Wildfire's Socks came to us as a coming three
year old stud colt as a part of a group of 11 horses
we brought in from the Rollen Clarkson ranch in Protem,
Missouri. Like the rest of the load "Fire"
was short on groceries and rather ragged looking due
to severe drought conditions that had plagued the
Ozarks that year.
Fire was one of two colts that came with the group
and right away impressed me with his brain and willingness
to accept change, direction, and his circumstance
in life. Besides being very thin and slab sided he
was shaggy haired and had a blemish on one nostril
where he had torn it on something and the flap was
just there making him look really dejected.
He was simply a common red sorrel with a flaxen
mane and tail, both hind socks that came just above
his ankles. He had a very odd white patch on one hip
that was so square it looked like someone had cut
out a white patch and glued it to him. His sire has
a similar mark. They are so odd in that they are so
straight in line.
Right away we knew Fire was a special horse in
that though he'd never been handled he was totally
gentle and easy to work with and around. He never
showed much fear of humans as did some of the others.
As soon as I began to work with him his wonderfully
willing nature just shined through. Anything I asked
of him he gave his heart to doing.
Fire when he first arrived.
Though not as emaciated as some he was very deficient
and thin. His hair was dry and rough and his neck
was ewed. He was a pretty sorry looking fellow.
Fire never acted studdy. Nor did he ever get rowdy
or difficult. He was a gentleman, through and through.
Within a few weeks of Fire's arrival he was halter
trained and had perfect ground manners. He never offered
one time to pull or be resistant. One would have thought
he'd been trained all his life!
Fire is half brother to our roan stallion, Foxvangen's
Toy Boy but they look nothing at all alike. Fire's
dam was Blonde The Fox, by Banner's Rocket T., by
Banner's Shepherd. Fire's dam was full sister to the
dam of Miss Molly Fox. That goes a long way to explaining
the intelligence and the totally calm, willing nature
that Fire had.
We decided to keep Fire as a stallion prospect
and as such put time into ground work and general
handling even though he really was not in need of
such. I wanted to keep a close relationship with him
in case at some point he DID become studdy he would
have a solid foundation for manners.
The year Fire turned three his coat color darkened
and changed from red to a more bronze coloration.
He began developing black dapples and some brindling
on his legs. His mane went from flaxen to near white.
Overall he became very deep chocolate looking with
a striking white mane!
People who had seen Fire when he first arrived
would come visit and wonder who the new horse was!
He was truly that different. He matured and grew without
ever causing a problem and could be handled around
mares without ever talking or looking at them.
He was very well endowed yet his behavior was
more like a gelding. As a three year old we gave him
two mares to breed as a test. We do that so see what
a horse can produce. If they produce well
be it. If they do not then they are still young enough
to become geldings and not stags.
We made a habit of haltering
all the horses each time we came to their paddock.
We took the halters off as we left. Fire was curious
about everything right from the start.
We bred Fire to Gambler's Jasmine and Chief's
Magic Ribbon. The result of those breedings were two
good fillies. These two fillies grew into solid mares
that are still in our breeding program.
At the age of four Fire changed color again! He
was even darker that year but besides the brindling
and dapples he developed two long ROAN stockings on
his front legs. They were so roan as to look white
but the skin beneath was not pink so they were not
true white stockings.
We had a good vet come and trim the ugly nose
flap off his nostril. Cosmetic surgery but it truly
improved his appearance. He had such a lovely head
and neck it was a pity to have it marred like that
but the surgery was so successful it left no scars
The thing that most impressed me about Fire was
his brave heart. He was not a bold horse and he was
not what I'd call a dominant horse in any way but
he was the most stalwart horse I believe I've ever
known. He put total trust and faith in me and would
stand his ground even though he might be trembling
with fear. He had a brave heart.
One day I was out back in Fire's turn out and
he was walking along with me. We had suffered a lot
of rain and the ground was quite soppy and boggy out
there so Carl had been laying down large crushed rock
to bridge the mud and then topped it with smaller
gravel to form a firm base like a road where the horses
could walk and we could walk without sinking in mud.
Fire and I were standing on that gravel and Carl
was driving our D-8 Cat loader bringing more rock
to the "road". As we stood there the loader
came closer and closer. It was on tracks rather then
tires and clanked and made a racket that would unnerve
most horses. Besides that the bucket was full of the
large crushed rock and was up in the air far over
a horse's head level.
Fire was filling out yet
growing very gangly. He was all angles yet it was
plain to see he was developing and overcoming his
nutritional deficiencies. Even his bearing had changed
with good feed.
The Cat was bright yellow and spewed smoke out
it's stacks when it was working hard. It was coming
closer and close as I stood there next to Fire.
Fire had no halter or rope on him and could have
left at any time he chose. I wanted to see just how
strong his will was and how much trust he placed in
me so I asked him to stand steady. The closer the
cat came the more nervous I could see he was yet he
held firm and never moved a foot. He would from time
to time look at me as if asking for direction. I would
calmly tell him to stand. And he did!
At last Carl was basically upon us. The bucket
was way up over our heads and the cat was less than
ten feet from our feet. Carl began to tip the bucket.
He in fact emptied the bucket directly in front of
us and then back bladed it into place. The racket
the rock made as it fell out of that metal bucket
and hit the ground would have sent most horses flying,
yet Fire stood firm and held his ground!
Carl back bladed the rock into position and then
ran over it with the tracks to compact it into a solid
base, then he backed away to go get a second load.
All that time Fire stood there shaking with fear
yet not moving one foot! He never snorted, he never
tossed his head. He never pinned his ears and he never
flicked his tail. He stood fast and firm with just
the occasional glance in my direction to see if he
was still to remain where he was.
I was so delighted with his willingness to face
his fears and he stalwart determination to stand fast
that I had to hug him. That sort of trust from a horse
is an amazing gift.
Shortly after that incident Fire's story takes
a twist that no one could have possibly foreseen.
It is a deep regret I harbor still today.
By three and a half Fire's
coloring began to turn bronze. He was so metallic
his true color would not photograph. He was actually
quite a bit darker than this. His joints became nearly
black. Above his knees and hocks he developed brindle
striping and he got black dapples all over his body.
If you look real close you can see the start of the
brindle on his right front leg. At this same time
he began to develop roan socks in front!
I received a phone call from a lady in Canada
one day. She was crying and very upset. It seemed
she and her husband had fallen upon some difficult
economic times and had to move off their farm and
into the city. They had a number of horses that needed
to be placed and had been. They were down to just
one horse. But the horse was a stallion. What is more,
he was an old stallion. If he could not be rehomed
he would be euthanized and she was terribly upset
by that prospect as one might imagine.
At the time we had three stallions already. We
owned Toy Boy, Fire and Nugget. All on a very small
acreage. There simply was no room for a fourth stallion
even on a temporary basis. I told her I was terribly
sorry but we had no space for a stallion.
A few days later the same lady called me again.
She was nearly hysterical and was so very upset she
was pleading with me to take the old stallion. My
mind was racing trying to find a solution for her.
A way to save the stallion surely must be found! He
was a V-64 foundation bred stallion sired by Rawhide's
Black Ace by Red Rawhide and out of Lathrop's Lady
by Dare's Trigger. This is good old time breeding
and some of the old lines we lacked among our collection
of foundation bred horses.
As I spoke with her trying to calm her my mind was
ticking off possible solutions. At last I came to
a decision Since Toy Boy and Fire were half brothers
and carried much the same blood we really did not
need both as stallions. If Fire were to be gelded
we would have space for another stallion if only for
a temporary placement.
I told the lady that I'd make her a deal. I would
come north and look at the old stallion. If we got
along and I could handle him I'd take him but it would
be two weeks before I could bring him down to the
states because he would need all his clearance papers
and I'd need time to have Fire gelded and healed before
I could bring "Rocky" in.
That week end my sister in law and I made the
trip up to northern British Columbia to see the stallion.
It was a trip of more than 500 miles round trip through
the mountains. We arrived there and were warmly greeted.
Then we went to see the stallion.
At close to four Fire was
a very dark bronze. His roan socks in front were very
noticable and his mane had gone to platinum.
He was not a large horse but he was an elegant
old man with a warm personality and a gentleman's
demeanor. He was gentle and kind and extremely well
behaved. We took him to the round pen where I asked
him to perform for me. He did so without so much as
a token resistance or a missed beat.
When I asked that old horse to foxtrot he struck
a textbook perfect, extremely fluid foxtrot that just
was a beautiful site to see. He was so relaxed and
supple it was just amazing to watch him move. He was
sound as a dollar and dead on the money. NO lateral
tendency at all.
He responded very well to and for me. So I told
the lady I'd accept him and give him a home. She had
shown me photos of some of his offspring and she still
had some of them at her farm. I was not very impressed
with his get but he simply had never been given mares
that matched up to him properly. I decided we would
try to collect a few good mares for him so he could
have his last hoorah in style and produce perhaps
the best offspring he'd ever managed.
We went in to lunch and the lady offered me his
papers. My one big
no HUGE mistake was in not
accepting them right then. I knew the papers would
need to be with him so he could get his clearance
to cross the border so I told her to hold them until
all the paper work was ready and I'd pick him and
the papers up at the same time
.in two weeks.
With mixed emotions I went home. I felt like a
total traitor arranging for Fire to be gelded and
he suffered greatly from the procedure. He swelled
badly and was so depressed I could barely stand the
agony. But I felt we were serving a good cause by
allowing a good old foundation stallion to keep producing.
I spoke with my vet because I knew the old horse
was deficient nutritionally even though he was not
thin. His coat was dry and his feet were brittle.
He was not getting proper nutrition and before I attempted
to breed him I wanted to build him up so that his
sperm count would be better and so that he would hold
up to the task.
In winter he was more of
a chocolate color and his right front roan sock became
We had a plan of action set in motion to give
that old stallion the very best of care and opportunity
to finish his life productively and with merit.
Finally the day was near for me to make the trip
up to collect him. Everything was in order. The night
before we were to leave I received a phone call from
a woman in our Foxtrotter club. She was all excited
and babbling. "Guess where I'm going" she
asked. Then she proceeded to tell me she was on her
way up to Canada to pick up "Rocky!". I
could NOT believe my ears! Surely there had to be
a mistake! Nope
she was going up to pick up
the old stallion that very moment even though I was
to do so the very next day!
I told her as much and how I'd gone up to see
him and made arrangements for him and so forth. All
she said was " you need to talk to >>>>>>!
" She named a woman that so far as I knew had
nothing to do with the situation at all! WHY would
I need to talk to her?
When we hung up I called the lady in Canada. I
was breathless between anger and a very real sick
heart. Here I had already had Fire gelded and put
him through all that agony and depression and pain
and now we were not to get the old stallion? I was
so flabbergasted I could not believe this situation
was really occurring!
The lady in Canada answered the phone. She as
rather hesitant and meek. She said she had to let
the other lady have the horse. WHY? And if she was
going to do that why on earth did she not have the
common decency to at least call me to let me know?
It seemed that the lady in question had given
the old stallion to her with the condition if she
ever didn't want him, he was to come back to her!
Indeed she had called the lady when her situation
had presented and the lady had told her she didn't
want the old horse. That is when she had called me!
Somewhere between when I'd gone up to see him
and the two weeks before I was to come pick him up
the lady had a change of heart and decided to lend
him out to someone else
the woman who had called
me. Yet not one of them had the courtesy to let me
Fire reflected the light
so much as to make pictures come out far lighter than
he was and his dapples didn't show! Believe it or
not at this stage he was covered in big black dapples
and lots of brindle lacing on his upper legs.
I was totally shocked at such an ordeal but then
I'm so up front I expect everyone else to be likewise.
Sadly the world is not full of forthright people and
I seem to find many of them. It is not in my nature
to be suspicious of people or to doubt their integrity
or their word so often times I take people at face
value only to find they are very unworthy of that
The sad thing to all this is that my lovely Fire
had to suffer and the breed lost a very nice stallion
who would have produced honest, lovely, foundation
As it turned out no one built the old stallion
up or gave him what he needed. I really don't believe
he ever produced another foal. If he did I never heard
As to Fire, he was put under saddle and eventually
sold to a lady who gave him a good home.
His only two offspring are wonderful mares who
produce excellent, solid Foundation bred offspring
so he at least left that legacy to us.
Wildfire's Socks produced two daughters, both
of whom we still have in our breeding program.
Chief's Magic Ribbon H.
+ Wildfire's Socks
Gambler's Jasmine + Wildfire's