed recounted a situation where a man from the West Coast had been to Abilene and worked out a plan with Carl Miles which enabled him to own a son of Prince. According to Reed, the man headed home to get his trailer and his wife. On his way back to Texas he stopped for gas and was 100 miles down the road before he realized he'd left his wife at the gas station. "That's how excited he was about getting one of Prince's sons," said Harry with a laugh.

During the early '70s, with his get in high demand, it was announced that M-V Ranches would be holding a complete dispersal sale.

People knew the stage was set for record breaking prices. In a notice dated May 21, 1974, M-V Ranches manager Raleigh Yuhas contacted auctioneer Ron Kavanagh of Kavanagh sales to conduct the sale. Scheduled for August 9, 1974, the auction was being held at the Malta, Idaho ranch in order to dissolve the partnership of Miles and Jedd Van Kampen and associate partners.

According to Kavanagh, the sale began at 10 a.m., with an overflow crowd in a large barn. They had set up the sale ring, and decorated it with crowns that had become the Prince Plaudit trademark. Rumors were going around the sale barn that the price paid for Prince might top an unheard-of $70,000, which would have been a record for the Appaloosa breed. Kavanagh slated Prince as lot 12, and recalled people's reactions when Prince was led into the ring.

"I remember there was an unusual amount of flashbulbs and 'oohs' and 'ahs.' Carl Miles had told the crowd about the horse, and there were some tears in people's eyes when this horse started to sell. When I started to sell the horse, a friend opened the bidding at $50,000, and I took one breath and was clear to $150,000 before I took another breath. There was a man and his son sitting and bidding in one place, then there were two syndicates and two other guys bidding. We went to $250,000 on my second breath, and just like you turn off a switch it all quit. I think the man and his son bid $255,000 and the syndicate headed by Doug Stone bid $260,000, and that was the end of it. It didn't take but a minute and a half to sell that horse," said Kavanagh.

By 5 that afternoon, 161 head sold for a record $848,825 with an average per horse of $5,273. Prince Charles was the second highest selling horse, going for $53,000.

Doug Stone and Dickie Turner of Levelland, Texas purchased Prince at the sale, with plans of syndicating him.

David Stahlman was present at the sale and purchased three mares, all in foal to Prince. Stahlman had become interested in Prince Plaudit and his get in the early '70s. He was attending a sale in Ada, Oklahoma when a daughter of Prince went through the sale. He bid up to $5,500 on the mare, but on the advice of a friend attending the sale with him, he stopped his bidding and watched the mare go to another buyer. "I kicked myself the whole way home," remembered Stahlman. "I said, 'Someday I'm going to own a daughter of Prince.' And that's the first I remember seeing a Prince Plaudit horse."

A year later, Stahlman was at the Ada sale again, and this time purchased a mare named Prince's Joyce. She wasn't in the sale, but Stahlman had seen her in the barns and talked to the owner about buying her. She was the only get of Prince that Stahlman had at his Strattanville, Pennsylvania Rimwold Ranch until the sale in Malta. While he was at the sale he heard that Turner and Stone were going to syndicate Prince, and left word that he would be interested in owning a share.

He was told that the syndicate members had already been chosen, but about five months later Stone contacted him, explaining that the syndicate was still in the process of being organized. Prince was syndicated for $300,000 at the price of $50,000 per share. Stone offered Stahlman his and Dickie Turner's half shares; Stahlman bought them and through the years acquired additional shares.

Carl Miles was the syndicate manager, and in the mid-'70s he turned his marketing finesse toward another venture. According to Stahlman, Miles planned to sell a mare syndicate of 40 mares. "We would breed these mares every year to Prince, and this would give the syndicate an income of $120,000 a year. It was a good plan," said Stahlman.

But in 1976, before the venture was completed, Carl Miles died, and Stahlman eventually purchased all but one and a half shares of the syndicate. After Miles died, Harry Reed was responsible for dispersing the breeder's horses and selling his syndicate shares. Reed said he sold 80 head and the shares to six separate interests for a sum of $1,300,000. "That's what's most important," said Reed. "What you can take to the bank at then end of a program. You've got to have a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

Harry Reed and Prince continued to be a close team even after the dispersal sale. In 1977, when Prince came to Stahlman's Rimwold Ranch, Reed accompanied him to help get the breeding and training program at Rimwold underway. While the cold Pennsylvania winters didn't compare favorably to the Texas weather Harry was used to, he stayed for approximately two years, and in the time, Stahlman said he came to realize how close the horse and trainer were.

"They used to play in the barn and arena," said Stahlman. "Harry would be in the corner of the arena and Prince would cut him like a calf. It was a game they played."

Like most horses, Prince has a personality all his own, with a super disposition that he passsses on to his get. Stahlman and his trainer Tim Aaron have said that Prince's personality makes him seem human at times.

Most of all it's Prince's kind disposition that makes him special to Stahlman and his family. "Prince has a run outside," said Stahlman, "and when my daughter Rhonda's son Jeremy was about two or three years old, he used to go right into that run. We'd try and keep him out, be he liked to be in there with Prince. I've seen Jeremy walk right under him, and Prince would just carefully look down at him,' he recalled.

At Rimwold, Stahlman continues to breed Prince, concentrating on mares with Skipa Star (AQHA) and Impressive (AQHA) bloodlines and breeding back into Prince Plaudit with grandget. Skipa Star is from the Skipper W family that Hank Wiescamp is famous for, and it's a line that traces back to some of the same foundation stick that Carl Miles liked so well.

Prince's success as a sire is evident in the quality his bloodlines continue to produce, and the emotions he continues to evoke. His get, with their kind dispositions and versatility are enjoyed by a cross-section of horsemen -- from breeders on a national scale to little girls getting their first horses.

Prince Plaudit and his descendants represent many things to many people. During his lifetime he has been one of the rare individuals who actually represented the breed's future. "Prince Plaudit's greatest contribution to the breed has been as a producer of reproducers," said Harry Reed. And that is a legacy that this legend will leave.

{This article, by Debbie Pitner Moors, and accompanying photograph were originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, January 1988, Vol 43, No.12, "Prince Plaudit: The Legend and His Legacy" and are used here by permission.}

Copyright © 1988 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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