Carrington’s Choctaw – The Junkyard Stallion

Have you ever found something very unusual and beautiful in the most unlikely place? Maybe a rare hothouse flower growing in the midst of weeds, or a gleaming, sparkly jewel, somehow lost in a muddy field. Well, this is the story of my find, of my Junkyard Stallion…

I got a call one day from my friend and fellow Morgan enthusiast, Jill.  She called, excitedly alerting me to an ad in a local newspaper, announcing the sale of a Morgan stallion described as “beautiful as a picture”.  I emphatically told Jill “No way”.  I had plenty of horses, I fact, too many according to my husband.  My little ranchette was teeming with Morgans, about 12 total, and I certainly didn’t need another.  
Located in N. Georgia, I had raised a few Morgans over the last 20 years or so, and knew that the bloodlines that I prefer were unlikely to be found in this area.  Most folks around here have the “new type” Morgans, with infusions of Saddlebred blood, making the horses taller, willowy, and less like the original Morgan that originated from the first Morgan, “Figure”.  Born in 1789, Figure was a muscular, compact bay horse of about 14 hands, known for his power and strength in pulling, speed in trotting, and elegance and style when hitched to the family buggy.  From this one small yet hardy stallion evolved the breed that I fell in love with as a child, the Morgan. Morgan’s today have a wide range of type and uses, stemming from the variety of mares to which the original horse, Figure was bred to.  Then, later, in the early 1900’s the infusion of non-Morgan blood for the purpose of creating a taller, showier horse, almost eradicated the original, pure Morgans that had the hardy yet elegant, baroque appearance.  Thus, now it is hard to find the “Old Blood” Morgans of yesteryear.

Back to my story…

My friend Jill would not let up.  One day, a few weeks after she told me about the stallion in the ad, we had plans to go visit another Morgan breeder and friend, and see her new foals.  Well, Jill got to my house, and then announced that the stallion that she had told me about was right on the way, so why don’t we swing by and see him? Friends can be sneaky!  Since she and her daughter Allison really wanted to go see this horse, I relented, and we planned to take a small detour after I called to get directions from his owner.  I became doubtful when the last of the directions included “turn right at the house in the junkyard”. Oh dear, I had pictures of a scrawny, pitiful, forlorn horse among piles of trash.

We followed the directions, well given, down into the back roads of Georgia.  I became more and more dubious as we passed rundown trailer parks dilapidated houses, and long-abandoned vehicles scattered down the dirt roads on the way to see this horse “as beautiful as a picture”.  On our way we passed slinking mangy dogs, and the local inhabitants, some who warily eyed our unfamiliar vehicle.   I didn’t dare stop, and hoped our destination was not far, as I was getting low on gas.  This was not a place to stop and risk asking for help.

Thankfully, we finally found the right road, and began to see the piles of junk equipment and vehicles they said was a landmark for finding their property.  Then, suddenly on the right was a small old sharecroppers house, which was almost completely surrounded by rusting heaps of discarded cars, trucks, and farm equipment.  Standing in front of the house, a woman had a beautiful black horse on the end of the leadrope.  My heart stopped for a moment as I turned into the drive.  It was the most gorgeous horse I had ever seen, black, haughty, with huge soft brown liquid eyes and a gleaming thick black mane that hung down to his forearm.  His coat was black as black could be, and his tail was thick, long and wavy, set nicely on his strong hindquarters. What got my attention the most was his elegant head with those pretty, proud, wise eyes that gazed calmly at me from under his thick black forelock.  I regained my composure, and non-chalantly got out of my SUV. My daughter Shanna, Jill and her daughter spilled out of the car with oohs and aahs.  My heart was beating in my chest as I eyed this elegant creature that I knew was going to be mine.  I played it cool but Jill and Allison kept dancing around saying “oh wow,wow,wow….”  I wanted to tell them to tone it down, but didn’t.  I just calmly watched them and this horse, in the middle of a junkyard, dazed to find such an animal in this squalid place.  I asked the usual questions about his temperament and health, and then asked to see his papers, as she had claimed he was registered.  She brought out the AMHA papers and I examined them, amazed to find no modern outcrosses on this elegant but typy Morgan. Then I handled him, leading him calmly around, touching him, and evaluating his disposition.  He passed with flying colors, taking everything so calmly that I had to look again to see if he was really a stallion!

We had a busy day planned, so we went on to Covington, talking all the way about this stallion she called Choctaw.  I did not need another horse, already had a young and upcoming palomino colt that I had planned to be my next stud horse.  But I could not get the beautiful Choctaw out of my head, and the next day I called the junkyard owner, we settled on a price, and he was mine!  I went as soon as I could with my trailer and picked him up.  He loaded without hesitation, and we were on our way.

I took him immediately to a trainer that a friend had recommended, to get some ground manners and to green break him.  I had learned he was almost un-handled, only knew how to lead, and that was all that had been done with this 8 year old stallion.  He spent 2 months at the trainers and learned the basics of being a proper, respectful horse. 

 

As soon as I got his papers back from AMHA, I contacted Choctaws previous owners.  Amazingly I found that he had had a pretty rough, almost neglected life until a woman in Augusta, GA bought him.  I called her and got his life story, which was heartbreakingly sad.

A man named Keith Carrington, had bred Choctaw.  Mr. Carrington loved his Morgan mares and stallion, and eventually bred one of his mares, Pineland Miss Dolly, to his stallion, Sweets Lakota.  One of the resulting foals was Choctaw, or “Rock” as I now call him.  Mr. Carringtons wife was not involved with nor knowledgeable about the horses, so he was their sole caretaker.  Unfortunately, Mr. Carrington was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and eventually grew too sick to take care of the horses.  After he died, his wife eventually turned out all the horses together, trying to minimize the time it took to care for them.  But one of the horses was Rocks sire, a stallion, and he attacked the yearling colt viciously.  Luckily, the colt survived but had been badly mangled on the neck and shoulder.  With good vet care, he recovered but would carry the scars for life.  When he recovered, he then was put out with a herd of dairy cows, and remained there, with cows as his only companions, for the next 5 years.  Un-handled and untouched by humans for those 5 long years, his lovely long mane and tail became matted with burrs, tangled beyond hope.  It was in this condition that a horse lover found him, and offered Mrs. Carrington to take him and care for him.  Mrs. Carrington had sold all the other horses except Choctaw, as he had been her husbands’ favorite.  When Mr. Carrington passed away, she just couldn’t bear to part with his special colt but now after all these years, she realized he needed to go where he would be given some proper attention. So she sold him.  Eventually, he was sold again at an auction, for no one knew how to handle this un-tamed, black colt that had matured into a proud, beautiful, but “wild” stallion.  At the auction, the junkyard lady bid on him and won him on the first bid, as no one else seemed to want a scarred-up wild stallion.  He loaded into the trailer, and she brought him home, only to find that she also couldn’t manage having a stallion on her small acreage.  Thus, he was advertised in the paper, which Jill found, and called me about, and eventually led to my ownership of him.

Surprisingly, when I took him to the trainer, he was found to be quite docile.   The trainer didn’t quite understand that he had never been trained to ride, and had saddled him and got on his back without problem.  When I later told him that Rock had never been ridden, he was amazed that this stallion had been so calm about his first ride!  He enjoyed working with the “little horse”, as he called him, but in March of 2005, it was time for Rock to come home and start his duties as a stallion.  

Rock is now the proud and happy sire of 3 colts, the first of many.  Although I don’t ride him much, I often admire him; thankful for being able to be a part of this beautiful horses life.  And contrary to the reports of him being “wild”, I have found him to be as gentle as a kitten, never needing a shank over his nose.  My daughter is able to lead him around and he is docile, careful, and kind.  I even put my 20 month old niece on his back one day, her first time to sit on a horse.  Rock is now happy and loved, and his gorgeous thick mane and tail are long and luscious, thick and wavy, with hardly ever a tangle.  He proudly stands in the pasture with his Morgan mares, finally where he belongs.  The junkyard stallion is home.
 

 

Sue,
I just had to send you a little note to tell you how much I enjoyed the
story of how you found Rock. My name is Lisa and I have a little (5 acre)
farm in Battle Ground, Washington with a 9 year old Paint gelding named
Tango, a breeding pair of miniature donkeys, goats, chickens, two dogs, barn
cats, a tank full of fish, two sons (Mason, 8 and Max 6) and a very patient
husband. :) I read your story on the Ultimate Horse website and thought it
sounded like a horse girl's fairy tale come true. And you're right, of
course... He's about the most gorgeous thing on four legs. Visiting your web
site has made me think, hmmm... maybe a morgan for my next horse. Anyway,
just a little note to say thanks for sharing the story of your beautiful
stallion. I loved it.
Lisa Cunningham