Memorium of Rollen Clarkson
By Dyan Westvang
November 15, 2000 another of the Missouri Fox Trotters founding breeders
passed to his final reward. Born December 2, 1926 , Rollen Clarkson left this
world after a long bout of illness.
Rollen Clarkson became acquainted with
fox trotting horses as a child as he rode to school behind his teacher on a good
bay mare called Crazy Snake. At the young age of 9, Rollen knew he some day wanted
a horse just like her and he kept that in mind as he grew up.
As a young
man, Rollen Clarkson was taken off to war and served duty in Europe through some
pretty dark days in history. Upon his return from war in 1946 his father presented
him with a filly, the daughter of Crazy Snake as a welcome home gift. The filly
named Roxy was sired by the Roy Wright Stud.
From this mare Rollen began
a long relationship with the Missouri Fox Trotters and his was one of the very
first breeding herds to be registered with the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breeders
Association when it reorganized in 1948. From that day forth he bred a lot of
horses on his ranch in Protem, Missouri. Horses that not only fox trotted naturally,
but who had the athletic ability and stamina to work cows in the rugged hills
of the Ozarks.
From Roxy he produced the good mare Flaxy C. who was sired
by the Everett Tidwell horse. Flaxy was a good cow horse and from her he got Fancy
Pants by Blankenship Diamond. A picture of Rollen chasing cows on Fancy Pants
has graced many Celebration books over the years as well as a newspaper article
done on him years ago.
A cattleman all his life, Rollen could tell a million
stories of the old days before the White River was dammed up to make Bull Shoals
Lake and Lake Norfork. His property bordered the White and there were no bridges.
In order to get cattle back and forth from Arkansas to Missouri they had to be
driven across the river. The horses used for this monumental task were Fox Trotters.
The river was so deep it meant the cattle and horses had to swim. Rollen knew
many of the old horses and in fact had ridden a good lot of them.
old horse Ramblin Red who was owned by Lawrence Barnes for many years was bred
by Rollen Clarkson. Lawrence and Rollin were good friends and it was Lawrence
who inspected Rollens herd for registration .
As a man, I found Rollen
to be fair and honest though he would never turn down an opportunity. He was also
a man who could laugh at himself and took life as it was. He was tough as old
boots and had weathered drought, hard times and good. Through it all he loved
Though he did not concentrate on what he termed the play
pretty horses bred for the show ring, he did breed true fox trotting horses
and accomplished a certain standardization in his stock that is hard to match
today. His horses simply did not pace but would fox trot off naturally when put
to saddle. When asked how he had accomplished this he said he just culled out
anything that paced or racked because they didnt make good cow horses and
he bred horses to work on the ranch. He said the horses that paced lacked the
balance to stay under a man in rough terrain and seemed to get their feet tangled
when asked to canter. So any horses who paced were sold as down the road,
saddle horses and not used for breeding. The result is after so many years,
he rarely if ever produced a pacer. Yet his horses cover ground with amazing ease,
have confidence and willing natures and like to work.
My husband and I
were privileged to have known Rollen Clarkson and considered him a friend. He
shall be missed as a friend, business associate, and breeder of fine horses. This
breed has lost a landmark. May he rest in peace.
Dyan Westvang ~ All Rights Reserved~ No portion of this article may be reprinted
or distributed electronically or by other means without the written consent of
the author. Foxvangen Farm