The following can be stated in regard
to Roan Allen F-38's dam, the great mare, GERTRUDE. Through
BULLETT she carried MORGAN blood; through EARNHART'S BROOKS she
traced to the PILOTS; through QUEEN she traced to the TOM HALS and
COPPERBOTTOMS; through BRINKER'S DRENNON she traced to the DAVY
CROCKETTS; and through her sire she traced to GAINES' DENMARK.
Assuming the pedigree of EARNHART'S BROOKS was correct as accepted
by breeders of the day, she also traced to the finest Thoroughbred
blood in the world. When the blood of ALLAN F- I and GERTRUDE
were combined, it represented the most renowned bloodlines in
America. The colt from this union, ROAN ALLEN F-38, proved to
be the most outstanding performer and sire of saddle horses Middle
Tennessee had yet produced.
ROAN ALLEN was born on May 23, 1904. It is obvious that the
name "ALLAN" had been changed to "ALLEN," one of those
unexplained things that probably occurred as a result of someone
misreading a pedigree. In any event, from the very first,
James Brantley believed that the roan colt was very unusual.
Brantley described him as:
... 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 ... 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
around his mother, showing a burst of speed, with a long
over-reach, nodding his head with coltish legs beating in perfect
form a true running walk.
The modern-day breeder must
remember that at the time Brantley first observed ROAN ALLEN there
was no assurance that a new-born colt would exhibit the gaits of the
Walking Horse. This baby colt represented a cross between a
Saddlebred mare and a trotting-bred stallion; there was no way to
predict its gaits. We can only imagine the delight of the
owner as he stood and watched the free and easy movements of the
foal as it played around its mother.
Not every one shared his
owner's enthusiasm for the little roan colt. After all, he was
by the yet unproven ALLAN, and some suggested his legs were so long
he could never get them under control. Indeed, Brantley
admitted his legs were a bit long, and even as a three-year-old they
seemed more than adequate to reach the ground. However, the
secret was that he could handle those legs and as he developed, his
body and legs achieved a proper proportion. Brantley had
reason to believe in the colt other than its physical appearance and
its way of going.
Early breeders held one rule in
breeding above all others: every good horse is backed by a long line
of outstanding dams. J. Mac Carter and Audie Dean would later
demonstrate the truth of this belief in their outstanding production
of Walking Horses. From a study of early breeding practices,
it is evident that without exception the dam's side of the colt's
pedigree was given more emphasis than the sire's. The colt
that could point to a long line of noted dams was, invariably, to be
chosen over one which could point only to a line of noted sires.
By outstanding dams these early breeders referred to mares which had
produced more than one outstanding colt. It should be
remembered that the importance of breeding stock was not based on
their own excellence of performance, but on their potency in
transmitting desired characteristics.
No horse that ever lived could
point to a line of more distinguished dams than ROAN ALLEN.
There were ALMA MATER, QUEEN, DOLLY, ESTELLA, and MAGGIE MARSHALL,
just to name a few. Any one of these mares would merit a study
all her own. Brantley expresses the point this way, "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 a particular breed."
By the time he was three, ROAN
ALLEN was 15.3 and ready for hard work. He was put in training
with Charlie Ashley of Manchester, Tennessee. Ashley kept the
colt during the summer of 1907 and taught him to do all the popular
gaits of the time. Among those gaits were the flat walk,
running walk, fox walk, fox trot, and square trot, the latter in
harness. ROAN ALLEN could perform seven distinct gaits and
knew the cue for each. When he was ready for competition he
was entered in county, fairs, where he defeated everything put
against him. Henry Davis of Wartrace, or French Brantley, son
of James Brantley, usually rode him. Both riders, like the
horse himself, would become cornerstones of the Walking Horse
An interesting thing about ROAN
ALLEN'S show career was that he competed in both the walking classes
and the gaited classes. Henry Davis would show him in the
"plantation class" and also in the "combination class," which meant
that the horse would be ridden and also driven to a buggy.
Often, after these classes had been completed, ROAN ALLEN would be
exhibited in the gaited classes.
Henry Davis remembered:
ROAN ALLEN'S pictures don't
do him justice. He was a good looking horse with a great
deal of natural style, was high headed and proud in motion.
He was six years old the fall I showed him, and we put him in
five-gaited classes and harness classes and won with him too.
He could rack and trot well enough to beat ROE'S CHIEF and other
good horses. He won in combination classes and harness
classes, and wore harness well. However, he was shown only a
few times in harness and at five gaits."
Tom Hayes of Lynchburg,
Tennessee, was a noted breeder and trainer in those days and is
remembered as one of the people who introduced CHIEF blood into
Middle Tennessee. This was the same CHIEF blood that was later
infused into Walking Horses by Lem Motlow of Jack Daniel whiskey
fame. In any event, Hayes did not like the idea of a Walking
Horse competing against his famous ROE'S CHIEF. He liked the
idea even less on those occasions when ROAN ALLEN defeated his great
show stallion. Hayes was quoted as saying, "No walking horse
has a right to defeat a gaited horse as good as OLD CHIEF."
Hayes and Davis were close friends and the rivalry between them was
cordial, although heated. Crowds along the fair circuit knew
what to expect when ROAN ALLEN and ROE'S CHIEF clashed head-on, and
it was not unusual for farmers to leave hay on the ground to watch
these two stallions compete.
To illustrate the versatility
of ROAN ALLEN, one might look at the 1910 Coffee County Fair.
At the time he was a six-year-old, and James Brantley's daughter,
Carrie, drove him in harness. Carrie won the class. He
was then entered in the saddle horse class for children riders; he
won it. To cap off the day, he was entered in the saddle horse
class and won it also.
In 1945, Henry Davis reflected
on his experience with ROAN ALLEN. Stating that he showed the
horse in 1911 and 1912 on the fair circuit at Murfreesboro,
Tullahoma, Fayetteville, Winchester, and the Tennessee State Fair,
Davis said, "This circuit of county fairs ... brought out all of the
best horses in Tennessee. There were as many great gaited,
harness, and walking horses at this time as were ever shown before
In referring to the rivalry between ROAN ALLEN and ROE'S CHIEF,
Davis remembered, "ROE'S CHIEF was the fastest racking horse I
have ever known. ROE'S CHIEF was then owned by Tom Hayes of
Lynchburg, and the combination class was then called "Run-about
Class." We would show in harness, and then under saddle.
ROE'S CHIEF had a little more speed in the trot, and by far more in
the rack, than ROAN ALLEN. However, no horse I have ever known could
do a more perfect rack than ROAN ALLEN. His pomp and style,
erect head, the longest and most perfect neck on any horse,
perfectly arched, erect ears, and a heavy waterspout flaxen tall
that would touch the ground when he was standing still, made him
what I still believe to be a perfect picture of horse flesh.
According to Davis, ROAN ALLEN
became caught up in the excitement of a show the moment he entered
the ring. As the applause of the crowd mounted, the son of
ALLAN responded and gave the people what they had come to see.
ROAN ALLEN'S battles with ROE'S CHIEF became a tradition that grew
out of the early horse shows in Middle Tennessee, and those who
witnessed them never admitted their equal. ROAN ALLEN competed
against the top gaited horses of his day and against the top saddle
horses as well. He competed against HUNTER'S ALLEN, OLD DUTCH,
FRANK BULLETT, and LITTLE DUTCH. He competed against the GREY
JOHNS and SLASHERS, the BROOKS and HALS, and, on some occasions, he
went down to defeat before these excellent animals. But in the
end, he established himself the equal of any and the master of most
on the county fair circuit of Middle Tennessee.
Margaret Warden writes,
"When HUNTER'S ALLEN and ROAN
ALLEN met in the show ring, it was an occasion, as they were just
about the tops of their kind. The older horse (ROAN ALLEN)
was taken to the State Fair at least twice. Once he beat
HUNTER'S ALLEN (then called WALKER'S ALLEN) and another time
HUNTER'S ALLEN beat him. That was the time the judge rode
both horses. He didn't keep ROAN ALLEN in the good form his
rider was maintaining, assumed he was pacing, and gave the blue to
his rival. "
At one point in their history
both ROAN ALLEN and HUNTER'S ALLEN were used by Arthur Hoyle on his
rural mail route. The route covered twenty-five miles between
9:15 in the morning and 3:30 in the .afternoon. According to Hoyle,
ROAN ALLEN finished the route as spirited as when he began, but
HUNTER'S ALLEN tended to resent the monotony of the jaunt and had to
be constantly prodded along.
ROAN ALLEN'S greatest impact on
the saddle horses of the region was not in the showring but in his
role as a superior sire. Mr. Jim Brantley wrote:
"As a three-year-old, he
served five mares, and all foaled to the service... 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 bloodlines of
these mares largely included HAL, BROOKS, BULLET, STONEWALL and
Henry Davis observed:
"No horse of our breed has
ever produced sons that showed as perfect gaits as those of ROAN
ALLEN. His daughters also produced great horses during his
life and they are still producing today ... MAUDE GREY heads the
list as the producer of foals bringing more money than any of our
living mares at this time [ 1945 ]."
One of the most outstanding
breeders of Walking Horses was A.M. Dement of Wartrace, Tennessee.
In 1911 he asked Henry Davis to go with him to look at a HAL bred
horse he believed might help further the breed in Bedford County.
On the way the two men met Luther McAdams, owner of BROWN HAL.
McAdams expressed dismay at the fact that the men had come to
Marshall County to seek a breeding stallion when they had, in his
opinion, the "...greatest breeding horse of perfect gaits on earth
today in ROAN ALLEN." The HAL stallion was not purchased, and
instead Demerit went to James Brantley and sought to buy ROAN ALLEN.
The trade did not go through, but Demerit leased ROAN ALLEN for two
days of each week and stood him for a service fee of $25.00.
It did not take long for the public to realize that there was
something special about the foals from the massive roan stallion.
The word spread fast and as the years passed, his court increased
steadily. People from all over the South came to the farm of
James Brantley seeking the get of ROAN ALLEN. Brantley later
wrote, "Many of his best get were sold for plantation horses in
Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana to large planters."
James Brantley never parted
with ROAN ALLEN. The old gentleman never forgave himself for
selling ALLAN F-1 to his good friend, A.M. Dement. At one time
Demerit offered to pay $1,250 for ROAN ALLEN, but Brantley never
responded to the offer. Henry Davis said Brantley "...loved
this horse as a member of the family, and believed in his
greatness." Brantley said of ROAN ALLEN, "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." He added, "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 seen."
It is impossible to express in
words or figures the great impact ROAN ALLEN F-38 had on the Walking
Horse breed. The offspring of this unusual horse are the
Tennessee Walking Horse. The breed is his family. The
United States Trotting Association claims 99 percent of all modem
trotters trace to HAMBLETONIAN 10; if this is true, ROAN ALLEN F38
is one percent stronger in the Walking Horse Registry, for 100
percent of all living Walking Horses trace to this stallion.
There are over thirty stallions registered to ROAN ALLEN in the stud
books of the Walking Horse Breeders' Association. Among the
most prominent of these are the following:
WILSON'S ALLEN - sire of five
World Grand Champions, including MIDNIGHT SUN.
MERRY BOY - sire of two World Grand Champions, including MERRY GO
BOY and BLACK ANGEL.
HALL ALLEN - sire of RED ACE, Champion Stallion at the 1940
Celebration; RHODA ALLEN, who in turn sired HONEY GOLD; HALL
ALLEN'S PLAYBOY, twice the winner of the Gelding Class at the
Celebration; ARISTOCRATIC ALLEN and MYRTLE MAID, both outstanding
show animals. HALL ALLEN also sired the dams of ROSE CITY SUE,
winner of Celebration Mare Class in 1949; NANCY ANN.
ROAN ALLEN'S death was equally
as dramatic as the victories he won in the showring. In 1930,
the great stallion had been leased to a breeder named Wallace in
McMinnville, and while at the Wallace barn, he was kicked by a mare.
ROAN ALLEN sustained a broken leg that did not respond to treatment.
When J. R. Brantley saw the plight of the stallion he decided it
would be best to "put him out of his misery." Brantley refused
the offer of others who volunteered to destroy the animal, and
instead picked up a sledge hammer and hit the stallion between the
eyes. In Brantley's own words it was "...as loving a lick as
was ever hit."