Appalachian Horse Oral History Project

Date

2016-2019

Description

The important place that Mountain Horses hold in Kentucky equine history cannot be underestimated. Before the advent of a dominant and rich horse racing culture, which began in earnest in the United States after the American Stud Book began keeping records in the 1860s, horses were vital to American life. From sprawling urban areas to the hills and mountains of Appalachia and the West, horses were a central component in the American experience. Buggies, plows and other farm related technologies all depended on horse power. The Appalachian Horse Oral History Project (AHOHP) investigates the historical and contemporary meaning of the mountain horse by interviewing an extended list of horse advocates, breeders and supporting persons that are part of the mountain horse industry and culture. The AHOHP includes persons from all three of the major mountain horse breed registries: Rocky Mountain Horse Association, Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association and the Mountain Pleasure Association. The collection of these histories and available transcripts were funded by the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

Subject

Horses

Title

Appalachian Horse Oral History Project

Collection Items

John Fore comments on showing Rocky Mountain Horses, governance in the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, and the local horse community. Fore also details the pride he feels when he considers his time raising Rocky Mountain Horses on his family farm, which is just two miles from where the breed began. In addition, Fore also comments on the…

Joan Cole discusses the behaviors, temperament and up keep of Rocky Mountain Horses, and, to a lesser extent, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. Cole also comments on the historical demographics of Rocky Mountain Horse owners.

Robert Lawson, a horse trainer from Paris KY, discusses Rocky Mountain Horses, the show circuit, and some of the challenges that the horses and show men and women face. He also comments on his career as a horse trainer, and the resulting personal and professional changes that he has experienced since he began working with Rocky Mountain Horses.…

Robin Little, President of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association, discusses the differences between Rocky Mountain and Mountain Pleasure Horses, and the horse culture that she is proud to have grown up around. Little also comments on her family's 3rd generation horse breeding program, the importance of equine education, the drill team she…

Jeff Lainhart shares his experiences as a Rocky Mountain Horse breeder, advocate, and recognized examiner. He concludes, amongst many other points, that he strives to keep the breed as close to its original standards by only breeding his horses with the oldest known bloodlines. Lainhart also shares his view that horses should be treated as…

Description
Mark and Cheryl Martin discuss their deep connection with Appalachia and the integral role that Mountain Horses have played in the region through time. They also comment on natural horsemanship training techniques and the therapeutic benefits of horses for military veterans and the handicapped.

Joan Cole discusses her horse training philosophy and past friendships with both Sam Tuttle and Fonzie Graham. Cole also comments on her horse breeding program, her longtime breeding stallion Star Dust Mountain, and her decision to reduce her herd in anticipation of retirement. Cole has contributed to the international trade of Rocky Mountain…

Jeff Miller of Great Horse Stables in Bowling Green KY, and Jane Gean of Dream Catcher Enterprises in Lexington KY, discuss their memories of Rocky Mountain Horses and the horse loving lifestyle that they fell in love with once moving to the Appalachian region. In particular, Miller and Gean share their stories of traveling the backroads of Eastern…

Doug Pugh shares his extensive memories of horses, including some horse show experiences, and the important role that horses have played in the community through time, which have included, amongst many things, Horse Show fundraising benefits for the community. Pugh also comments extensively on the importance of preserving breeding histories, the…

Rea Swan discusses the early years of the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, its original goals and aspirations, and the changes the association has experienced through time, which include, but are not limited to, horse conformation practices and technological changes. Swan also shares stories from her lifetime of memories with Rock Mountain Horses…

Clay Mansfield, a farrier by trade, discusses his extensive experiences with the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. Mansfield also comments on his family connections to the breed, which stretches back in time to his great, great, great Grandfather H. B. Hawkins.

Lyngle Lawson discusses the Rocky Mountain Horses she has owned and the ways in which her love and appreciation for the breed has changed through time. Lawson also comments on the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, its broad scope, and the growing domestic and international popularity of the breed, and, more generally, Mountain Horses.

Langley Franklin discusses his experiences with Mountain Horses, and his founding and organizing of the Mountain Horse Celebration. The MHC aims to highlight and celebrate the many commonalities between the various Mountain Horse "breeds", rather than focus on their perceived differences.

Larry and Noemi LeBlanc discuss their love for horses, their early involvement with various horse breeds and the eventual development of their Rocky Mountain Horse breeding program. The LeBlanc's' also comment on the modern versatility of the breed, the growing international popularity of Rocky Mountain Horses and the future of both the breed and…

Valerie Kleinheitz discusses her love for Mountain Horses and the work that goes into the associations that represent them. In particular, she details her volunteer work with the Kentucky Mountain Horse Association, and her role on the board of the United Mountain Horse Association. Kleinheitz also provides keen insights into the challenges of…

Ronnie Little and James Brooks share their memories of raising and training Mountain Pleasure Horses. Little and Brooks also comment on the important role that Little's father, R.T. Little, played in the development of the Mountain Pleasure bloodlines. R.T. Little owned and operated a general store in Emberton KY, where he traded with the locals…

Dr. Judy Brummer, acting President of the Rock Mountain Horse Association, discusses her experiences with horses. Dr. Brummer provides excellent details on Mountain Horses while sharing her thoughts on both the historical aspects and future of the Rocky Mountain Horse. Dr. Brummer also comments on the ways that her Champion horse, Lady, has changed…

H.T. and Wilda Derickson share a lifetime of stories about gaited horses. In the interview, Mr. Derickson recalls memories and shares stories about the horses, which he trained and rode before any modern organizations were formed to preserve bloodlines. Mr. Derickson comments extensively on the Mountain Horse temperament and horse-human…

Jane Collins discusses her early involvement with the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. Collins details her thoughts on and experiences with the breed, as well as some of the challenges that the RMHA has faced through time, such as management issues and changing show and judging dynamics.

The Wendell and Sue Wells and Jason Slone discuss the foundation stock of Mountain Horses that can be found in Eastern Kentucky. They comment extensively on the "Decoy/ South Fork Herd" of Mountain Horses and the families that cultivated and developed certain Mountain Horse bloodlines.

Dave Stefanic provides explanation and the history behind the Rocky Mountain Horse Association and the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association. Stefanic shares stories about his early beginnings with the Kentucky Mountain Horse. For much of the interview, Stefanic shares his stories of traveling to Eastern Kentucky to select the mares and…

Latasha Ross and Scotty Moore discuss their involvement with Rocky Mountain Horses and their futures plans to remain in the business of training, stabling and managing Mountain Horse breeds. Ross and Moore share their thoughts on the industry and their future plans of becoming professional trainers, stable owners, and managers in the equine…

Theah and Mike Hall have raised, trained and showed Rocky Mountain Horses for nearly a decade. In this interview, the Halls discuss the breed, its gait and behaviors, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, and their training/stabling facilities at Hatcher's Creek Ranch near Stanton, KY.

The Taylors discuss their more than thirty plus years of showing Mountain Horses. They also contrast the Rocky Mountain Horse and the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Associations.

Vernon Stamper discusses his lifetime of experiences with Mountain Horses, beginning with his childhood and ending in present day. Stamper is a well respected farmer and horseman whose storytelling and memories shed light on the role that Mountain Horses have played in the lives of Kentuckians. Stamper's account of his family history reveals a…

Cindy Greene Clevenger always loved horses but she came to own them later in life. A true Mountain Horse enthusiast, she discusses her views and thoughts on where the best examples of Mountain Horses can be located. Clevenger concludes that there are many unregistered Mountain Horses of the finest stock up in the hollers and backroads of Eastern…

Lou Ellen Johnson discusses her late start of breeding horses, at age 50, and bringing the Rocky Mountain horse to the western side of the state. Johnson also tells about a riding accident she had and how it taught her to be more mindful when training horses. Johnson claims that she trains her horses in socialization before selling them to riding…

Dallas O’Neill Lawrence and Reisha Mills discuss how being involved in horse therapy has allowed them to get close to the mountain horses of Kentucky. Both of them accredit this to the easy temperament and natural, smooth gait of the mountain horse. Mills talks about how horses are just about as dynamic as humans are and that there are different…

Peg Edwards’ first memory of horses was when she was just two years old. However, her first interaction with rocky Mountain horses occurred when she saw Rea Swan on a Rocky Mountain horse on the “Kentucky Salt River” magazine. Edwards has been using Rocky Mountain horses for therapy riding and tells a few stories about her work. Edwards also…

Mary and Robert, siblings from Taylorsville, discuss their time with Rocky Mountain horses. Mary had taken the family farm and Robert moved back to the area in 2009 to help with the farm. Mary talks about showing Rocky Mountain Horses and how they moved to doing trail rides on the farm. She also tells the history of the breed and the importance of…

Rea Swan, founder of the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, opens with her time in the saddle club. During this time Swan saw her first Rocky Mountain Horse and owning one became her ultimate goal. Swan goes on to talk about the process of founding the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. She also discusses the changes the show circuit has undergone…

Langstone Harvey and Tanner Deweese are two younger riders of the Rocky Mountain Horse. They both discuss how trail riding brings strong bonds to the community and helps fund the small towns of these horses. Harvey discusses the changes in the acceptance of horses into the breed standards and how that still needs work within some associations. She…

David May starts his interview by talking about how his great grandfather would ride mountain horses during his time as sheriff. He also discusses how the mountain horse was, and is still, an easy keeper and how Appalachia would not have been able to survive without these horses. The horses were used for everything and now they have changed into…

Lowell May starts by telling about how he used to plow hillsides with mountain horses and the work that went along with working the land. He also discusses his time showing buggy horses and trail horses. May also comments on rides in weddings and parades and he details how mountain horses deal with crowds. May also tells a story about how he hauled…

Jeff Lainhart discusses the evolution of training methods that are used to “start” horses. He tells stories about dismounting Rocky Mountain Horses and the horse staying right were you left it, no matter how long you leave it. This is very much unlike other horse breeds. Lainhart also tells stories that he has heard about Sam Tuttle. He ultimately…

Nancy Lainhart got involved with Rocky Mountain horses after her marriage to Eugene Lainhart. She continued to breed and raise horses after Eugene’s death. She tells of the certification process with the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, then led by Rea Swan. Lainhart tells stories about riding her horses and camping in the Smokies with her…

This interview with Dave Stefanic is a follow up to his 2016 interview. Stefanic expands on the history of the Mountain Horse, its role in the region, and the Kentucky Saddle Horse. He provides memories and recollects on the early days of the Rocky Mountain Horse Association and the Kentucky Mountain Horse Association. He details the early days of…

This interview with Cindy Clevenger is a follow up interview to her 2016 oral history. She (and Dave Stefanic) discuss more of the history of the Kentucky "Saddle Hoss", a horse term that commonly referred to Kentucky Riding Horses. She also comments on her research on the role that Saddle Horses played when settling the region. Her research…

David Shewmaker shares his first introduction and love for the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. AS highly regarded breeder of Rockies, he shares what he believes to be the prize qualities of the breed: disposition and a smooth gait. He also shares his insights into some of the foundation stallions, but as a breeder acknowledges that fact that a quality…

Margaret Layton provides a compelling history of the Kentucky Saddle Horse of yesteryear and how these horses became the foundation of the American Saddle, Tennessee Walking, Rocky Mountain and Mountain Pleasure Horses. She also shares her memories of the early formation of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association and the role that she and her late…

Dr. Gus Cothran details his genetic research on mountain horses in this interview. Dr. Cothran comments extensively on his interactions with the mountain horse related associations and the development of the parentage and later genetic mapping programs that established a genetic narrative for the mountain horses of Eastern Kentucky and the…

Patti Smotherland discusses growing up with horses in Eastern Kentucky. Her father, Wendal Tracy Johnson was a well known horse trader and breeder who eventually became a prominent figure in the Rocky Mountain Horse community. She details her early interactions and love for the horses that were, in many ways, an extension of her family.

Phyllis and David McGuire share their stories and the knowledge they gained in developing the Rocky Mountain Horse breeding program they began in the early 1990s. Both speak passionately about the persons and old-timers who shared ideas, methods, and perspectives that they integrated into their program. They stress the fact that for people "back…

Brenda and Mike Creech provide a beautiful account of how much the mountain horses mean to her and her family. Brenda an in-depth discussion over the conformation and disposition qualities of the Rocky Mountain Horses that she and her husband breed. Brenda also comments on the sense of pride that she and her horses both display when in the show…

This interview with Ronnie and Robin Little is a follow-up interview to their 2016 interviews (see 2016 OH 007 & 2016 OH 020 for additional discussions over the development of Mountain Pleasure Horse breed). In this history, many of the same themes of historical importance of the mountain horse are discussed. Robin Little reinforces the fact that…

Dr. Ron Hatcher and his wife, Elsie discuss their long history with Rocky Mountain horses. Originally residents of Clay County, the Hatchers relocated to the Bowling Green area when Dr. Hatcher began practicing medicine. In their interview, the Hatchers discuss their introduction to the Rocky Mountain Horse breed and the subsequent breeding program…

Emerson Williams shares his perspective on training Rocky Mountain Horses. Due to the horses' willingness and temperament, Williams concludes that much of the "starting" of the mountain horse can be achieved in thirty days. Williams also provides sound advice to the new gaited horse owner or person who is seeking to purchase a mountain horse; come…

In this followup interview with Vernon Stamper, many of the old mountain sayings about mountain horse are shared. Through his artful use of storytelling, Stamper also shares addiitonal knowledge and perspective on training mountain horses.

Dr. Robert Coleman discusses the history of the mountain horse and its origins in the Narragansett Pacer bloodlines and earlier Spanish horses that were brought into North America. Dr. Coleman also shares background on the importance of the Black Squirrel (saddlebred) influence on the development of a particular "flashy" line of horse that was…

Sue Wells, trainer and owner of Prince Albert Stables near Presontsburg KY, shares many stories about renowned mountain horse breeders and trainers J.B Smith and Sam Clemmons. She comments on her relationship with the Old Timers, the knowldege they shared, and the skills and techniques she has picked up during her more than 30 years as a horse…
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