Roan Allen F-38 and J.R. Brantley
*Editor's Note: Reprinted from the April, 1945 Tennessee Walking Horse Magazine
by J.R. Brantley
in collaboration with J.J. Murray and Rachel Hosey
Roan horse; both hind stockings, fore socks, broad strip; foaled May 23, 1906, died August, 1930; bred and owned by J.R. Brantley, Manchester, Tennessee
SIRE: Allan F-1, by Allandorf, by Onward by George Wilkes F-54; Onward's dam Dolly, by Mambrino Chief; Dolly's dam by Potomac; Allandorf's dam Alma Mater, by Mambrino Patchen by Mambrino Chief; Mambrino Chief's dam Lady Thorne; Alma Mater's dam Estella, by Imported Australian; Allan F-1's dam, Maggie Marshall, by Bradford's Telegraph, by Black Hawk, by Sherman Morgan.
DAM: Gertrude, by Jacob's Royal Denmark, by Artist, by King William, by Washington Denmark; Artist's dam, Lucy, by Brinkers Drennon; King William's dam, Queen, by Balled Stockings; Gertrude's dam Ball II, by Bullet (great grandson of Gifford Morgan); Ball II's dam, Ball by Earnheart's Brook's F-25, by Brooks, F-24, by Brown Pilot by Pacing Pilot (Canadian Pacer), Dam of Earnheart's Brooks F-25, is said to be by McMeen's Traveler. In Bedford and Marshall Counties, Tennessee. Earnheart's Brooks F-25 contributed as many natural-gaited walking horses in his day as any stallion. Black Hawk (5) is of strong Narragansett blood through his pacer dam and shows in nearly all of the best saddle horses of today. A progenitor of noted harness and saddle horses.
Allandorf was the same acme of fashionable harness breeding of his day. Mambrino Patchen, a proven sire producing brood mares, sire of Mambrino King, said to be the most handsome harness stallion that ever lived, favorable compared with Montrose (106). In addition, the blood of Hambletonian (10) and Henry Clay is infused into the blood of Allan F-1.
Bullet F-65, the sire of the second dam produced many great show horses, including Frank Bullet that won at the Tennessee State Fair.
The above pedigree blends a notable list in standard bred gaited and walking horses.
EDITOR'S NOTE: James R. Brantley is an octogenarian, having reached his eight-third birthday on January 27, 1945. He was the breeder and developer of Roan Allen F-38, the foundation sire presented in the accompanying article. Mr. Brantley reads two daily papers, several magazines and local county papers. His son, French, now County Court Clerk of Coffee County and president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' Association of America, took part in all discussions with his father and everyone enjoyed the many memories Mr. Brantley had of Roan Allen.
It has always been my first rule in appraising horses to know the individual as a colt if possible. In the case of Roan Allen, no finer colt could be painted by the most imaginative artist. As he was as a colt, so he was as a mature horse; possessing rare quality in conformation, a very long and finely proportioned neck, sloping shoulders, perfect head, quick sharp ears, short back, very heavy flaxen mane, water-sprout flaxen tail, rear stockings, fore socks, and broad blaze face, and carried his head high.
My first memory of him was when he was only a few hours old, and like all colts, gazing into a world truly new. He was constantly looking in every direction, ears erect, with playful glee, around his dam, Gertrude. Frankly, the looks and pride of this little fellow had impressed me very much, and I was indeed happy with his general appearance, and tried to visualize him as a horse. My real thrill came as he gamboled around his mother, showing a burst of speed, with a long over-reach, nodding head with coltish legs beating in perfect form a true running walk. This is why I repeat again, "as he was as a colt, so he was as a mature horse."
The development of Roan Allen was the same as our other colts, including young mules. He had no special attention, and he ran in pasture with other horses until he was coming two years old. Many of my friends, and some of my relatives, had little confidence in this long-legged colt's ever making a great stallion. As a yearling, and up until he was past three years of age, his legs were apparently long, but how he could use them! He had as perfect gaits as any Tennessee Walking Horse could do then, and, I believe, now or in the years to come.
It is now among the greatest pleasures I possess from the storehouse o f memory to recall Roan Allen standing, or in action, and to compare him with the best champions of today. I trust the readers of THE TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE will pardon my pride in saying that not one of those champions could outclass him today. His sons, daughters and grandchildren have produced almost 100 per cent of the acknowledged champions, and they, in turn, have brought the highest prices for stalliions, mares, geldings brood mares and young things ever recorded in the annals of our breed. Who would not feel very proud of having been the breeder and owner of such a sire when his foals, owned by others who state with genuine pride that this horse, mare or stallion is by a son or grandson, or out of a mare by Roan Allen?
Nothing is of more importance, of course, than the blood and performance of the sire and dam. The most colossal mistake in all my years of breeding horses was made the day I sold Allan F-1 to my good friend, Albert M. Dement, of Wartrace, Tennessee. Today, these two stallions are a father-and-son combination that will live on after I have answered the last roll call, to render their strong influence, to produce the best light horse in the world for pleasure or utility.
The story of Allan F-1, written by my good friend, W.J. McGill, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, in Volume I, of this publication, was most interesting to me, as he is, of course, the sire of Roan Allen. There is little that I could add to that story except to say that Allan F-1 was as easy-gaited a horse as any one ever rode. I rode him myself, and so did my children and many neighbors. No stallion ever lived who had a better disposition. His gaits in the trot, pace, flat or running walk were perfect. He had a particular gliding gait under saddle truly equal to the family rocking chair. He had perfect style, a very high head, a natural, high tail, quick, very fine hair, good flat bone and ample foot. Indeed, anyone today would have to appraise him as a great horse, which he was.
I have always contended, and still believe, that any great breeding stallion was backed through several generations with outstanding dams that were truly representative of that particular breed. This is doubly true of Roan Allen through Allan F-1, his sire, and Gertrude, the dam of Roan Allen. Gertrude was a red roan, four stockings, bald face, 15 and a half hands, 1,100 lbs. Gertrude was the best flat-foot walker I ever saw. She was fine, and the kind of mare you would select to be the dam of a great horse. I bred Gertrude and also her dam, Ball II, which was one of the best walking mares ever in Coffee County. Ball, her dam, roan with white markings, was also truly a great walking mare, very fast, with style, and never produced a foal that was not a natural walker.
Thus, through inheritance, Roan Allan came by his greatness in having a notable sire and through a list of dams that were all a credit to the breed.
At three years of age, Roan Allen was 15-3 hands high. This was the exact size I liked, and after I measured him, the standard was never placed on him again to my knowledge. However, I never found fault with his size, conformation or disposition, and his good bloodlines impress me more today than they did when he died in August, 1930.
As a three-year-old, he served five mares, and all foaled to the service. In this group was a great show mare, owned by John Stevens, a sorrel mare, Mr. Stevens later bred many mares to Roan Allen, and produced many of the greatest walking horses of the time. After Roan Allen's colts began to develop and the general public realized he was a great sire, mares came from all over the adjoining counties to his court. The blood-lines of these mares largely included Hal, Brooks, Bullet, Stonewall and Donald breeding. These include almost all the dams of the early foals of Roan Allen.
My friend, Ed Ward, of Flat Creek, Bedford County, Tennessee, was among the first to apreciate the breeding ability of Roan Allen, and bred his great show mare, Crickett to him for several years, and produced truly good horses from this mating.
As the get of Roan Allen developed to three-, four-, five-, and six-year-olds, a great many people came to buy them. Many of his best get were sold for plantation horses in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana to large planters.
Allow me to call attention here to a very important fact concerning Roan Allen and his particular kind of style that no other horse ever had, in my estimation. He had something unusual in the easy manner in which he could show all of his gaits. In additiion, his manners were perfect; anyone could handle him with ease.
I should mention Roan Allen's first trainer, as there are many who have claimed that honor. The truth is that I let Charlie Ashley, of Manchester, have him in the summer, and he trained him and brought him back to my farm in February as a four-year-old. Charlie taught him all the walking gaits, and he was indeed a walking horse. Roan Allen could go more gaits, and do them all more correctly, than any horse I have ever heard of, or seen perform. His flat foot walk was strong and fast. He could do the running walk, canter, fox-walk, fox-trot, and also do a perfect square trot in harness. He had a great overstride of from 35 to 40 inches in his running walk and would stay in form, of course. He was as fast then as any of the speediest walkers of this day. Truly, Roan Allen could do seven distinct gaits and was so trained, and he knew the rider's cue for every gait.
Albert M. Dement showed Roan Allen two seasons for me at the county fairs, and he was ridden during this time mostly by Henry Davis, of Wartrace, Tennessee. French Brantley, my son, also showed him at county fairs for three seasons, and he won twice at the Tennessee State Fair against many notable horses. He was defeated one time by Hunter's Allen F-10 at the State Fair. Later on that same season, Arthur Hoyle showed Roan Allen at the Wartrace Fair and Horse Show with three judges awarding the ribbons, and he defeated Hunter's Allen on this occasion.
Joe Crawford bred his famous mare, Dutch, by Allan F-1, to Roan Allen and produced a filly foal, named Little Dutch, which was one of the greatest show mares of all time. Dutch, the dam, was also a great show mare. I have always believed that Little Dutch was one of the greatest walking mares I ever saw.
W.H. Davis would show Roan Allen in the walking horse or "plantation" classes, as they were called then, the combination classes, saddle and buggy, and then in the five-gaited class, where he met some of the greatest horses of the day. He defeated Roe's Chief, then owned by Tom Hayes of Lynchburg, several times, and the good sportsmanship between Tom and Henry often caused Tom to state, "No walking horse has a right to defeat a gaited horse as good as old Chief." Of course, Roan Allen did not defeat him often. However, you could vouch for a good show every time they met in the gaited or fine harness classes.
Some of the famous get of Roan Allen were: Wilson's Allen, who was out of the great mare Birdie Messick, a dapple grey, by Allan F-1; Merry Boy, roan, white markings, out of Merry Legs F-4, by Allan F-1; Brantley's Roan Allen Jr., a light roan, out of a dam by Hal Sumner F-7; Hal allen, sorrel, out of a dam by Hunter's Allen F-10 and his full brother, Sam, chestnut; Hill's Allen, chestnut; Major Bowes, chestnut; Sycamore Farm Allen, black; Dr. allen, roan; Al Stone, bay roan. Roan allen sired more chestnuts or light-colored sorrels than any other color.
The breed was unfortunate in losing Major Bowes at eight or nine years old. He was a solid chestnut horse and he probably would have developed into one of the greatest breeders of the Allan family, a full brother to the great show horse, Harvest Moon.
Wilson's Allen and Merry boy are double-grandsons of Allan F-1. I was never much of a trader, and when I was convinced of the breeding ability of a stallion, I susually owned him up until death, as was the case of Roan Allen.
When Roan Allen was coming six years old, we had a horse show here in Manchester. There was a special prize for the best lady driver and horse in the harness class. My daughter, Carrie, then 16 or 17 years old, showed Roan Allen and won. There was also another class for the best horse and chlld rider, and Clyde Lee Manley, then seven years old and a son of Lee Manley rode Roan Allen and won the class. Roan Allen was also shown in the saddle horse class and won. He could show in more different classes at the best shows in his day, and win more of them, than any horse that ever lived.
Frankly, I always gave him credit for having abundant brains, and I still consider him the smartest horse, with the best disposition, of any horse I have ever known.
If we could recall all the show horses, stallions, mares and geldings, sired by Roan Allen which were exhibited throughout the years in Tennessee and elsewhere. I believe his name would leas all the rest of the Tennessee Walking Horse tribe. It gives me great pleasure as the breeder and owner of Roan Allen, now F-38 in the stud books of the Breeder's Association, to see his offspring mett the best horses in the country and win so many championship ribbons. Within the last year, Wilson's Bullett, by Roan Allen, has been made a Foundation Sire, F-65. Also the dam of Roan Allen, Gertrude, has been placed on foundation, due to her great breeding ability in producing not only Roan Allen, but other great horses. Her number is F-84. This recognition, I feel, is justly merited and as the breeder of Gertrude, I am glad that she has been so recognized.
In closing, let me urge all breeders of The Tennessee Walking Horse to know something of their blood-lines, and their producing ability for our required gaits. Check the performance of sires and dams. That is the only true measure we can have in reproduction. To the many owners of great horses of our breed that carry the blood of Roan Allen, I extend my congratulations and best wishes for having the blood of what I will always believe to be the greatest sire that will ever be recorded by our breed.