Barbara's Amazing Grace
Barbara's Amazing Grace is the product of decades of determined and thoughtful breeding. She is the last of the Kuykendall's legendary TWHBEA Versatility Program (well she was until her full sister, Roxann Genius made a show). Below is her heritage and story...
Barbara's Amazing Grace is out of one of Ann Kuykendall's all time favorite mares, Barbara Ann Genius. Barbara Ann was the product of Ann Kuykendall and Barbara Harlin's (the wife of William Wirt Harlin, Jr. of Harlinsdale Farm) hardwork, for which the mare got her namesakes. Barbara Ann is by the legendary World Champion Pride's Genius (Pride of Midnight HF) and out of a mare named Marauder's Princess Grace. Marauder's Princess Grace was sired and grandsired by the Kuykendall's two best stallions: Good Friday K and his son Friday's Marauder K. Both stallions holding TWHBEA Supreme Versatility Championships. These exceptionally talented stallions won their points for this prestigious honor by competing with other breeds in disciplines such as reining, jumping, barrel racing, poles, model (halter), etc. What was equally as impressive about these stallions is that Ann and Bob Kuykendall trail rode both of these stallions all over the region. They campaigned these horses together, on trail rides and organized rides winning hearts and high praise as they went. Bob estimates he hand bred some 900 mares between the two stallions, and never once had a horse or human injury.
BAG at 5 months old next to her sire's full sister.
While BAG's history begins many decades before hers or ours, we still share a very special one together, one we think you will enjoy...
This story actually begins before BAG was even born. At a trail ride one weekend, a friend of ours and great longtime fan of the Kuykendall's horses, told us that he knew where a large, well boned 5 year old gelding was. While the size and age was perfect for a new mount for my husband, the fact that he wasn't yet started undersaddle gave us pause. "Don't you worry about Ann's horses," said Tom Schmidt.
So after some convincing, I called Ann and was soon set off to her farm. I arrived to a typical Oklahoma ranch style home with a modest barn and 40 acres of grass, trees, and barbed wire (yep). Ann and Bob eagerly invited me in and offered me drinks as we sat at their kitchen table. Bob giddy to have a fresh guest to tell us of all their stories and accomplishments, Ann sat back studying me and the situation. She was pretty quiet as Bob told me all the prestigious and impressive events of their equine history, until Bob said she had 4 TWHBEA Supreme Championships, more than any other person alive. Then Ann had to say something, "I have FIVE, if you are going to brag on me, get it right!" Ann was never mean, but she was direct, to the point and never shied from setting things straight. I chuckled inside, and tried not to show my amusement. Ann took me to the garage on the way to the barn. I was in awe, there wasn't a flat spot in there that wasn't covered in trophies. The walls lined with plaques as well.
When we strolled into the pasture, I was met by 3 of the prettiest black mares I have ever laid eyes on. As well as two formidable bay mares, and a black gelding. Her stallion (Jack) peered over the top of the fence from his pen. While the horses were astonishing to look at, as impressive was the fact that they all walked up and greeted me eagerly and kindly. Ann let them in the barn and they all obediently went to their stalls. She pulled out Senor, the 5 year old black gelding, the last foal they would ever produce. She showed me his groundwork, including being ground tied. I had seen enough, they were all so impressive and kind. I couldn't wait to have a horse from this legendary horse woman's spectacular herd.
I was still leasing pasture at this point, and had to sell one to make room. I sold our mare on my birthday and called the next day. Bob answered the phone and I proudly announced that I would officially be coming to buy Senor. My excitement quickly turned to tears as Bob broke it to me that Senor had gotten down and died the day before, on my birthday. I could tell he was as sad as I.
I spent a few years wondering what purpose could possibly be in this? Why would God let Senor live 5 years in a pasture, only for him to die the moment someone came along to do something with him? Read on to find out.
I kept going to see Ann and Bob, eager to learn more about them, their program, and the TWH as a whole. You see, we have few sources of anything gaited here in Oklahoma, much less TWH royalty. After sometime, I called one day to check on Ann and Bob. Bob answered the phone and when I announced my name he became giddy as a school girl, eager to spill the beans. He said, "You are never going to believe what happened!" I could hear Ann in the background stearnly saying "Bob, give me the phone! You don't know what you are talking about, give me the phone!" I thought, well, maybe ol' Bob is having a senior moment? Bob, despite Ann's demands, blurted out "BARBARA ANN HAD A BABY!!!" right before the phone was snatched away from him. Shocked, I listened as Ann announced the same, and that it was a filly. You could have knocked me over with a feather. You see, Ann was done breeding. Senor was 5 when I met them and that was the last colt they ever planned. They had kept their horses the same way for over 40 years and never an accident. How did this happen? Devine intervention is all I can figure. I made an appointment to come see her.
I arrived to find a VERY large 1 month old nearly solid black filly (well under all that baby fuzz). She was PERFECT, already exceedingly friendly and brave as she was gorgeous. I told Ann that I didn't know what her plans for her were, but as far as I was concerned, she was already sold. I kept coming to see her every few months, until Ann called me and said I needed to come get her because she was too big and Ann was too old to put up with the headache of weaning her.
When we went to pick up BAG, I was nervous. The only halter breaking she had was me asking for some flexions and a step or two every few months when I saw her. She had never been in a trailer, of course. We backed up to the barn, and as I stood at the end of the lead, and looked at my hazing crew: Bob on a walker, Ann 5' tall and pushing 90 years old, and my husband. I cringed and said my prayers. the first time she pulled back, I let her for fear of her going backwards into my crowd. I pulled out the carrots Ann had given me and to my amazement, we had that 800 lb filly in the trailer in 5 mins with no more than bribery. Whew! Off we went to our farm.
It took me a few years, but I figured out God's plan. Why we lost poor Senor, what his purpose was. His purpose was the melding of a friendship and the continuance of a program of some very special folks and horses. God was calling me, louder than I have ever herd it. I went to buy a future riding gelding, and in a few years, before I knew it I had come home with 4 of the finest Walking Horse mares in the industry. I had the start of a breeding program, a damn good start.
BAG on her first trail ride.
BAG's sire is Gold Powered Jackson Blue. My favorite personal story of "Jack" is that at 89 years young, I asked Ann if she still rode. She said, "Yes, I get on bareback and ride around the farm occasionally." I asked who she rode. She looked at me incredulously and answered with a slight scoff, "Well, Jack! Of course!" At 89 years old, this 5' woman was still jumping on her STALLION bareback for evening strolls around the pasture. Let that sink in. Jack was only campaigned for a short while before being retired to the breeding shed. I don't know why, but I got the feeling that his owners had just grown weary of the limelight and decided they had done enough. And that they had, with Ann holding the most TWHBEA Supreme Versatility titles of any one person ever. Jack has a very amicable disposition, which is his greatest attribute to our program. I have walked out on 40 acres, stabbed him in the neck with a vaccine, and walked off with zero issue, no halter.
Jack's sire is Gold Power (by the famous Pride's Gold Coin). Gold Power is the a full brother to the more famously known, Coin's Hard Cash . (See also Westwood Farm's page). While Jack's pedigree reads like a recall list of some of the best show horses of all time, his dam's side is nothing to sneeze at either. Jack's dam was the California State Champion Yearling in 1988. Her sire was Best of Generator (1993 International Grand Champion Model Stallion) and she possessed many other great champions up close, such as Pride's Generator, Rodgers Perfection, and Merry Go Boy. I had the luxury of meeting Generator's Jubilee "Jubee" before her passing in 2021.
Barbara's Amazing Grace's Future
While we had planned to show BAG, and my what a beautiful model horse she would make, the limelight of the show ring doesn't call me for me. I would love to continue what Ann has, but the TWHBEA has more doubled the amount of points one must acquire to achieve a Supreme Versatility Championship. As hard as it was for Ann to obtain, it is now an achievement that requires nearly a lifetime commitment of the horse and many many years of the rider's career and pocket book.
Instead, we are planning to take the alternate path of the Kuykendall's, campaigning these horses as the talented and versatile family horses that they are. On trails, a few shows, in the ranch versatility ring, at playdays, and on the ranch. We hope to continue to prove and raise awareness of the Tennessee Walking Horses' western ancestry and capability. These horses are not the feeble animals that todays western stockmen imagine them. These horses are good sized, big boned, and as or more athletic than the quarter horse.
BAG is a very, very special part of this endeavor. Her disposition is extremely special. She eats up human attention, wandering away from the herd to greet me, no matter the time of day. She gets her feelings hurt if she isn't worked with. She doesn't just like human attention, she craves it. She has an unmatchable sense of humor. She plays with everything, begs for attention with sloppy kisses and a forcing presence. She can practically climb in your lap, or tries her best, carefully intertwining her hooves with your feet. I demand respect and she sees it and raises it a good laugh. She's an old soul, with a light heart.
Loose as a goose, this mare can move and shake. Ann says she has never seen her do anything besides gait in the pasture, and she's right. She can gait in a 15ft circle. She has a rising and falling canter that is a thrill all it's own.
BAG is as eager to please and curious in the saddle as she is on the ground. She LOVES trail riding, showing off, obstacles, and any challenge your throw at her. She is one special girl and she was well worth every heartbreak and the wait!
2021 Sundown Stables Obstacle June 13
1st Place In-hand Obstacle Challenge
2023 Green Country Fox Trotting Horse Association Spring Clinic
1st Place Walking Horse Pleasure