Giovanni 370291, picture taken when the horse was 29 years old in 1939. At the reins is Tom Brown of Columbia, Tennessee who then owned Giovanni. Mr. Brown said he collected the breeding fees on 26 colts after the 1939 season.
from "The Tennessee Walking Horse"
Reprinted in Voice Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 1
EDITOR'S NOTE: William J. McGill was once called "Biographer of the Century" for the Tennessee Walking Horse. He and his brother, A.B. McGill, were for many years active in the Robinson-McGill Mills in Shelbyville. He was the first chairman of the Blue Ribbon Yearbook, and he wrote many articles for the old Tennessee Walking Horse Magazine published by Jimmy Joe Murray. The following is one of those articles. Mr. McGill died in 1949.
by W.J. McGill
When Editor Lee of "The Tennessee Walking Horse" asked for another article on prominent sires of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed and GIOVANNI 370291 was suggested, frankly I admit, I wasn't so enthusiastic over it as we usually are on approaching Christmas holidays. But when I conferred with some of our leading prominent horsemen, three owners of GIOVANNI, Henry Davis, Steve Hill and Tom Brown, and then Fred Walker, Winston Wiser and others who had experience in training and showing his offspring; well these top horsemen and trainers soon had me thinking that GIOVANNI was a superior horse and had made a great contribution to our Tennessee Walkers though he had originated from the saddle or gaited horses.
When I asked Henry Davis why he purchased GIOVANNI in the long ago, he readily responded that in his training days and whenb he was showing Tennessee Walking Horses, he noted the celebrated gaited stallion, McDONALD'S CHIEF, and his offspring would frequently leave the arena in the gaited class in an amble and Walking Horse stride. So when he read in the old "Farmer's Home Journal" of this grandson, GIOVANNI, being offered for sale, he went with a group of our horsemen, Albert Dement, Joe Crawford, Jim Miller, Hall Jones, Walter Woods and ohters, to Kentucky and Henry bought GIOVANNI; the others filling in a car load of Kentucky horses. When I remembered that I had had a gelding and a mare with McDONALD'S CHIEF bloodline and how well they could walk regardless of their five-gaited breeding, I readily concluded that Henry Davis was a wise selector of breeding stallions.
He bought GIOVANNI 370291 in the spring of 1914 from John Buster of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He had been bred by William A. Wade at Versailles, Ky. GIOVANNI was sired by DANDY JIM, ASR 1531, one of the most beautiful stallions and he was sired by the famous McDONALD'S CHIEF. THE dam of GIOVANNI was FRANCESCA, ASR 6940. GIOVANNI'S saddle horse or gaited breeding was perfect and he possessed a great deal of style and stamina.While his tail was never set, no horse surpassed him in style. He was also upheaded, a beautiful head, neck and ears, large expressive eyes, a perfect shoulder, but some would say that his back had one vertebra too many; but as his back was short the bad coupling caused this appearance. His color wand markings were good, a small star and white coronets, excellent mane and tail.
GIOVANNI was foaled in June, 1910, and was put to death i May, 1940, having sired 26 colts at the age of 29. He was noted for his stamina, style and good qualities. And records show that GIOVANNI continued a productive sire a few years longer than most of our horses. He did not die a natural death at the age of 30, but was thought to be no longer serviceable and so he was put to death. In all this he emphasizes his great endurance and stamina, and those qualities are recognized by his bloodlines through two to four generations.
GIOVANNI'S first season was made in the Middle Tennessee area IN 1914 and 55 mares were brought to his court. Forty-seven of them produced colts, however, his owner, Henry Davis, recognized that many of these mares came to GIOVANNI's court on account of the friendship to the owner and not on account of the admiration to the sire. In a few years, Henry Davis noted that many of the buyers that came to his barn in search of good Tennessee Walking Horses would specify some GIOVANNI blood, and some of his breeders have stated that they preferred the second generation of his colts rather than the first; however, I am not sure that the records will sustain this idea because many horses sired by him made enviable careers and show records. There are so many of these that I hesitate to direct your attention to them for fear of leaving off some important ones, but thinking it would be justly due the old sire, I will enumerate some that come to mind.
SPIDER, that great Walking Horse owned and ridden by Henry Davis and successfully shown by him two years, will not soon be forgotten by the patrons of the numerous fairs where he was shown. SPIDER was a large horse, sired by GIOVANNI, his dam the celebrated mare, DUTCH, by old BLACK ALLEN that was successfully shown by Joe Crawford. joe continues to think she is the greatest Walking mare the Middle Tennessee country has ever produced. While she was a successful breeder, producing several good colts including LITTLE DUTCH and others, it is usually recognized that SPIDER, by GIOVANNI, was her best colt.
After two years of successful showing by Henry Davis and winning the championship at the Tennessee state Fair in 1922, SPIDER was sold at a large price to Lee wilson of Wilson, Arkansas, and he rode him for a number of years on his large plantation. SPIDER was about 16 hands high, weighed 1230 pounds, Black when not sunburned, good conformation, style, long stride, Henry could walk SPIDER to Shelbyville, 10 miles, from Wartrace, in an hour and return the same way. Hill Walker bred SPIDER from old DUTCH, sired by ALLAN F-1, before she was sold to Joe Crawford.
Another of our good horsemen, the noted Joe Crawford, of the gaited horse fame, is also a booster for GIOVANNI. Joe gives credit to GIOVANNI for teaching him to ride gaited horses and further states that GIOVANNI and ROE'S CHIEF both saddlebred horses, are the only stallions that he has ever known that would sire Tennessee walking Horses, although it was necessary to mate them with our Walking mares in order to get Walking colts. Each of these stallions sired some good Tennessee Walking Horses when mated with the right Walking mares.
Likely the GIOVANNI colt with the greatest show record was JONES' SIR MACALVANNI 350054. MACALVANNI was named by Henry Davis when owned by Charles Kempkau and he had an unheard of record of 113 blue ribbons in 115 shows. MACALVANNI'S dam was WALKERS LIETHA 360090, A HUNTER'S ALLEN F-10 mare. These famous HUNTER'S ALLEN F-10 mares produced well with GIOVANNI as you will note from other records. SIR MACALVANNI was burned in the Clyde Westbrook Mississippi fire. He was fully recognized as one of the greatest show horses of the age.
GIOVANNI sired a trio-three full sisters - from the great Z.R. Pickens' mare, MARY ALLEN 360101, and she was by HUNTER'S ALLEN. The first, foaled in 1929, MARGARET SUE 350064, a roan mare with white markings and a great show mare was sold by Henry Davis to a California buyer. The second, foaled 1931, WALKING DREAM 360100, a sorrel mare with white stockings, was sold to Hayne's Haven by Z.R. Pickens, Jr., their breeder. The third, a red sorrel mare with beautiful white markings shown by our breeder, Z.R. Pickens, Jr., was SPRINGTIME 350147, foaled in 1933, a winner at the Tennessee State Fair and now owned by Dr. George Garrett of Shreveport, Louisiana. These three full sisters, richly colored and marked and with perfect conformation, are a credit to the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.
Another fine GIOVANNI mare that gave good account of herself was JUNE KNIGHT 350036, owned by Charles Kempkau, a black mare bred by the late Albert Dement from SNIP 350038. SNIP's dam was the renowned MERRY LEGS F-4, sired by old ROAN ALLEN F-38. SNIP was sired by GREY LAD, by BRAMBLETT F-9, a great horse of the GREY JOHN breeding. He was also in the stud for Henry Davis in 1926 and 1927 and sired some good Walkers.
After Henry sold GIOVANNI, his next horse in 1916 was RED ALLEN, a good breeder for him for a year or two, but in 1917, Davis began with MITCH F-5 and continued with him five years. He, too, was a great breeder, the sire of MAJOR ALLEN and old BUD and others that are recognized as good breeders. Henry usually had a good stallion or two that would produce Walkers and he knew good ones, as demonstrated in his selecting GIOVANNI against the judgement of some of our best horsemen.
The former good horseman, the late Jim Miller, had a sorrel GIOVANNI horse that was a Tennessee State Fair champion that he showed as a four-to six-year-old from 1923 to 1925. He and a sister were sold to Pennsylvania parties and they continued good show careers. BRUCE FISHER was another of GIOVANNI colts that as a five-year-old in Kentucky was a good winner. Winston Wiser came into the arena about that time and as a13- and 14-year-old, he showed DIMPLES by GIOVANNI. As a two-year-old, Winston won with her at the old Shelbyville fair and then DIMPLES was a grand champion at Wartrace, an unusual record as a two-year-old. He sold her for $350, a top price in those days.
Another horse that Wiser likes to reflect on was DAN, a sorrel horse that he showed about 1924. His dam was WISER'S MINNIE, by old BLACK ALLAN. This BLACK ALLAN mare had an enviable show record, and also was WISER'S DIMPLES, the dam of MERRY GO BOY. Here again Wiser succeeds with an offspring of GIOVANNI. Winston says he could win easily with DIMPLES now, just as he could with old DAN.
While DAN and WISER'S DIMPLES were from WISER'S MINNIE, by ALLAN F-1 and both sired by GIOVANNI, MERRY GO BOY was a second generation or a grandson of GIOVANNI from WISER'S DIMPLES. Needless to say, the above horses enthused and helped to make the good showman, Winston Wiser, and while the other second generation from GIOVANNI, there is none that has surpassed the twice grand champion, MERRY GO BOY. But it all demonstrates that the blood of GIOVANNI carries on.
GIOVANNI was about 15.1 hands, approximately 1100 pounds, a good driving and riding horse with much endurance and a fair show horse. He was very kind and gentle, and while old BLACK ALLAN gave stamina, endurance and quality to our present day Walkers, this was all further increased by GIOVANNI. He too, contributed stamina and qualities. GIOVANNI made his first season here in 1914 at Henry Davis' barn at Wartrace and was sold to John S. Davis, Jr., who in turn sold him to R.T. Walker and Walker made seasons with him continuously from 191 through 1930. Davis bought the horse again, making the seasons of 1931 and 1932 and sold him to that good horseman, Steve Hill, in the spring of 1933. Steve kept him two or three seasons, selling to Clyde Westbrooks in Mississippi, and he sold him to Tom Brown at Columbia, Tennessee when GIOVANNI was 29 years old, for $250. Early the next spring, Brown sold him back to Westbrooks for $300, and he lived until May, 1940, when he no longer seemed serviceable and was put to death. However, GIOVANNI sired 26 colts when he was 29 years old, a longer record in the stud than most any of our stallions.
All the owners and users of GIOVANNI refer to him as a satisfactory using horse, no bad habits. He was always kind and a most satisfactory mannered horse. Two or three of Bob Walker's children used him for a school horse. I have been unable to find anyone who knew him or his descendants that would dare criticize him. His colts and grand-colts were always in demand and usually sold to out-of-state buyers. They soon learned that the GIOVANNI blood was desirable and they often inquired of Henry Davis if he could furnish them with horses that traced to him.
If GIOVANNI were living today and near human as most of those well acquainted with him thought him to be, I would take off my hat to him and apologize for not thinking he was the peer of any sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. I have never traced a horse that has persistently shown a better record and stand than GIOVANNI.