The Foundation Sire: Roan
J.R. Brantley in collaboration
with J.J. Murray and Rachel Hosey
Roan horse; both hind stockings, fore socks, broad
strip; foaled May 23, 1906, died August, 1930; bred and owned by
J.R. Brantley, Manchester, Tennessee
by Allandorf, by Onward by George Wilkes F-54; Onward's dam Dolly,
by Mambrino Chief; Dolly's dam by Potomac; Allandorf's dam Alma
Mater, by Mambrino Patchen by Mambrino Chief; Mambrino Chief's dam
Lady Thorne; Alma Mater's dam Estella, by Imported Australian; Allan
F-1's dam, Maggie Marshall, by Bradford's Telegraph, by Black Hawk,
by Sherman Morgan.
by Jacob's Royal Denmark, by Artist, by King William, by Washington
Denmark; Artist's dam, Lucy, by Brinkers Drennon; King William's
dam, Queen, by Balled Stockings; Gertrude's dam Ball II, by Bullet
(great grandson of Gifford Morgan); Ball II's dam, Ball by
Earnheart's Brook's F-25, by Brooks, F-24, by Brown Pilot by Pacing
Pilot (Canadian Pacer), Dam of Earnheart's Brooks F-25, is said to
be by McMeen's Traveler. In Bedford and Marshall Counties,
Tennessee. Earnheart's Brooks F-25 contributed as many
natural-gaited walking horses in his day as any stallion. Black Hawk
(5) is of strong Narragansett blood through his pacer dam and shows
in nearly all of the best saddle horses of today. A progenitor of
noted harness and saddle horses.
Allandorf was the same acme of fashionable harness
breeding of his day. Mambrino Patchen, a proven sire producing brood
mares, sire of Mambrino King, said to be the most handsome harness
stallion that ever lived, favorable compared with Montrose (106). In
addition, the blood of Hambletonian (10) and Henry Clay is infused
into the blood of Allan F-1.
Bullet F-65, the sire of the second dam produced
many great show horses, including Frank Bullet that won at the
Tennessee State Fair.
The above pedigree blends a notable list in
standard bred gaited and walking horses.
James R. Brantley is an octogenarian, having reached his eight-third
birthday on January 27, 1945. He was the breeder and developer of
Roan Allen F-38, the foundation sire presented in the accompanying
article. Mr. Brantley reads two daily papers, several magazines and
local county papers. His son, French, now County Court Clerk of
Coffee County and president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders'
Association of America, took part in all discussions with his father
and everyone enjoyed the many memories Mr. Brantley had of Roan
It has always been my first rule in appraising
horses to know the individual as a colt if possible. In the case of
Roan Allen, no finer colt could be painted by the most imaginative
artist. As he was as a colt, so he was as a mature horse; 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. He was
constantly looking in every direction, ears erect, with playful
glee, around his dam, Gertrude. 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 gamboled around his mother, showing a
burst of speed, with a long over-reach, nodding head with coltish
legs beating in perfect form a true running walk. This is why I
repeat again, "as he was as a colt, so he was as a mature horse."
The development of Roan Allen was the same as our
other colts, including young mules. He had no special attention, and
he ran in pasture with other horses until he was coming two years
old. Many of my friends, and some of my relatives, had little
confidence in this long-legged colt's ever making a great stallion.
As a yearling, and up until he was past three years of age, his legs
were apparently long, but how he could use them! He had as perfect
gaits as any Tennessee Walking Horse could do then, and, I believe,
now or in the years to come.
It is now among the greatest pleasures I possess
from the storehouse o f memory to recall Roan Allen standing, or in
action, and to compare him with the best champions of today. I trust
the readers of THE TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE will pardon my pride in
saying that not one of those champions could outclass him today. His
sons, daughters and grandchildren have produced almost 100 per cent
of the acknowledged champions, and they, in turn, have brought the
highest prices for stallions, mares, geldings brood mares and young
things ever recorded in the annals of our breed. Who would not feel
very proud of having been the breeder and owner of such a sire when
his foals, owned by others who state with genuine pride that this
horse, mare or stallion is by a son or grandson, or out of a mare by
Nothing is of more importance, of course, than the
blood and performance of the sire and dam. The most colossal mistake
in all my years of breeding horses was made the day I sold
to my good friend, Albert M. Dement, of Wartrace, Tennessee. Today,
these two stallions are a father-and-son combination that will live
on after I have answered the last roll call, to render their strong
influence, to produce the best light horse in the world for pleasure
The story of Allan F-1, written by my good friend,
W.J. McGill, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, in Volume I, of this
publication, was most interesting to me, as he is, of course, the
sire of Roan Allen. There is little that I could add to that story
except to say that Allan F-1 was as easy-gaited a horse as any one
ever rode. I rode him myself, and so did my children and many
neighbors. No stallion ever lived who had a better disposition. His
gaits in the trot, pace, flat or running walk were perfect. He had a
particular gliding gait under saddle truly equal to the family
rocking chair. He had perfect style, a very high head, a natural,
high tail, quick, very fine hair, good flat bone and ample foot.
Indeed, anyone today would have to appraise him as a great horse,
which he was.
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 that
particular breed. This is doubly true of Roan Allen through
F-1, his sire, and Gertrude, the dam of Roan Allen. Gertrude was a
red roan, four stockings, bald face, 15 and a half hands, 1,100 lbs.
Gertrude was the best flat-foot walker I ever saw. She was fine, and
the kind of mare you would select to be the dam of a great horse. I
bred Gertrude and also her dam, Ball II, which was one of the best
walking mares ever in Coffee County. Ball, her dam, roan with white
markings, was also truly a great walking mare, very fast, with
style, and never produced a foal that was not a natural walker.
Thus, through inheritance, Roan Allan came by his
greatness in having a notable sire and through a list of dams that
were all a credit to the breed.
At three years of age, Roan Allen was 15-3 hands
high. This was the exact size I liked, and after I measured him, the
standard was never placed on him again to my knowledge. However, I
never found fault with his size, conformation or disposition, and
his good bloodlines impress me more today than they did when he died
in August, 1930.
As a three-year-old, he served five mares, and all
foaled to the service. In this group was a great show mare, owned by
John Stevens, a sorrel mare, Mr. Stevens later bred many mares to
Roan Allen, and produced many of the greatest walking horses of the
time. 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 blood-lines of these mares
largely included Hal, Brooks, Bullet, Stonewall and Donald breeding.
These include almost all the dams of the early foals of Roan Allen.
My friend, Ed Ward, of Flat Creek, Bedford County,
Tennessee, was among the first to appreciate the breeding ability of
Roan Allen, and bred his great show mare, Crickett to him for
several years, and produced truly good horses from this mating.
As the get of Roan Allen developed to three-,
four-, five-, and six-year-olds, a great many people came to buy
them. Many of his best get were sold for plantation horses in
Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana to large planters.
Allow me to call attention here to a very
important fact concerning Roan Allen and his particular kind of
style that no other horse ever had, in my estimation. He had
something unusual in the easy manner in which he could show all of
his gaits. In addition, his manners were perfect; anyone could
handle him with ease.
I should mention Roan Allen's first trainer, as
there are many who have claimed that honor. The truth is that I let
Charlie Ashley, of Manchester, have him in the summer, and he
trained him and brought him back to my farm in February as a
four-year-old. Charlie taught him all the walking gaits, and he was
indeed a walking horse. Roan Allen could go more gaits, and do them
all more correctly, than any horse I have ever heard of, or seen
perform. His flat foot walk was strong and fast. He could do the
running walk, canter, fox-walk, fox-trot, and also do a perfect
square trot in harness. He had a great overstride of from 35 to 40
inches in his running walk and would stay in form, of course. He was
as fast then as any of the speediest walkers of this day. Truly,
Roan Allen could do seven distinct gaits and was so trained, and he
knew the rider's cue for every gait.
Albert M. Dement showed Roan Allen two seasons for
me at the county fairs, and he was ridden during this time mostly by
Henry Davis, of Wartrace, Tennessee. French Brantley, my son, also
showed him at county fairs for three seasons, and he won twice at
the Tennessee State Fair against many notable horses. He was
defeated one time by Hunter's Allen F-10 at the State Fair. Later on
that same season, Arthur Hoyle showed Roan Allen at the Wartrace
Fair and Horse Show with three judges awarding the ribbons, and he
defeated Hunter's Allen on this occasion.
Joe Crawford bred his famous mare, Dutch, by
F-1, to Roan Allen and produced a filly foal, named Little Dutch,
which was one of the greatest show mares of all time. Dutch, the
dam, was also a great show mare. I have always believed that Little
Dutch was one of the greatest walking mares I ever saw.
W.H. Davis would show Roan Allen in the walking
horse or "plantation" classes, as they were called then, the
combination classes, saddle and buggy, and then in the five-gaited
class, where he met some of the greatest horses of the day. He
defeated Roe's Chief, then owned by Tom Hayes of Lynchburg, several
times, and the good sportsmanship between Tom and Henry often caused
Tom to state, "No walking horse has a right to defeat a gaited horse
as good as old Chief." Of course, Roan Allen did not defeat him
often. However, you could vouch for a good show every time they met
in the gaited or fine harness classes.
Some of the famous get of Roan Allen were:
Wilson's Allen, who was out of the great mare Birdie Messick, a
dapple grey, by Allan F-1; Merry Boy, roan, white markings, out of
Merry Legs F-4, by Allan F-1; Brantley's Roan Allen Jr., a light
roan, out of a dam by Hal Sumner F-7; Hal allen, sorrel, out of a
dam by Hunter's Allen F-10 and his full brother, Sam, chestnut;
Hill's Allen, chestnut; Major Bowes, chestnut; Sycamore Farm Allen,
black; Dr. allen, roan; Al Stone, bay roan. Roan allen sired more
chestnuts or light-colored sorrels than any other color.
The breed was unfortunate in losing Major Bowes at
eight or nine years old. He was a solid chestnut horse and he
probably would have developed into one of the greatest breeders of
the Allan family, a full brother to the great show horse, Harvest
Wilson's Allen and Merry boy are double-grandsons
of Allan F-1. I was never much of a trader, and when I was convinced
of the breeding ability of a stallion, I susually owned him up until
death, as was the case of Roan Allen.
When Roan Allen was coming six years old, we had a
horse show here in Manchester. There was a special prize for the
best lady driver and horse in the harness class. My daughter,
Carrie, then 16 or 17 years old, showed Roan Allen and won. There
was also another class for the best horse and chlld rider, and Clyde
Lee Manley, then seven years old and a son of Lee Manley rode Roan
Allen and won the class. Roan Allen was also shown in the saddle
horse class and won. He could show in more different classes at the
best shows in his day, and win more of them, than any horse that
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 known.
If we could recall all the show horses, stallions,
mares and geldings, sired by Roan Allen which were exhibited
throughout the years in Tennessee and elsewhere. I believe his name
would leas all the rest of the Tennessee Walking Horse tribe. It
gives me great pleasure as the breeder and owner of Roan Allen, now
F-38 in the stud books of the Breeder's Association, to see his
offspring met the best horses in the country and win so many
championship ribbons. Within the last year, Wilson's Bullett, by
Roan Allen, has been made a Foundation Sire, F-65. Also the dam of
Roan Allen, Gertrude, has been placed on foundation, due to her
great breeding ability in producing not only Roan Allen, but other
great horses. Her number is F-84. This recognition, I feel, is
justly merited and as the breeder of Gertrude, I am glad that she
has been so recognized.
In closing, let me urge all breeders of The
Tennessee Walking Horse to know something of their blood-lines, and
their producing ability for our required gaits. Check the
performance of sires and dams. That is the only true measure we can
have in reproduction. To the many owners of great horses of our
breed that carry the blood of Roan Allen, I extend my
congratulations and best wishes for having the blood of what I will
always believe to be the greatest sire that will ever be recorded by