The Odyssey Begins
by Lowell Boone
In 1977 at a meeting of the Central Illinois Pony Club, I was told by a friend about Ralph Lawson, a professor at Purdue University. It seems Mr. Lawson had three barns full of wagons and carts to sell. During the winter when there was nothing to do, I called him. He'd had a stroke and really wanted to sell his horses. I was interested, but had to wait until the snow melted as it had been a very bad winter. Finally when the weather permitted, I went to his place and purchased four mares. On the trip back home, Marie and I tried to figure out how we could come up with some more money. Mr. Lawson had some very nice horses and we wanted to buy more. After a couple of weeks, I called back hoping to purchase more mares, but Mr. Lawson was feeling better and was out of the mood to sell. The next thing I knew the man had died and his herd had been dispersed.
One of the four mares I had originally purchased was a beautiful palomino mare, Johnston's Vanilla, by Gold Melody Boy, who was in foal to Poplar Lanes Samson. That foal, her first, was Buckeroo. I didn't show Buckeroo as a weanling or yearling because to me he was just too gangly. In fact, several people have told me I offered to sell Buckeroo to them for $1,500...I'm sure glad they didn't take me up on my offer! Another reason I did now show him then was because of my heart attack. Early in 1980 after my heart problems, I decided to retire and do what I loved best -- show my horses.
As a two-year-old, Buckeroo blossomed! In 1980 at Murray, Kentucky, he was chosen International Grand Champion Stallion, a title he won again the following year. Later at that show, J. C. Williams came up to me and said, "One of these days we're going to see one of these little horses bring $100,000. And it might just as well be yours if you've got the best and evidently you have because you've won two years in a row." After that, I was feeling pretty full of myself and remarked to Marie and some friends who were listening that I was never gonna sell Buckeroo unless he brought $100,000. I remember some laughing and snickering after that remark.
After that win, we decided to turn our valuable little horse out with some mares to breed. Not long after, we came home one evening and couldn't find Buckeroo. Apparently he had gotten under the fence and been beaten up pretty badly by another stallion. He was injured bad enough for me to need the trailer to move him from the field back to the house. Not too long after that when he was breeding a mare, he fell over and I caught him and laid him over on the grass. I called the vet and told him there was something very wrong with Buckeroo. We took him to the University of Illinois where they did and x-ray and determined his front leg had been broken in two places and gangrene had developed. I told them he was not a $50 pony; I didn't care how much it cost, I wanted him fixed! Well, they took everything I said to heart and presented me with a pretty fantastic bill, but Buckeroo was going to be okay. Other than a few white hairs over the injury, you would never know he had been hurt.
In 1983 at a show in Indiana, Ed Eberth and I were watching my brother Don show Buckeroo against Marianne with Komoko's Little King Supreme for Grand Champion Senior Stallion. When Ed & Marianne's horse was announced as the winner, Ed commenced to hoot and holler like an Indian chief for what seemed like five minutes (It was probably only 30 seconds). The announcer quickly apologized and said he meant to say Reserve Grand Champion that the win actually had gone to Buckeroo. With that Ed's hollering stopped and mine started!
Several days later, I received a letter from Ed wanting to purchase some Buckeroo blood. At the time, I was having heart problems again and needed to go in for by-pass surgery at a cost of $50,000 which I did not have. I wrote back to Ed and suggested he buy Buckeroo from me. At this particular time, Ed and Marianne had purchased one of the finest groups of little mares from Joel Bridges at a cost of $250,000 and were in the process of building their house and still owed on the barn. Marianne thought the $100,000 I was asking for Buckeroo was too much, especially in their present financial situation. Ed, on the other hand, was determined Buckeroo would become the foundation on which Little King could build their future. With that dream in mind, he convinced his banker to personally loan him the money to purchase Buckeroo. The Eberth's dream was on its way to becoming reality.
On August 3, 1983, Marianne came to pick up Buckeroo but couldn't leave until the next morning because the test results for insurance were not ready. The following morning as she left with Buckeroo, I left for the hospital. My understanding with Ed and Marianne was (if I survived my surgery) I was to go to the AMHA Nationals later in September and show Buckeroo. My open heart surgery was a complete success and I was able to go to Texas and show Buckeroo for the last time. Together, Buckeroo and I won the 1983 AMHA National Grand Champion Senior Stallion.
My story should end here. But fortunately it does not. The Eberth family and I have become very close friends. We all shared and participated in the same dream -- a dream we see every day in the get and grand-get of this exceptional stallion.