World Grand Champion in
RPM was bred to win,
of that there can be no doubt. It's in his genetic makeup.
His sire, the late Dark Spirit's Rebel, was sired by Pride's Dark
Spirit. RPM's dam, Ebony's Emmy Lou, is of Another
Masterpiece lineage. As one of the only sons of Dark
Spirit's Rebel, RPM will carry on his heritage.
||RPM is a horse
that has revved up plenty of excitement throughout his entire
career. He claims a long list of impressive titles
beginning with the Two Year-Old TWHBEA National Futurity
Championship in 1996. He earned the Three-Year-Old Futurity
Championship the next year, and carried that back in the
Celebration oval days later to win the 1997 Three-Year-Old World
Grand Championship. As a four-year-old, RPM gave the crowds a
double thrill. Not only was he crowned the 1998 Four-Year-Old
Stallion World Champion, be went on to win the title of Reserve
World Grand Champion a few nights later. This makes him one of
only a handful of four-year-olds to carry that honor.
On Saturday evening,
1999, before a standing-room only crowd of 29,106 at the
Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, Bud Dunn, 81, became the
oldest trainer in the show's 61-year history to win the World Grand
Championship when he earned the blue ribbon aboard RPM, breaking his
Walking Horse fans, the Saturday night before Labor Day is probably
the most exciting night of the year. That's the night when close to
30,000 people hold their collective breath as a decision is made about
the new Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion.
This year though,
something revved through the crowd. It started even before the show
and swept fast, racing around the grandstands until the excitement was
full throttle. The powered excitement literally hummed in
It had been an awesome class of mighty contenders, but the sleek black
stallion proved his worth above and beyond anyone's already high
expectations. Professional trainer and long time crowd pleaser, Bud
Dunn rode RPM to his mighty win just like he directed the late Dark
Spirit's Rebel. It didn't escape anyone's notice or heart
strings that RPM's sire was the same great horse that Bud Dunn had
ridden years before. Dunn at 74 rode RPM's sire, Dark Spirit's
Rebel, to the World Grand Championship in 1992.
The judges don't make it easy for the crowd either. After a loud,
vocal and enthusiastic competition of the best stallions in the world,
anxious, nerve-wracking minutes drag by while the results are tallied
in the centre ring. A long long list of memorial trophies and
perpetual trophies are made ready for presentation, while the crowd
waits... and waits... and waits.
Curtains up; light the lights: Bud and
RPM set the stage for the final act when they entered the Celebration
oval that hot September evening to the roar of the revved-up audience.
The excitement was at full throttle and continued to climb.
Then, just when no one could stand to idle another moment, the gauge
topped out. The fabulous black stallion, appropriately named
RPM, was called - - and the crowd went wild. Bud Dunn, the
seasoned veteran ended the drama when he and the beautiful black
stallion pulled out of the lineup to claim the title of 1999 Tennessee
Walking Horse World Grand Champion.
"I can ride as good
now as I ever could," Dunn said. "I'll keep going as long as I can.
It makes you feel good to hear the crowd cheer like that. I
don't know how to describe the feeling except that it's great!"
For the owners of
the horses, the impatience is even worse. And for the trainers and the
horses waiting in that Celebration oval, well - - who knows what they
are thinking. It's Celebration night.
Rusty Hyneman of Memphis, and Tommy and Nancy Mills of Eads and
Shelbyville Tennessee were convinced RPM was a winner and
believed in his abilities right from the very start. Speaking
for the owners, Nancy says, "We were asked repeatedly on the
night of RPM's preliminary class why we were so calm.
Well, the drama was unfolding and we were waiting for the next
act. When RPM won his preliminary class that night,
we were ecstatic. That win gave him his World
Championship title and us the gas to go the rest of the mile.
There was no stopping us now!. By stake night, we
were ready for anything and everything. We felt like
we were watching the happy ending of the most exciting
action-adventure movie ever made. We weren't writing the
script, but we were watching the drama unfold. RPM's win
has given us feelings of hope, pride, gratefulness, and
confidence in the sport and industry."
The T. R. and N.
Limited Partnership made industry and regional headlines when they
purchased RPM the previous May for a record $1.25 million dollars.
RPM can command that price too. He is everything a walking horse owner
could want. Excellent bloodlines, incredible natural talent, and
a heart big enough to take him places.
Former owners Pete
Hammond and Robert Kilgore agree. "He's one of the greatest horses
that has ever been," says Hammond. "The first time I saw him, I knew
that he had what it took. I bought him when he was just 14
months old and brought him along." Bob Kilgore concurs. He liked
RPM so much that he purchased half interest when the stallion was only
us the most with the extent of his ability, his athletic
condition and his conformation;" said Nancy Mills in explaining
why they purchased the horse for the then record amount.
This impressive win
shouldn't be surprising as RPM is a most excellent example of the
Tennessee Walking Horse. He has talent, heart, beauty, and bloodlines.
His foals are the foals of the year 2000, the future of the breed in
all regards. He was also the late Bud Dunn's last Celebration ride,
and he didn't let the grand old man down.
RPM with trainers, Bud Dunn and Sammy Day. Mr. Bud Dunn
died too soon after this final win, but this great horse, RPM
will not let us forget him soon.
RPM was one of only 5
Tennessee Walking Horses who have sold for in excess of a million
RPM was retired in 2000 to Bridlewood Farms in what has gone down in
the record books as one of the most stunning and moving retirement
ceremonies ever conducted during the Celebration , and remained at
Bridlewood till 2005 when he was purchased by Jaclyn Smith and was
standing at Rising Star Ranch.
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July 23, 2005 -
The Walking Horse world is saddened with the news that the 1999 WGC
Tennessee Walking Horse RPM has passed away. RPM , who stood at
Rising Star Ranch in Shelbyville Tennessee was found this morning
suffering from a bout with colic and passed away in route to The
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was being
transported for treatment.
Memories of RPM by
Some of my fondest personal
memories of RPM a/k/a "Big Hoss" (my nickname for him) during my
time at Bridlewood.....
Riding him (what a thrill -- and to think Larry2 and Scott had to
MAKE me do it!)
The way he would curl his tongue back and suck on it like a baby
nursing. Pete Hammond told me once RPM had done that all his life.
How grumpy he was in the morning until he'd had his breakfast. Just
like Mr. Bud, I always said. LOL
Rubbing his face right between his eyes (his most favorite spot to
Brushing that long, thick magnificent tail and the time I french-braided
it and Larry2 got so mad because he almost never got it taken down.
Feeding him peppermints (and apples, and carrots) of course! (He
NEVER got enough!)
Seeing him and Iron take their mid-morning naps together -- their
stalls were side-by-side and they would stand right together, Iron's
head at RPM's rear-end and vice-versa and they would nap together.
The time he was turned out and I was the only one he would come to
so they could get him back in.
Showing him off during the famous Bridlewood tours -- he was SO easy
to handle and would park out perfectly in a half second. It was way
cool and so impressive to people.
The picture I took of Scott and Larry 2 BOTH sitting on him and
riding double -- freaking hilarious. I also just remembered the pic
I took of Scott giving him a drink of coffee that I think Tommy
posted on this site.
The thrill of the older lady (I can't remember who she was) whom he
took for her first ride on a TWH. She was speechless. It was VERY
Watching Larry2, and sometimes Scott, run him down to the breeding
barn and he would be doing that big bold running walk. Cool to
The time Evander Holeyfield visited Bridlewood and he and RPM had a
photoshoot together. Cool.
How sad we were and how much we missed him went he first went back
in to training and how ecstatic I was the first time he returned to
Bridlewood. I remember running out to the crossties and just
throwing my arms around his neck and he just put that big 'ole head
down like he was hugging me back.
That's all I can think of right now and I'm sure you're tired of
reading. I just felt like sharing.
RPM was a very cool horse, and like Tommy said, a gentle giant. I'll
always cherish my memories and my time with the "Big Hoss."
ok,.. I'm crying now.. RPM was one of the great talents and
personalities of breed, and the big horse and the little man who
rode him will always have a place in my heart. Maybe Bud will
get to ride him again now..... I sure hope so.
- J. Handel, webmaster for Walkers West.
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 12:28 PM
Dear. Walker West,
A week before RPM died I went to see him at the stables and he was
so beautiful. He still had the winning look to him from the time he
won. He nudged me on the cheek and it was heaven he was just so out
there. I was just so devastated to see that he had died. He was just
standing there and they brought him out and lead me up and down the
hall once on him and it was just so breath taking to be on him.
Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of this because we thought
he would be around much more longer.
That is quite a story...I'm glad you had that experience before RPM
died. I think he was one of the greatest TW horses ever. Without a
doubt, he had the very best canter of any TWH in history. Did you
get to see him show? His passing was a great loss to the TWH
industry. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Mary Ellen Areaux
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