World Grand Champion in 1992
Dark Spirit's Rebel #846633
Dark Spirit's Rebel
was born and bred at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee. He
was the son of one of the industry's premier stallions, Pride's Dark
Spirit, himself a world champion as a three and four year old in 1982
and 1983, respectively. Rebel's dam, Bridle-Vale Penny, has bloodlines
tracing back to Miller's Wilson Allen and the famed Reyclif line.
At the time of Pride
Dark Spirit's peak show career, his owners, Nell and Robert Keenan,
enjoyed many horse show outings with friends Shirley and Frank Neal,
then still newcomers to the walking horse industry. As their
interest in the business began to grow, fate came into play and
Pride's Dark Spirit's first crop of colts were made available at the
Harlinsdale Production Sale; among them the future 1992 World Grand
Champion, Dark Spirit's Rebel.
a yearling at the time, Rebel quickly captured the attention of
many top trainers who were literally spellbound by his
"exceptional way of going." He also captured Shirley
Neal's heart with what she fondly describes as his "very kind
eyes, wonderful disposition and beautiful bay color."
After the Neals purchased Dark Spirit's Rebel, his first stop
was Bullington Stables in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where trainer
Ramsey Bullington got the young prospect off to a solid start
under saddle. Under Bullington's early tutelage, Rebel
made a number of "great shows" as a two year old and placed well
at The Celebration.
As with any road to
success, however, Rebel's path to the World Grand Championship was not
without detours. In fact, it wasn't long after celebrating his
third birthday and hitting full stride by winning the Spring Fun Show,
that Rebel experienced his first major detour-a hind leg injury which
plagued him on and off throughout his three and four year old years,
and eventually led to a long, detailed recovery program.
For 15 weeks, under the care and close supervision of an equine leg
specialist, Rebel began his road to recovery. The Neals'
son-in-law, Martin Bauggess, followed the doctor's instructions to the
letter, tending to the ailing horse seven days a week, at least three
hours a day. It was a grueling, emotional 15 weeks, but it all
paid off. By spring, Rebel was sound and in the best condition of his
At age five, Dark
Spirit's Rebel continued to grow stronger and returned to the showring
under the direction of Dick Meyers. His first outing as an aged
stallion at The Celebration resulted in a disappointing finish, but
Shirley and Frank Neal were still thrilled as they saw Rebel coming
back. He was moved to Bud Dunn and Son Stables in Florence,
Alabama, shortly after the 1990 Celebration.
One might consider
1990 and 1991 building years; building years that had both Bud and
Rebel at peak performance in 1992. The dynamic duo landed in the
winners' circle nearly everywhere they went-from Corinth, Mississippi,
to Columbia, Franklin, and Lewisburg, Tennessee-before finally
claiming the title of all titles ...the World Grand Championship!
|For a split
second, he did not move. The reins were cradled in his
hands much the way a doctor might cradle a newborn; his grip
firm yet soft, with just a touch of wonder. Bud Dunn loved
this moment, perhaps more than any other in his entire life.
He had fantasized it thousands of times during his 44-year
training career and, now, when it was real, he wasn't quite sure
whether to believe it. But his eyes and ears told him it
was true. He heard the announcer call "Number 1865"; he heard
the crowd go wild; and he saw it on the colorful Celebration
scoreboard hovering high above the grandstand: "Bud and Rebel.
Your 1992 World Grand Champions!" There was nothing left
to doubt. The questions had all been answered; the task
complete. The roses were his for the keeping, and so was this
Near the rail, in
their west side box, owners Shirley and Frank Neal of Franklin,
Tennessee, gladly joined family, friends and a record crowd of 28,691
fans in sending an avalanche of congratulatory cheers to
seven-year-old Dark Spirit's Rebel and 74-year-old Bud Dunn. It
was a display of crowd support equaled by no team ever known to the
walking horse world, and one that had begun building a year earlier
when the colorful Bud and Rebel duo first claimed the blue in
preliminary World Grand Championship competition. It was a
phenomenal level of excitement that just kept building and building
until nearly every set of vocal cords in the Celebration stadium on
the Saturday night before Labor Day 1992 joined in a faint chant, turn
feverish cry, "Rebel! Rebel! REBEL!!!"
Although he had
come close on numerous occasions, and had even cheered his own son
to the 1989 World Grand Championship aboard Motown Magic, this was
Bud Dunn's first personal taste of the ultimate victory.
Seeing this worthy trainer, (now known to many as simply "Uncle
Bud"), finally receive his just reward was by far the most
exciting part of winning, say Shirley and Frank Neal. Bud Dunn's
friends, family and many fans who gleefully turned the grandstands
into a waving sea of red, white and blue confederate flags on the
final night of Celebration 1992 obviously agreed!
Indeed, Bud and
Rebel became household names in the homes of walking horse
enthusiasts the world over. They won the title in 1992, but the
memories they created for their thousands of fans will no doubt last a
Dark Spirit's Rebel died
April 16, 1998.
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