The bloodlines of the HALS, WHIPS, BULLETS,
SLASHERS, COPPERBOTTOMS, and BROOKS had blended into an animal of
which Middle Tennessee could be justly proud, but as yet the product
had not become distinctive enough to justify the establishment of a
breed. In February of 1891 the spark needed to ignite the Pacer into
something really unique was on its way to Middle Tennessee from
Kentucky in the form of an unpretentious, little, black stallion by
the name of ALLAN.
On a Tuesday morning in February of 1891, a
five-year-old black stallion was sold at auction in Lexington.
Although bred to be a trotter, the little horse refused to trot in
harness, and its owner, disappointed in this turn of events, decided
to get rid of him. Pacing horses were cheap at the time, and John P.
Mankin of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, bought the colt for $335. ALLAN, as
the young stallion was called, was loaded on a boxcar with another
purchase of Mankinís, and after several hours of bumping along the
cold tracks from Lexington he was unloaded from the train a short
distance south of Murfreesboro. There were no crowds waiting to see
Mankinís new property, and those who happened to see the black
stallion probably felt more in the mood to extend sympathy than
Makin was not ready to give up on ALLAN and
immediately put him in training with J.E. McDonald, who worked with
the horse throughout the following summer. As had been the case
previously, ALLAN suffered by comparison with other horses in the
area. He was not big, and his speed was not exceptional. To top it all
off, he still refused to trot and insisted on following his natural
tendency to pace. After other trainers had failed to develop ALLAN he
was sent back to Mankin who was advised to put him at stud and forget
the race track.
ALLANís future looked anything but promising.
He was in a county where many outstanding racers were stabled, and
certainly he did not distinguish himself in competition with them. It
was generally agreed that ALLAN was a fast horse but that he tended
never to finish well in a hard drive. This reputation would not
promote him as a possible sire of racehorses. Many observers said he
was too small for a breeding horse, and the few mares brought to his
court were not the quality to produce acceptable colts. Evidently
believing he had made a bad buy, Makin, in 1898, traded ALLAN to a
neighbor named Goodlow, who resold the black pacer to West Orrin in
1900. The 1900 sale price was $97.50. ALLANís fortunes did not improve
as time went by, and after a year at Orrinís farm he was traded to
R.L. Ashley of Manchester, Tennessee. Ashley gave Orrin a black
yearling filly, a yearling Jersey heifer, and $20 for the horse.
Later, Orrin told Ashley he traded ALLAN because neighbors refused to
breed their mares to him.
Standing at a stud fee of $5, ALLAN failed
again and was traded to Dr. J.M. Price for a black jack. In 1902, Dr.
Price traded ALLAN to a Ben Dunn at Hillsboro, who traded him before
the year was out to J.H. Winton for a small black mare. Winton kept
the horse only a few months and sold him to J.A. McCulloch for $110 to
use as a teaser for his jacks. The latter trade took place in 1903.
Only a few days later ALLAN was involved in
yet another trade. McCulloch priced on of his fine jacks to Mr. James
R. Brantley of Coffee County, and in the deal ALLAN was included at
the $110 price tag that had been paid for him. Mr. Brantley was
convinced he wanted the jack, but wasnít sure about the little black
stallion. Having heard of ALLANís pedigree and believing him to be
outstanding, Brantley spent several days and rode many miles, checking
it out. Finding that ALLAN truly represented outstanding bloodlines,
Brantley decided to close the deal. Hitching his mare GERTRUDE to the
buggy, Mr. ďJimĒ drove to McCullochís place and made the purchase.
The official biographer of ALLAN was W.J.
McGill of Shelbyville, Tennessee. After the old horse had died and his
influence on the Walking Horse breed had become apparent, many
controversies arose concerning his early history. McGill spent many
months and uncounted hours tracking down the official history of the
horse, and it is through his efforts that the early history of ALLAN
McGill gives us the best written description
of ALLAN that exists. He is described as black, foaled 1886, near hind
sock, off hind foot white to ankle, and blaze. According to McGill,
ďÖhe had smart ears, perfect head, wonderful eyes, full and well set,
a long rangy neck, beautiful mane and foretop, a decided sloping
shoulder, and a breast that belongs to an outstanding Tennessee
Walking Horse. His fine body lines, short back, long belly, well
coupled, smooth hips and rump, natural set long heavy tail, with the
abundant style he shows in head and neck, smooth limbs, cordy muscles,
good foot and bone, his superb gaits, his easy, graceful way of going
into the fast running walk, justifies our statement that he was as
fine as they make them, even now.Ē The above was written in 1945.
ALLAN was a gentle, dependable horse. As a
young boy, French Brantley, son of ALLANís owner, rode the stallion to
school at Beech Grove where the horse was left tied to a tree during
school hours. Women felt perfectly safe on his back. ALLANís chief
gait under saddle was a running walk which he performed comfortably
and smoothly. The boys of the community often ran ALLAN in impromptu
races, and tradition has it that the little stallion could pace faster
than most horses could gallop.
ALLANís greatest reputation came as a sire of
good saddle horses. Regardless of the type of mare crossed with him,
the colt performed the easy gliding gait which carried its rider
effortlessly along the country roads of Coffee County. ALLANís stud
fee for the first five years at Brantleyís was six dollars to ensure a
foal, but this fee was later raised to seven dollars. The little pacer
rarely got over thirty foals per year. According to one story, Albert
Dement approached Brantley with a proposal that the latter breed a
mare to Dementís stallion. Brantley refused, saying that his own
horse, ALLAN, sired the type of colt he wanted. Dement investigated
the situation and evidently agreed with Brantley. Shortly thereafter,
sometime in 1909, Dement bought ALLAN for $140 with the guarantee that
the horse would live through the next breeding season. ALLAN fulfilled
his end of the bargain by living until September 16, 1910.
Since time has proven ALLAN to be the greatest single force in the
establishment of the Tennessee Walking Horse, his pedigree merits
detailed study. In his sireís line ALLAN traces to the Darley Arabian,
one of the Foundation sires of the Thoroughbred. From the Darley
Arabian he traces forward to MESSENGER, the Thoroughbred which founded
the Standardbreds. Skipping one generation we come to HAMBLETONIAN,
the greatest Standardbred sire of his day and the stallion to which
99% of Standardbreds now trace. From this point forward, we can
examine some of the outstanding animals that are the separate fiber
from which the ALLAN cloth is woven.