The Incredible Boys
Who says lightning can't strike twice?
(Article in the April/May 2008 edition of the Miniature Horse World)
You can't go too far into the history of AMHA without Tony Greaves and Little America horses popping up. Tony has worn many hats in his service to the AMHA. He was a past AMHA President, a volunteer Executive Secretary, and a board member for several years. A staunch supporter for AMHA, he has tirelessly exhibited and demonstrated the versatility of the Miniature horse all over the world, to anyone who would listen. He has been an ambassador for the breed and knows the history of our horses almost better than anyone. When asked about his favorite horse that he produced, he asked to write about two horses ... his two incredible boys.
As told by Tony Greaves
Years and years of little horses have filled my life since I was born into a family that was breeding Shetlands over sixty years ago. Through the years I have found that you are very lucky when a very special horse enters your life. We had two horses we felt were so incredible, that the name seemed to pick itself.
Our first “Incredible" was foaled in 1999. Little America's D. S. Incredible. For many years one of my goals was to breed the smallest colorful appaloosa with great conformation, with emphasis on a beautiful head. On March 30, 1996, late in the afternoon, I went to check on the mares close to foaling, which were kept in the yard beside our house. Little America's Tex Belle was going into labor, so I sat on the porch to watch what was going on, to be handy if I was needed. The progress was quick and when the foal arrived and I pulled the amniotic sack off, I was so thrilled to see what was inside the sack ... so tiny, so colorful, a head to die for, so incredible that I actually cried. I know, “real men don't cry,” but every rule has its exception, and this was mine. J just said, "Incredible, he's Incredible!'' I ran in the house to get my family and each one repeated my first words. In the days that followed, every visitor to our ranch had the same reaction, "Incredible.” I said that he named himself the day he was born, but how did they know it?
When we started showing him, he was only weeks old, and he seemed to draw crowds every time we brought him out. Every time he left the ring, we had people follow us back to our stall area just to get a closer look at him. I think that some people have a very special bond with some horses and this was mine. He and I seemed to be on the same wave link. We seemed to communicate in the ring. I would set him up, back up and look at him, and his eyes would follow my every move; never putting an ear back, never taking his eyes off mine. Over and over I had people ask me how I got a weanling (and later a yearling and two-year-old) to "show like that." He had so much personality and I encouraged his exuberance, letting him walk on his back legs out to get his awards, eventually teaching him to take a bow, using it when he won Supreme. One judge told me that this wasn't a circus, but Incredible enjoyed his performance, the crowds loved it, and so did I, so we outvoted the judge.
He was quite successful in the shows, becoming High Point Champion in several divisions for the Southwesten Miniature Horse Club and the Greater Houston Miniature Horse Club. I was thrilled when he placed seventh, as a weanling, in a class of fifty-seven at the World Show in Lexington, VA, showing against a field of mostly yearlings and two-year olds! One person who had admired him for several shows offered to give me a blank check for him, which I turned down.
We ran ads featuring our “dream horse” and enjoyed the name which aided in creativity: “We are looking to an Incredible future," "Incredible dreams do come true," and others. We were thrilled to be drawn for the cover of the Miniature Horse World for the world show issue. I spent days taking pictures and worked with the editor, Barbara Ashby, who was a fan of Incredible, too.
About the time we were getting things ready for his cover, he started being head shy when being haltered and a few times had a spell, something similar to fainting. We took him to several vets who could find nothing wrong. At that time, we were swimming our show horses to tone them and on July 22, 1998, while he was in the pond, he bobbed under, which wasn't really unusual, but this time he made no attempt to surface. We quickly brought him out of the water and tried CPR for what seemed like an hour. Finally we gave up, and I sent my helper to the barn and I just sat there with Incredible. Our vet surmised that he had suffered an aneurysm and that we could have done nothing to save him, but that was little solace to us. I couldn't believe that the dream of my many years of breeding was lying beside me as I sat there helplessly. After quite some time, I went to the barn and got the tractor and took him to the back and buried him. I then went to my office and just sat there. All those hopes and dreams came to a halt. All those plans were gone. And he was to be on the cover of the next Miniature Horse World magazine. I knew that the deadline was only a few days later. Thoughts were whirling in my mind, should I change the cover to another horse, should I just leave it alone. I finally emailed Barbara simply saying, "Please add this to the cover of Incredible: "March 30, 1996- July 22, 1998." He became the first horse ever pictured on the cover posthumously.
I first stated that we had two horses that named themselves Incredible. The second one was born the year after the first died, Little America's Too Incredible. We chose the name because he was also extremely tiny and excellent. His show record was fairly similar, but not quite as extensive as the first. He garnered several Top Tens and Championships, but never won a Supreme. I did have one judge tell me that he was the most perfect tiny miniature that she had ever judged. He matured at 25 ½”. Of course he was bred to be small, being out of Little America's Kewpie Tornado 26 ½” and Little America’s Silver Tornado 26".
We showed him until he was three years old and then started breeding him to a few mares. We were very pleased with the tiny foals with refinement that he produced and were looking forward to using him in our "tiny" program for years.
This past December, Carol and I went to New York to babysit our grandson while his parents went on a belated tenth anniversary to Europe. When we returned home we learned that a problem with dog attacks had returned. Two years ago we lost thirteen horses over a period of weeks to a marauding pack of wild dogs. On Sunday morning, I was getting dressed to go out to feed and looked out the window of our second story bedroom and saw what looked like a horse standing over another horse, but I wasn't certain. I got my glasses and saw that it was a coyote standing over a horse with another coyote standing guard about twenty yards away. I yelled downstairs to Lauren, our daughter, who grabbed a gun and snuck out the door to get a shot at the predators. Unfortunately, they sensed she was there and starred to run just as she got off the first shot. When I found what the coyotes were standing over, my heart dropped ... it was Too Incredible ... our beautiful stallion. We were devastated to loose another of our wonderful little horses. Since then we have taken many precautions to prevent another tragic loss. We have added guard donkeys, guard dogs and much better fencing, just to name a few.
I am so thankful for all the incredible memories I have. Some people are lucky enough to have one special horse in their life, I have had hundreds. Each horse has amazed me with their own personality and their talents, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for those two incredible boys.