The following is an article I wrote at the request of David McBride for The Miniature Horse before it ceased being published:
Generation after Generation of Excellence - Rowdy
One of my favorite remembrances of being a child with parents in the Shetland pony business is going to shows and sales all over the United States. At one such show, I saw one of the most fabulous black and white show ponies that ever existed, Kewpie Doll’s Oracle by Hillswicke Oracle, who was foaled in 1945. He was as refined and elegant as any horse that ever stepped into the show ring. Some years later, in the mid 1960s, my parents took me to a production sale at the J. A. Stovall farm in Era, Texas, where I saw the reason behind that beautiful stallion, his dam, Streamliners Kewpie Doll, who was the model mare of the Shetland Congress in 1948 and 1949. She was a beautiful-headed, tri-colored mare with the highest tailset that I had ever seen. I begged my parents to buy her, but to no avail. She was in her late teens and brought around $10,000, which was way out of our budget! One of Kewpie Doll’s daughters and a full sister to Kewpie Doll’s Oracle, Hillswicke Q P Doll, Grand Champion Mare of the National Shetland Congress as a yearling in 1952, had topped the sale in Perry, Oklahoma, not once, but twice. The first time, she was in show shape and had a beautiful foal by her side. I couldn’t believe that she could have a foal and still look ready to go into the show ring. For those miniature readers who have never shown Shetlands, show shape meant with a four inch "show hoof" with weighted shoes, tucked up, and looking like a million!
Fast forward to 1980. Carol, my wife, and our daughter, Lisa, then only six, had just returned from almost four years of living in New York City. We were back in Texas building a quarter horse stud farm in Valley View, Texas, thirty miles north of Dallas. I still had a stallion from the Shetland years who was the smallest that we had ever raised, Greaves Big Un, 31" tall and a grandson of one of the stallions that we had bought at that Stovall sale around 1960-61. I told my dad that I wanted to get some miniature mares to breed to Big Un. He told me that his long-time friend, Jno. W. Norman, in Winters, Texas, still had quite a few Shetlands and he thought he also had a few miniatures, too. On a trip to West Texas to pick up a quarter horse for my dad, I decided to swing by Mr. Norman’s Lazy N Stables to see what he had. At this time Mr. Norman was in his mid-eighties, I think, and was fairly incapacitated. I remember visiting him when I was eight or nine and riding in his stage coach. It was pulled by six ponies trained by his trainer, Vern Brewer. It was called the Red, White, and Blue hitch - Two white, two sorrel, and two blue roans!
Anyway, after a nice visit, Mr. Norman called the man who worked for him and told him to take me out to look at his ponies. He did not want to sell any of the smallest, but he would sell me some of the "borderline" miniatures if I was interested. When I saw his weanlings, I knew that they were a special lot. They were much more refined than most of the miniatures that I had seen. Looked much more like the modern show horses but in miniature! My guide told me that they were all by a bay stallion that Mr. Norman was using. The name of that stallion was Rowdy. I picked out three yearlings that I thought were the best along with six mares. When I went back to the house to talk to Mr. Norman, he said that the three yearlings were not available because he was giving them to a friend. I later found out that that friend was Vern Brewer, and those three started the Brewer Family Miniature adventure! By the way, one of those three turned out to be the National Grand Champion, Rowdy’s Charm, some time later! It turned out that Mr. Norman had persuaded Vern to come out and look at the horses. Always having an eye for a show horse, Vern had accepted the gift of the three miniatures and bought three more to go along with them. Vern had never liked the little Shetlands in the early days because they were so coarse and heavy boned, but these were an entirely different style. Anyway, I made a deal with him and bought six mares all bred to Rowdy. After getting home I started doing some investigation and found to my amazement that the sire of Rowdy was Kewpie’s Sun who was a son of the horse that I had admired as a child: Kewpie Doll’s Oracle!! I had wanted him as a child, but now I had some of his descendants. In 1984 because of advanced age and failing health, Mr. Norman had a dispersal sale at which time Rowdy was sold. Vern and Betty Brewer were putting on the sale for their long-time friend and encouraged Bob and Sandy Erwin of NFC Farm to purchase the 34" stallion to add to their stallion roster. They bought the 1973 stallion for $5,500 along with two daughters. After the sale I asked Vern why he didn’t buy Rowdy. He replied that because of Rowdy’s size and Vern’s age he felt he couldn’t use him. He wanted to breed them down and already had five Rowdy daughters and one son to start his breeding program.
The rest, as they say is history. That bay stallion sired some of the leading winners in the AMHA history including, but not limited to:
who sold at the NFC Dispersal sale in 1993 for an unprecedented $110,000 and is the winningest stallion in AMHA history being the 1992 National Grand Champion
NFC Rowdy’s Can Do: 1986 National Grand Champion Jr. Gelding
NFC Rowdy’s Supreme:`1987 National Grand Champion Jr. Mare
Rowdy’s Charm: 1987 National Grand Champion Sr. Stallion
Rowdys Surprise: 1988 National Grand Champion Sr. Gelding
Glenn’s Southern Legend: 1989 National Grand Champion Jr. Stallion
NFC Rowdy’s Gem: 1990 National Grand Champion Sr. Mare
Little Man’s Blue Baby Rowdy: 1990 Reserve National Grand Champion Sr. Mare
Runnin Bear’s Classy Comet: 1991 National Grand Champion Jr. Mare
1993 National Grand Champion Sr. Mare
NFC Rowdy’s Bold Tradition: 1990 Reserve National Grand Champion Jr. Gelding
1992 Reserve National Grand Champion Sr. Gelding
Quality will tell and goes on telling through generation after generation. Rowdy died in 1990 at the age of seventeen, but the show records of his future generations are still being written.
Tony W. Greaves