Appaloosa Stallion

>Registration:  ApHC #5445
Foaled:   March 15, 1955
Died:      July 2, 1979
Color:     Bay


1988 ApHC Hall of Fame inductee Wapiti (1955-1979).
Photo courtesy of Mr. Jim Wild, Flying W Appaloosa Ranch

An Appaloosa whose pedigree reads AQHA on both the top and bottom founded a dynasty of colorful, quality horses. But the chrome was no accident.

Of all the terms used to describe Appaloosas in recent years, the most confusing to this author is the term "cropout."

It is used to describe a horse having a recognizable Appaloosa coat pattern that is sired by a registered Quarter Horse stallion and is out of a registered Quarter Horse mare. The resulting Appaloosa foal is treated as a mysterious genetic freak whose coloration is totally unexplainable.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Appaloosas who come from two registered Quarter Horse parents can be explained in two very simply ways.

If there are no horses in an Appaloosa's pedigree that have at least parti-colored skin then that Appaloosa's pedigree is wrong. In other words, someone, somewhere, put a set of AQHA papers on a solid Appaloosa foal who subsequently developed color.

The second explanation for a "cropout" Appaloosa such as Wapiti, is just as simple but far more interesting to the serious student of the breed.

Keep in mind that the formation of the Appaloosa and the Quarter Horse registries occurred at approximately the same time -- the ApHC in the late '30s and the AQHA in the early '40s.

Both associations accepted a number of outstanding roan horses into their stud books whose roots traced to the breeding program of a famous horse breeder from the western slope of Colorado -- Coke Roberds.

It was not fully understood or accepted until years later that these horses were in reality classic roan Appaloosas, with the final irrefutable proof being in the loud-colored Appaloosa offspring that they produced when bred to legitimate Quarter Horses. They were not genetic freaks but rather descendents of one of the oldest documented Appaloosa lines in existence.

A classic example of this family of horses is the great foundation sire -- Wapiti.

For years Wapiti and his close relatives were treated as genetic mistakes when they were in fact living proof of the genetic strength of one great family of Appaloosa mares. At the 1960 National Appaloosa Show held in South Sioux City, Nebraska, there was a great deal of commotion during the general membership meeting over the "Quarter Horses with spots" that were being allowed to be shown. The horses in question were Wapiti, Norell's Little Red, Carey's Streak, Carey's Tommie, and Carey's Little Chief.

The first four all had registered Quarter Horse parents and Little Chief's dam was an unregistered, solid-colored colored mare. All were national champions then or later and all got every ounce of their Appaloosa color through one outstanding Appaloosa mare!

Let us start at the beginning.

Wapiti's roots are traceable all the way back to before the turn of the century through the breeding programs of the Peavys and Coke Roberds.

In his article on Coke Roberds which appeared in the March 1968 issue of Appaloosa News, author Gene Carr provides an excellent overview of the development of the Appaloosa portion of the Roberds line of horses.

He writes, "The Brazos River in Texas was the scene of the birth of one of America's foremost horse breeders -- Coke Roberds. Before Coke became of school age, his father, C.O. Roberds, moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where young Coke attended elementary and high school. After graduating from an eastern college, Coke tried a brief stint in the county clerk's office. It was not long before Coke was looking for a ranch job. He found a position with the Holland and Easley Ranch north of the XIT outfit in west Texas.

"It was here that Coke Roberds ventured into horse breeding. Coke had acquired a mare of running blood which he decided to breed to a stallion known as "the Circus Horse," which belonged to a circus that wintered in Trinidad. The result of this mating was the Appaloosa stallion which he called Arab. Coke used Arab for roping, and hitched to his buggy, Arab's Appaloosa coloring gave Coke the fanciest rig for miles around.

"Around 1898 Coke acquired nine Steel Dust mares which he mated to Arab until about 1906 when he bought his second stallion, a Thoroughbred called Primero. He bought the stocking-legged, blaze-faced chestnut from Senator Borillo of Trinidad.

"Primero, meaning "first" in Spanish, was rightly named -- he was the first of several Thoroughbred stallions used by Coke. Primero was by Leadville, making him a half-brother to the famous Colorado sire, The Senator. In 1908 Mr. Roberds shipped Primero and 25 broodmares and colts by train to his new mountain ranch near Hayden, Colorado. Enroute, the train wrecked, killing the young stallion, Primero."

One of the daughters of Primero to survive the trip to Hayden was a roan Appaloosa mare. When mated to Bob H, the great son of Old Fred, this pare produced another roan Appaloosa mare known as "The Blue Mare." It is she who is responsible for Wapiti's classic Appaloosa color and for every ounce of color in such famous relatives of his as Norell's Little Red, Peavy Bimbo, Peavy's Uncle Sam, Ding Bob II, Quadroon (the stallion), Peavy's Cajun Queen and a host of other great horses.

The Blue Mare was purchased from Coke Roberds from another legendary pioneer horse breeder, Marshall Peavy -- then ranching in the Deep Creek country on Colorado's western slope. When crossed with the outstanding Roberds-bred stallion, Sheik P-11, Marshall got yet another in a long line of roan mares and named her Flossie.

Bred to Ding Bob P-269, Peavy's famous home-bred sire, Flossie produced several outstanding daughters including the Appaloosa mare Speck, who was registered with the AQHA and assigned the number P-221.

Speck was bred to the remount Thoroughbred, Song Hit, in 1942 and the following year presented the Peavys with the outstanding Appaloosa mare, Quadroon, also registered as a Quarter Horse. (Joe's note: AQHA records, Wapiti's pedigree from Mr. Jim Wild and pedigrees I have checked show the spelling as Cuadroon for the 1943 brown mare with AQHA registration number 8588.)

Bred to Peavy's outstanding Palomino Quarter Horse, Gold Heels P-1228, Quadroon produced Wapiti.

In a 1964 letter to Jim Wild, Wapiti's owner for most of his life, Marshall Peavy's widow, Mavis, states, "I can assure you he (Wapiti) is no Johnnie-come-lately on breeding and color. He has five strong> generations of it on his dam's side and Gold Heels through Si, and Flossie goes back the same way as Quadroon."

If Wapiti's pedigree contains any opportunity for amazement at all, it should only be that there is so much of it. Foaled in 1955 as he was, Wapiti was the product of more than 60 years of known breeding!

His sire, Gold Heels, was the grand champion stallion at the first Denver National Western Quarter Horse Show. He also won the first Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association Derby. Gold Heels' grandsire, Saladin, was the grand champion stallion at the first Palomino Show held in Denver.

Si, Wapiti's grandsire, was a solid palomino son of the great Flossie and was a full brother to Ding Bob II who was a palomino with full blaze, four high stockings, and a big spotted blanket over his hips.

Ding Bob II was sold during the Great Depression to the Miller 67 Ranch of Big Piney, Wyoming, where he went on to found a great family of horses, putting a bunch of those good roan mares in both registries' early stud books.

Farther back in Gold Heels' pedigree we find the great Quarter mare Fleet P-268, who was the corner stone of the Quentin Semotan family of mares that crossed so well with the Roberds-bred appaloosas in later years.

On both sides of Wapiti's pedigree are liberal infusions of good, solid remount Thoroughbred blood. Song Hit, Ashton, and Labold were all early Rocky Mountain Thoroughbreds who contributed to the gene pool that produced the classic Appaloosa.

Ding Bob - 269, who appears on both sides of Wapiti's pedigree was a son of Marshall Peavy's great palomino race horse, Mary McCue, who he purchased from Si Dawson, the great horse breeder who Wapiti's grandsire is named after.

Desperately wanting a palomino stallion out of Mary McCue, Marshall Peavy was reportedly so disappointed in Ding Bob's "dirty-dun" color (grulla officially) that he named him "Dingle Bob." When registered by Quentin Semotan late in his life, the horse's Quarter Horse name was shortened somewhat -- or so the story goes.

Quadroon, Wapiti's dam, has been accurately portrayed as a mare of good looks and some speed, having been raced by her owner Mary Peavy Stees, the daughter of Marshall and Mavis (sounds like more bloodlines doesn't it?).

What has been inaccurately reported is that Wapiti was "given to the Peavys' daughter, Mary Stees, because of his coloration." This was not true.

After Marshall Peavy's death in 1944 in a tragic riding accident, Mavis Peavy and her two young daughters, Mary and Frances (Biddy), continued to operate a large stock cow and horse ranch. Their horse breeding programs were run almost identically even after the girls grew up and got married, and mares were swapped or given freely between the three -- not because they were bad but because they were good.

Mary Stees owned Quadroon when the mare went to Mavis' to be bred to Gold Heels, and Wapiti was hers from the day he was born.

Mavis kept him until he was a two-year-old simply because all the Peavy horses were "range raised" -- allowed to grow naturally -- as Mavis likes to put it, until they are two. Wapiti went to Mary's when it was time to work with him.

Wapiti was sold by Mary later that year to Ike Anderson of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Used primarily as a ranch and pack horse for several years, during that time Colorow A., who was the high point two-year-old in the state in 1960 and was the first of a long line of champions sired by the great Peavy stallion.

In September of 1959, Jim Wild of Sarcoxie, Missouri asked fellow breeder Cecil Dobbin of Peyton, Colorado to find a breeding stallion for him for the following spring. Cecil located and purchased Wapiti and delivered him to Wild on January 1, 1960. Wapiti would spend the rest of his life on Wild's Flying W Ranch, and indeed, from that point on the man and the horse became one.

Wapiti's first national champion offspring was the 1960 filly, Wa-Loni, who was named national champion yearling filly and best individual under two years of age.

Wapiti Jr., a 1962 son out of the Quarter mare Kadoka, served in many ways to redefine the way people perceived the Appaloosa show horse. A huge yearling, he was shown with success throughout the Southwest by Jim. After being purchased by T.J. Bryant's Boots and Saddle Ranch of Sealy, Texas, he dominated the Texas scene for several years. The highlight of his show career was of course being named national grand champion stallion at the 1966 Syracuse, New York National. At the same show, the Flying W-bred son of Wapiti, Wapiti's Double Crown, was the grand champion gelding and Wapiti came home with the national champion get of sire award.

In 1968, the national champion weanling stallion was his son, Skip Wapiti. Wa Jo Re, a 1968 son of Wapiti and the great Joker B daughter, Joker's Miss Reed, won the 1969 National at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was named junior champion stallion.

Ha-Dar-Honey, a 1969 model by Wapiti, and no relation to his famous stablemate Honey Toe, won back to back Nationals at Huron, South Dakota in 1970 and Las Vegas, Nevada in 1971.

My Precious, Dave and Carol Graetz' beautiful daughter of Wapiti and Plaudy Roberds, was named the first world champion yearling in 1974.

In 1975 and 1976, the classically colored Wapiti daughter, Melody Of Love, won back to back world championships and, with her mother the Wapiti great-granddaughter, Love Affair, established Laura Richardson of Zackery, Louisiana as one of the premier small breeders in the history of the breed.

Also in 1975, the 1963 Wapiti son, Wapiti's Little Man, was the national champion working hunter.

In 1974, Wapiti won the Canadian national champion get of sire award; his Canadian national champions include Wapiti Senor, Wapiti's Warrior and We Co Sue.

Other great daughters include the halter mares Wa-Tusi, Miss Waggoner, Wa-Lana, Wapiti's Third Charm, Wapiti's Hi Regards, Wapiti's Mist, Wapiti's WWF (Worth Waiting For) and Angel Wings.

In the racing category, his greatest progeny would probably have to be Wapiti's Miss Hoop.

Wapiti II, Wap Deck, Wa Joe Deck, Mr. Wapiti Deck and Wapiti's Little S all rank high as some of his better known breeding sons.

A full sister to My Precious, H.P. Miss Wapiti Roberds has been a great producer of the breed with her best known son being national and world champion Cowboy Cadillac.

The list goes on and on.

Yet the Wapitis were never mass-produced. That is not to say they weren't promoted, because Jim Wild was one of the foremost promoters of his horses during the '60s.

His regular advertisements of Wapiti and Coke Roberds (the horse) in the Western Horseman were classics in content and eye-appeal. The ads proved so popular and attracted so many newcomers to the breed that Jim finally requested, received and dispersed countless pieces of Appaloosa Horse Club promotional material to people who saw his ads and wanted to know more about this breed of horse.

Despite all this interest, Jim never stood Wapiti to a wide open book. Outside mares were limited to ten a year and the sky would fall before that number would be raised.

Jim Wild's philosophy was quite simple. Being the fifth generation to be involved in the Wild Flower Nursery which currently ships peonies to all 50 states and 39 foreign countries, Jim was in the Appaloosa business solely for his personal enjoyment.

His association with Wapiti blossomed at a very early stage into a mutual admiration society. Anyone who has ever seen Jim Wild and Wapiti together realized that the two enjoyed a very special relationship.

Through the years Wild put the best mares that he could find in Wapiti's broodmare band. Daughters of Joker B., Bright Eyes Brother, Peavy Bimbo, Star Duster, Ding Bob II, Top Deck and Two Eyed Jack were just some of the mares that were in the big bay horse's entourage.

It was never Jim Wild's intent to put a Wapiti on every street corner and, in retrospect, that philosophy probably contributed greatly to the horse's overwhelming popularity.

Wapiti died on July 2, 1979, yet his presence is felt in every corner of the Flying W Ranch to this day. To hear Jim talk about him, you half expect the horse to come galloping up from his shed in his private paddock and stick his head into his breeding halter the way he did 17 years ago. To be sure, the breeding halter is still there, hanging on the same peg beneath the huge mural of him in Jim's office.

The eight remaining Wapiti daughters at the Flying W still give birth to those large Wapiti foals that people couldn't believe when Stanley Lewis led them for Jim at the Springfield National 25 years ago.

But Wapiti is gone. He was never the mystery horse or genetic freak that he was made out to be. He was a great Appaloosa from a long line of great Appaloosas -- outstanding producers every one.

He lived up to his heritage.

{This article, by Frank Holmes, was originally published in the Appaloosa Journal, June 1987, Vol 42, No. 6, "Builders of the Breed Wapiti: The Mystery Horse That Wasn't" and is used here by permission.}

Copyright © 1987 Appaloosa Horse Club. All rights reserved.

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Some of Wapiti's descendents

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